Monday, November 10, 2008


One of my suburban students told me today that she has to give a 10 minute presentation in her dietary class on Russian food, and that she is terrified.  She wanted to know how I did it, how I got up there and talked for an hour and 15 minutes in front of chatting, sleeping, and slouching kids, and how I seemed so at ease.  I told her that they were just as terrified as she, since they all know that they're next.  The heart of that cool and affectless pose of youth (which goes back to The Days of the Pharaohs) is not confidence, but panic.  It's the figleaf that hides their terror of each other's regard.  That knowledge gets me through the day.
On the subway home, I looked at all the very young and very pretty hipsters on the L train to East  Williamsburg, Brooklyn in their stylishly eccentric clothes very publicly reading deep-think literature (the young man sitting next to me was absorbed in Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus, I usually see Derrida, Beckett, Joyce, and Dostoyevsky on the L train) and I thought to myself how glad I am to be 50 years old, especially these days.


Scott Hankins said...

Oh no. Does that mean, at age 57, I must cancel my subscriptions to the Atlantic Monthly and Foreign Affairs and send my recent acquisition, Volumes 2 and 3 of Euripides, back to Barnes and Noble? Must I stop trembling when making impassioned speeches at diocesan conventions? Or, maybe, has Dante condemned me to riding the L train in eternity (spiralling up around the mountain, of course)?



FranIAm said...

What a truly great post- from your interaction with your student to your ride on the (sigh, nostalgia) subway.

I will be 51 soon... and like you, glad to be so!!