Monday, September 29, 2008

States Department

Quick! Quick! Name the capitol city of South Dakota!

Okay. Time’s up.

I remember my first day in the 11th Grade. We had a brand new teacher for our US History class. She looked about our age. But alas, poor thing: we were her first class ever. She bravely called all our names, alphabetically, and asked us to say a little something about the person sitting in front of us. I’ve forgotten who sat in front of me and I’ve forgotten that teacher’s name.

But I remember that day because I almost pulled off a masterstroke of genius previously unheard of in the annals of 11th Grade boys.

“Well, since this is a US History class,” she finally began, “let’s begin the year with a list of the fifty states. Oh, and please name their capitol cities. I’ll give you the rest of the hour to complete it.”

“Are you serious? All of them?”


It wasn’t hard, really, because all those states and cities had been drilled into us every year since fourth grade. We all settled into it with about 30 minutes till end of class. Occasionally there was a snicker. “Shhh.” Or a giggle. “Shhhhh.” Even a whisper. “Shhhh. No talking.”

Just for fun I decided to think outside the box and list all the states and their capitol cities alphabetically. Alphabetically! A feat never before attempted in the annals of 11th grade boys.

Alabama, Alaska (a new state), Arizona (home)…New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico…all the way to Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Ta-da!

…47, 48, 49. Huh?

Wait a minute! Wait-wait-wait! There’s one missing! There’s only 49 states here! I counted again. I missed one. I racked my brain. I couldn’t figure out the missing state. I looked at a mental map, but didn’t see that state. Time was running out. What…? Which…? I imagined a list, but couldn’t find it. The bell rang; class was done. I shuffled to the new teacher’s desk and dropped off my incomplete—but alphabetized—list. Briefly, my eyes begged for mercy and then I left the room.

Well, I almost completed the list (49 outta 50 ain’t bad). I almost named all the capitol cities. And I almost listed everything in correct alphabetical order. Pretty good for an 11th grader, huh?

The next day my paper was returned with a red A and this remark: “Nice handwriting.” Nice handwriting? Didn’t she even notice my remarkable alphabetical achievement? Sheesh! In the annals of 11th Grade boys it was almost brilliant.

Quick! Do you know what capitol city I didn’t get right? Do you know what state/city I couldn’t remember? Do you know where I messed up alphabetically? The clues are all here.

Today, I’m embarrassed to say that recently I had to peek for state names and—hoo boy!—I just quit altogether on the capitol cities. And the alphabet? Hah!

But isn’t it amazing that I remember my 11th Grade mistakes so well?

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