You know you’re an English major when you have class play time.
You know you’re an English major when your hair indicates your impropriety.
I like my hair. You’d probably like it, too. You know who doesn’t like it? My Victorian Poetry professor.
The Victorian period has a reputation for being prim, proper, and stuffy. Ladies had six-inch waists (where did their organs go?) and Elizabeth Barrett Browning paid thousands of dollars in ransom for her dog Flush. Men looked nothing like Michael Fassbender (unfortunately). The worst part: women ALWAYS wore their hair up.
My hair is long. If I tilt my head back just a little, I become That Girl with the excessively long hair (“Why don’t you donate to Locks of Love already?” hints would be a regular influx). If I stand up straight, I’m at the maximum length to which I will probably ever allow it to grow. When worn naturally, it’s terribly wavy, as well. And even worse, I am brunette. So when we read poems about women alongside portraits that were created based on said poems, my professor gives me quite the questionable look.
You see, in the Victorian period, long hair was slutty hair. If it was wavy, it was even more wildly inappropriate. And if it was brunette, it was hypersexualized over that angelic blond breed. When I’m only going to class, I generally favor sleeping in over taking 2 hours to blow out my hair straight. It’s been so cold lately that I don’t often wear my hair up, either. (Gotta use my natural hat and scarf to keep warm.) I come to class wearing jeans, boots, and a long and flowing fall of hair. It’s a scene straight out of Jankyn’s Book of Wicked Wives (probably). I am quite the rebel whore.
Any person walking down the street probably would not think I was doing anything wrong. If Gene Block walked into the classroom to check out a typical body of English students, I doubt he’d want to change admission policies to sift out people like me. But what Block doesn’t know is to my class, people like me are secretly anti-exemplars. I don’t wear my hair up, but instead let it flow freer than Lady Godiva at a club (if she protests naked, I can’t imagine what she’d be like with a couple mugs o’ mead). Unlike Lady G, though, I don’t think I could handle riding bareback while bare-you-know-what. I’m just the hair whore. At least she was considered a noblewoman.
You know you’re an English major when someone accuses you of being an excessive dasher.
“I don’t get why there are all these dashes. Dash. Dash. Double dash. Couldn’t that just be a space?”
No, it could not be just a space. Without a “double dash” — an em dash, as the grammatically correct call it (and no low joke intended by explaining a double dash with a double dash) — my sentence would hardly make any sense. How am I to convey something that is interjected into a sentence without breaking the fluidity of the sentence? But my father, when proofreading my cover letter for an internship application, didn’t value the em dash quite as I did.
“‘Go-to’ is hyphenated because it’s one word. ‘Hard-copy’ is hyphenated because it describes ‘clippings.’ None of these words are dashed.” I verbally spat on his 56 years of knowledge. Why did I ask him to proofread? “Thanks anyway.”
I zoomed out. I switched to prior cover letters. I opened papers, blogs, tweets. Everything — and I mean everything — was double-dashed. I only wish I knew the big philosophical picture of what my incessant grammatical use of the em dash signifies about me. In the mean time, if you know of a Double-Dashers Anonymous, sign me up.