With luck most of my mornings are born with some positive thoughts that turn into a melancholic potpourri as the day progresses. Of course, with Milo the incorrigible JR Terrier on his special pillow next to me on the floor, makes for positivity no matter what nightmares one survived in those previous hours. It was hoped that with getting old, a kind of dull soothing numbness would give a deserved relief to being on a razor’s edge grappling with pasts that have gone. Not that there are many things that I ought to have regrets about but reflections still nag and refuse to lie down.
One of those is never having studied and gained a university degree. I am still overawed by anyone that has a degree, even if just a bachelor one. As for a PhD, I restrain myself not to shake hands or curtsy, offer to shoe-shine a PhD owner. It doesn’t matter when people tell me, all this glorifying of academia is grossly overrated and I should be satisfied with what I achieved. I married an academic, with a cum laude as well, but at times feel rotten, taking the credit as if somehow I was sitting next to Helvi during her studies at the Jyvaskyla university in Finland. It was so long ago. She did not speak much English and my Finnish consisted of one word ‘rakkaani’. We stumbled by in German, but love’s language is often simple, that one word Finnish poem sufficed, still does.
I read in Saturday’s paper a large full page ad from the University of New England. It exhorted the public to take up degrees in all sorts of studies. I went through all the options. How would it feel to hold a degree in Rural Science or bachelor of Criminology, Master of business? I could have studied medicine and spend years doing colonoscopies or alternatively, been a renowned dentist, looking at patients from the other end. A good lawyer; soothing warring couples in Family Court, while wearing a wig kept overnight in an Arnott’s biscuit tin. I could be walking through Law courts with a roped blue duffel bag slung (casually) over my shoulder and coughing significantly while passing an attractive , just minutes before walking out of chambers with her mint fresh decree nisi, fascinating divorcee.
We all know that men think about sex nineteen times a day and not as previously thought every seven seconds or so. It is also claimed that they think about food about the same number of times. In any case, in sex-thinking at least, it is twice as much common in men as it is in women. I think it explains a lot. When taken in consideration that most man also wake up daily with an erection, (or ‘boner’ in American English) it is surprising men get to do anything at all. How did they manage to become doctor, statistician or admiral?
As a growing roseate cheeked school boy totally taken in by sprouting first pubic hairs, my greatest fear was being called in front of class while suffering an un-abating relentless case of tumescence (boner in US). I used to feverishly conjure up about being rope- bound on a tram track being run over. I was too young still relating that to the opposite sex. That came later. I kept thinking pensively that ‘this’ has to finally go somewhere. It just has to. It can’t be for nothing. My mind was inquiring and curious. I remember pushing it against a door lock. But, one glorious day, I happen to look at a women’s magazine ( my mother’s). (Oh, I know, there is a lot there), and stared at an advertisement for a girdle. It rose magnificently again and all fell into place. The puzzle was solved. Even so, miraculously, I weaned myself away from girdles and moved over to gir(d)ls. It took some time though. I could so easily have ended up sleeping with underwear with buttons under my pillow.
Of all the possibilities that came after Rotterdam, my parents migrating away from home and culture did play a role. I worked and earned in the New Country, did alright, but no degree.