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  Barbara McLay

Humor Column

By Barbara McLay, University of South Florida


Sometimes You Have to Laugh

When I was an undergrad at USF, you either had to pass a swimming test, swimming the length and back in an Olympic-size pool, or take a PE swimming course and learn four strokes. I could barely dog-paddle, so I had to take the course. I never did learn to do the breast stroke and so was prepared to fail the course and suffer through it again the next semester. During the final exam, I competently used the other three strokes to get across the pool—sidestroke, backstroke, crawl—and left the one I could not do to last. I was at the starting point, debating whether to climb out and confess or to risk to drowning and humiliation, but a loud clap of thunder saved me. The instructor said, "Okay, everybody out of the pool! Barb, you pass; the rest of you come back tomorrow to do your tests!"
Barbara McLay

To pay for graduate school, I was teaching a freshman level writing course in the evenings and substitute teaching on days I did not have to attend classes. One substitute teaching experience was so amazing that I told my writing class about it:

I did not know that I had been called to teach a special education class, but when I got to the school, the principal and I encountered a young man in the hallway and he introduced us. “John, this is Mr. McLay. He’s going to be your teacher today. “

“Yeah,” answered John, hanging his head.

“Mr. McLay doesn’t know how smart you are, John. Why don’t you tell him the square root of 2025?”

“Forty-five,” John answered immediately in a bored voice. I certainly can’t do square roots in my head, but I could multiply and know that he was correct.

The principal had John do a couple more square roots, and then asked me, “When were you born, Mr. McLay?”

“December 1, 1969,” I told him.

“Monday,” John muttered without hesitation. I was flabbergasted! This is an almost impossible calculation to do without a computer.

At this point in my story to my writing class, a young woman exclaimed incredulously, “You were born in the sixties?”
R. McLay


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