Stepping In No. 2

When I was in school, I was never good at taking tests. Something about it seemed so confining and conforming. I was just never the kind of student who did well testing. Certainly I am not holding myself up as a role model. In fact, just the opposite: Do not be like me. My wife is a better example to emulate, as she is always prepared and believes in getting things done early.

I’m the poster boy for procrastination, whereas she is the complete opposite and is on top of things to a fault. Our daughter is a junior in high school, and so she had to take her first SAT test. Since my wife had a handle on it, I was on cruise-control.

Then the school held a parents’ night to discuss issues like these and what to expect in the coming senior year. My wife had a previous obligation, so I volunteered to attend and represent the Nagasawa parents. SAT importance was suddenly thrust upon me, as I was doing my baby girl a disservice by not being more engaged. I decided to become the SAT czar.

I read over the testing requirements and felt I was now the resident expert. But my wife knows better and wouldn’t have it. I begged for some test-preparation responsibility. Mrs. SAT Expert decided to toss me a bone and told me to make sure our daughter had a couple of sharp No. 2 pencils. It was kind of insulting, but that was better than nothing.

Let me tell you, those pencil people have a monopoly on this gig. If you think about it, instead of investing in Apple or Microsoft, an investment in a pencil company is more of a sure thing. I mean, have you ever heard of a No. 1 or No. 3 pencil? I don’t think they exist. Anyway, on my way home from work, I bought an entire pack of No. 2 pencils.

That night, as I double-checked and assembled her testing tools, I realized that we didn’t have a freaking pencil sharpener. My wife, cool as a cucumber, pulled out a pack of pre-sharpened No. 2 pencils. I didn’t know you could buy them like that.

As though this was a competition for who was the better parent, she smirked and shook her head. As I packed the No. 2s into a pencil case, I whispered under my breath, “show off!”