February 04, 2009
The poet Virgil was certainly a king of verse, and he sure knew his way around Hell, but maybe he should have taken some clues from Ovid about wooing and wowing of ladies. Can't have it all, I guess.
According to a medieval legend, Virgil was such a pushy suitor that one fed up damsel decided to teach him a lesson. She invited him to hop into a basket, saying she'll pull him up into her balcony for a little tete a tete. And then she left him hanging there. All night. For the whole town to see.
In my research today, I came across this and a few more enchanting images and stories from the medieval period. My dissertation is about a totally different moment -- the 19th century -- and believe me, shifting from 1150 to 1850 is as different as, I don't know, comparing effective marginal tax rates to bovine taxidermy?
So I emailed a former professor, a scholar of medieval French, for a little help. Normally such emails are standard procedure in a scholarly community. My only worry was that I'd taken a class with her years before, and completely fallen out of touch. Was it rude to suddenly write and ask for advice, after years of silence?
So I wrote a note that began "It's been a few years since we crossed paths after History of the French Language. I hope your research and teaching have all been going splendidly. =)" Then I briefly told her about my research and asked her for any tips about medieval balconies.
She wrote back a few hours later with suggestions; "it is nice to hear from you," she began.
Gained I: A list of medieval dictionaries to check out, and her confirmation that one of the poems I found may actually be the earliest written use of the word "balcon." Coooool.
(Yes, I'm a neeeerd. We've established that ages ago. Moving on.)
Later, my mom, her German visitor, Mr. A and I went to Humphrey's By the Bay, a rock/jazz/latin venue situated by -- yes, indeed -- the bay. Jem's father plays keyboard for the Johnny Eager Band, and they had a gig there. I've been to hear them a few times at another place, and their music has a very danceable bluesy rock feel. At the end of the night, I got the idea of sending him a drink from our table. But what does he drink? I didn't have a clue.
I asked the waitress if she could check with him, when they were on a break. At first she said no, but as she made rounds I saw her dash up and ask him, between sets.
Gained II: He got his drink, he didn't seem at all bothered by the interruption, and we had the fun of knowing someone in the band!! Woohoo! Raise your lighters!!
So, reader... have you ever made it backstage, or sent a band member a drink, or ever been a groupie in any shape or form? Alternately, what's the cruelest thing you've done to tell a guy or girl you're just not that interested? (No worries, we're all anonymous here... You, way more than I am!)