What Is On My Mind Today: Expensive Canvas and the Failing Grade

What is on my mind today is an expensive canvas that Doug bought for me this weekend. I have been oil painting on el cheapo student quality canvas for months, and, well, this canvas is the big league.

I am going to have to apply myself.  Which always reminds me of the first time that anyone saw my potential and forced me to apply myself.  I should have been the poster child for world class under achievers.  Somehow I managed to scholastically skate through school never being challenged by a teacher to work up to “my” potential until a fateful day in college.

This momentous occasion for self-reflection occurred over a paper I submitted to a professor.  He gave me an F. Before the shock of receiving a failing grade had even fully penetrated my consciousness, the old guy made all of the students in that class read their papers out loud.

After the shaming had been completed,  I vigorously protested my grade by pointing out very specifically that my paper was a hell of a lot better than the blonde girl’s!  Calmly the professor walked over to me.  Looked me right in the eyes and responded that, yes, my paper was better than hers.  For her that was A work.  For me, it was F work. As she sat there and beamed with pride, he concluded my very public critique by adding that in the future it might help if I did not watch television while writing papers for him. That is, if I planned to pass his course.

It was the only F, I had ever received! Oh, the outrage! A publicly outed F and being beaten in any fashion by a blonde!  Especially, a blonde that had no idea she had just been highly insulted.

I knew two things at that moment: that old professor was a lot sharper mentally than he dressed, or than I gave him credit for; and, if he wanted an A paper, an A paper is exactly what that man was going to get.

I applied myself writing the next week’s paper. I received an A+ and eventually aced his course.  He ended up being one of the professors that I asked to write a recommendation for me to be included in my college placement credentials.  I never read any of my college placement credential recommendations for over ten years after I graduated. When I finally asked for a copy to review, it surprised me that he wrote about that paper.  It amazed me to know that the A+ he gave me on that paper was the only A+ he had given out that entire year.

Yes, expensive canvases always pressure me. They must filled with some fantastic topic excellently executed, but for some reason…I just want to paint Hereford bulls fighting in a mesocyclone.  

Moral of story: Don’t judge a professor by his obvious lack of ownership or ability to use a clothes iron when he has the power to really mess up your grade point average. 

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