The Basement Files

Grow up or play video games? I think I’ll go with the second choice on this one


I’ve said a few times over the year that, “This is one of my favorite times of year.”
This is not one of them. In fact, this is probably my least favorite time of year.
There are scant few redeeming factors to it, other than the really nice weather we’ve had. Right now, in my yard and others across the city, trees are starting to turn, wall calendars are getting thin and the threat of a long winter looms. But even worse, so much so that it’s almost hard to type, is the time of anxiety, fear and dread. It’s “back to school” season.

This was the worst time of year for me growing up. So much so that it bothers me to this day. Everything bad and awful in life was returning full force and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Going to bed while the sun is still down, getting up when you should be going to bed, walking around in the daylight of all things.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, there was forced interaction with other humans. This does not make for a happy hermit, especially adding “back to school shopping” to the list. There is a reason my mother will not set foot in a clothing store with me, and this is it — “Does it fit?”

Who knows? I have never tried anything on in my life, so why would I start for school?
Memories of those shopping trips still give me goose-bumps, or goose-pimples if you are old school. Because looking back on things, I was a huge pain the butt and probably owe my mother more than one apology. But hey, it’s “never ending pasta bowl” time, so maybe I’ll treat her to lunch. It probably won’t make up for all of it, but I’m a hermit, and the simple fact that I’m willing to get out of the house at a reasonable hour speaks volumes. Mom will understand, because she’s awesome.

Now, back to why I hated school. First and foremost, it was a long drag through the semesters. If you had given me more than an outline, I could have finished everything you laid out in a matter of about two weeks. I’ve said it a hundred times, I learned far more far faster being out of school and doing things on my own than I ever did in a classroom. Classrooms might work for some, not me. Although it probably would have been easier on me if I hadn’t made enemies with nearly the entire faculty by day five.

Which brings me to my biggest pet-peeves about school. The first is “subjective grading.” You know what I’m talking about. You are assigned a written report and your entire grade, no matter the context or content, is graded subjectively by the teacher. I tested this out in eighth grade with my English teacher, who, so eloquently said, “I gave you a 0 because it wouldn’t hurt your grade.”

Yes, I have witnesses to that. It still wasn’t as bad as the time I was told to lay down in traffic (yes, I have witnesses for that one too,) but to be fair, I really, really had that one coming.

The second thing that really irked me were group projects. As stated above, I dislike forced human interaction. It’s not that I dislike people, I just don’t want to be around them, especially if they are going to kill my grade because they are lazier than am.

“Can we boot this bum from the group? No? Why? Because we have to learn to work together? He’d be fired if this was the real world!”

Thinking back, perhaps this is exactly what cemented my solitary lifestyle
Perhaps school wasn’t as bad as I remember. Then again, perhaps I am seeing it through “rose-colored glasses” and it was substantially worse. Either way, it’s over and done now, and perhaps I should take the advice my teachers gave me and just “grow up.”

Or — hear me out — I could just go play a video game about slaying dragons with scantily clad females. Yeah, we’re going with that choice.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.