...and so that is how I found myself staring, staring unendingly at the headline, the headline which would, for many many years to come, stand as the symbol of my transcendence -- the symbol of the moment when I, already well initiated into the world of wordsmithery, became metaphorically very very small, and was able to enter the parts of speech through their ears, and see things from their perspective -- the symbol of the moment when I finally learned to feel empathy for words instead of just simple sympathy -- I knew how they felt, what their inner lives were like; I saw their trials and tribulations through their eyes, no longer through my own glazed, simple, ununderstanding eyes. In short, I knew! And so I continued to sit and stare at the headline, stare with the new eyes of the now completely and fully initiated. No more novice I! No sir!
But then I found I could no longer move. I was frozen to the spot by this transcendental headline, this lumbering brute of a misformed sentence, this late-term miscarriage of the English language. It had somehow taken hold of me through my eyes, and caused all my muscled to atrophy. I could not even blink! My breath was coming ever shallower. I began to fear for my life! At the same time, I could not stop reading the words -- could not stop scanning the line -- could not stop, and I read the headline ever ever faster faster faster, and finally I noticed that my eyes were moving! My eyes were moving! A ray of hope through the paralyzed clouds!
And so I kept reading -- faster and faster and faster and faster -- and I began to feel a warmth emanate from my eyes, and it began to spread to the rest of my body, until finally the warmth had suffused all the way through me, and I was able to break the hold of the headline! I collapsed in a heap and slept for three days.
My friends tell me that during my three-day unconsciousness, I muttered the same seven words over and over. I muttered the headline that had both destroyed and saved me, the headline that had finally, totally, and completely taught me the difference between nouns and verbs: "Archdiocese pays $8 million to abuse victims."