In the cave of Advanced Classics, the only light in the room appeared to shine solely on our professor, who had turned from his scribbling of Greek to ask me a question. As he paused, to cleverly obscufate the issue, I tried to look like I had been paying attention. After all, Advanced Classics was one of my better grades for the first semester of college, and one of the main reasons I would avoid being on academic probation should I not screw it up. Plus, I wanted to look good to impress Helen of Indiana who sat across the aisle from me.
I had spied fair Helen with her lustrous blonde hair on the first day of class. It was hard to miss her, because she was the prettiest girl in the class by far, making all of the other women look like mere harpies, and she had happened to sit next to me, clearly a sign from the Gods. While I did not have the looks of a Paris, I had received a further blessing from my friends in the class who had chosen a manly strong name from the Iliad which they felt suited me. Since the start of the semester, I had befriended her, and we had hung out with our mutual friends many times. Even though I had met many new faces in the sea of freshman, Helen’s was the one I wanted to spend time with in any type of symposium.
The question finally fell like a broken thunderbolt from the professor. He was perplexed by the riddle of where we were on the syllabus that he had assigned. Earnestly, I answered calmly:
“Yes, Professor, I have already read Chapter 7 of Aristotle.”
While my answer suited his sphinx-like heart, my classmates, including Helen groaned audibly. I had accidentally made their lives more difficult by making them read two chapters before we met again. As Helen kicked my leg furiously in disgust, I was showered with pen caps by my peers in a sign of gratitude. As class ended, and as we packed up, I desperately searched for the words to casually ask her on a date.
I had received word from my oracles of the various social circles that I attended that Helen would be pleased to hear my entireties, should I vocalize them. And it was not the experience with Number #5 ½ that stopped me. Since her non-fatal blow, I had been through many minor trials and tribulations in the dating realm. I had accrued stories that would weave a fascinating soliloquy that would make a comedic audience laugh and cry throughout all three acts. What stopped me was my Achilles’ heel, my ultimate weakness: I had trouble asking girls out. I stammered, I behaved in a most clumsy way, and struggled to produce the required words. Quixotically, once the deed was done, I had no problems. As I mused on my cruel fate, the room had emptied.
Quickly, I resolved that I would delay no more, and ask Helen that very day. I grabbed my stuff, and fly after her golden hair that very moment. On an abandoned tree lined path, I caught up with her, and in my most charming manner, which was probably still incredibly un-charming, managed to get out the words that I had harbored for weeks. As the last gasps of “dinner – tomorrow?” escaped my lips, I was elated, flying in the warm glow of the sun.
Analytically, and yet sadly, she stared back at me with a cold gaze that almost froze me in mid-step. With reasoning that would make Pericles himself blush, she laid out a solid case against my proposition.
“…and frankly, while I enjoy spending time with you in a large group, and find you somewhat amusing, why would I, who is obviously going places in life, date you, whose later destination is clearly to be employed at McDonald’s at best? I think not!”
My feathers melted with her scalding words, and I plummeted back to reality. I could not muster the wit to deny her sophisticated sophistry. I was left, jaw hanging agape as she receded into the distance. It was a nasty turn of fate that changed me from hero to goat herder in one swoop. One thing was clear, as I headed off: even if I was a goat herder, I was going to recover my six-pack of beer from the Oracle who had goaded me with the advice I had acted upon.