I never really enjoyed Chemistry class in high school. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that there was a conflict between the teacher and I from the very first class...
"Please take a seat everyone and we'll get started," said a thin bearded bloke from behind a large central bench, "my name is Mr Fairclough and you shall refer to me simply as Mr Fairclough."
Unfortunately Mr Fairclough had been given an aptly rhyming nickname of "Fairlyslow" which matched his soft and, as you can no doubt guess, fairly slow speech. From the outset I knew this class was going to be difficult.
"We're going to start today with a fairly simply experiment," he said motioning us to move to our respective stations where chemicals, beakers and test tubes awaited.
"This experiment is known simply as the hydrogen pop test," he added whilst putting on a strange plastic-like apron that had ChepH written in black on the front. The girls giggled at the play on letters and a friend, Simon, leaned over and whispered, "I dare you to cross out the C, H & E and to write U, K & U on his apron," he said, joining in the giggling.
"UkupH?" I said, looking at him weirdly, "isn't that Zulu for 'giving'?? What do you want him to give you?"
"No, you put it at the end," Simon began to say, but I was already laughing back at his sick sense of humour knowing all too well where the U, K & U went... just not appreciating his crudeness.
By now Fairlyslow had turned his bunsen burner on and instructed us to do likewise.
"Just simply turn the knob and when you can hear the gas flowing, light a match and place it near the top."
Bunsen burners around the room lit up like candles at a Christmas carol. Ours went a little more slowly no thanks to Simon who taunted the chics next to us by demanding they pull his finger.
"Sy the gas outlet is here, dude, not out your backside," I said grabbing the matches and lighting our bunsen burner.
Fairlyslow was actually going quite fast and I had difficulty trying to keep up. Unfortunately Simon was no help now amusing humself by pulling his own finger.
"And now with your test tubes you will need to collect the gas once it bubbles," said the teacher. Simon decided that he'd put the test tubes to other gas collecting techniques and it wasn't long before Fairlyslow had ended his experiment where he showed everyone the purpose for collecting the gas - with a small flame he placed at the mouth of the test tube and a short high-pitched "pop" resounded throughout the room.
Several people clapped, others cleaned their pants, and everyone began popping their own gaseous test tubes. I didn't think this was terribly exciting so I decided to create my own "pop" - but I didn't just want any ol' "pop", I wanted a BIG one!
As I cranked up the bunsen burner I grabbed all the test tubes Simon had been using to collect his personal exotic gases with and I immediately set about collecting the gas emitted from our beaker.
"Now leave your equipment while it cools down and return to your seats," said Fairlyslow bringing our first session to a close.
As everyone frantically moved away from the benches Simon and I had our hands full holding our test tubes over our boiling solution.
"Quick, quick," Simon said, "before he sees us."
"Okay, I think that'll do it," I said looking at our now burnt and bone dried beaker.
"Where are the matches?" Simon asked.
"I've got them," I said and I handed the small handful of test tubes I was holding to Simon who could only *just* keep all the test tubes together with both of his hands.
Unfortunately though, just as I pulled out the matchbox and lit a match Fairlyslow walked over to our station and asked whether we were going to be troublesome students in his class this year.
"No sir, we were just cleaning up," I said as I stood there with a naked flame in my hand.
Fairlyslow looked over at Simon. Who as he turned to face the teacher brought the test tubes over the naked flame...
"No sir..." he began to say, but then that was all I heard.
Now I don't know whether it was the collective popping sound from all the hydrogen and other exotic gases that I heard, or whether that popping was the sound of my eardrums.
It didn't take long before Fairlyslow morphed (or should that be morpHed?) into a Fairlyfast and with each hand he yanked us by our ears outside. Both Simon and I were dazed, we couldn't hear a thing. Fairlyslow's face showed his anger, and although his mouth was moving at a rapid pace I couldn't understand a word he was saying... it was a small blessing truth be told.
As Simon and I sat outside for the remainder of the class we could only use sign language to communicate amongst each other - and even then that wasn't helpful because we could hardly understand what the other was trying to communicate!? By the time our hearing returned the class had finished and Fairclough told us to go and collect our things.
He gave us a lecture on the dangers of chemistry and even though we stuffed up many more experiments throughout the year Fairclough ended by saying to me, "Ryan, I don't think you'll ever get chemistry, but here's hoping that one day you do."
Well, I don't know whether what he said pertained to chemistry between potential partners but after Saturday night's effort I still don't think I've got chemistry.
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