The Acid Test
(Continued from 1)
The first lemon was my 'Simca', the car I owned in
Togo. I was transferred a month after I acquired it.
The second lemon I picked was my husband. Needless
to say the marriage didn't last long but it provided
me with the life long custody of a child.
My third lemon was my Vega in Los Angeles. It guzzled
gas, broke down quite a bit and was totalled at 40,000
I continued in the same vein, putting all my lemons
in one basket, throwing in a job for good measure and
a boss for dramatic effect. It was a catharsis of sorts,
squeezing out from my system all the frustrations piled
up in a lifetime. Actually it was fun. In my own way
I was getting even.
You have one more minute, announced the
teacher, “wind it up.
I wrote the last paragraph:
I have a nose for picking up lemons, and
then elaborated on the do's and don'ts of
avoiding the acid test.
We put our pens down.
Now, said the professor, I want
a few volunteers to read what they wrote.
Hey, this isn't fair. Nobody will read it
except you," she had said. Yes, what a distortion
of meaning! My thoughts towards her were not favorably
In the absence of hands showing, the teacher concentrated
her stare at me, since I was closest to the lectern,
or was it age discrimination?
Will you volunteer, Mary?
Did I pick up a lemon of a class too? My stream of
consciousness was not meant for public exposure. I was
mortified to read the story of my life to these young
students who probably did not have anything in common
with me. Had I known ahead of time I would have held
back some unpleasant details. Why corrode their lives
with my acid experience?
Yes, I grew crimson with each sentence. I heard a
few chuckles. Were they amused or laughing at me? I
played hard at keeping my composure. The professor went
on to others. She then elaborated on the use of wit
and humor in recalling memories. I sat there quietly,
planning an honorable exit as soon as class was over.
Instead, I found myself squeezed between two students
at the door.
I loved your lemons, said one guy, a reporter
for a major paper.
You sure have a lot of juice, butted in
another, hey, that was witty. I want to know more
Well, it wasn't as bad as I imagined. My self-confidence
climbed a few inches. Their comments provided me with
enough nerve to return the following week. It felt good
to be among the younger folk. Actually, the median age
was around 35. They weren't so young. Besides, I never
accepted my seniority. Age has a creepy way of taking
over but I would never allow it to gain mastery of my
How's your lemonade, Mary? yelled a student
from across the hall, as I made my way in to our second
As tart as it can be, I yelled back.
I had passed the test. I was one of them. Age didn't
matter any more.
It was the best lesson I learned in that class.
Born and brought up in Cairo, Egypt, Mary Terzian has
a degree in Business Administration and is a freelance
writer whose articles have appeared in several newspapers
and magazines. Her book, The Immigrants' Daughter
was a Best Books 2006 Winner, Finalist in the Indie Excellence 2007 Book Awards, and a Winner of Dan Poynter's 2012 Global E-Book Awards
(all three in multicultural nonfiction.)