Lokkal- todo SMA
Back to School: Science, Memory and Religion

by Joseph Toone

The kids are all back in school; well, most of them, anyway. During this season I frequently find myself asking kids how the school year has been so far. This question is always met with a shrug. I then continue my inquisition with “What is your favorite subject?” That’s a sure-fire ice-breaker, leading on to jazzed up speculation about the exciting careers that await them based on their interests in math, science or whatever.

Lately though, instead of answering, kids have been asking me what my favorite subject was. As no one likes to lie to children, that’s a somewhat dicey question.

Frankly, I didn't particularly like school, though I did quite well, often graduating with straight A’s. I admire my youngest son and my niece both of whom, as perpetual students, could happily spend the rest of their days in a classroom. Me? I just saw school as a hoop one jumped through on the other side of which was better paying work. Luckily, my photographic memory made getting through any subject much easier.

The upside to a photographic memory, beyond good grades, is the ability to learn vast amounts of information which, it seems, doesn’t go away even after decades of alcohol consumption. Truly, it is a gift that keeps on giving.

The downside of a photographic memory is that my brain is too busy taking mental snapshots to attend to other matters. For example, I am completely unable to remember a name or face. Well into my 40’s I was taking Mom to the Olive Garden (or as she called it, London Fog) one day. We arrived at the entrance as an elderly gentleman did also.I held the door open for Mom and him. Upon entering London Fog he said “Thanks, Joe”.

“How did he know my name?” I pondered. Also, no one calls me Joe but my siblings. My confusion was heightened when he sat down at the table with Mom, and proceeded to enjoy those unending bread baskets. It took me another moment to realize that he was my brother, Mike.

Similar things still happen on the streets of San Miguel, usually as a result of the fact that folks tend to remember their tour guide. “Remember us? We’re the Jones. We took a tour with you 3 years ago. Well, Sheila transitioned seamlessly, but poor Ernie died of cancer.” Honestly, it could have been only three hours ago that we had a tour and I’d still be at a loss. Now I’ll have to spend the rest of the day wondering who Sheila and Ernie were. Pets, perhaps?

When I was in school, based on my adulthood occupations and interests, the classes I should have liked best were art, history, business, religion and creative writing. However, I don’t recall liking any of those classes. I do recall a certain attraction to economics which I studied for two years, but this was only because the teacher compared everything to selling drugs. I wasn’t a pusher, or drug dealer in the making, but the examples made economic theories so much clearer.

Every time a child asks my favorite subject I so badly want to say “science,” but since I went to Catholic school I didn’t learn any science. Despite my aversion to lying to children I am mostly held back from declaring science by the fear that the child will ask me a follow-up question I couldn’t possibly answer without Googling.

Another answer I’d like to give is “algebra,” since no one likes that subject, but you need it to get through SATs, GREs, etc. no matter what your intended future studies may be. Unfortunately, what mentally goes through my mind is the scene from Peggy Sue Got Married when adult Kathleen Turner turns in her high school algebra exam blank, telling the teacher, “I know for a fact I’ll never need to use any of this for the rest of my life.” To this day, I can randomly state that line to my math-impaired sister and make her laugh.

So with algebra and science off the table and knowing Mexican kids don’t normally have a gym class, when questioned as to what was my favorite class, I’m stuck with an obvious, funny reply. I respond with the name of a street in el Centro, named so because the street has a school on it, Recreo... Recess.


Joseph Toone is Amazon's bestselling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series of books and TripAdvisor's best rated historical walking tour guide. For more information contact toone.joseph@yahoo.com or visit History and Culture Walking Tours or JosephTooneTours.com, also on FaceBook.

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