I added the pop quiz, (the one with base eight) which he took gingerly. "Um ... uh ... okay. There's no freakin' way," he said.
I went to grab it, as was my wont, but he suddenly brought it close to his eyes, and said, "Hey, wait a minute -- this quiz made possible by funding from a grant donated by Coca Cola? What the hell?"
I looked him straight in the eye and replied nonchalantly, "Well, I did say it was a 'pop' quiz."
The groans in that room could be heard for miles. Truly, there is no better tribute to a horrible pun than the groans I heard that night. If I were not so truly frightening with my red pen of doom, I might have been lynched. Luckily for me, some people were still hoping for an "A."
Little did they know the game was rigged, yes, rigged by God! Ah, it was good, so very, very good to be a math professor.
"Here," I told him after giving him his F, "I'll be generous and give you another chance." I handed him the unsolvable quadratic formula. I was loving that little tidbit more and more as the night went on.
"'Use quadratic formula only?'" he read and looked at me helplessly. "What IS the quadratic formula?"
Like a flash, I rattled it off. "Minus B, plus or minus the square root of the quantity B-squared minus four-AC divided by 2A." Unbeknownst to them, my dad had set this formula to music (to the tune of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," to be exact) years earlier, so that I'd been able to recite the quadratic equation from the time I was about eight years old. I also knew that "the integral of e to the x, dx is e to the x plus C" when I was five, but I had no idea what it meant until my first calculus class in college where I wowed the professor by guessing it as he was introducing this concept to the class. And yes, I'm sure it was much more impressive when spouted by a five-year-old, but tonight, and with this audience, it was enough.
Jaws dropped, and there was silence for a moment. Zoot Suit Guy turned to my boss, Puss in Boots, and said with a note of despair, "Does she always do stuff like this?"
My boss nodded gravely. "Oh yes," he replied sadly. "All the time. You ought to hear her get going on linguistic theory or that base eight problem."
As one could expect, Zoot Suit Guy received yet another of my trademark red F's, for a total of two, and went forlornly off in search of what one can only presume to be a stiff drink.
In all, only the Christmas Present that night received an A. After a few moments, he handed me back the base eight problem, saying simply, "One forty-seven."
"That's incredible!" I applauded him. "Very well done!" For the first and only time that night, I used the red pen to write a big "A" on his paper and handed it back.
"Tom Lehrer," he said simply.
"That's actually one of the things that brought us together," confided the Christmas Tree, "we both love Tom Lehrer."
"Satan loves Tom Lehrer too, but he screwed up the base eight part so he got an F-," I told them. For some reason, they thought this was hilarious. And, really, so did I.
Sadly, we had to leave the party early, and so the evil Math Professor could not compete in the costume contest. I learned later that, in fact, there was no costume contest held that night. I like to think that in all the terror I dispensed during my time there, I wiped the idea of the contest right out of everyone's head. After all, what use in trying to compete with what I had accomplished?
"I still think I got an A," said Puss in Boots as we made our way out.
"Yeah, surprising how many students think so," I replied.
"And take your DAMN RED PEN with you!" yelled Zoot Suit Guy as I walked out the door. There was much agreement on that score. For some reason, no one seemed terribly sad to see me go.
However, as I left the house, strewn with math quizzes all marked with big red F's, I felt that in a great way -- regardless of any contest that might or might not be held -- this year, I truly had won. In fact, I think perhaps this even beat Glambo.
But next year, my friends, next year ... I may just go back to Glambo. Perhaps the Malibu Glambo or the European Vacation Glambo, as suggested by one of my friends for this year. I mean, you know, scary is good and all, but I still feel a bit guilty about causing all those people nightmares for several weeks.
With one exception: I believe that for the rest of my life I will be proud to be able to say, "I flunked Satan at math."