2. The English Major
Within the sordid world of literature abuse, the lowest circle belongs to those sufferers who have thrown their lives and hopes away to study literature in our colleges.
Parents should look for signs that their children are taking the wrong path - don't expect your teenager to approach you and say, 'I can't stop reading Spencer.' By the time you visit her dorm room and find the secret stash of the Paris Review, it may already be too late.
What to do if you suspect your child is becoming an English major:
1. Talk to your child in a loving way. Show your concern. Let her know you won't abandon her- but that you aren't spending a hundred grand to put her through Stanford so she can clerk at Waldenbooks, either. But remember that she may not be able to make a decision without help; perhaps she has just finished Madame Bovary and is dying of arsenic poisoning.
2. Face the issue: Tell her what you know, and how: 'I found this book in your purse. How long has this been going on?' Ask the hard question- Who is this Count Vronsky?'
3. Show her another way. Move the television set into her room. Praise her brother, the engineer. Introduce her to frat boys.
4. Do what you have to do. Tear up her library card. Make her stop signing her letters as 'Emma.' Force her to take a math class, or minor in Spanish. Transfer her to a Florida college.
You may be dealing with a life-threatening problem if one or more of the following applies:
1. She can tell you how and when Thomas Chatterton died.
2. She names one or more of her cats after a Romantic poet.
3. Next to her bed is a picture of: Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner, or any scene from the Lake District.
Most important, remember, you are not alone. To seek help for yourself or someone you love, contact the nearest chapter of the American Literature Abuse Society, or look under ALAS in your telephone directory.