I've never been a fan of standardized testing. The rules were, we had to bring two number 2 pencils, no cheating, and lay your pencil down when the time is up. These tests always mortified me. I was not good at taking them and did poorly 100% of the time. My story is how I fought the system and won as a kid in the 80s.
Maybe I wasn't the best child. Sometimes I didn't feel like going to school. Many mornings I'd force a cough or complain about feeling a bit warm so I could stay home and watch The Price Is Right. I'd sit on the couch and drink Sprite while I watched the pretty girls expose the hidden numbers on the tv screen. I'm not sure if my mother fell for it; maybe she didn't feel like arguing, so she let me miss a day. Either way, the result was I got to stay home and hang with Bob Barker.
As luck would have it, I was actually sick on an important test day. Maybe it was the CAT, or it could have been the SAT or perhaps the SUCK, I don't even know. Why the heck did I have to take a test called the California Achievement Test anyway? I mean, I live in Tennessee; hello! They never even told us why we had to take the test. Was it to see if we could read, write, and do math stuff? Isn't that sort of the purpose of school? I'm pretty sure my teacher could tell you everything you need to know, Mr. CAT, so please let me play on the monkey bars instead of coloring bubbles for three hours.
Like many other times, I explained to Mom how I was not feeling well. It worked before, so it should be a cakewalk convincing her I was sick when I was honestly sick. She calmly yet forcefully informed me I would not be missing CAT day. Wait, what? It's an actual day now! Would I get thrown in a California jail for life because I missed the bubble test? My sarcasm did not help my plea. I got dressed, caught the bus, and arrived at Cumberland Heights Elementary School.
As the morning wore on, I could feel myself getting worse. While the teacher explained proper techniques for coloring the tiny circles, I began to feel hot and cold at the same time. It felt like my stomach was swinging from the monkey bars without me while I sat at my desk.
As the dreadful timer started, I reluctantly rose from my seat and approached the teacher. The closer I got to her, the sharper her scowl became. I worked up enough nerve to continue with my walk as the other children watched me closely. The look on my teacher's face was the same expression; Samuel L Jackson contributes to every movie in which he's had a role. I was at the point of no return, so I nervously let her know I was not feeling well. She informed me it was CAT day, and I needed to have a seat and finish the section before the timmer ran out. What's up with the whole CAT day thing? Did I miss something? Do all of the bad boys and girls get sent away to some mysterious underground camp to run on a giant wheel so California has electricity? Why was it such an enormous deal that I missed this stupid test?
(Hear me tell the story)
I lost that battle, but I would not lose the war. Just like George Washington at Valley Forge, I would continue to fight until victorious. "Okay, you did this to yourself" was the thought in my head as I returned to my desk. I began to carefully color the small rings on my paper with the sharp number two pencil as instructed. After answering about ten questions, I let out an uncontrollable cough, followed by a dry-heave. The teacher looked at me as if to say, nice try, now get back to work. I felt better, but it didn't last long. Seven or eight more questions later, it happened again. The cough, the gag, and the stares from everyone, this time, wondering if this was the real deal. Even the teacher began to look a little concerned but not enough to excuse me from class. I was answering fewer and fewer questions before the subtle warnings would occur. I knew how this was going to end. By the time I was down to answering two questions before my body's natural alert system had kicked in again, I knew the time was near. I calmly laid my writing utensil down and waited for the inevitable.
A kaleidoscope of colors mixed into sour-smelling chunks of chaos spewed from my mouth onto my thin, frail unexpecting C A T. The vomit hit the top of the desk like a firehose unleashed with full force. I hurled uncontrollably as the mess piled up, covering any progress I had made on my task. I was excused from class as the rejected breakfast I'd had earlier cascaded into the floor after taking over the top of my work surface.
I left school that day with a feeling of accomplishment. I could have quite possibly been the first child ever to escape CAT day successfully. I may not have completed the test, but I did color my bubble into history. Upon arriving home, I sat on the couch and said hello to my old friend Bob once again.