Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Legs, see Field Hockey.

When I was about 13 I was blessed with an English teacher who taught me a lot. Truth be told, however, I didn't realize what he taught me until about 20 or 30 years later.

I forget what we were reading, it might have been something from Dylan Thomas' "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog." Or it might have been John Updike. Whatever the story, my teacher spent about a full week talking about a single sentence, one that described a young girl as having "field hockey legs."

Maybe there was a bit of Humbert Humbert in my teacher. But somehow between his near-obsession with the phrase and the actual "field hockey legs" of some of my distaff school mates, the words stuck with me.

More important what stuck with me is the drama of perfect language.

Every now and again I have to write something that isn't merely a stringing together of copy points with artful conjunctions and transitions.

I always hold what it is I am writing to field hockey legs.

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