And then, sir, does ‘a, this – ‘a does – what was I about to say?

In life, we forget what we were about to say very regularly. A few minutes ago, I saw a young woman utterly flummoxed by her forgetting why she’d begun a story about her brother and a moving van. Some people, once the point had been forgotten, might have proceeded anyway, hoping the reason for the story would return. This girl (yes, she had a job but she appeared to be no older than a minute) stopped, asked why she was saying what she was saying, then turned her head to the side and stared that way for some time. Her companion was no use to her at first. She simply complimented the girl on her ring and seemed ready to chat on about something else. The girl reluctantly joined in the chat – but finally asked what they’d been talking about before and once reminded, quickly found her way back to the point of her story.
I love that Shakespeare includes a character that slips into the same conversational traps we all still do today. It’s one of those touches that makes an archetypical old Pantalone or Dottore figure into a human being who does just what we do in our daily lives. It also helps him be likeable so that we might care about him later, when he’s killed.

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