Friday, September 22, 2006

Tell Me What's On Your Transcript, And I'll Bet Good Money You Didn't Go To My Alma Mater

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Somewhere there is someone who has filled out the little slip of paper required to get a transcript, included all of the dates of attendance, name, s.s.n., d.o.b., m.o.u.s.e., included the appropriate funds and their records were shipped toot sweet to the institution of their choice and they went on their merry way and everyone was happy and there were kittens and puppies and sunshine and rainbows and they ate Cherry Garcia until they threw up.

That never happens to me.

I blame myself for a lot of this. You see, I would decide to go to college for all the wrong reasons, be incredibly miserable for a while, drop out and then go back thinking I'd surely grown up enough to get over the desire to be a cowgirl or an astronaut and just get on with my life. Being smart doesn't help. My interests and focus were all over the place and my transcipts look like someone put clothes on a bonobo, gave them a backpack full of textbooks and the keys to a dorm room and sent them school for a few months at a time. Was that really me? Alas, yes. So I can't blame anyone for losing a semester or two when they've had the sorry job of collating all of those lovingly hammered dot-matrix sheets that are supposed to represent my misspent youth. But still... That's my youth they're messing with. They could be a little more careful.

This morning, I had to straighten out a situation with Northwest Mississippi Junior College. I went there because they gave me a full ride marching band scholarship to play the cymbals. No, I'm not making this up.

The thought of dialling Senatobia made me wish I knew someone who could get me a tab of acid. Okay, that's a bit harsh. I'm a one-beer drunk (which also means I was really bad at being an Episcopalian) so maybe I should have chewed on a couple of baby aspirins and leathered up. You see, a few years ago, I was desperate to make everyone happy and applied to law school.* When I requested transcripts from Northwest Mississippi, they were convinced I wanted to go to school in Senatobia and informed me I had to either finish high school or send them proof of graduation.

"I just want my records sent to Our Lady of Perpetual Chagrin School of Law for Wayward Girls. I've sent you the information and the money already."

"But I don't see anything here about your high school..."

"You don't NEED my high school information. You're sending records OUT, not processing me IN. Please, just send my transcripts."

"Young lady, do you want to go to college?"

"Ma'am, I've been to college. I have a degree-"

"Oh, really? What's your degree in?"


"What's that?"

Oh, hell. Ask any anthropologist to define anthropology and they'll either change the subject, tell you they don't know or give you a list of definitions to pick from.

"It's monkeys and dead people," I said.

"Do your parents know you're doing that?"

"Ma'am please, please, please, I beg of you. Just send my records to Our Lady of Perpetual Chagrin School of Law for Wayward Girls."

"I'll have to check with my supervisor."

They took all of the info again and then called me back thirty minutes later to say they'd found all of me. Thank. God.

One down, three to go. The most potentially worrisome was my alma mater, Western Kentucky. It's not that I've had any real problems with them as an alumnus. It's just that the last semester before I graduated, something happened that shook my faith in their administrative staff.

Someone from the records office who does graduation review took a look at all of my transcripts and decided, two weeks shy of graduation, to call me and let me know that I needed two PE classes and a speech class before they'd let me graduate. I had majored in theatre most of the time I was at my previous school in Memphis and had tons of dance hours, stage combat and juggling as well as the aforementioned semesters in marching band. She finally relented and allowed for the prancing and crashing. But what about the speech class?

"I'm two credits shy of a theatre degree from Memphis. You mean to tell me nothing on that transcript would qualify as a speech class?"

"I don't see anything on here actually called speech. Just being in the speech and theatre department doesn't count."

I wracked my brains trying to remember what Memphis State called their speech classes for majors. I knew there was one that had the unfortunate abbreviation of anal-oral comm., but that wasn't it. Then I remembered taking a class from a very funny, smart woman who had gotten her start writing speeches for Gerald Ford. Everything came back but the actual name of the class.

"Is there anything from that department with 'political discourse' in the name?" I asked.

"No, there's nothing here I can use."

"Please look again. Is there anything listed that does not include the words 'theatre', 'acting', 'voice', 'dance' or 'tech'?"

"No. Oh, wait. Here's one, but it's not a speech class so you can't use it."

"What is it called?" I asked.

"It's a funny word."

"What is it?"

"I have no idea how this is pronounced." She was getting very tired of me.

"Would you spell it out for me?"

"Oh, all right. R-h-e-t-o-r-i-c."


"That's not a speech class!"

"Do you have a dictionary in your office? Go look it up. I'll wait."

I heard her set down the reciever and go ask someone what that funny word meant. She interrupted them to explain that I was demanding she count that as a speech class. Then there was a moment of silence followed by urgent sounding whispering and the tippytap of her footsteps returning.

"You're good to go! See you at Diddle Arena (no, I'm not making that up, either) in two weeks! Bye bye!"

She hung up and I went somewhere quiet and chewed on baby aspirin until it was time for my next class.

*Yes, I got in. No, I didn't go. Don't you think there are enough lawyers as it is?

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

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