Bitter to say it but I flunked comp 101 in college. I was that freshman who had no clue about anything and was barely hanging on at the State College I barely got into. I was struggling through my first semester of about sixteen hours and figured I could hang my hat on English. In high school I had been told that I had a hankering toward writing and wrote a few short stories a few teachers thought were mildly impressive. Besides,I came from a family of readers and our house was jammed with books. Comp 101 I figured would be where I made my mark.
But I didn't count on the TA (Teachers Assistant) with the Art Garfunkel hair who was teaching the class. He slouched in with his glasses and Afro and gave us our first assignment. Write about our summer vacation. A knock down. I had been out East so I wrote all about the beach and Baltimore and handed in the assignment. The man with the high hair handed it back with a big fat D and red scrawl: You did not follow the assignment. I went up to him and asked where I had not violated the assignment and he said that I was supposed to write an essay with conflict. My story did not have the proper conflict in the first third of the first page. So I got a D.
Then followed a series of writing assignments. Each time I wrote to what I thought the assignment was. Write about your best friend. Your worst experience. Write about college. Write about a political event. Write about a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Each time I got back my paper there was either a D or an F. The red scrawl pointed out that I did not follow the instructions. My final grade for the semester was a D. I would have to take the course over in summer school.
Summer school arrived and I went to my course makeup. It was a hot day in June and the old creaky English building was empty and smelled of moldy wood. I waited in a small conference room. A man in a bow tie came in and introduced himself. He asked me a few questions about my composition grade then asked me to write a story on anything I wanted. Then he left. A friend of mine had recently gotten married so I wrote about that for the next half hour while summer played out the window.
Forty five minutes later the teacher with the bow tie returned and read my story. He frowned, then looked up at me. Why are you here? Because I got a D in composition I told him. He looked back at my story. You have your own sense of style and you know how to tell a story. He shrugged. I'll give you an A. You passed. I looked at him. That's it? He stood up. Do you want more?
Thats how I passed Comp 101.
Rocket Man will blast off in April