Thursday, September 20, 2012

The End of Scott: Or, a True History of One Morning Between the Hours of Six and Eight in Our Nation's Capital

I arose somewhat earlier than was my usual wont, for I had much to accomplish on that particular morning which could not readily have been undertaken in that condition in which nature so inclines me to be found at these early hours, namely, in that state of recline which is so pleasant at the beginning of the day and so necessary at the end of it.  I arose, and heard with mild chagrin a rushing sound, as it were of a river contained within porcelain walls, and hurtling down from a great height with such savage force as might have dashed a rider in a boat that sought to traverse it with much danger into the depths towards which, drawn by those intransigent forces that surround and direct, almost unseen, animate and inanimate creation alike, the river itself was irremediably drawn.  My roommate was in the bathroom.

I sighed, rose, and stretched my aching limbs with a consciousness that, had I been more prudent in my self-applications during the earlier parts of the week, I would not now be feeling the pains that come, not from the abjuration of rest, or even from those periodically necessary fasts thereof to which the graduate lifestyle condemns us, its poor practitioners, but rather from a full sleep consequent upon two nights of rather less somnolence than could have been wished for by a wise man.  Aching in every muscle, I seized the rearward portions of my trusty oaken chair, guarded with two stout curved arms like arms, and eased myself into its well-molded if somewhat unyielding depths.  Through the light partition, I heard my roommate splashing.

Pressing up the heavy screen, and depressing my forefinger upon that lozenge-shaped button which, if all was to go well, would presently cause the now-darkened rectangle of plasticine to illuminate and cast its silver-blue reflections upon my face, imprinting therein--for a brief moment only--the letters that form my open sesame, "Username" and "Password"--I contemplated my condition.  It would be necessary, in order for me to depart from this well-beloved, warm, and comfortable domicile, to put on some warmer garb than that in which I was presently attired; it might also be wise, in one who was well used to following the prompts of custom as well as nature, and disinclined to that disapprobation and ridicule which is bestowed by the rude and ungodly who know not how to distinguish between accident and intentional folly upon those whose actions seem to indicate their ignorance of those customs, for me to put on some habiliments more formal than an XXXL shirt with a certain rust-colored variety of winter squash upon the front, and a pair of thin, pink-striped pants that were tied, heaven help us all, with a drawstring, and showed my ankles in a fashion that was inherently flattering, but somewhat too disproportionate to be approvable in any other circumstances than those of complete and utter solitude, or (alternatively) ones heightened into drama by the presence of what is called a runway.  I got out the ironing board and ironed some work clothes.

By this time my roommate, her delightfully becurled hair wrapped in a roseate towel, had passed by me, bestowing as she did so a charming smile which told me, more clearly than words could have spoke, that the room wherein we perform our daily ablutions was vacant.  Upon entering that room--but the reader may fill in such blanks for himself; I have no desire to be excessively verbose.  Washed, dressed, breakfasted, and ready to sally forth in the harsh world, I departed the house, locking the door after me; for my third roommate had departed before either of us other two, and I had no desire to leave our small apartments prey to the evil designs and entrances of every passerby, fearing that, little as the value of everything contained therein might be, a turning handle or an unshot bolt might prove to tempting to the cupidity, or at least (we must not judge too harshly) the curiosity of such persons.  I had no wish to be robbed, or to be forced to confess myself, when next my time came to appear before my ghostly father, a near occasion of sin for anyone with whom I had not in point of fact even held intercourse.

My perambulations to the train which was to take me into the heart of this great city were no more eventful than usual, and merit no especial record; but as I descended into that tunnel where my fellow passengers, quondam et futuram, were assembled, I noted with some alarm that the time to pass before the next bullet-shaped and teetering engine of doom was to pass by, pausing all too briefly to assimilate us like a worm with a hyperactive thyroid disorder and no gustatory intelligence, was great.  Happily I was prepared with a moderately-sized three-volumes-in-one-cover novel by the late and reverend Sir Walter Scott; and so, glancing rapidly to ascertain that there were no unusual stains or crumbs or other suspicious marks besmirching it, I sat down upon the bench of simulated granite and awaited the train.

The first train I judged was rather too crowded for entry (although many of my fellow passengers were apparently of another mind, and pressed themselves like those small mammals, notorious for their instincts towards innocent suicide, desirous of being transformed into still smaller fishes, known for their dark and salty flavor and their tendency to be tightly packed, sometimes with water but more often with oil--which ought to smooth their passage, but, I fear, only tends to defame their reputation by adding caloric to those labels which, in accordance with the current and degraded laws of this unhappy land, certain agents of the present government command all manufacturers to apply to whatsoever of their goods are destined to pass the lips, nay, even to touch the hands or possibly to come into contact with the epidermis of consumers or their infant offspring, even by chance--this oil, I say ...  But what do I say?  I allowed the first train to pass, and the second as well, considering that I would be engaged in reading my book for some hour or so this morning, and that it mattered little in the larger scheme of providential design at which end of the dark and gloomy passage I performed my delicate office.

On the third train, accordingly, I embarked, and once stationed under one of those silvered bars placed to aid those whose balance is deficient or whose attention is directed to higher things (such as the novels of Sir Walter Scott) I reopened my volume and continued to peruse its pages with attention that was divided only slightly from this chief purpose to that lesser but still essential one of ensuring that my valuables were attached to my person at all times.  In this mode we passed a station or two very happily; but at about that time when we entered the neighborhood where, above ground, judgements are delivered and fines are paid, a women with a protruding and Nordically shaded pack upon her back pressed herself amongst us.  Like so many of her fellow human beings who wear these dangerous and eminently purloinable bits of baggage, she was apparently unconscious of the fact that whenever she turned (which was often enough, upon my honor) she was pressing directly against me, and forcing me to draw ever and anon closer to a tall young man who had neglected, either through ignorance or indecent haste, to purify his breath before leaving his place of abode that very same morning.  This same handsome young fellow, towards whom I had no desire to shift any closer, was already pressed as near to the deceitful doors of our evil engine as he could safely be; and so, even though our desire to maintain a reverent distance from each other was undoubtedly mutual, as shown by the discomfortable rolling of his eye, it was not possible for him to retreat before my reluctant advances.  I took refuge in the pages of Sir Walter, inhaling through my nostrils only, and beseeching heaven that, whatever invisible elements might cause and constitute this unfortunate neighbor's oral atmosphere might be either non-contagious or, if otherwise, might find themselves presently trapped by those hirsute nasal passages which are, I was informed as a little girl, the body's natural protection against all the less potent forms of pestilence.  This precaution on my part meant, to be sure, that I could not suffer my lips to part, and was forced to sniff continuously those rotten airs which had first displeased me; but as there seemed no better alternative than risking contagion (and as the continuous buffets from that inconsiderate harpy behind me rendered any form of backwards movement inconvenient, not to say impossible), I was forced to submit to the circumstance until we arrived at the happy station whereat I disembarked at the same time as, though certainly not in the company or with the acquaintance of, the young gentleman aforementioned.  I have not seen him or the pack-wearing harpy since; and I am rather pleased than otherwise at the consideration that it is not at all likely, under the general complexion of such events, that I ever will.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I am impressed and delighted. Well done Sophia!