But science still sucks.

i just learned that facial expressions don’t accurately convey emotions from top ranked neuroscientist, Lisa Feldman Barrett, who uses actual SCIENCE to figure stuff out instead of Facebook feeds and Gut Instincts which i capitalize, because, that’s pretty much my own M.O. and it ROCKS.

i’m totally F-I-E-R-C-E. Dude.

But i don’t do science.
It’s not that i can’t.
Well, yes it is…i can’t.

In fact, i pretty much slept through biology as a high school junior. Or, i tried…that teacher was really good at throwing erasers and hitting sleeping students. It scared the bejeezus out of me every time! And then there was the added insult of calling me “goat roper” because i lived way out in the country and somehow that made sense to him even though i didn’t have any goats and actually only had fat, farty Labradors and if you threw a rope around one of them they would just sniff it and go back to sleep. i can still hear him now: “Hey Goat Roper!” (BAM! with the eraser) “You gonna wake up and pay attention today?”

i hate science.

i hate all these things

But, as if i’d done something terrible in a past life, i was required to take Chemistry for at least one semester as a senior or i couldn’t graduate. There were no other classes i could substitute for it. It was take Chemistry or not get a diploma and have to transfer to some program for pregnant teen parolees who can’t go to regular school and are put in one big room with a general ed book from the 70’s and a nearly retired, short-termer teacher who sits behind their desk playing candy crush on a smart phone waiting for knife-fights to break out while i nervously stare at a drawing of the fallopian tubes sans anything that could be construed as naughty and it just looks like a cow skull to me now wondering how i will ever pass this damn test and what i could have possibly done to land me in Bad Science Karma Hell.

And yet still… it was CHEMISTRY!! i hate science!!!

i contemplated the GED/knife fighting option. It was almost worth it.
But, in the end, i figured a diploma was worth three months of hell and anyway, i had karma to pay.

But, it really WAS hell, and by the end of the semester, there was no doubt in my mind that i had paid the karmic price and could now say adieu to all science-y things forever and ever, amen.

Look at that hand. That hand hates science.

Shortly after the new semester started, my former Chemistry teacher, who was from Alabama (or Oklahoma…or Kentucky….somewhere) and spoke with a very distinct twang, bumped into me in the hallway. My brother, who was two years younger, two grades below me, and light years more science-y smart than me was taking Chemistry too. Except he didn’t quit the class halfway through the year like i did. (“Quit”. LOL. More like lit a match and walked away, never looking back.) Some arcane rule, which was probably actually a good thing, prevented siblings from being placed in the same class so i never had the opportunity to have the experience learning Chemistry side by side with him. More than likely, if we had been placed in the same class, it would have resulted in him being all “Mr. Science” and me looking like an idiot and then i would have to beat him down to re-establish sibling dominance again.

No, we were in separate classes but taught by the same teacher. And that day, when i ran into the teacher, she saw me and started shaking her head sorrowfully.

“Cay-un-dice? Oh, i wish it had been YOU who stay-ud in my class and yer brother Day-un whoulda drawpped it.”

“Really? What did Dane do?” i ask, because of COURSE he did something. He always does something.

“Way-ull…….” and then she proceeded to tell me of the “incident” which shall be forever known as The Day Dane Nearly Got His Teacher Fie-urd, because that is exactly what he did.

i hate all these words

It seems the Vice Principal came by to talk to her, so she stepped out of the classroom “for jest a say-cund” to talk to him. In a oddly timed circumstance, just as the door closed, my brother Dane completed an off-the-book science experiment that involved a minor explosion sending a set of keys flying up in the air and arching over the ceiling’s fluoresent light fixture, but not quite far enough, as the keys ended up landing IN the fixture and there they lay, hopelessly stuck, and beautifully backlit.

The teacher, Mrs. Science, missed all this. What she didn’t miss, however, upon returning with the Vice Principal who was going to observe her teaching the class, was Dane standing ON the cabinet top, stretching high on his tiptoes, with a magnet in one hand, trying to coax the metal keys to the edge of the light so he could grab them.

Now, i know my brother just a wee bit and i know this all must have made perfect sense to him. But at this point in the story, i could see that Mrs. Science was completely devastated. She sighed and shook her head.

“Whyyyyyyy? Of awll the dayz for this to happen, duz it happen awn a day the Vice Principal comez to viz-it?”

This seemed rhetorical so i didn’t answer. i didn’t know the answer anyway. It probably had something to do with her own Bad Science Karma and she’s in payback mode right now.

i told you, science sucks.

i just shook my head in commiseration and tried to look empathetic.

Truth be told, if MY science classes had had more explosions and less Latin and microscopes and molecules and test tubes and crap, i might have stayed in chemistry too.

i later relayed this info to my brother and tried to convey how disappointed Mrs. Science was, but either i didn’t explain it well, or something was lost in translation, because his response was –

“Yeah!!! Can you believe they went that far?? Cool. We didn’t know what was gonna happen. And the magnet thing? Well we had to get them down, didn’t we? We couldn’t just leave them up there!”

Or something equally as innocent and excited as that.

And who can argue with it?

Face it, Mrs. Science. “If ya cay-un’t beat ’em, join ’em,” is all i’ve got to say.

That, and Bad Science Karma doesn’t last forever. You eventually pay it off. Just be more careful in the future or Karma may sic my kid brother on you again and you might find yourself at a public presentation with your pants on fire. Just sayin’.

Distinguished Professor of Psychology Lisa Feldman Barrett is director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory.
photo by Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University. She doesn’t hate science.

 

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