“Addo” is the Latin word for this verb, but what is its English equivalent? Hint: Don’t think too hard about it. Unfortunately for me, thinking hard about answers to questions was second nature to me at Jesuit. There were no easy answers, right? Knowledge worthy of the Jesuit brand was gained only through fire, right? So as I stood before Father T. L. Herlong and my classmates, I struggled to regurgitate a more complex, more sophisticated meaning for “addo.” It wouldn’t come to me, and Fr. Herlong grew more agitated by the second, his blood pressure morphing from a balmy 110/70 to a nuclear 500/300 or so. He kept giving me bigger and bigger hints, all of which I refused to glom on to. No, I thought, I’m not here at Big J to cough up such easy answers: there must be more to it! But my hands were shaking and my knees were weak. Finally, Fr. Herlong, steam venting from his ears, told me to just sit down. It didn’t take him long to “add” up my grade for the day.
Isn’t it interesting that some of our most touching memories come from the “fire” in which we were forged? It’s said that that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. There’s no doubt that my “addo” humiliation made me somehow stronger throughout my life, although I’m still not sure how!