(Names have been changed to protect myself from future harm)
“Ok Folks…Welcome to The Art of Writing”
“We will first begin the class with a prayer”
A PRAYER? What? What kind of bogus stuff I get myself into here!!!! Why are we praying? This is insulting for those who are not of the same religion.
“Ok now hold hands and let’s begin”
Hold hands? Where’s my Purell? Why is this man’s hand so sweaty in an air-conditioned room? Why is she in this African wrap mumbling “O-something”. Here we go…
“Father God/ Goddess/ Universe or whomever you are to anyone listening….”
I am not listening to this prayer. Lord forgive these heathens. As a matter of fact, let me just say Lord that despite the fact that we don’t talk often, I still love you and whatever this man is mumbling right now.. “Oh he’s praying for the course”. But anyway, protect me from any crazy people in the class. I see a few here and a fat girl has already scoped me out and asked me what book I was reading. Please help me to avoid her without hurting her feelings…Is he done yet? Yeah ok..Amen..
Huh? Asche? Who?Look “The Blood of JESUS!!!” But what kind of thing I am in here? That is what u get from subscribing to something you saw on the internet. Anyway keep the chant alive. “Open Mind! Open Mind! Open Mind!
“Once again. Thank you all for coming out. I didn’t expect such a large turnout”
“Ok let’s first begin the class with introductions.”
Great!! These people will know my name now!!
“This is how it will go. I want you to say your name, what good thing happened to you today and why are you doing this class?”
Ok two out of three relevant questions? What good happened to me today? Jeez I can’t think of anything….Ummm I still have life? No, no boy it has to be funny. You can’t say something stupid like the rest of them. Ok the first guy is going to talk.
Hi, My name is Ayinde, and leh meh see what good thing happen to me today?. Hmm Oh, ah still have life (DAMN IT!!! He took my thing!!) And why am I here? Well it have ah something in me I feel it need to come out and ah come here to see if this is it. (You mean that you came here to learn English?)
Hi, I is Frank, and wha good ting happen to me today is…well me ent know yes…..I was just real tired today.
Teacher: “Well think of something positive. This is the object of this exercise. It forces you to remember details. We do so much in one day but we only sometimes remember the bad things. So try again” (Wow that was insightful)
Frank: Well am…am….ah reach here safe. Yeah dat is it. Why I doing this class…Well I want to expand my knowledge and ting and better meh self.
(Ok not bad. No comment here. Why is this Big Xena-type girl turning around to me and smiling so much? Do I know her? No. I’m positive of this !! Oh shucks I’m after this guy….What good happened to me today? THINK, THINK, THINK boy!!!).
Yeah People Bless up. My name is Warren Gill-Campbell (Why does “sweaty palms” have a hyphenated name and why is he talking so damn slow?) and well ah doh have ah good memory so I cyah remember much about today except meh mudder drop me here. ( Oh Lord he is 7 years old). Oh, ah did pick out this cool T-shirt to wear. (Ok I guess I found the class idiot. You had competition before but you won by a mile with that statement). Yeah well I here because I like this kinda ting but I have no clue how to get into it. (Oh ok he talk slow before because he was thinking at the same time? Ok mental note made. Oh shucks, me next)
My name is Stefan and today I had a really good “Oil down” for lunch. It was hard to concentrate after eating it but I managed. (The crowd laughs…Yeah I’m funny and ppl are nodding. Why is Xena trying to ask me a question in the middle of my little moment? I’m sure she wants to know where I bought it. Jeez!! Ok she is not shutting up. Alright yes yes we all know you need to beat up a village right now. But there are none, so just chill!!!). I am taking this class because there are so many ideas and stuff floating around in my head and I need to be able to get it out in a constructive manner. (I think the teacher was just impressed with my eloquence.. heh heh heh heh. Yup I’m a big kiss ass!! LOL).
Winnie Mandela, the African head wrap woman, begins to read from her note pad. She even reads her name from it. Wait? Ayinde is her son? Lady? How old are you? Hmmm somebody had sex in their teenage years? She have 3 children? Yup she doing this long time. Oh she is interested in making her poetry and stories in animation. Oh ok… Umm what that have to do with this class?
Ok the rest of the class does it much quicker than the first few people but no one was as original as I was. Heh Heh Heh!! I win!. I win! (Boy do I need help).
It is just like me to go into any classroom setting and try to size up my competition. This is why I cannot study on my own for any kind of exam that does not involve me sitting behind a desk in a classroom. ACCA and CFA never appealed to me because even if there is a class for each subject. No exam done within it will help me guage who is the nerd , the dunce and/ or the revision partner.
In every class I attend, I have to do this. This is not a strategy to be the best but to let you know how much work you have to do in order to excel in the class. After a while one is able to figure out who is the “brains” of the class, who is just an “information hoarder”, who takes good notes, who is a “hard worker” and who is just “clueless” at everything. These roles in any class must be identified as each of these people will help me to better study for the class and eventually the exam. The “information hoarder” is not that important unless you have to do a “project” or you missed a class or two and require notes. You also want them in your group as they know where to get any kind of info that is required..
The “Clueless” are only good towards the end of the class when you are trying to revise a topic. They will obviously be lost and still looking around for notes. There you can sweep in and offer some version of help after you have condensed your study plan and therefore get to the nitty gritty with them. You will therefore have revised two or three topics with them and they actually learnt something.
Of course you need to be careful with the “clueless” as some of them are brilliant but lazy. In helping them revise, they quickly absorb your summarized info and together with what info they have studied, you have just given the beast enough ammunition to totally mess up the grading curve and potentially cause yourself to get a less than stellar mark. You need to observe their movements carefully.
The “Hard Workers” are the guys you want to generally team up with for both studying and projects. They want to get things done as quickly as possible and are always ready for input that will open up their way of thinking. Their projects and group meetings usually run smooth and you don’t run the chance of handing in your project two minutes before the deadline. The “clueless” are famous for this.
STAY AWAY from the “pretty people” in the class. Always remember, animals use the skills God has given them in order to survive. The “pretty ones” never study and know that if they say at least two intelligent sentences in class that people will gravitate to them. With this gravitation comes the fact that they do little or no work in project scenarios and will just cause the other project members a lot of grief if a meeting disrupts their “beauty” time or “lover” time. Be very aware of this. When a project is due first thing in the morning and the entire group is up putting it together, the “pretty people” will declare that they are tired and that there is no need for them to be there when everyone else has it under control. At this point a group member (hopefully not me) will cuss them stink but this just slides off their back.
Why do you ask? Well, these creatures always have back-up plans. If they anticipate or find out (through a project member who has fallen in love with them) that the group plans or sabotage them, they usually are already in contact with the lecturer who has already gotten a “sob story” about an ailing family member or a relative on drugs etc”. This is why some universities have made it mandatory that people fill out forms which state how much they think each group member has contributed to a project. These creatures are slick and therefore one must always be on your guard for unexpected flirting and weird calls from them when you least or don’t expect it at all. But anyway I digress…
The Motley crew for this writing class doesn’t fall into that type of class but you still want to know who you can form alliances with and who is just looking for someone new in their life to torment (Xena fits in this latter category. She looks like tropical storm weather but one can never be to sure as depending on what she mood she is in that category can rise easily to hurricane.
This first class was extremely informative as we were basically given a framework albeit “holistic”, that he wants us to move from neophytes to shamans by the end of the course. It is important that we understand the basics of story-telling and writing. He even made mention of the fact that any good comedy has a “family type” setting in it. If there is no strong maternal or paternal type person within the comedy make-up then the format is in crisis before it starts. He then challenged us to find the “family type structure in shows such as “Friends”, Two and a Half Men” and “Seinfeld”.
One class member says that he only watches black comedy shows as he can’t relate to the “white-themed” ones. Then the teacher asked him how many of those “black-themed” ones are still on the air? He couldn’t answer. The teacher pointed to the fact that most black shows cater to a much smaller demographic and offer harsher stereotypes of minorities than most other shows, they also don’t always follow the “family type structure” and hence fail before they even start. Then, I pointed out that they suffer from bad writing and bad acting.(Yes, I had to put my two-cents in) The guy then jumped up and said that Tyler Perry’s House of Payne was the funniest thing of TV. Then I blurted out, well if you like badly done Church skits then you would have no problem with it. He was lost with my critique
I pointed out that unless you grew up in a traditionally Black Christian/ Pentecostal background, you get the Tyler Perry humor. If you didn’t then it is lost on you and therefore it won’t hold your interest for long. The teacher agreed with my statement partially (I will deal with his bipartisan approach on another occasion. He needed to fully agree with me!!) and stated that we would explore it further during one of the classes.
We then had to chose two days of the week that would be comfortable to everyone for class. In no time we chose Monday and Thursday. Then “Xena” raised her hand. Apparently, she can’t come either of those days because she works late everyday. When asked what days could she attend class; she says she is not sure as she works late everyday. Oh I forgot to mention that when she was giving her introduction , she said she didn’t know why she was doing this class. She thinks or guesses she was just looking for something extra to do.(Yeah Xena great way to win over the villagers!!!)
At this point I hold my head and think “why did she come to the class anyway?” Winnie Mandela then tells her to make up her mind if she wants to do the class and sacrifice her time. If not then don’t return. ( I think Winnie and I will get along fine.) This sparked a semi-debate between them on who should mind their business. No one cursed but “Xena” looked poised to drive her sword through Winne. The rest of the class (well me) pointed out to her that she was the only one who didn’t know why she was actually doing the class and now she is also the only one who has a problem with the time schedule. Therefore as the only one with the problem, she should go home and think about what she wants to do, while the rest of us will be here on Mondays and Thursdays for class.
I saw hate in eyes after that statement. Then I knew for sure she was in love or in the least intrigued by me and would surely try to get my number by the end of class or afterwards. Heh Heh Heh Heh
Class didn’t last long after this and we were dismissed. I rushed to the bathroom as these days I have the bladder of an infant. The bathroom facilities dictate that I really try not to touch anything in there. I made a mental note to walk with hand sanitizer and paper towels of some sort so that my hands don’t pick up anything that could be lurking in that bathroom (like leprosy).
On walking back to class to get my note book, who could stop me in the corridor but “Xena”. She decided to tell me that I did not offend her and that she likes how outspoken I am. (yeah right). Then she asked if she could have my number so that if she misses a class or two that I could give her the notes. I smiled externally (Internally: Oh Lord It has begun! She’s in love!), then I told her that I don’t give out my numbers to strangers and that we will see what happens as the class progresses.
I thought I handled that well. I did not offend her nor did I out-rightly reject her. I just told her basically that her request would be taken under consideration. It would be denied but she doesn’t have to know that.
As I left the building to head to my car, I saw “Mr. Hyphenated Name” on the corner on his phone asking his “mummy” where she was as he was ready to go home. I laughed to myself because he didn’t sound so sheepish in the class but I guess you just never know what is going on with the people you meet.
I really hope that this class gives me some measure of insight into writing. If not, then I guess I still found something to do other than eat peanut butter on an afternoon while using Facebook.