I’ve again picked the wrong major, ten minutes into the second class I can already tell that – this isn’t the scene for me. Black cashmere, Eddie Bauer plaids; retro Doc Martens, soft spoken emotions: your poetry better enunciate pulpy vulnerabilities. The Professor has asked me to share my thoughts and my diaphragm spasms a smile. I am trying not to laugh. Because what I’ve written down is absurd and too honest to be expected, my thoughts here transcribed for our homework assignment. My thoughts on Tennessee Williams’, A Streetcar Named Desire. The room is silent and serious in its all-ears respect of my turn to speak. I am having a hard time not laughing. I compose myself. I begin to read.
“A Streetcar revolves around the personal absurdities of three individuals forced to live in close quarters. The main protagonist, Blanche, is [silent laugh] definitely a lunatic.” I bite my tongue, deep breath quivering stifled laughter. They are expecting something serious, intellectual, insightful [inward laugh]. I sigh and compose myself, begin again.
“The reason we find this drama an authentic representation of human life [pause to suppress laughter] each character is defined by contradictions,” which reminds me of the absurdity at the bottom of the page [face twists to hold in laughter]. BIG BOLD phrases towards the bottom of the page. Breathe, clear my head, begin again.
“The entire drama is founded on the dichotomies of social stratification, intra-personal relationships, and psychological,” [laughter, uncontrollable childish laughter shaking my body]. I am screaming, roaring red-faced boisterous laughter. I am being stared at, glared at, all the more to laugh at the unexpectedness and disapproval of this laughter I’ve kept bottled.
“I’m sorry [laughter, tears-on-my-face laughter]. I’m sorry I can’t [indomitable laughter]. I can’t help it!” Why so serious? Hahaha! Hahaha!
“Mr. – ” starts the professor. “If you have to excuse yourself – ”
I collect my books and notebooks into a pile on my desk, peals of laughter coming to a rest: I feel now almost blissful from being caught in this cataract of unyielding laughter. I think – they have no idea what I find so funny and this laughing so flies in the face of expected decorum that it’s –
Tremors in my diaphragm I begin to laugh again. My head bangs back, bright clouds of laughter to the ceiling frame a word bubble: “He blew his head off! [laughter like bursts of flak] Her husband! She was this [laughter] precious Southern Belle [laughter] inadvertently [laughter] she inadvertently made him [laughter] blow his fucking head off!” [laughterlaughterlaughterlaughter].
I am no longer taking English 106.
We hope you enjoyed this classic piece of writing from the Sudden Denouement archive.
Mick Hugh is a writer for Sudden Denouement, and the groundskeeper at Mick’s Neon Fog.