“My First and Last Day at Harvard Law School,” by William Ames Bascom. The Wall Street Journal, 2/20/2016.
To appreciate this posting, you must have spent your school days with a lot of Armenian classmates as I did. If not, skip this one. The punch line won’t mean anything, and it won’t be funny.
The event described in the WSJ happened many years ago. The author, about our age, was not even enrolled at Harvard. He was an undergraduate at another university just visiting his brother to see for himself what law school was like. He walked into a lecture hall where the seats were alphabetically assigned and plopped into the first empty one he found. He assumed he could get away with it because he was adept at avoiding a professor’s questions.
But this time, he is undone by a laughing fit. The professor calls on him with a question he cannot possibly answer. As he fumbles around, he hears a rescuing voice from the seat behind. “Sir,” the voice said to the professor, “I think a visitor is sitting in the wrong seat this morning. He may not understand English.”
The rescue worked. The professor moved on with the lecture, “and I spent the rest of the time trying to look Armenian,” says the author.
(The Armenian-Americans I grew up with looked like the rest of us, and their unaccented English was even better than ours. Few knew Arlene Francis, popular panelist on the old TV game show What’s My Line? was Armenian. She was born Arlene Francis Kazanjian. I kid you not.)