Today I got a letter in my box at the Mayberry Watering Hole.
It was from the University, congratulating me on making the Dean’s Honour List last semester.
I made the honour roll every semester of my life in my primary and secondary education. Both my parents were trained educators who worked really hard at helping me get good grades, so my making the honour roll was not really an expectation; it was a fact. It’s just what I did. (Likewise my sister.)
I wasn’t particularly bookish growing up—not in the annoying Hermione way. I mean, I was annoying in a lot of ways, but I didn’t hang out at the library for fun is what I’m saying. (Not that there’s anything wrong with chillin in the library on the weekends; heck, what I would give now for hours and hours of free time to browse library shelves!) But as a kid, I didn’t really pride myself on my education.
My parents prided themselves on my education.
But mostly I prided myself on being able to eat my own scabs. (Oh how times have changed.)
Every couple of months the new honour roll list would get posted and there would be my name, and there would be my certificate, glossy red embossed letters on white cardstock with a roaring cougar’s head smack dab in the middle, and whoop dee doo, I made the honour roll.
Because of this type of scholastic behaviour, I went to ASU on scholarship.
For two semesters.
Until I lost my scholarship.
After taking off a few intermittent semesters to do various things with my life, I started back to school, this time paying for it with my own personal husband’s money.
And suddenly I found myself caring a lot more about my grades than I ever had before, probably having something to do with wanting my own personal husband to be happy with his investment.
I got straight As in nine consecutive classes (three classes per semester, three semesters in a row). But this did not qualify me for the Dean’s Honour List because to qualify for the DHL one must take a minimum of four classes and get higher than a 3.75 GPA in them in any given semester.
So I never made the DHL.
And it sort of bugged me, mostly because this guy named Henry kept getting on the list while I did not.
(Henry is my archenemy. He doesn’t know it. But he is.)
Finally I got my Canadian residency and could afford to take more classes per semester.
Last semester I took four.
I got straight As.
I made it to the DHL.
I got a letter saying so:
The letter reads:
Dear Whoever You Are,
It is my great pleasure to inform you that as a result of your academic performance during the Fall semester of 2010, your name will appear on the DHL.
This is a significant accomplishment which places you among the very best students at the U of L. On behalf of whomever cares about this crap, congratulations etc.
The Canadian dean with a Japanese-looking signature.
As I read the letter, though, I found myself caring very little. After all those semesters of being mildly annoyed at not making the list, I thought it would’ve meant a little more to me.
But aside from finally showing up Henry, the DHL is nothing more to me than a piece of overpriced letterhead.
No cash prize. No tuition subsidy. No gift certificate for a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza.
Just a piece of letterhead (granted, on top-quality paper, but what the university could save by switching from heavy letterhead to generic one-ply could easily make a nice scholarship fund for the “among the very best students”) signed by a man with an illegible signature.
I have always known I am among the very best students at this University, barring Henry. I need no dean to reassure me of this fact.
And it’s not that I’m so particularly great. It’s just that the pickin’s are pretty dang slim.
Making it on the DHL at this leaves me kind of hollow-feeling, just how I felt for so many childhood summers during which I played little league softball—I was usually one of the more tolerable players, but almost always on a losing team.
Only different, because even softball landed me a sno-cone after games.