Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An unintentional snappy comeback

Recently I've heard the infamous strains of Heart's "Barracuda" a number of times--over the earbuds in my iPod at the gym, and also in connection with She-Who-Cannot-Be-Named, aka John McCain's VP candidate.

Apparently, this was the Alaska gov's nickname in high school, and was used at the RNC as a sort of theme song for her. Heart, unsurprisingly, has issued a cease-and-desist order to block further use of their song by the campaign.

[If you can't remember the tune, check out the creative phonetic representations of its signature guitar riff over at Historiann.]

Anyway, I'm a little chagrined to admit that "Barracuda" was also my nickname in high school...or at least, the nickname my biology teacher called me. And, in the context of the "snappy comebacks" (non) discussion, I feel compelled to tell the story.

One day very early in my sophomore year, I was sitting in biology class, listening to the teacher, Mr. Logsdon, trying to get some discussion going about the previous night's reading. He'd asked a question that no one was inclined to answer. This wasn't too surprising, given that he was a pretty sarcastic and intense guy, which made him mighty intimidating to a group of 15-year-olds (or to me, anyway).

Suddenly, he says, "Well, Ms. Hathaway, you're sitting back there looking like you know the answer; do you?"

I did, in fact, so I replied, "Yes."

It turns out that what he'd actually said was "Well, Ms. Hathaway, you're sitting back there looking like you know everything; do you?"

To which I had just replied "yes."

So, he assumed I was a total smartass and an egocentric jerk, to boot. For Mr. Logsdon, however, these were apparently badges of honor that earned me the nickname "barracuda," which he continued to call me right through the senior biology class I took with him a couple years later.

I never could bring myself to disabuse him of his misconception, largely because I sort of enjoyed the idea of someone thinking I was an uppity smart mouth, and not just a nerdy freak (which was closer to the truth). In my heart of hearts (or should I say my Heart of hearts), I probably would have wanted to answer his actual question by saying "yes." So why not imagine that I had?

So, my one snappy comeback was, in reality, the result of poor hearing. It still had a similar ring of satisfaction, though.


Christy said...

Ah, Mr. Logsdon. He made me a cup of coffee in a Bunsen burner once. It was an act of kindness during a crappy week, and I've never forgotten it. I think he must've had a soft spot for us nerds.

Rose said...

What a great story, Christy! Thanks for posting it. He was a good guy, beneath his gruff exterior...one of those rare teachers you think back on later in life and imagine were probably really interesting and complicated people. You know, when you reach the age where you realize that your teachers actually *were* people.

Christy said...

I can only hope our own students realize the same one day! Since it's been 10 years since I last taught, I like to imagine a select few of those naysayers telling their kids, 'I once had a disheveled mess of a freshman comp teacher. But she really taught me to ask a good question.'

Rose said...

Hey, if your former students even use the phrase "disheveled mess," you obviously were a good comp teacher.

Pam said...

In college I had a friend who said I was a pro at the "Hathaway incision, quick, painless and utterly deadly. " I'm not sure whether it is age, memory loss or tact that has changed me at this point in my life. I sure kinda miss those days though....