Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Compendium of Well-Worn Memories: Youth: Precocity

  "cheer up, son":  Apocalypse Now Death Cards scene


-In fourth grade my teacher was a flamboyant gay drama coach whom I adored even though sometimes he was high-maintenance, requiring constant attention and adoration from his students.  He had a very lesbianish friend he'd known for forever who was a part-time flight attendant - because she loved adventure - and also a substitute teacher; she taught our class whenever our teacher was out sick.  They were probably both in their forties.  He wore a professorial cardigan and a goatee.  She was tiny, with thinning short hair and an appealingly ugly face, and when I saw Rocky Horror years later I was reminded of her by the character of Columbia.  I was very attached to them and always imagining what they were like in their regular lives outside of school, just hanging out with their friends, and what their respective apartments may have looked like and what music each listened to.  One day, the woman must have been on campus to sub for a different class, and she peeked in on our class to say hi but the door was this really heavy monstrosity, made of iron or something instead of just a regular wooden door, and when she poked her little head in without securing the door open with her body, it closed on her head and it looked like it hurt so much, but you could tell she didn't want to turn it into a big deal so she was just sort of like "ouch" and said goodbye -- but you could tell it really hurt.

Pride mixed with a Sense of Foreboding:

-When I was an older kid, like twelvish through my teens, and I'd be super-bummed and pouting, mom'd say "Cheer up, son," quoting a line from "Apocalypse Now," the scene where Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore is putting "death cards" on the bodies of Viet Cong civilians his platoon has just killed, and one of the soldiers looks really sad and scared about it.  The perfect gallows-humor irony of this private joke of hers coupled with the fact that she'd groomed me to pick up on it made me feel proud of our household, but also, uneasy with the certainty that this would be me someday, a cool, depressed mom with an impressive appreciation of film.


-In college my freshmen and sophomore years, there was a kid named Rory who was in many of my classes.  He was very quiet and looked like Kurt Cobain (same hair and clothes but without Kurt's handsome face), and I was always curious about him and wanting to be his friend, but I was sort of a jerky punkish girl so I would be mean sometimes when I wanted to be nice instead, and one time when I was with a friend who also knew him from classes, he was petitioning to legalize weed, on behalf of a socialist group he must've been a member of, and even though I was probably stoned at the time he approached me for my signature, and I believed in all the good, kind generosity that comprises socialism, I made some crack about him being a hippie, and blew him off.  The following year, he killed himself, jumping out of his window in the tallest building in town, which happened to be the dormitory he lived in.  I should have been his friend.

*Side Note:  Painful Awareness of Mortality:  I was a campus janitor at the time of his death, and in fact, the Janitorial Headquarters were located in the basement of the building he'd jumped from, so I'd actually seen his dead body covered up with a sheet before I knew it was him.  In a very understanding way, my supervisor had asked if any of us would be willing to help clean the blood off the pavement with the pressure washer.  I didn't offer, but I'd considered it, and then felt guilty about it, realizing how much I'd enjoy the sympathy and gratitude of being one of the brave ones. 

**Further Side Note:  Coincidence/People's Interwoven Experiences in Some Grand Cosmic Design of Interconnectedness: 
I'd had an awful on-campus psychologist who'd threatened to have me put on a 72-hour hold in a psych ward, clearly on a power trip and not because I was a danger to myself or others.  I remember being truly scared of her and the damage she could do to me.  Later, it came out that she'd been Rory's counselor and had possibly sort of fucked him up by pushing him to come out of the closet when he was still figuring out his sexuality.  She was put on administrative leave or fired or something. I guess I dodged a bullet. I had survivor's guilt, though.

  Little Nell as Columbia in "Rocky Horror Picture Show"

No comments:

Post a Comment