What Is This?
The Archive

Sketch: July 1994

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Background: A companion to the previous strip.

Based on O'Malley's response, I doubt I expected anyone to ever read this. The "fifth grade" reference is this: when I was in grade school, the teachers used to make an effort to "challenge" the "smart" kids (ie, give them extra work to keep them busy). This meant that I spent a good bit of time looking up stuff in the school library and earning some kind of (non-existent) extra credit for it.

My fifth grade teacher didn't see the point. (This was her first year teaching, so she might not have been aware of the benefits of keeping kids occupied.) So I ended up getting bored (a lot) and became quite the brat.

One particular afternoon in Science class, the teacher noted that helium was the second lightest element. She offered extra credit to anyone who could tell her what the lightest element was (after class). "Cool," I thought, "I can run by the library and look it up." Then I looked down and noticed that it was written in the margin of the page we were on in the book. I'll emphasize: the page we were on.

I was livid. How is it extra credit if you don't have to do anything extra? If all you have to do is look down?

I seem to remember announcing something like "But that's easy!" and having a moderate argument with her, eventually noting: "It's written in the book!" Then, in the most stern, unapologetic manner, she announced, "Then I guess it's not extra credit anymore."

For a split second, I was satisfied. That is, until I realized that more than one member of the class wanted to beat the ever-loving tar out of me.