Cheating Yourselves

True story from high school: A friend and I worked very hard perfecting our cheat sheets for a Spanish class.  We devoted a great deal of time developing nearly microscopic handwriting so we could fit all the answers we thought we’d need onto tiny little notes that fit inside our pens, under my class ring band, and at least one of us used a band-aid, writing notes on a hand or finger and then covering it with the bandage.  We also wrote cheat sheets on the bottom of our shoes and on the edges of our soles (back in the day we wore long jeans with ragged hems that swept the sidewalk, so the writing on our shoes could not be seen by the casual eye), and we sat where if we crossed our feet just right I could see his shoe notes and answers, and vice versa.
And then for one test, oh glorious jackpot, we managed to score (a euphemism for steal) an actual blank copy of the test. I was less nervy and just worked on perfecting all my cheat sheets in microscopic hand-writing, but my bolder friend actually filled in the stolen test at home and took it to class and *turned it in.*
Unfortunately, he turned it in too soon- unbelievably quickly.  The teacher told him there was no way he’d finished the test that quickly without cheating so she threw it out, handed him a blank copy and told him to fill it in while she watched.

Doomed, right?

Except…. all that time we spent plotting, designing, writing, and rewriting our cheat sheets was actually pretty much what actual *studying* looks like.  Each of us, in spite of our complete absence of any good intentions, learned the material. So he speedily filled his test in correctly from memory and by then I was wrapping up mine- I had not resorted  to my cheat sheets because I somehow just knew the answers and she was standing so close to watch my friend that it made me nervous.  We turned in our tests together and shot out of the classroom in glee, kicking up our heels and doing a hip bump over our clever rebellious selves.  He explained how he’d almost been caught but had managed to put one over on the teacher by redoing the test just as quickly from memory without resorting to any of our Byzantine cheat stratagems. 

Then it started to dawn us what had actually happened.  We looked at each other in stunned dismay and he was like, “Chica. Oh, chica.  No. No,no, no, no, no, mi amiga.* I hope I’m wrong, but I think we accidentally studied.”

We were depressed the rest of the day.

We thought we gamed the system but we only gamed ourselves.

Life is just like that sometimes.



* Yes.  We really did talk like that.  He was also hands down probably the funniest guy in school and it’s unbelievable that he never became a comedy writer for some television show.




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