Told Between Puffs, May 2014
Updated: Jul 2, 2021
In which our hero wakes up.
Verily Veritas long ago vowed allegiance to his editors at The Blue and White, and he hopes that they understand the sincerity of his pledge. He hopes they would not frown too much upon his reading latest and last issue of The Eye. Its theme is “morning.” VV thinks the morning most important.
It is VV’s wont to hum while he takes his morning constitutional. He fancies himself a musician of the nose. That is, he enjoys demonstrating his Apollonian role as the source of song–pinch the nostrils and nothing comes out. He picked up the habit back in his grammar school days when he trotted about in itchy little Lord Fauntleroy suits. For an hour each day, the schoolmaster led exercises in elocution. Stand, breathe, enunciate. The art has long been lost to VV who now only rasps, but he still recalls the mustachioed short man’s exhortations to hum—to draw the air in through the nose.
In these May months, the warmer weather compels VV to rise early and the morning’s step step commences before the sun rises. Verily no longer considers where he boards information that concerns his dear readers (as last time he supplied a his address, his mailbox flooded with requests to support the American Malacological Association) or else he should readily direct them to the fine breakfast carriage that arrives in front of his home. There he partakes of tea, and heads towards Broadway.
VV never plans his morning route. That would be sacrilege. To constrain the legs at such an early hour is to fetter the mind as well. He laments the tendency that prevails among his fellow undergraduates to tack all activity to a design. Today, no one simply visits the Metropolitan Museum to take in the art. They must go to see the special exhibition of lost photos of Translichtenstein before the bombings or see a Vermeer. It is the same with the walk. One cannot simply walk, one must walk to. VV supposes that they forget that time waits for man. He for one remains on the pre-medical track, although he has not stepped foot in Havemeyer Hall since ’98.
VV presently finds himself at the Broadway gates. He shuffles along College Walk, across Amsterdam. Eastward ho! He strolls past the President’s Mansion and he composes a personal memorandum to remind himself to enquire later about vacancies—he hears the big man now retires to a townhouse in the ritzier quarters, leaving the big house presumably open to the discrete squatter.
Now VV espies and approaches the bronze likeness of Carl Schurz. A portrait of the statesman hangs somewhere in VV’s apartments, although he cannot discern him from the rest of the bearded and pince-nezed gentlemen whose visages he collects for inspiration.
VV has been humming his scales, but now he attempts a refrain from Götterdämmerung. He is well aware that Schurz, as any good student of nineteenth century politicians would know, took a liking to Wagner in his later years. But now he must resume his puffings and take in the view.
For he has come in time to see the sun rise over the Morningside. VV is quick to remind anyone who will listen to remember that the Columbian quarter receives its name not from some long gone Indian nation but from nature herself, which at the morn illuminates the eastern aspect of the acropolis. The morning-side! He delights in the kick—the euphoria of the “aha!”
Alas, he is late for his 8:40 soccer class.