A Not-So-Silent Scream
The college careers of my older brother and I overlapped. Bill wasn't just my big brother, he was one of my best friends. Sometimes we would meet up on campus and eat lunch together, either just us or with some of our friends. Bill even showed me one of the best-kept secrets of our campus.
The conference center.
Lucky for me, Bill knew all about it. Most days, the conferenced center was unlocked but abandoned, providing a very quiet, clean, and comfortable environment in which to study between classes. Due to the nature of the building, the furniture in its lounge areas was newer and more upscale than anyplace else on campus. And there was one other perk, besides the quiet and the comfy chairs.
When a conference was in session, the lounge areas had tables of snacks, beverages, and even meals available for the attendees between workshops. So, if you were there anyway quietly studying, no one stopped you from cleaning up after the conference participants left their snacks behind and went back into their workshops. Bill and I considered cleaning up the leftovers a service that benefited the student employees of Campus Food Services.
One fine day, I was sitting in my favorite corner of the conference center, minding my own business. A meeting of The Utah Society for Professional Economists was in progress behind closed doors. A Campus Food Service student employee was quietly refreshing the lemonade and cookies on a nearby table. Finals were approaching, and I was wading through Shakespeare's Hamlet, looking for hidden motifs. Alas, the previous night of merriment befell me, and my head didst droop, so heavy were my leaden eyes.
(That's Shakespeare for "I fell asleep.")
Now, there is something about me you need to know if you are going to understand the rest of this story: I talk in my sleep. Sometimes I even yell or sing in my sleep; particularly when I haven't been getting adequate rest, or I'm sleeping in an unfamiliar place. All it takes is a really vivid dream, and I start talking.
There I was, drooped over a thick volume of Shakespeare, asleep in the conference center, dreaming of Hamlet. He was chasing me, carrying the horrible skull of Yorick. The prince of Denmark's eyes were wild and bloodshot, and I ran from him, crying and tripping over the headstones as he reached for me. I tried to call for help, but I could not make a sound! Gasping, I stumbled, my hair tangling into the leafless branches of a gnarled tree. Hamlet's hand was reaching, reaching, and I knew my only hope was to scream for help, so I took a deep breath and
which woke me up.
It must have been a real blood-curdler, because the first thing of which I was conscious was that my throat felt dry and scratchy. So I turned my head, thinking of the lemonade, towards the food tables, just to see if the Campus Food Services student employee was still there.
She was not.
The members of The Utah Society for Professional Economists were there, instead. All fifty-two of them. There they stood, quiet and staring, some with slack jaws or a cookie held frozen in mid-air. Shocked. Awed. Stupefied.
I considered my options, as I surveyed the scene before me. I had too many books to gather up, preventing the desirable hasty exit. Trying to explain to Professional Economists that I'd just escaped the murderous grasp of Hamlet didn't seem like it would be the right thing to do, either. So, I just smiled sweetly at the conference goers and turned in my comfy armchair so that my back was to them. And continued to read Hamlet. With my eyelids propped open.
Friends, as The Bard wrote, "The memory be green."