Interview with Dale Beran • Writer of the online comic A Lesson Is Learned

SM: What compulsion would you say that you are proudest of?

DB: I had a friend in 6th grade who coughed every time someone he didn’t like walked by. One time in reading class Nicole (real name) had to keep squeezing by his chair for some reason or another and he had such a fit the teacher yelled at him.

SM: What is your first reaction to smoke?

DB: I cry in that mournful blare that comes out of Snoopy when the Peanuts gang went to Paris and experienced a fire.

SM: Please describe what you believe strangers are thinking when they first encounter you.

DB: They are probably surprised.

SM: if you could write one thing on water that would actually stay intact, what would you write?

DB: Directions.

SM: Please describe an impressionable moment from adolescence.

DB: [see question 1]

SM: What is your first reaction to the sight of a man who looks nearly identical to you?

DB: I keep careful track of them. At college there were two Dale look-alikes, one was chubbier than me, a little more round-faced and German looking, and the other was better looking than me, a few inches taller, muscular chest and fore-arms. Unfortunately, all three of us owned a similar pair of glasses.
The better looking one was going to play me in my ex-girlfriend’s senior thesis film, which was a shot by shot remake of our violent breakup, but he was recast at the last moment. She did make the film, however I never saw it. I just remember walking into our old dorm one day to see her breaking the appropriate amount of glass bottles in
just the right corner of the hallway, to replicate the originals that were so long ago, aimed at me. “I can’t believe you’re reliving this!” I told her, and she just laughed.
My last semester there, chubby Dale came up to me and asked me to play his double in a comedy skit.
Our conversation went like this:
him: Um, we’ve never spoken but, funny question–
me: You want me to play your double?
him: Yes.
me: Yes.
Soon after that, he slimmed down and somehow no longer resembled me.
The last report came from another ex-girlfriend, just a week ago, who told me a homosexual Dale lookalike lives above the apartment she occupies with her new lover. I told her this was wishful dream-state thinking, but made a note of it in my log.

SM: If the street you live on could speak, what would the people who walk it know after hearing it?

DB: Very little, the throb of the overhead train scatters your thoughts like a frightened flock of birds.

SM: How do you plan on celebrating your 100th birthday?

DB: A slumber party, neighborhood girls, pillow fights, feathers in the air.

SM: What was the first thing you thought to yourself on waking up this morning?

DB: I dreamt I was playing the maid in Cinderella, sight reading the lines from a small book, though it was opening night. (I know Cinderella, in fact, was a maid, but I was the Shakespearian maid, the fretful archetype to whom secrets are confided, Dido’s Soror.) My younger sister was playing Cinderella herself. I thought it unfair that she knew all her lines because she had been Cinderella years earlier when we were just in fifth grade.
I sang a set of lines that I remember but I’m not going to tell you, changing the melody to accompany the piano my older sister was playing in the back room. It was to her afterwards I made the complaint about being jealous of not knowing the lines since I came in late singing them, thinking these lines were my younger sister’s and not mine.
This is why I had to change the melody on the quick. I have not checked with homosexual Dale, living above my old lover’s apartment, to see if he had the same dream or one, we might say, that looked similar.

SM: Please compose a haiku on the subject of your choosing.

DB: This is about a large window I used to have embedded in a wall:

reading all day and
needing to feel a little
better I call late