Problems Galore: The Unspoken Struggles of Math Notebooks

Make ‘Em Laugh! (2.5 Stars)

CeCe was a bilingual comedian who had taken a chance by moving to Spanish after graduating college. Now, here she was, with no money or job, about to take the biggest chance of her life. She is about to perform at a comedy club, and the performance fee is 5 euros, which is all she has left to her name, just about. She swallows her nerves and approaches the man standing in front the door. He does not look the friendliest, but she persists. She musters up her best Spanish, telling him “I would like to purchase a performer slot for tonight’s comedy show,” or “Me gustaría comprar un puesto de artista para el programa de comedia de esta noche”. The bouncer looked her up and down, let out a small chuckle, and said “Okay, follow me.” Well, he really said, “Bien, sígueme”. As she walks into the club, she notices how dark the room was around her. However, the audience is packed with at least a hundred people. This is slightly surprising to CeCe, given the kind…slimy…look of the building from the outside. ‘Well, I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… or !Tapa!‘ She thought to herself.

Suddenly, she is backstage. She has been practicing her meticulously thought-out routine for 20 minutes when the stage hand approaches her and tells her that it is time to go out on stage. As she is shoved out onto the stage, she notices the lighting has changed: all of it is on her, now. Two overbearingly bright spotlights shine directly in her eyes as she looks up; she sees spots in her eyes for a few seconds before re-centering herself in her mind. All of a sudden, she forgets every joke that she had practiced backstage. She had been silent for a little bit too long; the audience was giving her inquisitive looks of confusion and mild amusement at her stage fright. These people were professionals, and she could tell with one look. 

She feels her hands getting clammy. ‘You have to say something!’ She thinks to herself. ‘Just… any joke you could possibly think of. Anything. Anything is better than nothing, CeCe!’ She thinks to herself. Someone off-stage starts to say something to her in Spanish along the lines of, “Should we move on?” This is exactly what she needs to shake herself out of her frozen state. She is going to start with an easy joke, just to warm up the icy crowd. Hopefully, she could get a tiny laugh. She didn’t really care if it was with her or at her at this point. Maybe there’s a sympathetic kid out there? “¿Por qué está triste el cuaderno de matemáticas? !Porque tiene muchos problemas!” The audience is dead silent for a moment. Then, someone starts to lightly chuckle, and it spreads across the crowd. ‘Okay,’ she thinks. ‘That’s the ‘in’ that I needed. Let’s go!‘ She thinks, cheering herself on as she delves into the jokes she is now more comfortable with than she has ever been in her life.  Maybe, just maybe, she will make it big here in Spain.

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