Dear Ms. Rako,
When you announced that our presentation on Genghis Khan would be a group project, I knew that I would do all the work and my partner (Mark, cc’d) wouldn’t help and still get a good grade. That’s why I wanted to call out which parts of the group project were mine.
I made the PowerPoint, which included details on the rise of the Mongolian Empire; Mark made the “poster” with the shrimps taped to it. And when I finished talking about each slide, Mark would point to a shrimp and say, “That’s-a-what this one represents.”
Genghis Khan is one of the most vicious conquerors who ever lived, and I feel like Mark’s shrimp analogies fundamentally confused the other students (and, frankly, me).
Honestly, calling what he made a “poster” is generous. It was just a bunch of shrimp taped to, as I’m sure you noticed, a Subaru mailer. And at the end of class, when we were supposed to turn in our work, Mark carefully peeled the shrimp off his poster and said, “My dad needs this mailer back because he is looking to buy a used Impreza.”
I painstakingly fact-checked our presentation, going so far as to get an appointment with the Mongolian embassy and training with a linguist to ensure we correctly pronounced the Mongolian words. I made detailed notecards for Mark to read, but he instead improvised random “soup facts” in the voice of a loud-mouthed Italian “soup chef” named “Buppi de Beppo.” And when I tried to steer our presentation back on topic, Mark would randomly interject with things like “Gabagool!” and “That-a fact is like-a the soup zuppa toscana: extremely rich!”
Unfortunately, he was getting laughs from the class, which egged him on, even though he was disrespecting the millions of people decapitated by the ruthless Mongol cavalry. A fact that I’m worried got drowned out by Mark screaming, “Get outta here!” to anyone who raised their hand.
Kind of unrelated, but Mr. Donatello, our drama teacher, has asked Mark to stop doing this character. He says that Mark “relies too heavily on a somewhat problematic Italian accent,” a “bastardization of the restaurant name ‘Buca di Beppo,’” and his “overwhelming and frankly absurd knowledge of soups” for laughs. Had Mark taken these notes, he might not have ruined our presentation by screaming, “Marone! You need borlotti beans for authentic minestrone flavor—Khan’s favorite Italiano zuppa!”
I tried really hard, Ms. Rako. I would even go to Mark’s house to work on the project, and he wouldn’t help, because he was reading soup fact books to have “funny zingers” for his improv class. While I worked on the one-page handout for everyone, he practiced doing a chef’s kiss in his mirror, saying, “It’s-a-me, Buppi de Beppo.” And ultimately, I’m saddened that we couldn’t share this important piece of history with the class without Mark repeatedly screaming, “Fuhgeddaboudit!”
“Forgetting” is the opposite point of history class, Ms. Rako. Your class.
I appreciate your consideration in giving us separate grades.
Thank you for understanding and for being my favorite teacher. You make me a better student and citizen, and again I’m sorry about Mark and the shrimp smell that now permeates your hallowed classroom.