Once upon a time, in AP English, our instructor (who had gone to the Christmas break single and came back married and with a new last name) had us in a poetry unit. I was a senior then, and already had been writing a ton of poetry for years. But we read Thomas Grey’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and English classes (and literature classes in college) naturally revolve around getting to whatever “deeper meaning” is in a poem, as if every single poem in the world is written with Deep Inscrutable Meaning instead of being anything more mundane, like observations on a place or time or objects, or a description of an ordinary day, or how we value this thing over that other thing, or any of a million other possibilities.
At that time, after reading it, Mrs. Poole (that was her name after she married) asked us what the tone of the poem was. No one answered, and into the silence, I said, “Grave.”
I thought the reply quite funny, but did not laugh out loud, and no one else reacted at all to it. I don’t even believe Mrs. Poole even smiled at it.
That’s the down side of life: saying or writing things people don’t get, especially if it’s some off the cuff witticism that some (rather humorless) people don’t understand right away, or at all.
But I enjoyed that moment, even if no one appreciated it but me, because it isn’t often you have the perfect answer jump to your lips. Those memories should be savored, even if they are solitary ones.