At the end of last week I was helping first period explicate some sonnets, and for homework I gave them Shakespeare's Sonnet 130, which begins (in case you've forgotten) thusly:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
Now, our principal, who I'm judging is about 65, likes to make the rounds in the mornings, and pop his head into random classrooms, standing at the door for a while. He happened to pop in just as the kids asked me to read the poem to them, since it helps their comprehension when I do this. I did so, and then we began talking about the physical comparisons in the first two lines. Things were going well, and they were enjoying being outraged by the narrator's apparent rudeness, and I guess the principal was enjoying it too (he was smiling), so he continued hanging around. No longer holding the poem in my hand, I innocently asked the following:
"What is the next comparison? It's the hair, right?"
(Class) "No! It's the breasts!!!"
"Oh (checking peripherally). Are you sure?"
"Oh. Well, o.k. - the breasts. The first thing you need to understand is Shakespeare is not trying to be pornographic..."
And from there I tried to explain the ideal of alabaster skin, etc., as quickly as I could without stopping giving the kiddies a chance to butt in. We moved right ahead, and soon the principal, like Batman, had disappeared without notice.
After he was gone I got this: "Mr. P., you totally tried to skip over the breasts on purpose, didn't you?"
I denied it and denied it, but they weren't buying this. I suppose I'm busted, though if they busted me, I think it was the part of me called my subconscious.
I don't suppose it would have helped to have replied, "No kids, trust me. I never skip over the breasts."