I’ve never had a problem staying awake in class — that is, until I took one of the most boring classes in existence: POL S 211 (History of Political Theory). Nothing about this subject interested me, but it was a required course for my program, so I sucked it up and enrolled in the 9 a.m. lecture. The class was even worse than I had expected. The professor, a balding man with small circular glasses, droned on in the way only a professor too comfortable in their tenure can. The class was held in a basement lecture hall, where students struggled to squeeze into cramped desks and the lack of adequate lighting made already heavy eyelids droop. I didn’t want to sleep in class, but no matter how well I slept the night before, or how much coffee I drank, as soon as that professor began to ramble I was immediately asleep.
Eventually, I came up with an ingenious solution to my sleeping problem: I could knit in class! I decided to bring a scarf I was working on, something that was easy enough to divide my attention between knitting and listening. I was worried about being judged for my hobby, so I picked a desk far away from the mob of students, in an aisle seat at the back of the classroom. I placed the ball of yarn gingerly onto my lap and began to knit. I quickly fell into a comfortable rhythm. My plan was working! Just as I was congratulating myself for my cleverness, my knitting needle slipped from my hand. Oh shit, I thought, fumbling with the needle as it fell. Unless I moved quickly, it would hit the floor with a horrific metallic clatter, turning all eyes on me.
I shot my arm downwards towards the escaped needle, closing my hand around it just before it made contact with the ground. I breathed a sigh of relief; my brief clumsiness went unnoticed. But, in leaning over, I had disturbed the ball of yarn.
The ball jumped down from my lap and bounced to the floor, directly into the aisle. It only had one way to go: straight towards the professor at his podium. I watched in horror as the yarn rushed towards the front of the lecture hall. Students began to notice. Half-asleep eyes opened wide in disbelief, and heads began turning, one after the other, to follow the ball of yarn on its collision course. The yarn had picked up speed, and my heart was beating so quickly that when the ball reached its final destination I expected it to crash into the podium with a BANG! But it was only yarn, after all. It thumped softly at the feet of the professor, who didn’t stop his monotonous lecturing, but glanced down disapprovingly at the disturbance.
Of course, the ball of yarn had left a trail. The heads that had followed the yarn down swiveled in the other direction, tracing the thin line straight back to the source. There I was, leaning out of my desk, a half-knit scarf clutched in a death grip, cheeks flush with embarrassment. All eyes were on me. Another wave of horror washed over me as I realized what I had to do next: walk down to the front of the room, and then all the way back up. I stood up slowly, placing the scarf back into my bag. Keeping my head down, I briskly walked to the front of the room, eyes locked on the ball of yarn ahead of me. Laughter began filling the lecture hall, seemingly growing louder the more embarrassed I became. When I finally reached the front, the professor ignored me, oblivious to even the thundering laughter that drowned out his lecturing. I snatched the treacherous ball up and began winding it as quickly as I could.
I couldn’t bear to stay in class a minute longer, knowing that when the shock of the moment subsided I would burst into tears. When I reached my desk, I grabbed my bag and left. The sound of students’ laughter followed me out of the door.