Wednesday, March 18, 2009

George Quasha is hosting a call-in radio contest in which he recites a line of verse from a well-known poem, then challenges listeners to call in with the correct next line of verse. The first person who calls in with the correct response gets a prize, plus a crack at another poetry challenge with a more obscure poem.

I'm at home listening to the program on the radio, but somehow simultaneously seeing George doing the program in the radio studio, as if the very act of listening allows me to see everything, which feels perfectly natural to me.

So I'm sitting here listening/seeing, and George begins the first challenge with the following line of verse, which he says is from Shakespeare:

"If your true love you find not..."

He gives out the call-in number (a variation on his waking life number, with a different area code), and waits for the calls to come in.

I know instantly what the correct second line of verse is:

Try, try again"

I grab the phone to call. But things keep going wrong: first the light on the handset goes out, so I can't finish punching in the number and have to start over; now the line suddenly goes dead; now I press the wrong number and have to start over, and on and on. At first I'm feeling anxious and frustrated by all these stymied attempts to get through, but this feeling suddenly gives way to a recognition of the absurdity of it all. I start laughing even as I keep trying to call, then really start cracking up when alternative second lines start popping into mind spontaneously as alternatives to the "correct" one.

The only one I remember now is:

"If your true love you find not..."
"For godssake, just look out the damn window"

Soon I'm laughing so hard I can't even try to punch in the number anymore. I laugh myself awake.

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