‘What’s the point of this?’ Donny whispered cogently. I didn’t know either, but I was a compliant schoolboy, and did whatever I was told. I couldn’t understand why, in Grade 3, we were learning how to take notes.
‘Dunno,’ I whispered back. ‘Miss could’ve given us a handout to save us the effort.’ Nonetheless, I found I had a gift for taking notes; concise, neat and accurate.
In second term, I found a use for notes. Cheating. I couldn’t learn the seven- and eight-times tables but I could slip a relevant note in my pocket for Arithmetic tests. Naturally I shared this skill with Donny. He was my best friend. We both scored A’s., and Miss was none the wiser.
Time marched on. Soon Donny and I advanced to Pharaohs and their pyramids, Henry VIII and his wives in correct order, Shakespearean plays, French irregular verbs, famous dates in the Twentieth Century. If it was essential, I could devise appropriate notes to see us through.
Donny and I experimented with various vehicles and red herrings. Some scrap paper with notes from other subjects could be left on the desk, with the real notes tucked just inside our shoes. The invigilators would seize the decoy notes, see they were irrelevant, and ignore us for the rest of the exam. Similarly useless notes were placed in plain sight on the floor, with our real notes slipped behind the toilet roll dispensers in the cubicles. One of us would go to the toilet during the exam to retrieve the notes. It was a snip to leave one copy on the other’s desk. Our classmates were busy concentrating and never noticed.
Then invention caught up with initiative. Post-It notes were created. They stuck neatly on the inside forearm, requiring no effort to slip them out. Best of all, they were invented just as the joys of binge drinking and the allure of girls threatened to derail our efforts in the examination hall. My social life was such that I barely had time to organise notes for our exams.
Don and I were shortish and weedy; hardly the Adonis-type that the girls went for. Nonetheless, in Year 10 we both acquired a reasonable quantity of studious-but-fun girls who were impressed by our outstanding exam results. We spent Year 11 getting blind drunk at illegal, underage debauches at which we lost our innocence to a dozen or more girls. ‘Life is sweet, Frank,’ Don remarked. ‘I could go on like this forever.’ I heartily concurred.
Our parents, however, strongly disagreed. University was rearing its ugly, pricey head. In view of consistently outstanding exam results, the oldies thrust scholarship application forms at us and demanded that we excel like never before.
Don wanted to do Engineering, and I wanted Medicine. We needed Higher Maths and Advanced Science in Year 12. I churned out cheat sheets like one possessed, thanking God for Post-It notes. Semester One was looking promising. We’d received a couple of offers pending our final exam results.
In Semester Two, I was filling Post-It notes with recondite glands and their secretions, as well as still more notes with formulae for parabolas, the volume of various ovoids and cones, and perhaps my favourite: L=CL⸱½ρν²s. That’s: Lift equals the Coefficient of Lift times one half ρ (air density) times velocity squared times wing surface area. That’s a nice, neat equation which any future engineer would be proud to know.
Our futures were looking rosier than ever. And our binge drinking was reaching legendary status.
‘Ya know,’ I slurred drunkenly at yet another bacchanalia, ‘I’ve written so many cheat sheets that I’ve actually started to learn this stuff…’
With the tight lips of a ventriloquist, Don hissed, ‘Shut up.’ Just then, I realised that Lorna; my latest conquest, was right behind me.
‘Dance?’ She suggested. I agreed, primarily to change the subject.
It was a conveniently slow dance. Cheek-to-cheek, Lorna murmured, ‘Where do you hide your notes? I write mine on the inside of my left forearm. They never suspect the girls of cheating.’
‘You, too?! I think I’m in love.’
Lorna laughed. She was going to Queensland Uni, same as me, to do Law. I thought I might keep the relationship going.
At nine-fifty the next morning, we filed in for our final exam, feeling confident and minimally hung-over. This time, however, we had assigned seats. Don and I were at opposite ends of the hall.
‘Urgent phone call for you. Follow me,’ an invigilator whispered. We went out the back. ‘Empty your pockets.’ I knew I’d been sprung. ‘Roll up your sleeves.’ Out came the Post-It notes. ‘You’re excused from the exam.’
Don met me that afternoon. ‘Lorna’s a snitch, not a cheat,’ he remarked. ‘There’s a policeman, a magistrate and a silk in her family.’
© Tropical Writers Inc 2024