Bad Parts

bigfoot

There are a few things that I really dislike about myself. Take for instance, my giant-sized duck feet. I don’t usually buy shoes but when I do, it’s a nightmare. Ask my wife. The last dozen pairs of shoes she got me simply couldn’t fit my unnaturally flat/wide feet. The result? She had to take them back to the stores and ask for refunds.

Truth is, I have more problems buying shoes than I do shirts or pants. In fact, I try my best to stick to a pair of footwear as long as is humanly possible. My last pair of shoes lasted me for close to two years and accompanied me to all my past thirty trips overseas. I did the mileage calculations last night and came to the conclusion that I must’ve worn the shoes across more than 100,000 miles in total. It’s a miracle that the shoes lasted as long as it did. My wife said that they were made to endure the rigours of heavy industries and construction sites – hence, it probably wasn’t so much of a surprise that they lasted as long as they did protecting the feet of a travelling law lecturer (albeit the abnormally large duck feet of said lecturer).

Anyway, the bottom of my right shoe finally broke off during my last overseas trip. Actually, bits and pieces were already breaking off over the last month or so. I held everything together using my tube of Uhu glue (as I do everything from hardcover books to plastic action figures). Unsurprisingly, that was merely a temporary solution leading to the inevitable destruction of my beloved shoes last weekend. As a result, I dragged myself to the shoe store this morning. The friendly salesgirl was very happy to get her first customer of the day but little did she expect that it would turn out to be a rather unpleasant encounter with a guy endowed with Hank McCoy’s mutant beastly feet (though I was unceasingly apologetic about getting her to take out box after box of shoes to try out). Thankfully, I finally managed to get a pair of black shoes. The new pair of shoes even looked like my older pair with much softer material and they only cost about a third of what I paid for the previous pair. Here’s hoping that the new pair will last almost as long as the older one.

You see, I don’t drive. Blame it on my visual impairment – yes, that’s another thing that I really dislike about myself. I was born with severe colour blindness. Bad genes from my mother’s side of the family tree. The irony is that I really dislike everyone from my mother’s side of the family tree but ended up inheriting several of their traits anyway – the most unfortunate of which is my hereditary colour blindness. As a result, my chief mode of transportation is my feet. I walk a lot more than other normal human beings in the 21st century who are able to get around in motor vehicles. This, in turn, contributed directly to the abnormal size and shape of my feet. My feet, consequently, turned out to be the most abnormal part of my external form – my bad parts, so to speak.

In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick asked Beatrice the following question about himself: “And I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”

To which the smitten, though no less witty, Beatrice answered: “For them all together, which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them.”

We are all the sum of our parts. If I asked my wife the same question, I’d probably be inviting the same scornful (yet endearing) comment as that which proceeded from Beatrice’s merciless lips. And just like Beatrice, she’ll probably ask me the same question in return: “But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?”

Now, what was very interesting in the original play is that Benedick never did answer that question. He, instead, evaded a direct answer by playing on the words suffer love – meaning either “to allow oneself to love another” (as was meant by Beatrice) or “to suffer for love” (as what Benedick twisted the words to say): “Suffer love! A good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.”

The truth is, that was precisely the sort of question that a girlfriend or lover delights in asking. For perhaps nothing sweetens her heart more than to fish for some form of praise from the man that she looks up to and admires. The problem for us guys is that the question is precisely the sort that we know not how to answer rightly. The thing is, for a literary geek like me, writing a 10,000 review of a poem is an effortless feat but when it comes to describing the particular traits of a girl that I’m in love with, I become tongue-tied. Benedick’s answer, nevertheless, was effective as one that both evades the central question in Beatrice’s mind as well as bring her endless delight.

Not to be outdone, the clever Beatrice responds with an extremely convoluted reply: “In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart, if you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours, for I will never love that which my friend hates.”

What Beatrice meant was this: 1) Benedick had to spite his own heart to love Beatrice. 2) Since he did that for her, she too will join him in spiting his heart. 3) As a result, she cannot love him since she is against his heart!

At that point, Benedick gave in to Beatrice’s clearly superior wit, but not without conceding that he is, at least, as clever as she is: “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”

But not even at Benedick’s half-surrender would Beatrice concede her point. She went for one final one-upmanship over him by teasing him for his conceited self-praise: “It appears not in this confession. There’s not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.”

Of course, anyone who has ever enjoyed Shakespeare’s classic comedy knows that the mutual admiration and rivalries between the two sharp-tongued leads in their endless verbal jibes is the most enjoyable aspect of the play. Speaking of Much Ado, I heartily recommend the wonderfully intimate adaptation of the play in 2013 by Joss Whedon starring Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker. I finally got the DVD and saw it twice with my family yesterday. I guess there’s nothing I can say in praise of Whedon that others have not said. Personally, my admiration for the man has always been his ability to write dialogue (amply demonstrated in every Buffy episode written by him, the Tony Stark and Loki lines in the Avengers film, the Emma Frost lines in Astonishing X-Men, and here in his adaptation of the Bard’s immortal lines in Much Ado). It’s amazing how natural it was for Whedon to turn his hand to an adaptation of Shakespeare after the slam-bang craziness of last year’s Avengers movie. This guy can do it all.

As you may have guessed, I finally got a few days off from work. I have been working non-stop for about five weeks straight and was actually running out of breath during my lectures last weekend. Thankfully, I’ve had three days to actually rest my vocal cords and also time to unwind. I read a couple of issues, as planned, from the huge Death and Return of Superman omnibus (mentioned in the previous post), re-read Much Ado and also the first 3 hardcover collections of the new Aquaman series (in the New DC 52) by Geoff Johns. I was supposed to go back to the office today but I was still very reluctant to drag myself into the horrid public bus. As a result, I worked from the nearby McDonald’s. Spent about two hours marking mock exam scripts – yes, this is the part of my job that I still dislike (but cannot avoid doing just the same). After that, I went shoe-shopping. Got my new pair of shoes and started thinking about my bad parts. Then I sat down and typed out this post. So there.

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