Catholic School: The Chemistry Test

Another issue with Catholic school was that it was tough academically. Harder than anything I took in college, OR grad school. And the worst subject was Chemistry.

Now, I'm not saying that I have ANY skills in math and science, because frankly I don't. I'm also a daydreamer, and get distracted by shiny things very easily. My attention span was even WORSE in high school, and I spent most of my time thinking up stories for a soap opera a friend and I were writing, or doodling. Not very condusive to learning, eh? The answer is no.

So when I took the dreaded Chemistry, with the dreaded Dr. Wallace, who was the only male teacher at my school, and also insane, I was terrified. He was an older dude with a shock of gray hair, and he loooooooved Chemistry. Loved it!!! And since he was so adept at Chemistry, he thought that the logical thing would be that we would love it too.

I hated Chemistry.

A friend and I would stagger through the class, the formulas and such whizzing through one ear and out the other, busying ourselves with rolling our eyes and playing with our hair, and tuning out Dr. Wallace, who would shriek things like "LADIES! WE MUST PRESS ON!!!" as we desperately tried to tease him into going off topic. We also developed something we called "Chem Hair" which was the frizzy halo of stress that would emerge from our hair whenever we would fall over each other to leave the classroom at the end of the hour.

But the thing that was the worst was the final. The final was dreaded by all, as being IMPOSSIBLE and a joke, because he wasn't going to fail us, a C was JUST FINE, and so, having already been known to get a Chem test, write my name and the date on it and promptly hand the blank piece of paper back in, I figured that studying for the final was pointless, so, of course, I didn't.

We got the final, and of course I didn't know a single answer, so I staggered through a couple of problems until I got to the ones that I swore he had never even TAUGHT us, but his voice was loud in my head, "LADIES WE MUST PRESS ON!!!" and so I did the only thing that seemed logical at the time.

I drew pictures. I wrote recipes. I wrote one answer in French. So stressed that my hair was sticking STRAIGHT UP, I simply did anything I could think of except actually doing the problems. My doodle of Dr. Wallace was especially loving, and I wrote a thought bubble that said "Yay Chemistry!" above his head.

I got my "C" and life pressed on. And that was just fine with me.

Chemistry. Are you effing kidding me?

Baby version of Chem Head. I'm already terrified.


Catholic School: The Chemistry Test — 4 Comments

  1. At my high school Chemistry was crazy hard as well. In fact our final exam was this crazy thing that was made up by this group of chemistry PROFESSORS and was some sort of like COLLEGE exam. I know that half that stuff we never learned – I mean the calculation for equalibreium? Riiight – get right on that.

  2. I always hated Chemistry, and my teacher in HS was…crazy. He treated his students like THEY were the ones who had been in his class all the years he’d taught…so every year he got more and more frustrated with students who didn’t get it. He was a nice guy out of the classroom, but…dang.
    And then in community college I had a kindly old gandpa for a teacher, and chemistry was easy and wonderful.

  3. I never understood a blessed thing that Dr. Wallace tried to teach us. This was the first class that I ever…EVER….got less than a B in. When I tell you that the day I discovered I got a C+ on a progress report for chem, I rode the bus home convinced my parents would kill me. They didn’t.
    So, I knew I was in for a world of hurt for the chemistry final. I bought two books that were basically “Teach Yourself Chemistry” and “Chemistry for Dummies.” I studied for four full days for that goddamned final. I will never forget the trepidation I felt when a classmate told me that Dr. Wallace wanted to see me. I was basically a huge, body-sized gulp.
    When I went into chem lab, Dr. Wallace informed me that I got the second highest score on the final.
    I remember NOTHING from chemistry. But I bewildered Dr. Wallace, if only for a second, and that my friend is golden.
    I also remember NOTHING from pre-calculus except for Dolores’ overwhelming contempt for us (or me.)

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