His female friend laughs. I turn to them at the next opening. "Well, you know, there are only 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don't." We share a chuckle. She's beaming - it's a good one.
We have a quiz. On goes the lecture. I hear the two students in question whispering. A quick whisper is OK, this was kind of sustained. While it doesn't bother me, I find the behavior curious. I surreptitiously turned and glanced to them, out of curiosity to see what was so important.
After I turned my head, I stopped to think - perhaps I was calling them out by looking. And nobody likes a tattletale. I don't even like a tattletale. So next time, I'll try harder not to look. I don't want to send the message, "Hey everybody, notice how distracting these two are." If you haven't already guessed, everything we do sends a message.
Anyway, after the class is over - and it had that infuriating quality of everybody packing up and standing before the professor was even finished; I'd forgotten how scare commodities maturity and patience really are among some frosh - another girl, uncommonly pretty, is saying to this same pair, "I don't mean to be prudish..." She was instantly understood. The atmosphere is fairly light, by the way - I'm not writing this to vent. "I have a large scholarship and I want to keep it." Most remarkably, she said it in a way that didn't arouse resentment.
Being on friendly terms with the "offending" pair, I could venture to sympathize: "I know what you mean - I'm risking my life savings." (OK, a slight simplification.) We laugh. Everybody gets the message.
A moment later, she comes into my row: "Hey, what calculus class are you in?"
Aw crap. I should have been prepared for this with a smart, confident answer. I demurred and explained that I narrowly failed the tests and was in 1190 ("pre-calculus review").
(I have my new answer: "Oh, I'm with the naughty kids - 1190." And say it with a smile.)
In an instant I was no longer her intellectual peer. But I think that's a hill I can climb back up, even if there will always be people (perhaps she among them) who are leaps-and-bounds beyond me in mathematical skill.
Anyway, I'm having a pretty good time with this, all told. Nobody's expecting us to move mountains yet. The workload is reasonable, but I do miss the ease and comfort of writing essays (though not the boredom and the imperative to reach an arbitrary though numerically-pleasing word count).
Mmmkay, should I stay here or go home? I find it hard to study at home because there are so many little temptations and out-and-out distractions. But here I can't eat for free. Well, I'll have a slice of pizza here, do some work, and then go home for supper.