Thursday, August 27, 2015

NUMBERS, WORDS, AND WFF N PROOF

As I have been journeying through my journal from senior year in high school, I've discovered memories I had long since forgotten.  Puns were very popular in our AP English class.  They became a part of the air we breathed, and popped out at times without our realizing it.  At one point, when we were discussing Shaw's St. Joan, I remarked that St. Joan had a man’s job to do, so she had decided to be suitably attired—entirely unintentionally I had made a pun, and John Hazard seized upon it, pointing it out rather loudly to my delight and consternation.  

In addition, we reveled in "Tom Swifties," which were named after the Tom Swift series of books, science fiction tales geared toward readers who also might have read Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys.  The author, who wrote under the pseudonym of Victor Appleton, had a habit of attaching adverbs to the phrase, "Tom said."  John Hazard had at one point promised me a whole page of Tom Swifties, but the very next day as I was getting my lunch from my locker, he walked past me and said, "'My, this roof is strong,' said Tom beaming."

As we moved into the second half of the year, birds came home to roost in the numbers we received on the various Achievement Tests we had taken earlier.  Those of us in the AP English class were mostly very competitive. I'm not sure if it was my father's influence, who gave me the impression I could do anything I wanted, or the three years at the all girls' school where I was used to competition, or my own personality, or a little of all three, but I never understood why a girl should play down her own intelligence in order not to offend a boy.  In the Achievement Tests I had taken, I received numbers that were all in the 95th to 99th percentile, but in Spanish I got an 800, which was the top score.  I was so excited, I ran out of the Guidance Office, and told one of my friends who was waiting for me, and soon a whole group of friends was congratulating me.  My Spanish teacher told me that even her nieces, who were native Spanish speakers, hadn't done that.  But my happiest moment was when John Hazard told me that he, who had gotten an 800 on a couple of other things, had not gotten an 800 on the German Achievement Test, and that he had never heard of anyone getting an 800 on a language Achievement Test.  Instead of being embarrassed, I was thrilled that now I had earned his respect.  

Another intellectual pursuit was the beginning of the WFF n Proof Club on campus, a game my father had gotten for me several years earlier to teach me logic.  I taught my girlfriends, and one of the boys taught his friends, and we carried on from there, and I even had to show the teacher who was the moderator how to play.  For several weeks, we all went around school using the arcane WFF n Proof terminology and undoubtedly got a great deal of fun from speaking in a language that the uninitiated didn't understand. 

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