To the editor:
At the beginning of our sophomore year, my classmates and I were told that we would be studying the verb "to be." The verb "to be?" At my tender age I could rattle off many verbs, but I had never heard of the verb "to be."
Raising my hand and asking Mr. Stoops what he meant by the verb "to be" was not an option, for obvious reasons that remain applicable today. Instead I looked around to see if any of my classmates let on they had heard of the verb "to be." They looked as blank as I felt.
I considered asking the valedictorian to be, a discreet guy, may he rest in peace, if he knew what Stoops was talking about. Not a good idea, for someone was bound to sniff us out, so I soon canned that idea.
Was "to be" in that first sentence a verb?
Maybe I'll wait to pop the question at our 50th reunion in September. Valedictorian Bill Sweger won't be there to bail me out. I might have to ask Phyllis Bucher Butler, our salutatorian.
Somehow my classmates and I suffered our sophomore year never finding out what "to be" was. Stoops never again mentioned it, although I may have missed it. My concentration rate settled into its usual 13.5% by Halloween.
Many of us even got A's. I rarely did homework and failed to read Dickens' classic, "A Tale of Two Cities", and still got an A or two. The year before, I didn't read "Silas Marner" either. I think I got all A's.
I lost little sleep that year knowing full well my time was better spent playing basketball and the cornet, in that order. I considered girls on a daily basis but knew I couldn't get serious until I could drive.
At Shippensburg State Teachers College, even though my CR (concentration rate) improved to 21.7%, I'm pretty sure no English professor ever mentioned the verb "to be."
I did briefly entertain that I was getting somewhere in my quest when I read Hamlet spouting off about "To be, or not to be, that is the question." I knew a heck of a lot more about verbs than I did in high school, but thought, "to be," in this instance sounded more like a subject.
There is little doubt in my mind that kids today suffer from the same malady as afflicted my classmates and me. And, like me, lose interest and daydream about more important things.
52 years later I have read the two above-mentioned novels twice. I didn't realize they were so good.
Maybe I'll Google Charlie Stoops and invite him to our reunion.