Throughout college I could still walk but I couldn’t ride a bike so I drove a golf cart around campus. It was great except that I couldn’t drive it at night because it had no lights. The only time this really sucked was at test time when midterms and finals might be in the evenings.
One quarter I had a civil engineering midterm scheduled on a Wednesday night — a dark and rainy Wednesday night. It was in a classroom that was not near any public parking spaces so I was going to have to drive my SUV and sneak through a secret driveway, then park as close to the classroom as I could get.
I manage to get through the gate and find a lone space near the church. I get out of the car, grab my back pack, and decide to save myself five seconds and cut through this three foot long dirt “path” between the parking lot and the sidewalk. It had been carved out over the years by other impatient people like myself who couldn’t be bothered to walk teen feet around the brush to get to the sidewalk. I get about halfway through when a branch suddenly jumps up and trips me! Okay really my shoe had gotten caught on a branch because I wasn’t paying attention.
Down I go.
Splash! Right into a nice big puddle that my hands now feel is filled with muddy brown paste.
You’d think that I’d be concerned that I couldn’t stand up from the ground on my own without help and there was nobody around. However one of my biggest pet peeves is wet jeans and this immediately becomes the more pressing issue in my delusional mind.
So it’s dark. It’s raining. Nobody is around and I’m flopping around in this puddle like a mermaid with denim fins.
Thankfully there are still 30 minutes before the test is supposed to start so I have time to wait for someone, anyone, to walk by. After one minute that felt like thirty, this short guy in a red poncho comes around the corner. “Hey? Can you help me?” I said in the most non-weird way as possible.
“Excusez-moi?” he replies.
My high school French had escaped me so all I can say is “Help?! Up?!?!” and motion my arms to the sky like an idiot.
Well I don’t need to say much more. He grabs my arm and starts tugging at it. This does nothing but slide my now muddy and wet jeans around in the puddle. He realizes he’s going to have to put more effort into it and somehow he lunges me onto the hood of this red sedan that’s parked about five feet from where I was just swimming.
So here I am spread out on the hood of this car like I’m about to get frisked and arrested. But I’m in position to get myself back to a standing position and proceed to do so with my French audience of one.
In no time I am able to pull myself up from that, hopefully not scratching the car.
So of course now my brain is gushing with adrenaline-induced French and yell an enthusiastic “Merci! Merci beaucoup!”
He responds with something that was probably French for “You are a crazy wet puddle swimmer!” because it didn’t sound like “You’re welcome!” Then as quickly as he appeared, he leaves.
I stand there and let my feet get back under me, then compose myself and walk AROUND the brush to the sidewalk, eventually arriving at the testing room. Fortunately I am the first one here.
I pick out a seat and walk my squishy self over to it. Jeans and shoes saturated, I realize I am about to take a three hour test. Again since I can’t tolerate wet jeans I decided the best thing to do is take off my jacket, unbutton my pants, and yup — pull them down just far enough so that at LEAST I wouldn’t have to feel the squish of the water in my seat every time I shifted my position. My boxers weren’t totally saturated so I wrap my jacket around my waist, sit back down, and pray my getup doesn’t look too obvious.
Students finally start filtering in and the professor arrives. Nobody has given me two glances thus far. Nevertheless as the test is handed out I am waiting for someone stand up, point at me, and shout, “Hey! That pervert has his pants half-off!”
The test is easy. It takes me only about an hour to finish. Normally I would get up and leave but since my pants are half down, I can’t really do that. Instead I double, triple, and quadruple check my test and finally hand it to the professor as she makes her way up the aisle on her way out.
Once the coast is clear I finally hoist myself out of the seat, pull up my pants, and scurry back to my dorm just in time for the house meeting. Naturally this is too funny not to share so I recount the entire story, complete with the French accent. Everybody loves it and I return to my room to ceremoniously dump my wet and dirty jeans in the trash.
A few days later I got the test back and got 98%. Apparently my extra checking paid off. The professor even wrote a note asking me to be a TA/Grader the following year for the same class. To this day that night is the only time my high school French has come in handy.