School has started again in our fair city, which means my lazy lying wife will disappear for the next ten months. She still claims she is a teacher, but I am now convinced she is a rock musician who goes on tour from August until June. This would explain why I rarely see her. When I do, she is very tired. Throwing down twenty-minute versions of Stairway to Heaven can do that to a person.
I shudder to think what sordid acts she performs with her legions of groupies. Don’t worry. I have taken measures to stop this irresponsible behavior.
On to more important issues: The start of school is also when my brain becomes clogged with the ACT scores* of half the student population in our fair city. If you are one of these students or one of their parents, please keep this information to yourself.
First, I don’t care.
Second, I still don’t care.
Third, my brain is already filled with useless data, such as the complete dialogue from the classic movie Night Shift. Each time someone shares an ACT score with me, which is none of my business, something else in my memory bank must be pushed out to make room for it. I’m hanging on to Night Shift, which means something else must go.
Say, for example, you tell me your child’s ACT score is 27, which is none of my business, and how you’re going to hire a tutor because 27 ain’t gonna cut it with Duke. As much as I would love to block this information, which is none of my business, from entering my skull, I cannot. Therefore, something else must exit my cranium, such as how to quickly convert Celsius to Fahrenheit (Celsius x 9 ÷ 5 + 32 = Fahrenheit).
What if, later, someone stops me on the street and asks, “Please, good sir. If the current temperature in Mumbai is 28 Celsius, what is it in Fahrenheit?”
Celsius x 9 ÷ 5… uh… “Sorry,” I say. “But this kid I barely know has an ACT score of 27. Not good enough for Duke.” Then I try to switch subjects by quoting Billy Blaze.
There is, however, a far better reason to keep ACT scores to yourself: It is not good form.
When I was a kid, my pappy told me:
- You don’t have to tell anyone how you voted.
- Don’t ask anyone how they voted.
- Don’t tell anyone how much you make for a living.
- Don’t ask anyone how much they make.
- Don’t ever call me “Pappy.”
Pappy, I mean, Dad had a good point, in part, because sharing such information will make someone feel either superior and inferior. It’s the same with test scores and grades in general. No matter what your kid’s test score is, someone somewhere is going to feel inadequate, stupid. Or someone is going to feel their kid is smarter than yours (unless yours receives a perfect score, in which case I bow down before you in all your genetic awesomeness).
Back in the halcyon days of my youth, the high school counselor told us seniors to drive up to the nearby university on a Saturday morning with a couple of #2 Ticonderogas and to take a test. We complied. That was the sum of our preparation. A few weeks later, I received my ACT scores in the mail. It was my understanding, following the ten seconds of attention I gave the letter, that colleges would consider my score before accepting or rejecting my application. I don’t remember what my ACT score was, but I hope it was at least in double digits.** I set aside the letter and forgot about it. Somehow, I survived without sharing this information with anyone. I assume my parents looked at my score at some point, but we never discussed it. I got into the school of my choice, got the degree I wanted, and entered the career I had been shooting for since high school. Yes, I know that was a different time. Even with all the emphasis on test prep and getting a good score, however, there is no reason to include the results on the family blog or Christmas newsletter.
Why do I need to know the ACT score of a friend’s son’s girlfriend? Why, oh why?
I remind my college sophomore daughter she never has to share her ACT score with anyone.*** I realize it’s asking a lot of a young person, because they share such data as easily as they share phone numbers. Still, I try. I tell my high school sophomore she never has to tell anyone any of her grades. This is no one’s business but hers and her parents. (Often, we would rather not know either.) It benefits no one to share such information. Stop it. Stop sharing it. Stop asking for it.
Don’t text it. Don’t tweet it. For love of God and all that is holy, don’t post it on Facebook. I don’t care. Neither should anyone else but you, your kid, and colleges that want to take as much of your money as they can.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to dig hole in the backyard for my lying wife’s new guitar.
* The ACT is a college readiness assessment used by universities to separate the wheat from the chaff among college applicants. It is also one of the most effective means of making millions of young people feel inadequate and give them ulcers.
**For those of you who are blissfully ignorant, and how I wish I were one of you, a perfect ACT score is 36.
*** When my older daughter was a high school sophomore, I once shared a ACT practice test score with some acquaintances. I have never forgiven myself.