Oh, still peeved

A minor incident from my youth, which should have been taken as a strong sign that I was destined to become a copy editor:

I was 16, and I was taking a composition class at the local community college for college credit. My teacher was a young-ish, brown-haired woman with a pleasant disposition, which is all I can remember about her, save for this one moment.

We had been assigned to write a dramatic retelling of a childhood memory. I wrote a heavy-handed, theatrical essay about the girls-only club I started in fourth or fifth grade and about the club’s tragic demise when I, the self-appointed president, stumbled upon my minions meeting in secret to make a unanimous decision to dethrone me. (I was, after all, a pigtailed tyrant.)

After the papers had been graded, the instructor called me to her desk at the end of the session. “This was excellent,” she said, “you got the highest grade in the class.” I beamed. “But I had to take off a point for a spelling error,” she said, raising her eyebrows and flipping to the offending page. I was astonished and crestfallen. “There,” she said, pointing to a sentence in a concluding paragraph. “You wrote, ‘O, the cruel injustice of mutiny!’ but it should be ‘Oh,’ with an H.” I blinked and nodded and took my paper.

But as soon as I got in the car, I raged audibly. Oh, with an H? Had this plebian never read any ode, any poem, any ancient drama?? Clearly, she didn’t get  it; clearly, she had never read literature. My fury knew no bounds.

The fact that this story is still vivid to me today, some 11 years later, is damning. O, the tyranny of the perfectionist child. O, the lack of grace for the classically uninformed. O, the inability to let the most minute things go.

4 thoughts on “Oh, still peeved

  1. O, the Humanities.

    This far outweighs my worst experience with teacher grading my writing.

    I only had to work around getting an F because my paper “contained vocabulary beyond that of a typical ninth grader.”

  2. To be fair, I still clearly remember my rage when my homeschooling co-op science teacher gave me an 88% on my participation grade, despite the fact that I’d been helping the other students learn the material and had written questions to the author of the text book and read the answers for the class. But no, I lost 12 points on participation because I had refused to study for the test with flashcards like she suggested (I hate flashcards) and thus I hadn’t been “following directions like everyone else.” Nevermind that I aced the tests.

    Haha yep, still vivid. O, the injustice!

  3. It always amazes me the things that stick out in my head. Memories of some words that should have been kinder, either spoken or spoken to. wonders of the mind.

  4. Ah haha, this made me laugh. I took a co-op English class in high school too (and my teacher was also a young brown-haired woman) and was enraged when she took off points for my [correct] use of the subjunctive. When I pointed it out to her she clearly had never heard of the subjunctive.

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