Do you remember the day you learned basic shit? Like, bog standard basic rubbish that we all know, but rarely think about; Columbus/1492, the 4x table, 1066, i before e except after c, 1914-18; that sort of rubbish. No, me neither. Except for one.
Yes, I shall always remember the day I learned about the area of an
equilateral triangle. Because that very formula won me a chocolate
mousse. Petty? Trivial? Well, no.
We were in the dining hall at school and as was traditional, after
everyone had been served and as people started to look like finishing,
it would be announced what was left over and you could go up for
another serving if you wanted. On this day, they had, I shit you not
TWO chocolate mousses left. And they announced it.
Now, if you only have 2 left, of something that is almost certainly
going to popular (cos it's chocolate fucking mousse, for God's sake)
then why would you announce it to a roomful of little kids? Madness.
Or so you'd think, but for reasons which I still, to this day, don't
understand, only 5 people stood up. Maybe my understanding of the
thought processes of my contemporaries was as rubbish back then as it
is today. 5 or 35 though, the problem remained. There were only 2
mousses. What to do?
Well, as it turns out, we were all from the same class, so our teacher
decided that we would decide who got the mousses by a test of our
understanding of what he'd taught us that morning. The swine! 2 people
immediately decided they weren't hungry after all. Shockingly, I wasn't
I say shockingly, because the voices were fucking screaming. You know the ones; "Sit down for fucks sake, people are looking
at you!" and "Oh my God you can't answer a question in front of the
whole fucking school, what if you get it wrong, oh my God, sit down you
utter cretin." etc, etc, etc.
Bear in mind, we're talking about the person who pissed himself in
class because he was afraid to ask permission to go to the toilet. And
who lied to his parents about being forced onto a football team,
because he thought they'd tell him he was too shit to join. I was
literally shaking as I stood there waiting for the question.
I was panicking so badly, in fact, that I missed the first question
altogether. Which meant I felt even more stupid. I gave my head a
shake, and prepared for the next question. Which was a piece of piss,
to be fair. Once I answered it, and the LOSER sat back down, I shuffled
up to the counter, all embarrassed and cringing, to collect my prize
which I wasn't entirely sure had been worth the effort.
Embarrassment continued, as I got to the counter and had to explain to
the servers how I'd known the answer; I'd like to think they were
humouring the little kid, but I suspect they genuinely didn't know;
when all I really wanted to do was get back to my table. Could they not
see that I was mortified?
They say that all's well that end's well, and in many cases they're
right. I mean, I conquered the voices in my head long enough to win
myself a delicious dessert, so that's a decent result, yeah? Hah! As I
left the dining hall that day, it was with a little voice, chirping
away in my head;
"Everyone already thinks you're poor. Then you do that for a little extra food."
"They're all laughing at you for bothering to try."
"They think you're desperate."
My head, ladies and gentlemen.