|Can you picture me as one of these two beauts?|
It seems that in real life I use the words fiasco and debacle rather liberally, much in the way that some people are fond of saying "um," while others are partial to sprinkling their sentences with like in almost random places. I, of course, would never use any word randomly, but still, it's conceivable that I may have overused one or both words. I plan after studying tonight to scour online thesaurus sources for possible replacement terms.
One of my professors said out of the blue today before he started his lecture, "Alexis, in your world, which is worse, a debacle or a fiasco?"
I paused to consider the question. "I really don't know," I answered. "I believe the two words are essentially synonymous." (For the record, I checked; fiasco and debacle are about as synonymous as synonymous can be.)
"What criteria do you use for determining whether to describe one situation as a debacle and another as a fiasco?" he pressed.
I may be a bit slow, but I eventually figure it out when someone is having fun at my expense. "Divine inspiration," I answered him in my most deadpan voice. Lately I've been watching Parks and Rec when I have trouble sleeping. I channeled my inner April Ludgate as I answered him. "God tells me whether something is a fiasco or a debacle." I stared the professor down with an intensity that would have made Aubrey Plaza [the actress who portrays the April Ludgate character on Parks and Recreation] almost envious. I say almost because I gravely doubt either the character or the actress who portrays her is capable of genuine envy.
The professor looked away before I did, which was a victory of sorts. I believe I freaked him out ever so slightly. Kal Penn whispered, "Way to stand up to him, Cutthroat Bitch," from the row behind me. Cool Guy fist-bumped me from his seat diagonally in front of me. He's more double-jointed even than I am, which allows him to put his arms behind him at very odd angles to fist-bump anyone who says something especially salient. When the professor looked my way again as he began his lecture, I gave him the sweetest smile I could ever fake. He's lucky I didn't roll my eyes at him. I can roll them practically all the way back where nothing but white shows, and it looks like a medical emergency is taking place, I don't do this very often, just as I don't intentionally dislocate my arm (both arms, actually) at the elbow, then put it back into place) very often anymore, either, because it physically hurts to do either of those things. If a cause is ever sufficient, however, I will pull one of those tools from my arsenal of weapons.
My brother told me that after lecture, the professor asked him what my religion is. I found it mildly telling that the professor didn't ask what religion my brother and I are, but asked specifically what religion I am, almost as though he acknowledges that I would never blindly follow any religion thrust upon me by my parents or any other accident of birth. I considered this a sign of respect even if it was not intended as such. Matthew lied and told the professor I had dabbled in both Scientology and Kabbalah, but found neither to be spiritually satisfactory, so I was working to build enough capital to start my own religion and tax shelter. Matthew is reasonably certain the professor took him seriously.
Incidentally, this professor has virtually nothing to do with assigning even the perfunctory pass/fail grades we receive officially for the first two years of med school, much less the real grades that are, I'm convinced, tracked behind the scenes. I'm not sure I would have done anything differently even if the professor happened to be involved in grading us. There are worse things than having the person who gives you a final grade be afraid that you might put some sort of a hex on him.
Meanwhile, I must complete my studies for the evening so that I may find suitable synonyms for fiasco and debacle.
P.S. I wish Matthew'd had the presence of mind to tell the professor that we both had either escaped or been kicked out of a polygamous cult. I suspect the professor knows who my dad is, but he also probably knows that my dad had past connections with Mormonism. Many people can't quite shake the idea that modern-day Mormons aren't one and the same as the Warren Jeffs branch of Latter-Day Saint fundamentalism. Having the professor believe I'd been a child bride at the age of twelve might have given me some serious street cred.
|Isn't she positively fabulous?|