Today was the first day of yet another semester in my decade-long college career. You’d think the awkwardness of a silent classroom filled with people would wear off after the 20th or 30th class, but it doesn’t. At all. That’s why cell phones and iPads are great. They let you be near people without feeling obligated to interact with them. It cuts the awkwardness by about half. Too bad I left my phone in my car in my rush to make it to class on time. I did succeed in being on time. In fact, I succeeded so hard that I was 15 minutes early. I settled into a seat in the middle of the classroom, on the edge of a row in case I had to potty. I felt good about my choice. Then I reached into my purse to grab my phone and panic set in. As the room slowly filled with adolescents I scanned to find an ally but was met with only the smug faces of college freshmen. 150 of them. Left with little choice I pulled out my yellow legal pad, the thing I had inexplicably chosen to bring for note-taking, and decided to jot down some of my initial observations. Lucky you.
Part of me was embarrassed about what the cool kids would think about my legal pad. They all had glossy spiral notebooks with GVSU emblazoned on the front. I grabbed the scribble pad off my desk at work and threw it in my bag when I realized I had no paper or writing utensils. Clearly Girl Scouts was not a part of my childhood as I am almost never prepared. For anything, really. I thought briefly about walking back to my car to get my phone but realized that I was me, and not some un-lazy person who was willing to walk in the cold instead of remain sitting indoors. So I sat there and plastered a complacent smirk on my face to ward off judgment and commence that of my own. I started to furiously write down some of my classroom observations and this is what I came up with. Word for word.
“15 minutes early and OH DEAR GOS, I left my phone in my car. Too long of a walk to go back for it. Killed five minutes weighing the social awkwardness of the first day of class and my overall laziness. Decided to write down my initial observations to appear busy.”
“Someone smells like they just rolled in a budding field of marijuana and unsuccessfully tried to mask it with Axe body spray.”
“The good news is, all three Middle Eastern exchange students (or whatever the college equivalent of an exchange student is) are sitting right in front of me. They’re discussing something in a language I don’t understand. Oh wait, I just heard the phrase “Easy A” come up in English. So either they’re discussing their thoughts on this class and feeling good about an overall knowledge of Healthcare Ethics or they’re really passionate about Emma Stone and a little behind on pop culture. They keep looking back at me which would make me think they were talking smack about my legal pad under normal circumstances, but since I’m openly staring at them and then writing furiously, I’ll give them a break.”
*Then some kid sat down right next to me so I had to stop writing until the professor started class and it seemed like I had a reason to write.
“This professor is obviously used to speaking to a crowd of mouth-breathing teens. he’s lecturing, yes. But not about course material. I get the sense that he’s a grandpa who’s constantly lamenting about ‘kids these days’. Now he’s hitting us with zinger after zinger. Old man jokes are only ever amusing to the old man himself. Putting up a fake ‘transparency’ that says ‘Welcome to Astro Physics 410’ and stifling a giggle does not a joke make. He did fool the kid next to me, however. He started fumbling with his things and whispered to me that he thought he was in the wrong class. I casually mentioned that ‘Astro Physics 410’ wasn’t even a real class at our school (not to my knowledge, at least) and that the professor was just trying to be funny. In my opinion, telling the kid to calm the eff down was way funnier than the attempted joke.”
“Once this man got started on the course material he got very serious and preachy. It seems he wants us to get a deeper meaning out of this 100-level lecture class. He wants us to apply it to our lives and really look at the choices we’re making in terms of our health and happiness. Um. I’m pushing 30 and surrounded by 150 teenagers who all nodded proudly and emphatically when you suggested college kids may have problems with alcohol. That’s how I’m doing in life.”
“In closing, the kid next to me may be suffering a slight panic attack from his ‘wrong class’ scare. He is breathing really loud. Like…really loud. I’m concerned about him in terms of his health and happiness. And also mine by extension.”
So there you have it. My thoughts on “Human Health and Disease”, otherwise known as Biomedical Science 100. I will be spending 3 hours a week listening to this man warn me that people die of heart disease and cancer. Two of my weeknights will be spent as the oldest student in a class of over a hundred people. I’ve never been literally the oldest person in one of my classes. Never. There is not a middle-aged person to be found. Not a one. I did take solace in noticing at least two people who were fatter than me. At least I’ll have someone to judge when we start talking about lifestyle choices and the probable onset of diabetes. Laws of the food chain, people. The fast food chain.