From Katella to Warner, from Brookhurst to Beach and all points in between and adjacent, there’s a kind of a fog descending over everyone from 5 to 17.
It’s what is commonly known as “that Sunday night feeling.” It’s how your thoughts changed from the fun of the weekend to the looming reality of …. back to school.
The long “Sunday” of summer is just about gone and whether it’s you as a student or a parent, you know how strongly you feel that wheel of life turn. Either you are going through it or can remember it clearly.
Oh, there might be some pleasant anticipation about a new school year. New teachers, new friends, new status. Maybe a new romance. But it was often mixed with trepidation about how you fit in, how much more difficult the classes might be, and how in-style or out-of-it your new clothes were.
My brother hated back-to-school like a cat hates a bath. As soon as he saw those sales advertised in the local paper and in the store windows, he would let out a low moan. “August? August? It’s too early!” he might say.
On the other hand, my sister would gripe about the tyranny of wool. Much of the clothing marketed and on sale for the big September fashion show was ordered and offered for sale by folks in New York or some such frosty place.
But – as we all know – September and October in Southern California can be among the hottest months of the year. Who in their right minds wanted to put on plaid skirts and long-sleeved sweaters and knee socks when the only sensible way to dress would be shorts and a T-shirt? And yet they did.
I was somewhere in between. I was an eager student, or at least I was until I hit algebra. But as someone who taught college classes for over 30 years, most of my strongest memories come from the other side of the desk.
A sampling of my common first day experiences:
- Students unable to find an 11 a.m. class.
- Students dressed for the beach, or less.
- Students, five minutes into the greeting, asking “Will this be on the test?”
- Students saying “I’m taking a ski trip for a couple of weeks in November. Can you send me your lecture notes?”
- The dean saying “Your enrollment is down in that class. Do you have any relatives you can get enrolled just long enough so we can make our numbers?”
- In a classroom with no windows, the air conditioning flips off. Or gets stuck at 55 and won’t budge.
- Students who sign up for the same class for three or four semesters vowing to “finally bear down this time!”
- That one weird student who shows up with spiked rainbow-dyed hair and a ripped T-shirt reading “F*** Authority” who ends up just being a normal kid who needs a little respect and polite attention.
He made it through and so will you. Summers and Sunday nights don’t last forever.
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts appears on alternate Wednesdays, just like homework.
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