Monday, August 15, 2005

The embarrassment

Although I normally don't alter entries much after I've posted them, I decided to sneak back on a couple in order to erase traces of crudeness. In two recent posts, you see, I had a sum of 4 profanities. As luck would have it, a couple of bloggers whose opinions I respect had offered their counsel-- which I had so obviously missed--about the need to avoid vulgarities.

And I was persuaded. I am sorry. It was a temper tantrum.

Obviously, though, I must have been more fundamentally embarrassed than I'd thought. Because when I dozed off briefly, I had the oddest of dreams. A nightmare really!

In a new town every feature of which was unfamiliar, I was struggling to find my way before it was too late.

And when I finally came upon what I had been looking for, it turned out to be a building and there was a long line and I was to take a test.

So I register and take my seat. Two pages of questions are handed me.

"You have two hours," someone announces.

And I look at the first question and the second and the third and on and on to the last. There are 79. I simply can't think of a single answer I am satisfied with. It is not exactly a multiple choice test either. Only pointed questions which allow a one line response!

Now, I am sure I can even recall the exact pages of the particular books the questions are taken from. But I can't for the life of me remember what the relevant answers would be.

An hour has passed. I am squirming in my seat.

A friendly old Professor comes by. He looks at the blank paper in front of me and then we exchange glances. I am so obviously blushing. I can even feel my ears. They always heat up when I am embarrassed.

"But surely Mr. ..., you must know at least some of the answers!"

"Sorry, can't think of a single one."

"Do try then." "Write something," he quipped.

And I look again at the papers.

One question stands out roughly in this form: "How does *Caliban's coarseness relate to the nature/nurture debates?"

And I wake up murmuring to myself—as I inevitably always do after my nightmares:

"It doesn't relate much. He simply wants a more worthy ruler, that's all."

The celebrated passage I have in mind:

A devil, a born devil, on whose nature
Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains,
Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost;
And as with age his body uglier grows,
So his mind cankers. I will plague them all,
Even to roaring.

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