That's right, folks. Did I intend to do that? No. Did I hope to find some way to do that when I left the house this morning? Not on your life. But somehow, at 8:40 in the morning (talk about the dawn's early light!) there I was, at the front of the room filled with sixty-some-odd very ethnic students who all are citizens of this country and who all have gone to school in this country, singing the National Anthem. And why was I performing in this way, you ask? Why? Well, I'll tell you.
Because no one else knew it. The National Anthem! "Oh, say, can you see!" and all that jazz!
It happened in a blur. The professor walked in, intense from the get-go. He's almost 70 years old, and has a major political chip on his shoulder, it seems. Right away he kicked out most of the many students who were hoping to add his class, and left others with standing room only. I was sitting right in the front of the room, dead center--my chosen spot in every class--and he began to engage in a fairly engaging monologue about what government is and why it matters to us. He told us that the very reason that he, and every other professor, has to turn away students from classes is precisely because of government--a government who has spent its resources funding a "ridiculous" war, and thus cannot spare any change for educating its own citizens. (I'm not sure if California's state of affairs is entirely due to the war, per se, but that's a different post. One that I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.) Anyway, he was sufficiently outraged and up-in-arms (pun intended) about the whole subject. And as he spoke, somehow it happened that he asked for a show of hands of who could sing the National Anthem.
So I raised my hand. But, see, I thought it was simply a question. For polling purposes, you know. So, he invited me up to the front. I said to him, "Now, whoa! You asked who could sing the National Anthem, not who would! That's entirely different."
And I think my playfulness broke through his shell just a bit. So, he said, "I'll give you an A to come up and sing it."
To which I replied, "I'll earn my A, you don't need to give it to me."
So he dangled some extra credit in front of me, and I'm thinking, "Is this guy for real?"
So fine. I'll sing it. I actually sing the National Anthem in the shower more than any other song, with my own improvisations and everything. He asked for other volunteers, but was only met with lots of "I don't know the words," and "I'm not sure how it goes."
I got up in front of the room, and I began to sing.
Well, actually, first I looked out over the sea of young faces and said, "Shame on all of you!" Then I began to sing.
Thankfully, he stopped me before I had to hit the high note. (The shower acoustics really come in handy right around then.) He told me I could sit down. And he told me I had a nice voice, which was really something coming from a crotchety professor.
Then, he asked for someone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Did you know that only four students in the room knew it well enough to do it? Four! One said, "I know the beginning, but I lose it at the end."
"Indivisible" really throws them, I guess.
Appalling, that's what that is.
I wanted to show them the video of my then 13 year old daughter reciting from memory the Declaration of Independence. C'mon, people! It's your country! Where's the love?
The good news? My goal of becoming memorable to each professor has been successfully accomplished on the first day of class. The bad news? At the end he told us, "Now, if you do everything I say. . . watch every speech, read every document, do all the online assignments, carefully read each chapter and do all the study questions. . . I can guarantee you. . . a D in this class."
"And a C in this class is very, very respectable. You want an A? You better come and tell me you're a Doctoral student in Political Science."
How defeating! But, I'm thinking it's a good thing I'm starting out with extra credit.