Based on my stories to date, you might not believe me when I tell you that I was a pretty good student. School always came easy for me, to be honest. I went to class, did the required reading and managed to not log many hours studying at the library. I was lucky, as this afforded me way more time to black out and take up chain smoking.
I even managed to graduate from the University of Illinois with the highest honors possible. I was a Bronze Tablet recipient, meaning my name (along with the names of 199 others) will forever be on a tablet on the library’s wall. You will see after this story why this was clearly some sort of mistake. An administrative snafu, one might say.
Graduation gown pickup day arrived, so I went with one of my roommates to get our garb. Back at the apartment we giddily paraded around in our gowns. When my friend put on her honors tassles, I ripped open my bag to get mine.
That’s when I noticed something odd: My tassles were all knotted up. Just my luck! I thought I had gotten a bum tassle and I showed my roommate, who agreed. I suggested she help me “fix” the situation, so we began the task of unbraiding the tassle. We noticed there were even pins in this knot. How weird! We were almost completely done with the task when my other roommate came home.
“What are you guys doing?” she asked innocently.
“Oh, of course I got a bum tassle so we’re fixing it.” My other roommate looked at me quizzically as she grabbed the plastic bag the tassles had come in.
“Leigh, um, we have a problem,” she said while studying a piece of paper.
“What?” I asked irritated. “I’m almost done with this unbraiding business!”
“Um, it was supposed to be braided. Look at this,” she said as she handed me the piece of paper.
Yeah, it was supposed to be braided and apparently would then be pinned to my shoulder. My stomach dropped to my feet. I started shaking and sweating! What had I done?!?
I desperately started flinging the tassles into some sort of makeshift braid. I can put this back together, right? Right?? Right???
My roommates tried to help me put it back together, but after about 20 minutes we realized this was not going to happen. I mean, I wasn’t an Eagle Scout. The only knot I’m able to successfully tie is for a noose, which I willingly use on … no one. (What have you heard?!) I burst into tears, how was I such an idiot???
I called my mom crying, telling her what had happened and that I was NOT going to the ceremony. I refuse! My mom informed me that this was not an option, and suggested I go back to the gown passer-outers and explain to them what happened.
Begrudgingly, I went back with my frayed tassles and attempted to explain the situation.
“Um, yeah, hi, so yeah. I didn’t read the instructions? And I kinda unbraided my Bronze Tablet thingy? See? Yeah. So, can I like, get another one?”
The woman looked at me like I had just asked her if she would like to swim in a shark tank while covered in blood.
Her response? “I have no idea what to do. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and this has never happened. Let me talk to my manager.”
She then went over to a man, who I presumed to be her manager, and in hushed tones they discussed my “situation.” He came over and again asked me to explain in detail what happened. Do I have to relive this again???
I managed to get another Bronze Tablet honors thingy. But not before being told NUMEROUS times how this had never happened in the history of their employment at “Cap and Gown” company. And how lucky I was that they happened to have an extra one.
Seriously, I already felt like a big enough idiot, don’t rub it in!
My parents did get to see me graduate, thankfully.
After much unnecessary drama, I might add.
I graduated in the top 3% of the entire graduating class at a Big Ten university. How is it possible to earn straight A’s yet not READ DIRECTIONS? I mean, at no time during my Tazmanian Devil unbraiding and cutting of pins did I stop to think, “Hmmm, maybe it’s SUPPOSED to look like this.”
Honestly, not only should they have taken back my graduating honors, but they should have taken back my degree! Clearly I’m not fit for … living.
How I can walk, talk and breathe all at the same time is a question I ask myself often.
Spring 2000 = Time for spring break during my junior year in college!
Two of my roommates and I decided, last minute, to book a trip to Mexico....