People will notice if you’re not a reader. During my senior year of high school, my Latin teacher, Mrs. C, assigned the book “The Ugly American” to supplement our studies. I did not read it and so the subsequent classroom discussion of the book was a tense one for me.
I was gambling she would not call on me but, as you might expect, she did. I don’t remember the question and it’s not important to this story. I was ill-prepared to answer any question regarding “The Ugly American”. I began my answer with this preamble: “I haven’t read the book but from what I’ve heard…”,. This garnered me a few laughs from a few of my classmates but the humor was short-lived and exclusively at my expense.
Mrs. C grabbed me by the ear and led me out of the classroom and into the adjacent stairwell so she could privately administer feedback. It was a stern, one-sided session which almost brought me to tears.
Following my brother’s recommendation, I studied Latin in High School. He told me it should improve my score on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test and therefore increase my chance of being accepted to a college. He was right. Latin helped me then and it has been my linguistic multi-purpose tool, my vade mecum, ever since.
Standing in the stairwell, fighting tears, I listened as Mrs. C counseled me. She saw my future, a future I could not see or understand, and she knew she had a responsibility to prepare me for it. She tried.
It took me a few years but I eventually read “The Ugly American”. I’ve read it several times. Studying Latin did improve my SAT score. Reading continues to enrich and improve my life. However, there are times I find myself standing in the stairwell with dice in my hand.