Cheatin’ Yourself and Your Buddy

Written By Galen White

My school teachers at good ol’ Athens High always preached to me, “If you are cheatin’ on your tests, you are only cheatin’ yourself”. And I suppose they were right. As I’ve said before, though, there were a few times when I didn’t listen. However, we won’t go into details about that.

I’ve told you before that English happened to be my easiest subject: sailin’ through with straight “C”s and hardly ever crackin’ a book. Had I applied myself, I could easily have made “B”s. Spellin’ wasn’t too hard but I always had trouble rememberin’ if it was “i” before “e” ‘cept after “c”, or “I'” before “me” when used as a preposition. Yes, sir, English was relatively easy for me. Math, on the other hand, was a whole ‘nuther subject! I hated math. Oh, I could add 2 plus 2 and come up with the right answer, but when they started talkin’ algebra and geometry, it all became Greek to me. When you take numbers, add in letters of the alphabet, and ask me to figure the degree of angle of this trapezoid or the area of that rectangle, well, I could never grasp the know-how. The teacher said the letter stood for the “unknown”; well, I knew more unknown than most everyone else. In fact, I was really good at knowin’ the “unknown”!

To me, numbers should be used in addin’, subtractin’, multiplyin’, and dividin’, while letters are for spellin’ and writin’. Everyone knows you don’t mix gasoline and fire, and as far as I’m concerned, the same should be true for numbers and letters.

The teachers were correct with their advice, for there is a heap ‘o truth in cheatin’ yourself. You may gain a passin’ grade, but you haven’t learned anything and when it comes down to the nitty gritty, you’ll be like me and know the unknown very well.

What about the brainy one who allowed someone to copy from his or her paper, though? The egg-head knew the correct answers, and they also knew that I didn’t…., er, they knew that some folks just weren’t smart enough to learn all the stuff offered.

Well, I’m ’bout to tell you a true story, one involvin’ two cousins and a multiple choice test. I will not divulge their names ’cause I like breathin’ and don’t want to risk not bein’ able to . We’ll call them Billy and Willy, and I don’t care what you are thinkin’, ol’ Galen was not involved in this event in any shape, form, or fashion.

The event occurred back in 1966 or 67 and right after Mr. Duke passed out a biology test. Seems there may have been thirty questions, each havin’ a choice of four options for an answer. Of course, only one choice was the correct answer. Many times I wished two of the four choices would have been correct; at least then I would have had a 50/50 chance of gettin’ it right. That’s why I liked true or false questions.

Anyway, Billy was the egghead and knew the answers to questions I had never thought of. Willy, on the other hand, was kinda like me. By that I mean there was somethin’ more important the evenin’ before that kept him from studyin’ for the upcomin’ test. Bein’ that cud’n Billy was a buddy as well, Willy figured he could “get a little help” if he needed it. He soon discovered he needed help on all 30 questions.

Billy, bein’ the wise and good buddy cousin Willy thought he should be, allowed Willy to copy his answers to all thirty questions. He even tilted his paper in a manner that made it easier for Willy to read. Willy was tickled to death and literally flew through the test. As quick as Willy saw Billy’s answer to the last question and had written it on his test paper, he jumped up and turned his paper in to Mr. Duke. Satisfied and content, he headed back to his desk only to notice Billy was erasin’ every single one of answers on his paper. Willy figured somethin’ was rotten in Denmark!

Sho’ nuff! Denmark stunk to high heaven!! Billy had deliberately written down the wrong answers and allowed Willy to copy every one of em’. And after Willie had turned in his paper, he went back and corrected each and every answer.

Now, you tell me. Who’s the cheater in this case? Of  course, Willy missed every single question on this test, and it should be obvious his description of Billy included more adjectives than just “cheater”! I would give you a few of ’em but I don’t want to be brow beat and banned by the editor

After learnin’ of the event, sayin’ the classmates had a good laugh would be the understatement of the year. Billy and Willy lived over the incident although Billy had been threatened with his life; can’t say I blame Willy. Anyway and in my opinion, cheatin’ is cheatin’, and both parties in this story are guilty. Billy cheated his buddy, and Willy cheated himself. And two a plus two a equals……., uh…. four a squared…, no it equals aa 4… See! It’s still Greek to me.


Galen WhiteGalen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.


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