Me: So next week we’ll have something like a pseudo-midterm, so make sure you show up and tell your friends if they missed class today. Be here or be [I draw a square in the air.]
[Gesture is met with a mixture of blank and confused looks.]
Me: You know, be there or be square.
Student: To be square is…
Me: Um, you know, like Huey Lewis and the News [I begin singing “Hip to Be Square.”]
[More puzzled looks.]
Me: Huey Lewis and the News guys! So GOOD! A square is somebody who isn’t cool, someone who is conservative, who doesn’t stay out late or get into trouble. Huey Lewis wanted us to think that it might be hip to be square, but in general if someone is a square, it’s kind of derogatory.
Student: So I could say, “I’m making a party, be there or be square!”
Me: Well, yes, except if you say that you are “making a party” you will be every American’s stereotype of a European.
Student: Yes, I’m sorry. “I have a party.” [We’ve already reviewed this in class, twice.]
Me: Correct. Also, “square” isn’t really something people say very much anymore. It’s kind of a 1950s thing, I think.
Student: Then why have we spent all this time on it?
Me: You’ve got me. Just come to class next week for the exam, okay?
Student: We don’t have school next Monday.
Me: Why on earth not? We’ve already had more vacation days than days of class this semester!
Student: It’s Easter.
Me: Easter is on Sunday.
Student: It’s Easter Monday! It’s a national holiday in France.
Me: Are you kidding? Easter is on Sunday.
Student: But if the only day we got off for Easter was Sunday, then it wouldn’t really be a holiday, it would just be a weekend.
Me: Your reasoning is impeccable.
Me: Man, you frogs are excellent at coming up with reasons to not come to work or school.
Student: We’re not square!
Me: Nope, you are not a country full of squares.
Me: About that…
* * *
Photo courtesy of M. Starik, known to her friends as alternately as chickadee, kitten, and Miss Thang (well, not the last one, but we could definitely start.)