Friday, July 21, 2006


Ahhh, the Honor Code. Is there anything that is more conflicting? I want to preserve the sanctity of the education process, and report any violators of the Honor Code, but I also do not want a blind Al Pacino coming around the corner whacking me with his cane screaming, "You are not a Baird Man! Hoo-Wah!"

Thankfully, this is something I do not have to concern myself with right now. That is definitely a bridge I will cross when I come to it.

But I have a confession to make. I cheated. It was not my best moment, but I was trapped by competing pressures, and there was only one way out of the situation. I had to cheat.

It happened in the sixth grade. Junior High had just started, and I was in a whole new world. All around me, the girls who had towered over me in elementary school were suddenly getting shorter, but like me, they were growing, just in a different place. With all those hormones, how could someone be expected to focus on something that suddenly became so trivial in the face of thousands of years of evolution and natural human instinct.

The triviality was a spelling test. This was in the days when spelling still mattered. Back then, we spelled it "you" not "u" and "for sure" not "fo' shizzle." If you want more examples, spend two minutes on Myspace. At this time, no one had heard of Spell Check. My typing class was conducted on an Apple IIe. I got an A when I was able to type 14 wpm with no errors. There was no instant messaging, and the internet was an abstract concept that neither Al Gore nor WarGames could help to explain. Needless to say, at this point in history, spelling mattered.

But this was not an ordinary spelling test. The phrase "Spelling Test" conjures images of the Spelling Bee, words that are impossible to say, and even more impossible to use in a sentence. The test in question was the exact opposite. It was one hundred of the most commonly words used in the English language. Words such as "that," "this," "and" "the." Everyone had to pass the exam. We took it once a day until everyone passed. Once you passed, you got to take a ten-minute nap while the slower students tried to figure it out.

Given my thoughts on studying, this was not a test I bothered to study for. But after a week without passing it, I began to get worried. The other kids in the class who were about as smart as me had already passed (all two of them), and I felt myself slipping behind. The birth of Ego.

After a week, I had 99 words right. I just could not get that last one. For some reason, I either thought there was an "E" on the end or could not remember if the second letter was an "H" or an "I." I was not at all confused by the homonym, even though it was a homonym with a different spelling. It was just, that while taking the test, I would begin to confuse myself. "How did I spell it last time? Did I use the e? Maybe I did not use the e? There has to be the e right? If there was not an e, the word would be too easy. Wait, what is the second letter? Is there an h or isn't there an h?"

So there I went, screwing myself into the ground, unable to pass this damn test.

So did the only thing I could think of. I cheated. The second week of the test, when that bastard word came up, I snuck a peek at my neighbors paper. He was a friend of mine, but I did not tell him, I just caught a quick glance. He spelled it without the "E" and "H" as the second letter. There was that moment of, "maybe he is spelling it wrong" but I got passed that, went with his answer, and passed the exam, relieved that I passed before 80% of the class.

This would haunt me for years. Since it is one of the one hundred most common words, I think about it every time I use it. It eats away at me, my moment of weakness, where I gave into temptation. OK, it's not that dramatic, I don't really care, but it happened, I cheated. I hope they don't ask about cheating in job interviews.

Oh, and what was the word? I will not tell you which word it was or which words it wasn't, but not counting this sentence, I was able to refrain from using it.


Kimberly said...

Ah...the things that torment us forever. It's funny how a single word can take us back a hundred years.

We had a similar test involving passing off the multiplication table up to 12. I was a decent math student, until algebra, but there was this horrible fear of being the last one to pass it.

By the by...the blog pimpage was well deserved :) And thank you so much for reading my book :)It made my day!


Faith said...

I can honestly say I'm blessed with a memory for correct spelling, lol.

E.A.Saraby said...

Aww. Y'know... it's ok. I'm a teacher. I cheated once in my life, simply because as a class we decided to prove we could get away with it in a history class with a teacher that probably lived through most of what was taught.

It speaks volumes about you that it haunts you, truly.