I don’t know why they made me take chemistry in junior high and high school. I never got it. Never came anywhere close to getting it.
High school chemistry was worse. Because I had done so well on other subjects that had absolutely nothing to do with chemistry, I was rewarded by being placed, the next year, in the advanced chemistry class! Along with kids who built their own computers. You got an extra grade point just for being there, so all my F’s were transformed into D’s. Can you give me hallelujah?
And at the end of the year, the dreaded Lab Final. It counted for half your grade. And it was do or die. Mr. Dennison handed each of us a small sample of an unknown substance, and we had two hours to identify it. If you were right, you got an A on the final. If you were wrong… bye-bye.
Now, I had no way to go about identifying the tiny bit of white powder that had been doled out to me. Confectioner’s sugar? Baking powder? Itching powder? How the hell do I know? You were supposed to subject the material to various laboratory tests–but I couldn’t remember how to do any of those tests, or what they meant, etc. etc.
Oh! Wait! I remembered one single thing from eighth grade chemistry! Just one. “This is the flame test for sodium,” I remember Mr. Buckelew saying. It was the only freakin’ thing I remembered in two whole years of chemistry. It didn’t even rise to being a lucky guess.
So I performed the flame test for Sodium. Waddaya know?? That’s what it was! Sodium fugazi or something. I wrote it down and handed it in. Only ten minutes had gone by since the exam started.
You should’ve seen the look the teacher gave me when he saw my correct answer scrawled across the page. He knew I didn’t know! And now I’d ruined his whole testing regimen. His format hadn’t accounted for a lucky guess by an almost total ignoramus.
But I walked out with a passing grade in chemistry!
And never went anywhere near it ever again.