Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hester Prynne Rhymes With Sin

[Back story: Venerable institutions of Portland include:
1. Literary Arts, a lovely nonprofit that promotes, as you might guess, the literary arts. Among their programs are the Delve seminars, in which a literarily learned guide leads a group of avid participants in a six-week exploration of one or more great works of literature, e.g. The Scarlet Letter.
2. The University Club, a club not affiliated with any particular university but catering to the upper crust, with meeting rooms and dining rooms and a dress code so stodgy it forbids about 68.43% of my overall wardrobe. I knew not of the existence of the UC until this winter, when it was selected as the location for the Delve seminar I am leading.
I made it through the first meeting at the UC without twisting a metaphorical ankle trying to pass myself off among the well-heeled. But the second meeting . . . well, let's just say it ended with the following email going to the executive director of Literary Arts]

Surely the moral of The Scarlet Letter is to confess one sins publicly and repent forthwith.
And thus it is with great regret and humility that I must admit a grave error, not an intentional sin to be sure, but a transgression nevertheless.

Once upon a time, there was a stimulating discussion about a Great Work of Literature amongst engaged and engaging minds.
And then the two hours were up. Which led to a repairing from the seminar room down to the bar for continuation among a smaller group of the stimulating discussion. Things grew more stimulated with the aid of stimulants, in the form of some martinis and a glass of wine. Braced for the cold and the week ahead, the group called for the check. Which is when Rocky, barkeep extraordinaire, explained that one cannot actually PAY for drinks at the University Club bar. Drinks can only be billed to the "host" at the University Club bar.

Looks of horror were exchanged. Great regret was expressed. A desire to confess and repent was generally expressed. One sinner did declare it was too bad that a certain Finance Director [i.e. a fellow member of the seminar] had not joined us in our errant ways, as invited, instead of begging off with a cold. It would be almost as ironic a sin as shtupping the minister.

All that we can offer now is:
1. Reimbursement in full of any charges made to "the host" for our imbibing
2. A sincere apology and promise not to do it again
3. The following rhymed couplets, of which we are not particularly proud:

Observed tonight during Delve
(though by another and not by ourself):
the name "Hester Prynne"
doth rhymeth with sin.

But afterward we did learn
when cash and credit card were spurned
that "I had the martini"
rhymes with time to come clean-y.

Yours in deepest penitence and eagerness to pay up,
et cetera

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