It was finals week, fall semester of my sophomore year and I had been awake, studying for days. I think the good folks of the Florida State University administration had scheduled like three exams on one day or something mind-numbingly outrageous like that. Once I completed them, I had one exam left the next morning, then I would be through and could get some sleep. Finally.
My last exam was for a class titled Basic Textiles, where I learned all about the qualities of different fibers, the multitude of different processes by which each was manufactured or harvested, and the combinations of each that could be created to produce fabrics. The course was offered out of the Fashion Design and Marketing Dept., and I was taking it because it was a prerequisite for my major - Interior Design. I think that we were required to endure the class because exactly one day out of the entire semester was dedicated to the subject of carpeting. Either way, I got a kick out of being the guy who could randomly approach someone and correctly identify what fabric or combination of fabrics they were wearing. In retrospect, I am amused by how the non-sequitor would freak out whatever victim would allow me to verify their shirt collar tag for the exact content percentages LESS than the fact that cotton/poly blends actually mattered to me at all.
Anyway, my exam was at 8am the next morning and I went to bed after cramming into my brain any last tid-bit of now useless information I could fit. I prepared the machine to brew what would be an absolutely necessary cup of coffee, set the alarm for 7am, and collapsed onto my dorm-issue mattress.
I woke up to the sound of my alarm as planned, however, I had also slept through it for an hour and a half!!! Meaning - I had basically SLEPT THROUGH MY EXAM. I had never done anything like it before and really had no idea what to do. I had a few minutes to at least think about it because it dawned on me that since the exam started at 8am and it was now 8:35 that I couldn't just haul ass over to the lecture hall and barge in and expect to take the test. First of all, it was unthinkable to do such a thing in a class of 150-200 people - you know I'm not one to purposely embarrass myself. Secondly, I realized that each exam was only alloted an hour and fifteen minutes and if I actually did go to the lecture hall and beg to take it then-and-there that I would not have enough time to finish the test.
So, I took a much needed shower, put on my most responsible-looking khaki shorts, poured a fresh cup of coffee into my portable mug, and booked it across campus to my professor's office in the newly renovated Sandels Building. Having never visited (let's call her) Dr. Grissbaum in her office before, it took a few minutes to find it down the hall from the Fashion Design Department's mock runway platform. Even though her class met three times a week for fifty minutes that semester, personal interactions between my professor and I had been few and far between. Thus, I wondered if she would even recognize me as I stood there outside her locked office door briefly awaiting her arrival.
Before long, I noticed the form of a large, bulging figure waddling in my direction. She was wearing an outfit of miniature plaids accented by jarring bold colored trim. I always thought it was a fascinating twist that the woman held both a tenured professorship in FASHION DESIGN and a personal level of taste that would make Project Runway's Tim Gunn cringe. Of course, this was way back in 1999. Bravo Network was famous, not for it's reality fashion show, but merely for Will Ferrell's impersonations of James Lipton and the world as we knew it was far less fashion savvy. But still!
I confronted Dr. Grissbaum in the corridor several yards away from her office. In a somewhat frantic manner, I apologetically explained what had happened. A part of me completely expected her to dismiss me as she struggled to unlock her door.
"Away with you! Why should I take pity on you and your inability to wake up on time to make my exam?!" - I imagined. After all, it was my fault. However, her response was entirely the contrary. As it turned out, she was in fact, a completely reasonable human being.
"Oh dear," she smiled, "these things happen. Why don't you sit at my desk and take it now while I grade your classmates' exams."
I was absolutely floored by her magnanimous offer. I set my travel mug on her desk beside the ten page multiple choice exam that was soon laid out before me and graciously accepted. I proceeded diligently and about forty-five minutes later I had wrapped things up.
"Alright," I said, "I think I about done," handing her the packet and associated standard commission bubble sheet.
"I'll take that," she said.
"Thank you again for allowing me to take it. I really appreciate it," I exclaimed, looking into her eyes as I strapped on my backpack.
"Oh no problem. Good luck on all your other exams."
I leaned forward to shake her hand, "It was a pleasure to be in your class."
And then it happened - I turned around swiftly to leave and accidentally knocked my coffee cup off her desk, allowing the contents to form a dark, caffinated pond in the middle of newly laid carpeting. We exchanged a brief meaningful dialog with our eyes - jaws dropped, before I bolted toward the bathroom (wherever that was) to clean it up. Unfortunately, I went to a state school which happened to provide only the inexpensive and useless type of paper towels. As I furiously struggled to soak up my mess, a handful of paper towels deteriorated in my fingers and I managed to provide a weak consolation:
"Well, it's a good thing these carpet fibers are...um, hydrophobic," I stated, hoping my identification of their synthetic characteristics would prove just how much I learned that semester and soften the audacious clumsiness. I pretty well fled the scene after that.
The irony of this incident is that I spared myself the embarrassment of making a scene in front of my peers by interrupting an exam-in-progress, and traded it for a chance to be mortified in front of a professor I would never see again. I would say this worked out in my favor.
It's worth mentioning as I just chiseled this crude blunder into my blog to be experienced right here on the World Wide Web in perpetuity - that this was also my only perfect 4.o semester (no inconvenient A minuses to muck up the GPA.) I might have a reputation for exhibiting unabashed inelegance, but I will have you know that I still made the Dean's List.