I still recall the trauma of my second semester Organic Chemistry class back at St. Louis U. My teacher was somewhat unusual…a bit like the “mad scientist”. He tended to think he was teaching a group of Nobel Science candidates, taking our exam questions from the Organic Chemistry Journal. (the only thing I understood from that journal was the address label and an ad for Jameson Irish Whiskey) He was fond of telling us that his classmate invented Teflon. Anyway, the average grade on the midterm was 25…. no, that is not a misprint…25. I’m sorry to say that I got a 17.
Needless to say, I still need healing from that trauma…at least the nightmares are starting to go away, although I sometimes imagine Dr. Igor showing up at the final judgement…..”ah, if it’s not Mr. Touhill, one of my favorite students….chuckle, chuckle, chuckle….. hmmmmm, let me see, for your final question to get into heaven, what is the chemical formula for Teflon…chuckle, chuckle…..”
Anyway, this trauma came back to me today when I had a “situation” in my role as “kitchen assistant” (yes, I know, a long way from my potential Nobel Prize award). Well, I noticed some water on the shelf of the refrigerator and decided to remove the shelf and clean it up. As I carefully lifted out the shelf, I knocked over a cup with a hardboiled egg… which went down three other shelves coating everything with hardboiled egg water. I may have expressed some disappointment as I emptied the frig of three more shelves and the contaminated contents. Yet, I think I handled it pretty well and the frig looked “sparkly clean” after all was said and done.
A bit later, feeling pretty proud of myself, I hinted to my wife…” ahhhh, what grade do you think I should receive on my actions in the “Hardboiled Egg Water Saga” ? After a slight delay, she murmured, I think a B+. “Cough, cough, choke, choke… I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you.” Well, she repeated a B+. I tried to plead my case, as I had 50 years ago with Dr. Igor, to no avail. Hmmmmm. What had started out as an act of exceptional kindness on my part, ended up with a B+. Yet, as I think of it, I haven’t gotten a lot of B+’s over the years, so I should be pretty happy.
What is the moral of the story, the point of this BLOG ? Hmmmmmm, not completely sure. Let’s see…. “ no good act goes unpunished” — NO….. don’t ever volunteer for anything — NO, those aren’t true.
How about, “When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials” (Sirach 2:1) That’s true, but I don’t think it applies completely here. What about “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.” (1Cor. 13:12) I like that better; often we don’t really understand ourselves fully and can misinterpret our actions. I thought I should have gotten an A or A+, but a more impartial observer saw some flaws in my actions and moved it down to a B+. We need each other to truly know ourselves.
By the way, here’s the end to my final judgement story above… after Dr. Igor presented the question, I whispered, ‘Holy Spirit, help me’, and immediately in a loud and confident voice I exclaimed, “oh you mean Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene, it’s C2F4”… as I skipped into heaven.