Blessed, I am. Smart, good in bed, modest - who wouldn't want to be me? I wouldn't not want to want that. Would you? Best of all, I've always been good at exams. Where others freeze up and stare at the wall for two hours before shoving a pencil up each nostril and slamming their face onto the desk, a rich ink of blood and brain inscribing a tale of fear and woe across the virgin answer sheet, I am relaxed, working my way through the paper with a poise that others find admirable, if not actually erotic. Yes, I've always been a bit of a one for exams. Always, that is, until today.
Today I fucked up. Big time.
19th century French realism. Three hour exam. Read all the materials, done all the work, got some decent marks - no problem. Once the exam begins, however, my brain dies. Whatever I know about Balzac and the gang has seeped out through my skull while I slept. I fumble at the pages of Old Goriot (it is an open-book exam), searching for a hand-hold, something - anything - that I can grab onto and get the essay rolling.
Twenty minutes later, I am conversant with the spidery biro lines on my desk and the cracks on the wall in front of me, but in no better position exam-wise.
Finally I manage to hack through some, but not all, of the layers of fortified stupidity that are encasing my brain and actually get some words on the page. They are not, unfortunately, particularly good words. In the past few months I've read Old Goriot twice from cover to cover, plus several supplementary readings of key sections, yet I'm writing about it as though I'd never even heard of it before I started the exam.
Two hours in, I've exhausted my surprisingly meagre knowledge of the book, and I am just gagging to get out of there and shoot myself. I quickly read through the paper, but I am loathe to actually revise anything for fear of making it worse. I get up and hand the thing in. As I walk out into the entirely inappropriate sunshine (birds singing, cats licking themselves - bastards!), there is a feeling in my gut akin to the after-effects of being kicked by an elephant.
Ok, it might not be as bad as I think - there's a strong possibility that it is actually worse than that. I don't even know if I made the pass criteria. Worse than that, however, is the odd sensation of failing myself, of having frozen at a crucial moment, and in a situation where I normally feel at ease. What, as they say, is with that?
(Please excuse the introspection. The usual wackiness will resume shortly.)