Beyond the Books

Your Guide to student life

Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 5:32 p.m.

Just Joshin’

A look at the world through my eyes. Well, just part of the world.

Josh Perlman. Michelle Rattinger | Senior Photo Editor

I love a good, old-fashioned game of cards every once in a while.

But imagine my surprise when I walked into class last week to find a deck of playing cards being passed around the room. Also being passed around was a black Sharpie marker, which we were instructed to use to write our names on one of the cards.

Following my confusion was a pang of guilt. Was I single-handedly supposed to tarnish the appearance of a perfectly useful five of diamonds?

With a wince, I held the marker in my hand and slowly signed the card. War, Spit, Poker, Blackjack and Fuck You Pyramid – these were now lost experiences for these blemished cards.

Eager to learn what the meaning of all this was, I handed my card to the professor. Once he had everyone’s cards, he did that suspense-creating thing professors seem to think is all the rage these days. He took the stack of cards and placed it gently on the table at the front of the room as he began the lecture.

It wasn’t until 10 or 15 minutes into class that he picked up the stack of cards and said, “Okay, so let’s pick on someone to answer this question.”

No.

I held my breath, praying he wouldn’t choose the card with my name on it.

I’ve never been the type of student who speaks out in class. I like to think of myself as a silent but deadly learner. Rather than answer questions and participate in class discussion, I prefer to sit quietly and nod my head with my eyes squinted slightly in a way that says, “Please, tell me more.”

I let out a sigh of relief when he called on someone else to answer his question. But then he picked another card. And another. And another.

By the time he actually said my name, I was seriously considering going online and researching helpful hints to decrease escalating blood pressure.

“Josh Perlman,” he said, looking around the room.

I froze. The last time I remember being this terrified to hear the sound of my own name was when my high school gym teacher chose me to lead the class in an aerobics routine.

I could only hope he would ask me a simple question I knew the answer to, like “What’s your favorite color?” or “If you could be any kind of tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

And, actually, what came out of his mouth was simple. Too simple. It was so simple, the answer it required would be anything but simple.

“Josh Perlman, what do you think?” he asked, still waiting for Josh Perlman – wherever he was – to acknowledge him.

What do I think? I think my feet are sweating.

I sheepishly raised my hand and felt my mouth start moving. I was only half conscious of what I was saying, but it must have been long-winded because I forgot to take a breath and grew light-headed toward the end.

When I had finished my answer, I waited in horror for his reaction.

Part of me expected him to burst into tears of rage and insist I leave his classroom. But he did nothing of the sort. He nodded his head and told me I raised an interesting point.

I felt a sense of pride swell within me and left the classroom with a bounce in my step, like a prisoner freed from his jail cell.

Okay, so I’m being dramatic. But I had won a battle – a battle I will have to fight twice a week for the next three months.

I’ll never look at a deck of cards the same way again.

  • Adam DiBattista

    I would be horrified if a professor ever did that. Regardless, this article made me giggle.

  • 2012

    Every class should do this, sounds like a great idea.

  • PK

    Reducing sodium in your diet and exercising regularly can help with the escalating blood pressure.
    Just a helpful tip from a friendly neighbor.
    Great post, josh!