Arguing with Myself: The Case of the Broken Verb

I was walking along the paseos of Ayala Center Cebu yesterday on my way to Metro Ayala to buy some veggies for dinner and today’s lunch when I happen to see a graduated cylinder. That sight reminded me of the argument I had with my sister years ago, 2004 I believe.

I was then in second year high school, and I was part of the SSTC (Special Science and Technology Class). That being said, we had advance classes for our curriculum like physics and chemistry (both were offered to seniors and juniors respectively in basic education curriculum). In our chemistry class, of course, we have our laboratory sessions—test tubes, Petri dish, glass slides, graduated cylinders, and such are part of it and everything else.

One day, during one of our laboratory sessions, one of my classmates accidentally tipped over the test tube rack, and I, being the hero that I want, tried to salvage it, but accidentally tipped the graduated cylinder with a stirring rod. And it broke. Needless to say, I had to pay for it.

That night, I silently approached my mother to ask for money so I can buy a new graduated cylinder for the class. I was hesitant, of course, because I know there would be a nagging.

“Mom, can I have some cash?” I started out. “I accidentally broke a graduated cylinder this morning.”

My mom looked at me with a puzzled expression. “What is a graduated cylinder?” She asked.

“Well, it’s a cylinder with graduation, and we used it to measure the volume of liquid matters. More like a measuring device.”

My mother just nodded. “How much is it?”

“Well, I checked this afternoon, and it’s around 195.”

She was about to get her wallet when my fifth elder sister, who had been cooking and, obviously, eavesdropping came to the scene.

“Hold on,” she said. “What was it again? What did you break?”

“A graduated cylinder.”

“Are you even serious? How can you break that thing?”

“It was an accident,” I said, and I went to explain what happened.

“Are you telling the truth or just making it up to get money from mother?” she asked me so suspiciously.

“Are you kidding me?” I blurted out. “Why would I even do that? Have I ever done that before?”

“No. But people change, especially during high school. You know, girl friends, trying to show off.”

“God! How can I show of with just 195 when all my classmates have more money than that!”

“Well, who knows?”

“Fine. If you do not believe me, I will ask my teacher a letter addressed to you to certify that I have indeed broken a graduated cylinder, and I have to replace it.” I yelled at her.

She smiled sarcastically at me and said, “That would be better.” She then turned to mom and said, “Mom, be careful with this kid. Don’t easily give him money. The next thing you know, he’ll be asking you for some cash because he broke a verb during their English class.”

“Break a verb! How can I break a verb, it’s abstract!” I countered.

“The point exactly. The lengths you will go to get extra cash.”

“Oh my gods! You are being so impossible right now!”

She countered that with “More like being rational.”

I know I lost that argument with her. So the next day, I asked my teacher to give me a note saying I broke a graduated cylinder and I need to replace it. That sealed the argument, but that did not kill the broken verb reference whenever I ask for money or additional requirements for school.

Note: My mom’s childhood and teen years were during the 1940s and ’50s, thus, she has little information about the modern things in science and even English.

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