William was tall and thin and shy and awkward in school. His best social tool was that he played the piano, and so was recruited for school musicals, which placed him at rehearsals and cast parties with kids he would otherwise scarcely have known. He thought he would be either a pianist or a physicist, although he didn’t know anyone in Montana who did those things professionally . His piano teacher was a banker’s widow who gave lessons in her lace-curtained house, and his physics teacher was primarily the wrestling coach. But William could imagine another kind of life.

From The Proxy Marriage


  1. When one of my friends translated this story into my native language, she translated awkward to gawky . But in my opinion it should mean bashful. Am I right? Because tall and thin goes with each other and shy and bashful goes together. I am wondering if you could tell me which meaning the writer meant.
  2. What the difference is between a cast party and a rehearsal?
  3. By saying professionally is the writer reffering to pursuing a major like playing piano seriously or is the writer referring to do it as an occupation, profession, job in order to earning money? Becoming a teacher or something?
  4. Can I translate the word could in the last sentence to ** want** ? Would that be still a proper translation?
  5. Is it proper to translate lace-curtained house to luxurious ? My friend translated like this. But I think the lace-curtained house has no idiomatic meaning. A million thanks in advance.
  • Please don't post multiple questions in a single post. Also, it would be nice if you would re-read your question after writing it. – terdon Sep 25 '14 at 16:55
  • Many of these words are in the dictionary. I'm confused by your question. How are the words translated into your language? – anongoodnurse Sep 25 '14 at 17:05
  • A cast party is a party. A rehearsal is not. – Peter Shor Sep 25 '14 at 17:22

1). Awkward usually refers to physical gracefullness, while "bashful" denotes a character trait of someone who doesn't relate well to other people, at least not in the beginning of the relationship. A new pupil in a class who doesn't know anyone, including the teacher, and is reluctant to say anything beyond a quiet "hi", is likely bashful. A child who bumps another student's desk on the way to his or her assigned seat is probably awkward.

2). A rehearsal is where the people involved in a play come together to work on the performance, so that during the performance, they know the details of where to go, and how to speak the lines. A cast party is a celebration after the last performance of a play, or in the case of a motion picture of video production, after everything has been recoded on film or video.

3). Professional refers to someone who has a high level of skill and usually performs in front of audiences which have paid to attend the performance. It connotes both a level of skill, and doing something for a living. In the case of pianists, for example, there are many who play the piano well enough that they do so for their own enjoyment, or the enjoyment of family and friends; there is a much smaller number who do so well enough to perform for money from the general public.

4). No, you could not substitute "want" for "could". "Want" is much more deliberate and emphatic, as in "I want to go to the store." "Could" is less determined and more vague. "I could go to the store," means that this is just one of multiple possible choices.

5). In US english, "lace-curtain" doesn't always mean luxurious, but rather carries a notion of elegance and refinement, though not necessarily weatlh.

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