A Happy Birthday to Paul T. Daly today. One of my many college suite-mates. Paul hails from the great state of Texas and has a voice that I’d run my mother over for. Give this a listen for some of his work on Texas High School football.
My favorite ever Paul Daly line from our radio days was: “That would been a great catch….
had he caught it!”
Yep–that would’ve helped!
So since it’s graduation week and everything here’s a quick story. Paul was busy covering the ECAC Baseball Tournament that Fordham was in so he got back to campus just as graduation exercises were completing. He was a year behind me in school, so he wasn’t graduating.
Now I wasn’t the best student as an undergrad. And when Paul departed for the tournament, I hadn’t gotten my final grades. And let’s just say Medieval Literature was not my best subject and I needed a C- in order to graduate.
And that indeed was going to be a close call.
I made the grade but in the age before cell phones, Paul had no clue whether I was going to walk or not.
So here is Paul racing to Edward’s Parade on that day and he gets there in the middle of names being read. They just started the “H’s” as the names are read alphabetically. He’s waiting for “Hayes” to be read.
When they got to “Iagone” he said his spirits really dropped.
“Oh no! He didn’t make it. Man!” He sat there depressed for me. He wondered if my parents even came or if I were even out there or if I just went the hell home.
They read the last name and it occurred to Paul that they got from H to Z rather quickly.
Fr. Pascoe, our dean, then took the microphone and said:
“And now, Fr. President, I call the names of the candidates for the Bachelor of ARTS degree in Fordham College!”
And the crowd went ballistic. Paul thought for a moment. He asked the person next to him, “Whose names was he just reading before?” Turns out he showed up while the Bachelor of Science degrees were being read.
He thought, “Wait! Mike’s an English major. English…Arts. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! WOO-HOO!”
Of course he then thought, if they don’t call his name this time…
But they did. A second piece of irony. But first, a second story.
So my freshman year, I was placed in second year spanish. Now that would have been fine if I remembered anything from my high school spanish class. I was lost and I wanted to add/drop into first year spanish. I had to go to the dean to do this. And let’s just say that the modern language dean who I will be merciful to and not name, was having a bit of a bad day.
“What do you want to change and why?” he growled at me.
I told him. He looked in his book.
“There are no openings in first level spanish.”
I said to him, “OK so what do I do now?”
Now I’d like to take a second here to tell educators that your response to this question should be “Just take another class and don’t worry about it and take it next semester.”
That was not the response I got.
“Well..we’d LIKE you to finish your language requirement by the end of your sophomore year (which means 4 semesters of language culminating in taking a literature class in the language). So if that’s the case, then you need to start with another language.”
So I say, “OK, fine, give me Italian.”
“No sir. No openings in Italian first level either.”
“OK, give me French.”
You guessed it…no openings in French first level either.
So me being me, I got angry. And I believe I said something along the lines of “Can you please just tell me what freakin class I CAN take?”
And incredulously the dean said, “Well you have a choice!”
I said in the deepest depressing voice ever, “Oh goody, that’s a thrill. You can’t imagine my joy. I am nearing orgasm at that news.”
Yeah that probably didn’t endear me to him.
My choices you ask: Russian or German.
Now I’m nothing if not logical…but if I had half a brain I would have just walked out of the office and told him off and went to my academic dean. But I’m a dumb freshman, the first in my family to go to college.
So I think deeply. “Well, Russian is a different alphabet. German is kinda like English (oh no it’s not!) so I’ll take German.”
“Splendid.” the dean said. And off I went with my new class.
Which I was now in two weeks late.
And I never caught up. I got a great big F.
There goes the GPA. Law School…forget it.
My professor and I tried everything. I just couldn’t do it. I got a tutor (who was kinda hot, I might add). I studied so much German my OTHER grades started to suffer. And then I realized that this just wasn’t going to happen. I passed 2 tests of 4. If I remember right I got a 37 on the first exam. A 58 on the second. A 78 on the third and a 62 on the fourth. That’s a 59 average. Failing by one point.
I got a 55 on the final exam. 6 more points and she would’ve passed me with a D.
I got all B’s in my other courses and a giant F in German.
And then I took four semesters of spanish starting with the next semester and finished the language requirement a semester late–which nobody ever said “BOO” about. And the interesting thing was that I was making the same mistakes in spanish, but the difference was that, say I misspelled a word throughout the exam….my spanish professors would take only one point off.
My German professor would take 9 off for every time I misspelled.
OK, so back to graduation…
Who read my name at graduation….?
You guessed it. The one professor to ever give me a failing grade.
I ran into her just after I graduated. I was still hurt because I begged her for a D but she wouldn’t budge. She had the audacity to ask me to carry some boxes up some stairs for her and another dean.
If the other dean wasn’t about to cry, if I said no–I think I might have left her standing there with the boxes.
But we are a religion of forgiveness, after all.
So up the boxes went. We had a cordial conversation and I told her I was graduating and had a job lined up at WFAN.
She seemed relieved. I could almost read it in her face.
“Well, I’m glad you’re getting out of here because you were a train wreck in my class.”
So basically I was a B student in most classes and a A student in theology and philosophy and the occasional writing class. But when it came to German or any language that sounded like German….
Well…not so much.
So when she read “Michael F. Hayes, Jr, English” I cringed and offered a soft smile her way.
Then I saw Paul.
He was jumping a hooting and howling for me. From complete disappointment to complete elation… for me.
I grabbed my diploma and hugged Fr. O’Hare. Fr. Pascoe our dean, looked at me and said, “Thanks for being such a big part of Campus Ministry (I served as an acolyte).”
Even then…there was God nudging me towards ministry and away from radio.
A quick look at my grades tells the tale:
English Classes: 2.8
Theology and Philosophy Classes: 3.2
Foreign Language: 2.136 (which aint bad considering I got an F in one of the five classes).
Is it any wonder I graduated with an M.A. in Religious Ed, Summa Cum Laude (3.83) nearly 13 years later?
God sometimes has to howl at me.
Even louder than Paul did on graduation day.
Happy Birthday, Tex.