On Thursday the 12th of February 2009, at around 11:30am, it happened. A mixture of hoplessness, desperation and sleep-deprivation caused me to do the previously fantasised-about, but ultimately unthinkable.
Before I continue, you must understand a few things. First, this really was unplanned, but sometimes spontaneity can truly insipire. Secondly, this teacher knows me: she had me for two distinct groups, during the semester, and I truly tried in her other exam, for which I recieved a big fat FAIL. I don't mind that, I definitely deserved it, even more so for the exam I was about to take; but I felt that if I were to fail, I would do it in style and with a measure of eloquence. You know, just to prove the point that I may not be intelligent, but I sure as hell ain't stupid.
Therefore, as I sat down for the second time, and heard this woman's voice, I thought to myself: "you know what? No more!" I had already tried to prove to her that I wasn't just a dumb foreigner, and she wouldn't have it. Maybe I needed to try a different tack...
(NB: Bear in mind I ORIGINALLY wrote this in pretty clear, understandable Spanish)
PRELIMINARY NOTE TO THE ESTEEMED TEACHER
As I can safely assume that I have already failed this course - I barely turned up to any classes; I did no work; and, despite having read the text [given out at the beginning of the exam], I know you don't even like my writing style - I say to you that you are entirely correct to fail me and that I don't even deserve a mark. Because of this, I've decided to turn up, hope the exam isn't a disaster, and try to compensate for the stupid mistakes I have made over the past four months. However, the reality of life is much more cruel, and my pragmatism simply will not allow me to go ahead and waste neither my time nor that of the reader who will doubtlessly be left furious, indifferent, or maybe even amused by the following proclamation, as arrogant as it is honest.
I have already noted that I have made several mistakes since the beginning of the semester. One of the biggest mistakes has been choosing to study your course: yes, that's correct, I had the choice of dozens of courses and I actually chose this one. As a student, I like to have some kind of working relationship with my teachers and tutors; but sometimes, just as in a friendship or a romantic relationship, it ends up being just being very superficial or even nominal and nothing more. Simply put, you and I are not compatible: you like certain texts which to me have seemed bad, dull or to too liguistically complicated for my ability; you like to analyse a text in a way which to me has seemed laborious to the point of being on the margins of tedium; you like to require a participation from your students which to me has seemed either false or not suficiently encouraged or sustained. And, of course, I hold most of the blame for our incompatibility: I am lazy, and I only like to read texts which interest me (that does not mean I don't give everything a chance, though, especially those imposed upon me by my teachers); I jump too quickly to wrong conclusions, but because I have been blessed with a certain turn of phrase, my methods and arguments are often more interesting than the conclusions themselves; and, related to this, I judge everything after a few hours of fairly hard thought and with objectivity. Furthermore, I am a talker, and I genuinely love literature and sharing thoughts on it, but if I feel that my opinions and my efforts are not worth anything - or if it is too late to start - then what difference do my thoughts, my energy, my presence or any other aspect of my being make? If you will allow me to return to the relationship analogy and summarise "ours" with two clichés, I can safely say "it's not you, it's me", for not dropping the class while I still had the chance, and with respect to the mark and the class in general: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn". Because compatibility cannot be created or generated - it's either there or it isn't; between us, it was never there.
Before leaving, I will say a few things more. Firstly, don't think I am a bad student; well, I am, but not always: in another course [this semester] I have behaved very well, and recived an appropriately good mark. Secondly, please don't be angry with me - if, indeed, you feel anything for me - but have pity for this poor idiot with delusions of grandeur. Finally, I am truly sorry: as much for you for having to put up with me, as for myself for having made such a terrible mistake. The only thing I hope is that one learns, improves, and doesn't experience the same nightmare of the past four months [in the original, the subjunctive form allows for more ambiguity: it's not so clear if I'm referring to myself or to her in this sentence].
So, in conclusion, and with the last vestiges of my writing energy, I thank you for the learning curve, and wish you the best for the future.
After writing this, and copying it out into a neat form so that I would have a copy for myself, I walked up to the teacher, handed in the paper, smiled, and said: "Muchas gracias".
And then I walked out...