If I had to pinpoint the time in my life where I learned how to write well, or at least where I learned to enjoy writing, it would have to be my 10th grade Calabasas High School English class under the tutelage of Mrs. Darby. (I have no idea what her first name is/was, but I’m pretty sure she bears no relation to the folks from Pride and Prejudice.)
Part of the reason was that she assigned all of us to keep a journal – not necessarily a chronicle of our life’s events, but rather a repository where we could write stories, philosophical musings, or whatever it was that popped into our heads of the time. As I recall, she asked us to write in it at least once a week. I wrote in it at least once a day. Remember, back then, if someone mentioned the Internet, they were probably talking about that mesh thingee that boys have in their swimsuits to hold themselves in place. This journal essentially ended up being an analog blog. I couldn’t get enough of it.
It just so happens that while digging through the detritus in my attic, I uncovered the two spiral notebooks in which I, Languatron–like, blogged for an audience of one. The pages are frayed and yellowed, and the handwriting is barely legible, but it’s a joy to read. (At least for me, anyway. No idea how this nonsense will play with a wider audience.)
I was a much sharper writer than I remember, and my style and my point of view really haven’t changed as much as I thought they had. That’s both encouraging and discouraging; it means I was quite talented once, but in the intervening three decades, I haven’t made as much progress as one might expect.
All this is preface, of course, to my plan to inflict some of these ancient gems upon the modern digital world. Instead of toiling in literary obscurity, Young Stallion will finally get the dozens of readers he deserves. It also means I can occasionally produce content for this blog without having to actually write anything. This scenario appeals to my two greatest passions: nostalgia and laziness.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
So, without further ado, I provide you a transcription of Journal Entry #4: A Letter to Euripides.
It is I, Enola Farmface, your great and lovely daughter, and mother of Grendel Farmface, who is lying in a bloody heap at my feet. While I know he will never bite the cat anymore, it is my duty as his lovely and gorgeous mother to beat the $&@% out of the @&$# who kicked the *€£#@ out of my @$@<#! son.
But that would not be subtle, or even intelligent.
No, we will worry him to death. We will aggravate and harass him until he goes prematurely bald. Being ridiculed and shamed, old Wulfy will never be taken seriously again, and kill himself in disgrace. Or maybe we put cyanide in his mead.
I can see it now. As Beowulf discreetly walks to the little boys’ room at Herot, he keels over in a catatonic stupor and lies in an alcoholic coma on the floor of the mead hall.
After the Tylenol has been checked, they will come to the conclusion that I, Enola Farmface, was the perpetrator of this insidious crime and I, Grendel’s mother, have avenged my son’s death. Or maybe I’ll just put out a contract on them and bump them off.
That was written circa 1982/83: long ago, yes, but still centuries after the long form English poem upon which it is based. I think you’ll agree that Beowulf-based gallows humor never goes out of style. Or at least that I was, and remain, a geek.
UPDATE: Over on Facebook, my sister pointed out that the Pride and Prejudice hero is Mr. Darcy, not Mr. Darby. So there’s that.
UPDATE II: The actual journal entry, which takes up a full handwritten page, is only 200 words. 200 words?! They seemed so long at the time. This monstrosity is over 700 words. So while I haven’t made great strides in the quality of my writing, the quantity has metastasized.