Saturday, January 19, 2013

Interview -- Itch vs. Scratch


One day out of the blue, the girl who sat in front of me in Geometry class turned around and started talking to me about how she worked at the library, but was soon going to be graduating and getting a new job. She then went on to say that she thought I should apply for the job, that she would even put in a good word to the manager for me. Other than the usual banal pleasantries and comments about geometry homework, this girl and I had rarely had a conversation. Maybe it was the fact that I always had a book with me and looked for any lull in Mrs. D'Amico's discussion of postulates to open it up and read. Whatever it was, I was so excited. I was fifteen and had never had a job other than my paper route, and the library was my dream job! Being in the presence of books at all time? Organizing? Yes! Plus, it was exactly one block from my house.

So, I went in and filled out an application. The manager, Beth, called soon after and asked me to come in for an interview. An interview! Needless to say, I had never been on an interview before and was anxious about what I should wear. And, as I have an uncanny ability to remember exactly what I was wearing on any momentous (or even ordinary) life event, I can tell you that I wore a red sleeveless polo shirt, with a wrap-around skirt made out of red and white checkered picnic tablecloth material (which my Mom made for me after I saw something like it in an issue of Seventeen magazine) paired with some white Keds.

I thought I looked respectable, and Beth must have thought so, too, because I got the job. And, I continued to dress in this manner every time I showed up for work--skirts, dresses, twin sets, etc.--until finally Beth called me into her office.

"Don't get me wrong, you always look very nice for work, but you do know that you don't have to dress up, right? You can wear jeans and t-shirts, you know."

But, Beth didn't know that at three, I would invariably change into a leotard and one of two plaid pleated skirts, no matter what my mom dressed me in that morning. That the dress I chose for my 8th grade graduation seemed more suited for a 40-something business professional than a 13-year old. That when required to wear cheerleading sweats to school I was disappointed because I hated wearing sweats in public.

"Oh, I know. I just like to dress up."


Once our "gifted and talented" teacher, Nancy Miller, mentioned that she knew all of our IQ scores. Of course, we begged her to tell us what they were. But, with an air of mystery, she replied, " one should ever know their IQ. It's dangerous..." And she left it at that.

She never explained what she meant, but I took it mean that if your IQ was on the high side, you might assume that you were smart and therefore didn't have to try very hard or study, which in turn might negatively affect your grades. On the other hand, if your IQ was on the low side, you might assume that you didn't have the capacity to learn much, so why bother trying? Either way, knowledge of the score could stifle your motivation, which you definitely need to get through some of the drudgery of high school.

Not long ago, someone brought up IQ scores and I said that I didn't know mine for the reason I just mentioned. This person was astonished, "Well, you could easily find out. You should!"

But, I don't think I will. Mrs. Miller's ominous warning still gives me pause.


If you had to choose between "itch" and "scratch" for a nickname, which would you choose? I know, neither is desirable, but which is worse?

Itch implies that you have lice or some sort of contagious skin disease. And, scratch doesn't have the most positive connotations either. But, this was the dilemma I was faced with one afternoon in sixth grade band.

So, apparently, it's not in good taste to stop an entire band mid-song to announce that you have to scratch an itch under your left knee sock. I guess this is something that middle school band directors don't approve of, particularly irascible band directors named Mr. Mirabella.

He immediately shot back at me, "Well, then your new nickname is Itch."

"Noooo," I whined back.

"Fine, how about Scratch then? You choose."

The whole band waited in anticipation of my choice (it wasn't that big of a band, in case you were imagining this to be more dramatic than it actually was). Feeling defeated by either moniker, I went with Scratch. And, that is what he faithfully called me for the next three years.

I never stopped the band like that again, but the name became oddly fitting for me. "Scratch" was the perfect word to describe the majority of sounds that emanated from the saxophone while I played it.

1 comment:

  1. Dressing up is the best. I think you were just wise beyond your years!