So. I was late to work. Got a wee bit busted for it too.
But the reason I was busted for it was because my excuse was “not valid”. I was not late because I missed my bus, or overslept, or was pulled over for a speeding ticket. I was late because on my walk to work I stopped to meet Hedda.
Hedda is a 12-year old yellow labrador owned by a gentleman in his late 60’s who is a retired professor of English literature at the University of Washington. I can’t recall his name because I have an awful habit of recalling dog’s names and not their owner’s. I said good morning, asked if I might pet her, then asked her name.
“Do you know why she is named Hedda?” he asks me.
“I don’t actually…”
“Hedda was a character in a play of the same name, Hedda Gabler, written in the late 1890’s by a man by the name of Henrik Ibsen”
“Are you familiar with the writings of Henrik Ibsen?”
Having never been much of a student of literature, I reply sadly, that I am not.
“Well, allow me to quote: ‘You should never put your best trousers on when you go out to fight for freedom and truth!””
“Does that sound familiar?”
I regretfully shake my head.
He scoffs, “well, why not, young lady?”
At some lame attempt at justification I explain that I am an artist and a student of languages and writing systems and mathematical concepts and as such spend my time on little else…
“Ah…” he interjects…”a renaissance woman. Plenty of room left in that head of yours, and plenty of time left. You should get started.”
“Might I start after work? I think I might have some Chaucer at home…” I reply feebly.
“Hmm…” he mused, stroking his beard. “I suppose that’s acceptable. Hedda?”
Hedda has been spending the entire conversation with her attention vaguely fixated on the concrete at the base of a tree trunk. She had no opinion either way.
I look at my watch…he noticed.
“I imagine and hope that we will meet again on this sidewalk in the future. I expect you will have some Chaucer to add to that list of marvelous knowledge you have.” he says, smiling bemusedly.
“Well, young lady,” he says, extending his hand, “I should let you be on your way. It was a pleasure.”
“Likewise,” I reply, extending it, and he kisses the top of my gloved hand in quite the gentlemanly fashion. He comes from a different time, he does, where women didn’t call the police or kick you in the testicles for such a thing.
“You know,” he added, “Ibsen’s ‘Hedda’ was known for her ‘lust for life'” he said as I turned to leave. “it shows in you as well young lady. Hold onto that, understand?”
I was flattered…mostly because of how odd it was that I had heard just those words from another just the day before.
And that is why I was late to work.
Apparently experiencing life isn’t a valid excuse.
Voulez voulez vous…