It was snowing last night in my hometown of Northen Charm and Southern Efficiency, so I gave a girl in my property class a ride home. She was Ivy league undergrad, not that I pay attention to such things, so let's call her "Ivy."
She barely had her seatbelt fastened before she asked about my outline in exactly the tone one asks about the Redskins. The final is Tuesday. We're all like that.
"Well, I'm not writing it chronologically from scratch," I said. "I'm not much of a notetaker, so I'm using old outlines from friends and commercial outlines and what notes I have and combining them that way. I take an old exam for practice, tweak my outline, take another old exam, tweak, etc. I started at the exams from the early 90's and I'd like to get through all his old exams before Tuesday"
"Oh, Ok." She said. After a beat she added, "I took an old exam earlier. That stuff about Estates and Interests scared me. I emailed the prof, though, and I was so relieved when he said not to worry about it and things we didn't go over in class wouldn't be on the test."
"We didn't go over estates and interests in class?" I asked.
"You didn't know that?" She asked, openly horrified.
"Umm... No. I'm not much of a notetaker. When there were a bunch of questions about it on the old finals, I just assumed I hadn't taken notes for a couple of really important classes."
"So you've been studying all that Rule against perpetuities stuff? But he hasn't taught in class since like 2002. And it's impossible!"
"Oh, the rule against perpetuities isn't that bad," I said. "All it says is that a property bequest can't go on forever. You can, say, leave your house to your wife until she dies and then leave it to your son forever, but you can't leave it to your son 'til he dies, then his son 'til HE dies, then HIS son until HE dies and soforth. The common law rule is that estate has to vest within 21 years after the death of the last person alive at the time of the writing of the will to die. Fetuses count. Also, some states have a uniform code that says wills have a flat 90 years to vest. It's more complicated than that in places but that's the jist."
Ivy stared at me like I had sprouted tentacles. "You learned ALL THAT? But it's not on the test!"
"Ooops," I said. There wasn't much else to say. We were in front of her apartment anyway.
"I'm just sorry you wasted your time," Ivy said airily, climbing down out of the jeep.
We said goodbye. I drove away, realizing that I didn't think of it as a waste of time at all. It would have been more efficient to study only what's actually going to be on the test, but I kinda liked knowing that stuff. Besides, you never know when "indefeasibly vested remainder for life" is going to be the answer on Jeopardy.
I'm probably rationalizing here, but I have to say, that I drove home thinking that maybe there's a reason why I don't share the academic success of people like Ivy, but I'm so interesting to talk to.
Who is better at playing the game than she has ever been, but apparently still has a few things to learn.