There, I’m just going to say it: I got an F in Spanish 1B this Fall Term. Now I’m going to explain. With more enthusiasm than foresight, I signed up for both HTML Programming and Spanish 1B last fall, completely ignoring the fact that Fall Term runs right through grape harvest and winemaking season. By midterm, it was clear I wasn’t going to make it through the courses. I’d had missed too many classes when called away by “winemaking emergencies”.

No problem. City College of San Francisco is nothing if not wired. You can manage the whole administrative side of your enrollment on-line. So I fired up the website after harvest one day and withdrew from HTML Programming. No such luck with Spanish. The little “withdraw” option button that was supposed to be there wasn’t. I tried on and off for a week or so to withdraw, but the button never appeared. Not at any time. Not in any browser.

Finally, I emailed the professor, told him of my issue and asked if he could withdraw me from the course. “Sorry” was the answer. “You’ve missed by one day the window to take a Withdraw. Now I’ll have to give you an F. Unless you come in and take the Final.”

Well, let’s see. A ton or so of grapes potentially rotting on the vine? Or an F in Community College? The decision was made easier when I was told I could see the Dean of Students and petition for a retroactive Withdraw. Little did I know that our Governator’s severe budget cuts to California colleges have ensured that the Dean seems to have no regular office hours any more. Maybe we don’t even have a Dean. Maybe he’s been replaced with an iPhone App. In any case, he’s uninterested in my plight. He’s not answering my phone calls and emails.

So, I let it drop. Really, it’s not as if that F will keep me from graduate school. As for learning Spanish, I signed up to retake the course this Spring Term. No harm, no foul.

Lucy promises to make me really hit the books hard this semester.

Until Andy made a joke in front of my mother about my big failing grade. Mom, who proudly watched me make my way through years of school with mostly As, is ready to bring the whole California system of higher education crashing down over this. Her daughter with an F? Unacceptable! Worse yet, she’s worrying herself sick about it.

“You need to be concerned about this F. What if they find out about it? You know they can find out anything on the Internets. I bet I could just look up your name and that F would be there.”

“Well, Mom. Who are “they”? My friends? They’re already laughing about it. Future employers? I’m self employed and I won’t fire myself. My seasonal vineyard workers? They already know my Spanish is crap.”

“Well, it’s on your permanent record now. Someone could find out about it and publish it.”

“Okay, when Barack calls me to defend the next endangered Democratic Senate seat, I’ll practice full disclosure. I’ll tell him all about the F. And about the sex tape I didn’t make. There will be no surprises at the Oval office. We’ll take a page out of George Bush’s playbook. I’ll chalk it up to youthful hijinks. And I’ll say I’ve found Jesus now.”

But still Mom’s got me worried. I mean, this has screwed up my grade point average, which I should tell you — modestly [blushes] — was 4.0 before this unfortunate incident. In fact, it should be noted that I had As in both courses at Midterm before I dropped out. I swear on a stack of Bibles, I’m not smoking or taking drugs. Just in case you thought I’d suddenly become a juvenile delinquent a few decades too late.

In fact, I’m headed to my first class tonight in do-over Spanish 1B. I promise to study hard. Don’t judge me harshly InterWebs.

Even Oscar’s pitching in to keep the family from any more shame.