I was just beginning to stir in my bed as beams of fresh morning sunlight streamed into the room. It was 7 o’clock and a fresh new day in June was dawning. I was happy and grateful to be alive and in good health despite some of the curve balls that Fate had thrown my way. One of which was that I suffer from chronic seasonal allergies so my windows were shut very tight and my air purifier was chugging away on the other side of the room. It’s wise to take certain precautions with your health to preserve it to its fullest.
I swung my feet over the side of the bed and they, conveniently, slipped into my leather slippers. I could sense the leather’s abrasive texture rubbing against the soles of my feet but it was a pleasant feeling. This particular model of slipper also came lined with fur but I had selected the unlined variety. Allergies. Remember to always take special care of yourself and observe the appropriate precautions.
I pushed myself up to a standing position and walked across my bedroom in the direction of my bathroom. It was a perfect time to launch my day. Mane surgere est saluberrimum, a Latin phrase which translates as “rising early in the morning is very healthy.” All of this may sound pedantic to you but my excuse is that I am a professor of Latin on the faculty of the liberal arts college in town. This is how I usually speak but more than one person has described it as affected. You decide if you want to continue to listen to my story.
To be more precise about my employment status at the local college, I was formerly a professor of classical Latin. Unfortunately, I was removed from the faculty roster a year ago due partly to the seriously dwindling registrations for my classes. Dead language and all that as you know. However, and alas, a rigorous curriculum in the liberal arts is rarely offered anywhere in the country these days. To put the point more bluntly, most all liberal arts, including the study of Latin, are “in the shitter,” an academic turn of phrase that means a terminal state. There’s a lot of “dying” going on in this current era of hip-hop and Star Wars franchises. Including armed attacks on innocent children in elementary schools.
I will now dwell for a minute on my personal finances, another aspect of my life that is constantly running through my mind. My dear, lamented father supported the family by selling things. To be more precise, he was a used car dealer. He owned about 40 lots scattered around the Southern states. Anyway, and although he and I had our differences over the years, he did set up a trust fund for me which has allowed me to live in comfort. I nodded my head slightly in the direction of his picture on the wall to acknowledge his loving support for me.
By the way, I did have a tenured position at the local college which, under normal circumstances, would have protected me for my lifetime. However, and to rid the faculty of yours truly, they made an issue of a remark on my part that they said conflicted with their newly-minted DEI guidelines. Don’t get me started about the current state of political correctness.
One of the lackluster students in my introductory Latin class tattled on me to the dean of the school for what he called my ad hominem attack on him with a quote from Shakespeare’s Othello. I continue to believe that it was well-chosen and relevant but he clearly took offense. For me, all of this was just normal classroom repartee. The school seemed to have judged otherwise and I lost my faculty position.
I chose not to fight this dismissal in a court of law because I was not in the mood to weather the possible scandal that would have ensued. There may have been other irresponsible claims about my deportment in my dossier that some may even have judged to be worse than this last episode.
To get straight to the point about what I think was the college’s view of me, I was insufficiently “woke” to survive in today’s academic atmosphere. I actually view my dismissal as a point of pride, me swimming against the current tide. I was born in the wrong century.
Continuing on with my morning ablutions, I. arrived in my bathroom, headed toward my antique clawfoot tub, and turned on both taps. I was seeking a water temperature just above the normal body setting. About 105° F. I do not use a thermometer to monitor the temperature but rather shake a few drops of water on my wrist to determine the correct setting.
There was a time when I did not need to draw my own bath, a task formerly performed by Victor who was both a friend and roommate for the past 25 years, Victor would also help me with some of the tiresome household chores. He also performed nearly all of the cooking for the two of us during the week. He served as sort of a valet for me in many ways so his “departure” forced me to acquire a whole new set of domestic skills.
Poor Victor was taken by leukemia of a special type that I did not fully understand. His death came relatively quickly despite being attended to by the best oncology team that I had personally enlisted. I haven’t looked for another roommate since his death because Victor was simply irreplicable and irreplaceable. But, as I am sure you have already concluded, a greater burden has now been placed on me in terms of support for my daily activities and routine with him away.
My morning baths usually take what most many would regard as an exceptionally long time. Call me silly but there is a very special order that I use when dousing myself and scrubbing with a loofah. As with most people, I start with my right arm, then left arm, and then legs in the same order. I then scrub my anterior trunk, posterior trunk, and finally my private parts. All of this may seem to you a tad compulsive, but always pursuing the same order allows me to rest easy, knowing that no body part has been neglected.
After my morning bath, I always proceed to my walk-in closet for my day’s attire. Although I don’t go out much, I always wear a three-piece suit accompanied by a French silk tie. I slip on my socks, right foot before left, and then proceed north. Underpants, undershirt, pants with suspenders, dress white shirt, vest and then jacket. The order of dress is important and without deviations. If there are mistakes, it’s important for me to start over.
I know. I know. What I am disclosing to you does sound a bit OCDish. I can tell you that such a label used to describe me or my daily activities is far from the truth. I can only say, in response, that I am a careful person and very regretful of any errors that I may make in my personal dress or behavior. Similar to many other people’s habits. Careful and organized.
Do I repeat a particular part of my morning routine if I don’t get it exactly right. Yes, that’s true. But does that behavior border on the pathologic? Certainly not! On most mornings and after dressing, I descend to my kitchen for morning coffee the preparation of which takes about half an hour. And of course, brewing my coffee has its own particular, ritualistic steps. And because I know longer need to show up for any morning lectures, the pressure for me to prepare breakfast quickly has been lifted.
I returned to my bedroom and opened one of the windows. I then scanned the landscape of my back yard. Verdant to say the least with the flower beds a vision of perfection. Perfume in the air. A perfect day. I placed my palms on the window sill, hoisted myself up a bit, and jumped out, landing in a perfect arc with a splash on the stone patio below.
It’s not the jump that hurts you—it’s the sudden stop. This particular swan dive on my part was obviously not an action that I could repeat, thus refuting my critics who falsely claim that I repeat all of my actions. However, and in response to such claims, ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat. Translated, it means that the burden of proof lies with the one who asserts and not the one who denies. I rest my case, for eternity.