Vocab

The kitchen serves as a meeting place, which means I often sit here and wait for something to happen, such as Gunn wandering in to complain how much I try his patience. The other day he really shot himself in the foot, though. We were talking about the unfortunate name “Tristan Virgin,” who is a real person Gunn apparently knows. “I don’t get it,” said Gunn “Why do people think being a Jew is funny?”

I chortled at him and then remembered that I had made the same vocabulary mistake. My friends and siblings would put on Christmas plays for our parents every year, with the moving climax of us passing a doll dressed in rags around in a circle as we sang “Silent Night.” I was Joseph. As such I would wail and beat the floor after finding out “that my betrothed was with child,” although I wasn’t really sure why. When you’re a kid you do things that make no sense merely because you have a vague knowledge that this is how things go. So the scene of Mary and the Angel would surface (a blonde Mary confronted by a blond Gabriel in a nightgown) and Mary would say in her eight-year-old fake English accent, “but how can this be, since I am a vehgin?”

And I would think, as I’m sure the other members of the cast did: what’s being Jewish got to do with it? As I had only ever heard “virgin” in the context of “the Virgin Mary” and a few Old Testament passages, and Mary was obviously a Jewish girl. (Incidentally, I also grew up thinking “Madonna” was a bad word. Also “Apparatus.” Also “Saxon.” This comes from being home schooled and having no television but two parents who like creative/scientific euphemisms)

So, Gunn: I laugh WITH you. My shrieks are shrieks of nostalgia.

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The injury

His tears fouling the grease paint on his cheeks, he sat on the sidelines, his arm bound to his side with an extra jersey. It was not so much the pain of his collar bone lying snapped in half beneath his pads as the knowledge that he was out for the rest of the season. The season. Their chance for State, if they kept this up. Three league games and only one team had managed to even score against them. They had just broken the 4-A record by kicking a 50-yard field goal; not that they needed the points.

The week before, his brother, the quarterback/linebacker, had tackled someone head-on, and knocked himself out cold. Idiots, the coaches told the boys, tackle with your shoulders.

So he had, in the ferocious meeting of the two town loyalties, charging as was his wont full-speed into the body of another.

At least I got a touchdown in, he murmured to the boys wringing his hand. Yes, they told him, it was a great touchdown. A brother-to-brother pass in which he, the younger overshadowed near-emaciated one, caught and ran an extra 45 yards, a horde on his heels, his stride so long it looked as if he were jogging.

Well, he said, football isn’t everything. He sounded unconvinced, or maybe it was the gritting of his teeth, the forced-even tone of his voice.

His teammates murmured among themselves: we’ve got to get him another game. We’ve got to get to State. That’s five weeks away; he can heal by then, can’t he? His dad can work some magic with vitamins and electrodes.

They loved him because he was both hard as nails and frail as glass, and when he spoke, they listened. He was what they wanted to be and what they wished they saw when they looked at humanity. If he could pull through and make it back against all odds, it boded well for them.

He hasn’t slept much tonight. If there is a miracle, I too may find myself weeping, and not because I think football is terribly important. Like those boys; like anyone, I want to see the skinny kid catch the winning touchdown in the State Championship. Not just because he’s my brother. Because I think I am the skinny kid.

Courtship Prep

A crowd of good-looking lads and lasses sat at a bar, dressed in sweaters, funky socks, and ironical hats. A few smoked roll-your-owns. A few more sipped drinks (coke and rum, martinis, and microbrew). The girls outnumbered the boys, and the boys, instead of cashing in on this, leaning into the table to shout down the blushing eardrums of their friends, sat with crossed ankles and listened to the wafting jazz. The girls stragically vied for their attention… gorgeous girls, touseled blondes, happy brunettes, pale blue-eyed creatures and limpid brown-eyed gossips. Something rang hollow… and yes, there it was; the guys still just sat there lackadaisically, like they were used to it and could expect it for the rest of their lives until they decided to reach out and take whichever of the girls they chose. From across the room the scenario had ConservativeChristianese stamped all over it.

On the way home persons A, B and C griped over this phenomenon thusly:

A: Blah. Did you notice that? Blahhh! Non-Christian guys at least are chivalrous.
B: I know, I hate it, but it’s a vicious cycle that you have to play.
A: Well, I don’t want to play it any more.
C: Yeah. I think Christian guys really just don’t know what to do. I mean, what are you going to do?
A: Seriously…

Ok, petty ranting aside, there is still something a bit amiss. The way (in my humble and probably ignorant opinion) a Christian guy typically sees courtship is like a game of chess. He waits until he has been checkmated by one of these lowly pawns, all the others which he has sidestepped and eliminated, and then he admits defeat. The way a non-Christian guy sees courtship is like a game of ping-pong. He serves, she returns, no hard feelings if one of them loses. I mean, hey, it’s ping-pong.

In a way this culture of avoidance is even worse than Victorian constipation, because in Victorian times, it was acceptable to dance with, escort, and speak with women you were not engaged or related to. Now, however, any invitation, however minor, is seen as pursuit; any slight brushing of the fingers in passing a pen across the asile as sexual. This could just be me being paranoid, but… if most of the female Christian population is paranoid about this, maybe we have something to be paranoid about. So, we walk the line between waiting around and trying to get some idiot’s attention, and meanwhile, half a dozen marginally intelligent, good-looking, but spiritually retarded boys are asking for our number.

It occurs to me that almost every Christian girl I know who has dated anyone has had some sort of involvement with a spiritually retarded male. Girls I never thought would look at someone unworthy of their charms have spent years with such men. Why? Because these guys actually give them the time of day. Not that we’re bitter, mind you.

Cannon AE-1

Being newly bored, since school just got out, I have just gone and bought a camera — a Cannon AE-1 Program. I’ve wanted one for a long time, and have regretted not owning one during my travels to China and Europe. The amazing subjects are a little degraded by the fact that they are now captured in my photo albums with disposables… so it was high time, and I’d found a good deal. My first experiment was to stalk bighorned sheep in a friend’s pasture, which didn’t have the most amazing results. They ran at the mere sight of me. I don’t know how National Geographic does it. I’m sure they have zoom lenses (which I don’t). I even tried to lie in the dung and wait for one to wander over, to no avail.

Non-police state

Yesterday night (after telling my friend I didn’t want to drive because I might get pulled over) I got pulled over for the second time in my life. For crossing the center line and otherwise driving like someone switching the radio station/driving drunk/checking my milage to made sure I wasn’t going to run out of gas/ correcting for a weird pull to the left, all of which I was doing (except for the drunk part). Anyway, the very second that I stopped, my hubcap flew off and rolled across the road. Lovely, I thought. The officer must be a prophet. He strolled over with his flashlight, after retrieving my hubcap, and I handed him my liscense only, since I couldn’t find my registration. “If you notice,” I said “that expired two days ago, on my birthday. I’m getting another one tomorrow.”

“Have you had anything to drink tonight?” asked the officer.

“No,” I said, as seriously as ever I could.

(this is technically a lie: I’d had a lot of water to drink, having just played ultimate frisbee for a few hours)

The officer meandered back over to his car, having asked a few questions of me such as how old I was (had to think about that one) and what I was doing in Oregon with an expired Idaho liscense. While he was occupying himself behind his brilliant lights, flashing like a sleazy dance hall, I chuckled at the irony of my life. I’d just been telling people it might be ok to drive without liscense, since I rarely speed and never get pulled over. He was gone for quite awhile. When he came back, he informed me that he had found no record of my liscense, expired or otherwise. That made me a bit nervous. I was strunk dumb, in fact.

“I’m sure it just means our computers aren’t working,” said the officer “you’re free to go.”

“Oh, thanks,” I said “Do you want to see my insurance registration?” (I had finally managed to locate it in my stuffed glovebox.)

“Nah,” he said.

So I drove away. I had enough gas to make it home, too. My hubcap is still off. I’m driving to the DMV later this afternoon to ask for an Oregon driver’s liscense. Hopefully I won’t get pulled over between here and there.

Birthday dinner

Yesterday was my 22nd birthday. Today I feel rather old. I have switched gears from barely-legal-drinker to early-twenties-undergrad. This is the result of our American laws that make 21 such a big deal, and thus everything after seems like a blind coasting over the hill of approaching age.

My friends and I celebrated with a night frought with hillarity boardering on the appaling. We went to a nice little restaurant owned by a fellow from the Middle East, who was also the cook and the server. He turned out to be higher than pie in the sky, and showed us his potato pipe to prove it. He asked us if we wanted to share; we said no. We didn’t order, because he didn’t give us menus. He just brought us food (which tasted of curry), and bread, all in large dishes, and a bunch of forks, and told us he didn’t want to wash up. So we partook together, to the sound of wailing Eastern music and the fellow’s blunt comments about how beautiful my friend was (“her hair is like gold. So beautiful we should cut it off and smoke it.”) and how much more beautiful the girls of Tunisia were (“here, you are a 10. There, you would be a 2.”) etc, etc. It was quite a night. “It wasn’t like this before,” said another friend, who had convinced me to go. The pottage was good, so we left, full of food and amused wonder.

April

As I sit in an English lab with the feel of a construction site, its walls concrete, unadorned red brick, and naked steel ribs, I contemplate the meaning of life. I’m waiting for something. Literally, I’m waiting for 6 p.m. tonight, when I have an appointment to meet. Other than that, I seem to be waiting for genius to strike. So far, it hasn’t. So I stare at this screen, my contacts drying against the weight of my corneas, and attend to the silence.

Qu’est-ce que je vais faire? J’ai envie d’envier. Je veux faire tout: mais quoi, exactement?

The sun has broken through the clouds of somber Oregon. April offers up herself to whomever will take her to enjoy. Her idealism is perfect, and will almost certainly drown in tears again. But for now, her garments are fresh in opal sheerness, soft in hanging moss.