Long before I read the classics, my parents claimed that I ‘played with fire’. A puzzling statement, as ‘playing with fire’ holds many different possibilities:
. ‘Smart’ answers
. Answering ‘back’ (since I always answered ‘forth’, I didn’t much fret about this interpretation of matters. The subject was OBVIOUSLY controversial, and thus up for debate)
. Chimney inspection (a.k.a.: Diane’s annual Santa Search)
But when I was assigned to read Dante’s Inferno in hi school – things fell neatly into place, even examining only the first few pages of each chapter.
1. Hell’s Kitchen was actually an allegory for Mom’s dinnertime ministrations. We were supposed to stay out of Hell in the hour or so before dinner (which made it a PERFECT time for the resident Little Devil to cook up another juicy plot of sizzling adventure.)
2. Dante is depicted as being unable to find the ‘straight way’ to Heaven. Boy, I could relate. My course was DEFINITELY a wandering zigzag line and, as adults often said, it was likely more than leading in the opposite direction, fast.
3. Hell Hath No Fury Like a Parent Fooled. A sad but true observation verified throughout my early childhood.
4. Mom wanted to place Dante’s inscription from his entry into Hell (“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”) over my bedroom door, but I refused.
“TMI”, said I.
I suggested the dining room as a great alternative.
See above, on ‘answering back’…
‘Inferno’ could also neatly describe the eruptions which could happen when Dad got home if (a) Mom tattled immediately and (b) Dad decided to do something about it (quite often Mom’s dramatic tale of woe only resulted in a tired sigh of defeat – or even raucous laughter – which annoyed her to no end, since it pretty well thwarted the ‘just wait until your father gets home’ last-ditch dire threat.)
So when you think about it… we already have a LOT of familiarity with Dante’s Inferno – based on personal experience!
I didn’t even halfta read Dante’s entire tome to write a winning report.
A little skimming, throw in some personal experiences as above, and voila!