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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 miles. …”

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 inclined.

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 about it.”

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 heart.

“How's your lemonade, Mary?” yelled a student from across the hall, as I made my way in to our second session.

“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. UpdateHer 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.)

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