The Six Factors of (My) Age

When people meet me the first time, some ask me what I do. That question generates an immediate crisis of truth. Or, as my Middle English instructor Kim Stafford used to quip, “Emergency!” Should I lie? What will new acquaintances think when I suddenly recline upon the floor in the middle of the crowd, drink in hand and grinning?

Yes, that is a pun on lieLie on the floor? Get it. Okay. If you don’t like puns, I doubt you tell the truth very often either, but getting horizontal does disguise the fact that untruths may emerge when I confront such a question. Yes, in such a position, I am lying, and I may be lying.

The answer that I supply to my new friends, however, is that I am a writer, just like the home page says.

Those of you who know me know how lucky I am not to be like those who have a vocation and an avocation, or, in other words, a jobby and a hobby. I am a stranger sort of animal, and I have work of two kinds, and both focus on writing. When I work in the classroom, I teach myself about writing, and when I work in my office, I teach myself about writing. In both venues, I learn about writing.

And these happy facts allow me to tell the truth, horizontally or vertically, that I am a writer and to avoid saying that I am what is commonly known as an English teacher. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to have to say this to someone new (And I know some of you are out there; who else reads blogs?), you know that the first words from their mouths, considered or unconsidered, are, “Oh, I hated English.” That’s a conversation stopper.

However, when cornered, I have a quip of my own: “I teach everyone’s favorite subject.” And often to my delight, sensing irony, my partner in conversation responds, “Math?” And this question reminds me that English is not alone among the hated and essential studies in this spinning world.

Well, I do love Math, but I am a writer, and I must get to a point, even when I’ve exceeded my word count by a hundred and fifty words.

In my last blog, I wrote that my new age of 63 had eight factors. Nope. 63 has six factors, and not one of my readers wrote me to correct my error. Was I lying? Am I lying? Have we just met?

I suspect that counting me, I have four readers, and hey, this is just a damned blog. And who, other than the President, needs constant fact-checking? Yup. Me. You?

Eric Shaffer