Did you ever do that? Get 10 out of 10 on a clouds quiz in geography class then get docked a mark because the teacher thought you talked to the kid in the next row while the quiz was going on? It happened to me.
The kid next to me knew nothing about clouds. I knew everything about them because I’d listened to every word the teacher had said last period, and took notes. This was back when I was still a good student.
And here I was, with this kid beside me, Brodie or something his name was, he didn’t even have pants on, nudging me kind of surreptitiously in the upper thigh with the index finger of his right hand. Psst…
It’s grade five. Brodie’s in short pants.
“Very good, Mr Strech,” the teacher said, announcing the results of the quiz. She didn’t know my real name. Neither did I. “A perfect 10 out of 10. But you opened your mouth and spoke to the student on your left and that costs you 1 demerit. 9 out of 10 is your final score.”
It was Brodie who spoke to me. I didn’t say a word. Just looked at him. So instead of getting the top mark in class I tied with Janie with 9 out of 10. And the one she got wrong was “cirrus”. I wonder what happened to Brodie. And Janie. Selkirk Elementary. A good school and still is.
I was reminded of this life lesson last evening during that stunning display of all those streaky clouds way up there as things were heading on for dusk.
Things have gotten way more complicated since I was in grade five. There’s about twelve thousand names for permutations of “cirrus” clouds these days just as there is with every other type of cloud formation but in those days it was simple. Cumulo. Cumulonimbus. Nimbus. Stratus. Cumulostratus. Cirrus etc.
10 out of 10. The apogee, the apotheosis of my grade school career. And a mark docked for talking during the quiz. What a spectacle. I took it like a boy.