One of the many useful things I learned to do in college was "How to Interpret a Poem," a skill that I will now demonstrate for you.
OK. Say your English teacher wants you to write a short theme on the meaning of the poem "Miniver Cheevy' by the famous American poet Edward Arlington Robinson, who was married to Mrs. Robinson, star of that movie "The Graduate." When writing your paper, you should start off by quoting a bunch of lines from the poem. This makes the teacher think you actually read it. Also, the lines themselves take up a lot of space on your paper as you can tell from the following example:Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.
See? Isn't that cool? You are now four entire lines into your theme, and you haven't had to come up with a single thought of your own. Anyway, in case you're interested, the so-called reasons Miniver Cheevy had for weeping (beside the fact that he had a stupid name) were that he "loved the days of old/ When swords were bright and steeds were prancing," which made him feel completely out of place in his own modern day and age.
This reminds me of another very good thing to do when interpreting a poem: Whenever possible, you should draw comparisons between the poem and real life so that people will understand what the poet is trying to say. In this case, I will compare the fictional character Miniver Cheevy with those Trekkers who used to bother my friend Martha when we were in college. Martha, who worked as a waitress at a pizza parlor called Heaps Brick Oven, used to hate it when the Trekkers would show up on the weekends for Scooby Snacks. For one thing, they always called her "Earthling," as in "Yo! Female Earthling! Get us some pepperoni pizzas!" Also, whenever they talked to her, they used faux communicators that they pulled out of their back pockets and flipped open.
Now here's the thing you just know about these guys: They'd have given anything to live in the future instead of the 20th century. They were meant to be Space Studs like Kirk and "Bones" and Mr. Sulu, don't you know, kicking alien tail all over the galaxy, instead of being a bunch of goofballs hanging out at Heaps Brick Oven in Provo, Utah, on a Friday night. Talk about you, Miniver Cheevies.
Actually, I have a fair amount of sympathy for people who feel like they were born in the wrong time and place. Quite frankly, I am NOT a Woman of the '90s. I am not even a Human Being of the '90s because I lack the most important '90s fashion accessory of all - the day planner. I do not own a day planner because then I would actually (YIKES!) have to fill it in.
Here's the deal. Most of the time I'm pretty happy to be a Person Without a Plan. I just like to get up each morning and "carpe" the new "diem" without thinking about it too much beforehand. Every now and then, however, I start feeling like a loser when I see other people running around getting so much accomplished because they've actually thought things through the night before. I was especially depressed last week when a good friend told me she and her sisters were taking a little trip together and that they actually had an itinerary which included exciting things like whitewater rafting.
I was whining about this to my brother Jim, who lives in Las Vegas. He called me back later with the following itinerary for our own day trip.1. Ann and Jim start off their day in Baker, Calif., where they stand next to the World's Tallest Thermometer until it hits 100 degrees F.
2. After saluting the Bun Boy, they jump in the car and drive to Vegas, where they go to the Liberace museum at 10 a.m.
3. They buy fish tacos at the Santa Rosa Taco Shop by noon.
4. They jump in the car and drive 45 minutes to the Moapa Indian Reservation, where they buy Roman candles, bottle rockets and M-80s.
5. They jump in the car and drive to Mesquite, where they let off all their fireworks just before the muy famosa "Running of the Mesquite Bulls."
6. They jump into the car and cross the border into Littlefield, Ariz., where they hide out from angry Mesquite lawmen who want to arrest them for spooking the bulls.
7. They jump into the car and cross another border into St. George, where they end the day by eating at Dick's Famous Cafe.
Now that's a plan.