The Old Coot can’t blot out a memory

Back in September, some classified documents relating to the Saudi involvement in 9/11 were released. Supposedly a candid picture of what went on leading up to the attacks. Finally, we’d get to learn the truth. 

Not so fast! The report was redacted, loaded with black strikeouts that resemble inkblots. Once again, we’d been hoodwinked by the bureaucratic process of redacting, blocking out the “sensitive” portions of the report. 

It reminded me of the inkblots on my test papers when I was in high school. That was my strategy too, to hide the evidence of my stupidity. I didn’t know it was officially called redacting. I used it frequently in my 11th grade history class. The tests I “forgot” to study for. (All of them.)

A question on the test might ask us to explain the economic impact of the Stamp Act on the colonies. I had no idea, but a response was called for. I’d reply with something like this, “The Stamp Act was enacted to BLOT, BLOT, BLOT…” (The inkblots were created by my Parker fountain pen.) 

I didn’t fare any better than the FBI did when it released the redacted reports.  But inkblots were the only thing I could come up with. I thought it might give me a fighting chance, maybe enough partial credit to get a passing grade.

Fountain pens were in the vogue in those days. Ballpoint pens hadn’t quite made the scene and our papers had to be done in ink. Parker Pens were top of the line, at least for high school students. Especially the “Snorkel” model, where a metal tube came out of the end of the pen point when you turned a knob at the other end. You didn’t have to stick the point into the ink, and thus didn’t cause the pen to blot on the paper. 

I wanted the blots, so when I was in History class I dipped the point into the inkwell as far as it could go. I didn’t do this in my other classes; just my history papers were splattered with inkblots. 

Much to my father’s dismay, a history buff that read the encyclopedias in his leisure time, the inkblot strategy didn’t work; I failed 11th grade History. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would be interested in all that “old” stuff.  

Not anymore. I’m a history buff myself, of sorts, but much of my interest of late only goes back to mid-20th century, where I don’t have to do any research; I lived it. 

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