Friday, August 13, 2010

Minimal Units of Meaning

A few years ago I had a rather big crush on a gentleman who was in my grammar class on Wednesday nights. It being that I had a boyfriend at the time and this classmate was eight years younger than me, it was a rather harmless little thing.

The grammar class was strictly for students in the education program, so we all had in common that we were future teachers. In spite of the fact that he was rather clean cut for my usual taste in men, I became quite aware of him right off the bat. One gets a good grip on the folks in a class when said class is five hours long and the instructor is one of those there's-no-way-you're-getting-out-early types.

By the second week, my sister-in-law could already tell that I had hit it off with the poor young kid as we had an identical sense of humor. For the first time in all the classes we had together, SIL sat away from me in week three so I could sit next to the cute, clean-cut object of my affection. On this third week of class, I was discussing with my crush our homework and assigned readings and he said (in a most matter-of-fact and proud manner), "I fell asleep dreaming of morphemes." Up until that point, I had never wanted to make out with someone so bad in my life.

Oddly and awesomely, the instructor decided to separate the elementary education students from the secondary education students in week four. She could see that we didn't jive. There are always more elemantary students in an education program and they're constantly relaying stories about how inspiring it is to work with little kids who wipe snot on their sleeves and can't even read yet. Secondary students aren't like that, we always liked to talk about how best to mess with our kids' minds.

So, on this fourth week of class, as our instructor began to notice how hard the secondary students judged the elementary students (as explained in this accusation by my crush, "They put glitter on everything!"), my crush and I found ourselves on the west side of the classroom with the other ten secondary students impolitely feeling superior to the 24 elementaries on the other side of the aisle.

A secondary teacher herself, our teacher decided to "bridge the divide" with some friendly competition by having us play a game that she plays with her high schoolers. Giving the elementary side a ball, she told them "soft." The classmate on the elementary side with the ball had to throw the ball to our side and whomever caught it had to come up with a simile for "soft" and the ball goes back and forth until no one has a simile. If someone catches the ball and can't come up with a simile, they're out and the other side gets the ball back and picks a new word.


And the game went on. Predictably (kidding), the elementary team thinned rapidly until there was one strong player left against me and my crush. She played hard and I was so grateful to her because every time she threw the ball back to me and him, our words were so impressive and unfaltering that it was nothing short of foreplay. Is there really anything hotter than a varied vocabulary inventory that can be accessed with ease?


It's funny when I think about the qualities that I spent a lot of time thinking I couldn't live without in the people I chose to surround myself with. There aren't as many non-negotiables as I once thought. Really, when you find a bunch of friends or a mate that make you feel good, the only non-negotiable is that they appreciate you, in the exact package you come in, whether the ingrediants are listed or not.

At that time in my life, it wasn't enough to have a lot of words in my brain. People weren't good enough if they didn't have more than me. I've come a long way, but I still smile when I think of the night I played the simile game.

That night, I went to bed dreaming of morphemes.

Sometimes, I still do.

Right now I'm reading AND immensely enjoying:


Bobbie H. said...

This is AWESOME, and I remember the guy - let's just say, he was "literally" (pun intended) "crush-worthy" :). Thanks for the memory! (& you make the instructor sound rather clever! yee-ha!)

PottsAntiques said...

I liked this. I really don't have any quality similes to offers, as yours did all the talking for me. :)