In an even more spectacular and embarrassing fiasco than the election, Nixon played Aeneas in a reenactment of Virgil’s Aeneid, which the school ambitiously staged on the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Rome’s greatest poet. Nixon had an ill-fitting costume and was completely unrehearsed apart from his lines, and the love scene with Dido, involving an energetic and prolonged embrace, replete with passionate dialogue, brought down the house with brickbats and catcalls. It was a horrendous experience … (Conrad Black, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full  22-23)
I’m torn about this anecdote.Certainly the easiest reaction is to laugh snidely at Nixon failing miserably as the romantic lead. Har har, serves you right for your future invasion of Cambodia!
Another part of me feels, very deeply, the acute embarrassment of the scene.Being onstage spouting love poetry while your whole school laughs at you? Really, the whole thing’s a Fellini-esque nightmare.
To my mind, there’s something about the story that explains why it is that a man who would win the ’72 election by a 49-state landslide STILL felt the need to bug the Democratic headquarters, as though he felt the stinging derision of that high school play all those years later. Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.