During school, I heard there was no such thing as a stupid question, only questions that people weren’t brave enough to ask.
I wasn’t so sure about that then, and sometimes, I still wonder about that.
But it was my freshman year of high school and I had my fair share of silly and stupid situations.
The first thing I discovered was that high school was a lot different than middle school.
A’s were easy in middle school. High school brought with it geometry and a foreign language requirement.
For the first time, I found myself struggling with schoolwork.
“What is wrong with you?” Granny demanded. “You ain’t never brought home anything less than an A.”
I didn’t know.
“She’s boy crazy,” she declared to my mother. “That’s what’s the matter. She’s got boys on the brain instead of her studies.”
That may have been kind of true. But, honestly, boys weren’t my priority, especially not when there were books, music, makeup, and hair products to buy.
“It’s harder in ninth grade,” I said in my defense. “Geometry makes absolutely no sense — there’s shapes involved. And I am really having a hard time in Spanish. I don’tunderstand it at all. It’s like Greek to me.”
Mama looked up from her crossword. “Except it’s not Greek, Kitten. It’s Spanish. Have you talked to your teacher?”
“No,” I replied forlornly. I hadn’t. I tried to keep a low profile in the class, lest she call on me.
The teacher was a lovely woman from Argentina and Spanish was her native language.
The majority of our class was done in Spanish only so we’d come to be fluent in speaking it. I was drowning.
We had Latin in first grade — shouldn’t that count as my foreign language?
I felt horrible, too, because I wanted to learn Spanish, along with French and Italian. But if the first few weeks were any indication, speaking another language was not going to be in my future.
“You did good in Algebra last year,” Granny said, still focused on the math. “You was taking it with high schoolers.”
“What can I say? I peaked early.”
Of course, the Redhead Prime did not find that funny at all.
Pop and Bobby both tried to help me with geometry, it being something they used every day in roofing.
After one particularly tough session, my uncle declared it was just good that I had other strengths.
When it came time for a parent-teacher conference, Mama was determined to get to the bottom of things.
One teacher immediately started off by saying I was talking constantly in class, but somehow had an A.
“I’ve moved her several times,” the teacher added. “She still talks.”
Another teacher said, “I tried that; she will talk to the wall. Even moved her next to someone she didn’t like and they still talked.”
Mama said my Spanish teacher looked utterly bewildered. “She has never said a word in my class. She’s the quietest student I have.”
“My Sudie is the quietest student you have?” Mama asked, confused.
My teacher nodded.
“Short girl, curly black hair, green eyes?”
My Spanish teacher nodded again. “She’s extremely quiet. I sometimes forget she’s in there. But she seems to be having a hard time with some of the verbs and comprehension so far.”
She recognized me by my failures. It felt like there was so much to learn, that I was overwhelmed and would never get the hang of it.
“One thing your first-grade teacher said was you asked “why” more than any other kid she’s ever taught,” Mama said. “Maybe you need to ask more questions.”
I had asked questions; I still didn’t understand.
“Maybe you’re not asking the right questions,” Mama stressed.
“There may be someone else in your class that don’t understand it either and if you ask, they may learn, too,” Granny interjected.
I knew all of that. I was a dorky nerd and pretty comfortable with my lot in life.
But, I was bringing home something less than an A, and that was cause for alarm.
“Is there anything in particular you’re struggling with that you could ask your Spanish teacher to explain better?” Mama asked.
Actually, there was.
The next day in class, my teacher asked a question and ended it with por favor. I took a deep breath and raised my hand. “Si, Sudie?”
“What are you building?”
“What are you building? I’ve been wondering for weeks now. You keep saying four by four, and I’m wondering what you’re building.”
The class went silent and my teacher broke her rule of speaking Spanish in the classroom.
“Senorita, I’m not saying four by four. I’m saying por favor. Por favor means please.”
She looked as confused as I normally did.
“Does that help clarify?”
I nodded, hearing a few snickers from my classmates.
I was embrassed, of course, but if only I had asked that stupid question sooner, I may have had a better grade.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.