The Time I Almost Missed My AP Exam
AP exams, in all their anxiety-ridden glory, are officially here. If you’re already sweaty and stressed out and prone to twitching, I have a story that might help—because whatever happens come exam day, you can content yourself with the knowledge that what happened to me probably won’t happen to you. (I said probably. Don’t get complacent.)
It was junior year, just a few days before my first-ever AP exam. I was nervous not just about the exam itself, but also because I was responsible for getting myself to the testing site, and I was worried about being late. It was for this reason that I was having what was probably the most ridiculous argument to ever be conducted over a plate of chili cheese fries. My friends Liam and Allison were insisting that this particular route to the building was faster. I was aggressively in favor of a different one.
"Ours is faster," said Allison.
"It really is," Liam agreed.
I wasn’t going to try their way. I'm stubborn. I’m set in my ways like an old geezer. Besides, I didn’t believe them.
But on the morning of the exam, there were circumstances. I had already gone back to the house once because I'd forgotten my pencils, and then I realized I'd left my wallet on the counter when I'd gone back for said pencils. So I turned around again. And then I started to wonder if two pencils and one pen wasn't enough, so I spent about 10 minutes yanking out drawers and flipping over furniture in search of another pen, because if there’s one thing I know in this world, it’s that pens will disappear when you really, really need them.
So finally, finally I was barreling down the road again, properly equipped with photo identification and a fistful of writing utensils as well as anxiety of the highest caliber. And as I came to that fateful stoplight, I suffered a moment’s indecision. I was supposed to arrive at the exam early, and I had already squandered that time. I began to consider the possibility that Liam and Allison's way really was faster, mostly because it was two against one and I am easily persuaded by the power of numbers. And anyway, it was Hail Mary time. So I decided to hang a left.
It only took about five minutes for me to decide that Liam and Allison were stupid and I hated them. Every red light was taking about twelve years to turn green, and people were driving like we were in a leisurely mid-morning parade. This route was not faster. This route was a traffic-riddled death trap with stoplights and stop signs galore, and I was starting to panic. My knuckles were white on the steering wheel, and my eye had started to twitch. There was a man dancing in a chicken costume on the side of the road for God knows what reason. I distinctly remember this because that was the moment I started to wonder if all of this was really just an absurd dream triggered by pre-exam jitters. But no. This was no dream. This was my reality.
It was also quickly becoming a Situation, and I was driving like an absolute jerk. But I didn’t have the presence of mind to turn down the radio, so I was weaving and cutting people off to the dulcet tones of "Stacy’s Mom." I was also swearing a lot and still twitching, so if anyone ever makes a movie of my life, this is the scene that’ll make it worth nine bucks.
And I was almost there—I was almost there—when fate tossed one final zinger my way.
A funeral procession.
Yes. I was sitting there at a light when I saw the hearse. And then I glanced sideways and saw what was essentially an endless blockade of cars inching forward at nine miles an hour. And I tried to count them. And I couldn't. And that's when sanity and I, for all intents and purposes, parted ways, because I may have almost rear-ended about five different people prior to this, but I wasn't nearly heartless enough to mess with a funeral procession. I was as helplessly trapped as if somebody had erected the Berlin Wall between me and the testing site...which, by the way, I could see. I could SEE it. It was RIGHT THERE. And this was the final straw in a string of unfortunate circumstances—it was the stress and the traffic and the dancing chicken and the funeral procession and the fact that "Stacy's Mom" was still going strong. It was at this point that I just bailed mentally and laid my head down on the steering wheel and started singing along in a defeated, broken whisper: "Stacy's mom... has got it goin' on..."
I did, in fact, make it to the exam on time. Well, "on time" meaning I jumped a curb, parked illegally, and then burst into a room of alarmed high school students just as the proctors were shutting the door. I don't know if they were hesitant to let me in because of rules, or because I looked like I'd just gotten back from a harrowing journey through the Heart of Darkness. But they did let me in and I took the exam and life went on, even though the whole episode took about ten years off my life. So, my advice is this: be prepared, don't sweat it too much, and leave the house about five hours early just in case there's a meteor strike or a plague of locusts or a vehicular barricade.
OUR EYES ARE TWITCHING JUST FROM READING THAT STORY. PLEASE SPARKLERS, DO NOT DO ANY OF THESE THINGS ON SATURDAY. Get to your AP exams in a timely fashion and avoid listening to or even mentioning the song "Stacy's Mom" at all costs.
What's the most important event you've been late (or almost late) to?