Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No. 736 – Broken Wings

Performer: Mr. Mister
Songwriters: Richard Page, Steve George, John Lang
Original Release: single, Welcome to the Real World
Year: 1985
Definitive Version: None

At the start of my final semester at Wabash in January 1986, I found myself in an ideal situation—a perfect situation, really.

I had finished almost all of my requirements for graduation. I had completed my major (English); I had completed my minor (an amalgamation that my adviser and I called pre-journalism). I had completed all of core classes—science, math, language, etc. Heck, I already had even been accepted into J school at Northwestern.

All I had to do to graduate was to take four classes—any four I wanted—to fulfill the credits requirement. So I did what anyone in my situation would have: I took an independent study and three Tuesday-Thursday classes, so I would have four-day weekends every week.

My independent study was English lit from the Restoration up to the 19th Century. I had been unable to take that class due to scheduling, and it was my only gap in the genre. My adviser, Dr. Herzog, would administer the study, and it was essentially a list of essential reads and papers. It was a guaranteed A, and a relatively easy one.

So all that was left was choosing the right three Tuesday-Thursday classes. I should back up a bit. Back then at Wabash (don’t know about now), you went to a class either Monday-Wednesday-Friday for an hour each day, or you went Tuesday-Thursday for 90 minutes each day. It depended on when the class was scheduled. I always had at least one class every day until that final semester.

Tuesday-Thursday classes were at 8, 9:45, 1 and 2:45. No sense getting up early to make an 8 a.m. class, so what was available that I could take the three other times? The first choice was obvious: Religion 1 at 9:45.

It was taught by the Rev. Hall Peebles, who was a lecturing legend at Wabash. He could talk at length in his syrupy southern drawl about the Old Testament for the entire 90 minutes, never looking at a single note and never putting anyone to sleep. I took that class entirely just so I could hear his lectures.

The other two classes were more up in the air. I chose a modern drama class, because, well, it fit the needed slot, and another English class, because it would be my first literature class with Dr. Rosenberg, and my roommate, Matt, wanted to take it, too.

It was Black American lit—Ellison, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Malcolm X, etc.—and it was a fun class. But, because it was a small class—eight to 10 students—unexcused absences weren’t tolerated. I found that out the hard way.

I went home to be with Beth for the long weekend at Valentine’s Day in 1986, which means multiple consummations and, of course, lots of WSNY on the radio during that time, as I mentioned. That meant hearing this song on an almost daily basis. Anyway, I was having such a great time that I decided to stay till Wednesday and skip all of my Tuesday classes.

I was caught up in my reading, and I didn’t have any tests for which to study or papers that were due. I figured Matt could cover for me as far as notes for the English class went; the other classes, well, I’ll figure that out. Other people skip class all the time, so why not? Now was a perfect time to do it.

Well, Dr. Rosenberg thought differently and called me out over it when I got back on Thursday. His point was a valid one: It wasn’t the class-skipping, per se; it’s that—yes—in a class that that’s small, everyone is important in contributing to the discussion for the benefit of others. He wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t regret doing it either.

And it didn’t affect his opinion of me in the long run: I aced the class.

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