In the bath just now I was lying there scrobbling blue stuff into my dandruffy scalp as I thought about relationships and teaching composition. The skills of my students and where I have failed to bring them up to speed; the times that I went out with someone and realized oh fuck it was a bad idea. I realized most of my knowledge of the basics of what I have not but might should have taught, I learned in early high school. My teacher was a hardassed tightlipped reasonably intelligent person. She explained very clearly about grammar, clauses, compound and complex sentences, essay structure; that sort of thing. I had read a lot of it in my parents' 3-volume set of little grammar books - Elements of Style, Strunk & White, and one other book - but never got it in class. This teacher had a ton of information and conveyed it with maximum efficiency. I enjoyed that! This train of thought led me to consider how I could have done a quick grammar review at the beginning of the semester. Would that have helped? I'm not sure. It might have helped two people and lost me the attention and respect of five others. And frankly I felt that oh for fuck's sake that's why I'm telling y'all to go to the writing lab or for tutoring, and to read specific pages in the textbook. So I didn't! Thus missing a chance to pass on very solid knowledge they are missing and may never get. The comma splices, people! I do it on purpose! I know when not to do it in a formal situation! They don't!
A couple of years later I ended up going out with her son, who was in his freshman year at college. I was going out with his friend Kane in a casual way and realized I could potentially really like him because he was really really nerdy, smart, fun, intellectually competitive in a pleasant way, liked books and science, and good in bed; but he was a bit nuts when it came down to it and was doing things like flying on small airplanes across the border to bring back mass quantities of mescaline and weird designer drugs to R1ce and who also was not "into having a relationship" and so I backed away slowly from Kane after writing a lot of bad poetry and then, at a party, met his friend, who hit on me... well... why not? So I went out with this dude Radeck, who was charmingly starry eyed and into me and seemed smart and liked to talk about physics. What did I know? And he was off at college so I only really dated him like 4 times. He gave me his letter jacket, I wore it, it kind of helped like armor because I was really sick of getting flak for being a slut at that point, so for a couple of months I was known to Have a Boyfriend and people in high school left me alone. It was a nice thought that I would get to college and there might be an exciting romantic affair where I would get up to all sorts of No Good and in my mind there was ... I dunno... some wonderland of learning and creativity and collaboration and there would be some mate or mates (I was proclaiming allegiance to Free Love, though momentarily pausing on my quest to sleep with the entire math club) who would be doing Bohemian Things with me. And I liked Radeck's co-op which was indeed a giant collective of pretentious arty freakish students. Oh, a side note that my first high school boyfriend, way before this, was very fabulous in so many ways. He was nerdy. He was doofusy. He could quote Monty Python at length. He danced the pogo. He lusted after me with white-hot burning passion. He was genius-like in a way that I was not; a mathy, ordered way. Yet he was also capable of great silliness and gave a great massage. All perfect qualities! But we got to a point where at 15 he was droning on about marrying me and in his mind this would happen immediately after high school when he would go work as a shoe salesman at Brillobrook Mall while I had babies and cooked him macaroni casseroles. Hell no. I recall explaining to him that my vision of life included going to big cities, reading a lot, being gay as hell, taking some drugs maybe, and having a million lovers while writing poetry, going to Nicaragua or somewhere to join a revolutionary group, and sure as fuck not having any babies anytime soon because it would interfere with my Life Experiences. He could not deal with this. I am thankful for my fairy godmother or whatever 70s zeitgeist infected my brain early enough to save me from the horrid fate that could have sucked me dry. So you see why I had to ditch him. Also, he was jealous and began to threaten to shoot himself. OUT DEMON OUT - what can I say. It was Texas.
BACK to Radeck the "college boyfriend" who moved home for the summer. Fascinatingly he told me horrible stories about his parents (you will recall that his mom was my English teacher and was a good one) and how they would take him out back and beat him with a two by four. I have forgotten the other details but the 2 x 4 sticks with me; the other things were all standard Texas hick-ass Christian Dare to Discipline things that sounded like horrible child abuse but were considered fairly normal there. And then. Oh dear! There was a terrible Incident where we were having sex or something in the back of his falling-apart orange chevy mustang in a cul-de-sac out back of some under-construction subdivision. And as we gazed romantically up at the stars through the back window and hoped that Odgen (local police officer) would not drive up and shine his flashlight at us to check if I was being raped or not, I remarked something about stars and how they move around and how nifty it would be to sleep outside and watch them rotate all night, and that it would be majestic and one could imagine one was navigating across the ocean with fabulous navigational knowledge. He remarked back something that destroyed our nascent relationship and I don't remember how he put it but basically it was that the stars twinkle because of interstellar dust. I was like WHAT dude what the fuck? The stars are twinkly-looking because of the atmosphere of the Earth! And he argued back and forth with me citing completely stupid "physics" and total bullshit about "dark matter" saying that he KNEW because he was a physics and astronomy major, until I wanted to spit. Hello asshole, I have not read World and Discover and Scientific American (all the way up to where it gets equationy) and swooned over Carl Sagan and read all the most sciencey science fiction for my whole life so that you could snow me with your ignorant claptrap about relativity and dark matter! No way could he be my soulmate lover and go through life doing cool fantastic things if he was that fucking dumb! The atmosphere, jerkass! Turbulence! In! The!
It was very disappointing and plus I had just had sex with him so it was also embarrassing to think I had had terrible judgement.
So fast forward through the summer where I did manage to have some fun with other people but he remained sort of nominally my boyfriend though I backed off and did a lot of fast talk about my philosophy of being good friends and lord knows whatall else. I continued to sleep with him sometimes (why?! it must have been good sex?) And then in college rather horribly he began seriously dealing acid and took WAY too much acid himself and went completely nuts. I watched him have a bad trip (with Kane, his friend who I had originally been sleeping with) and helped him out of it and put him to bed (And then as you can imagine, had better things to do with Kane, who was hot and flashing me a sort of knowing sardonic smile; the night was young. We ditched our tripping, passed out friend and went off to flounce around town in the beautiful night and then had great sex while on mescaline. Yes, I can feel you reading this and feeling sorry for Radeck for taking up with a sleazeball like me; recall I was only 16 please; though I'm still that way.) So anyway the upshot of it is I had to keep telling Radeck, while he went completely scarily insane over a period of a few months, that I was not his girlfriend anymore to the point where I refused to speak with him and then moved and stopped answering the phone. Meanwhile, 80 other things were going on (including my girlfriend being stabbed with a butcher knife by her other girlfriend) and I fell madly in love. Then was sort of living with this other dude (not the one I was in love with) in my new coop because I felt safe sleeping in his room because I was afraid of Radeck. Then one morning bright and early before class I went to my actual room (out in an annex, isolated) to change clothes and Radeck was there having broken in and waiting for me... insanely... He refused to leave. I fled... And I went inside the main house and called his parents, my former English teacher and her husband. They were both on the phone. I explained briefly, leaving out the drugs and sex, but putting in the part about how Radeck thought he was the Messiah and I was his destined bride, and asked them to come get their son and sort of rescue him if they could. Their response was so amazing. The mom talked for a while about how I was a bright young thing and how disappointing Radeck was and illustrated it with long stories about how disappointing he was when he had had Every Opportunity. The dad just sighed after this diatribe and I can totally hear his voice in my head even now (or... well... earlier, when I was in the bathtub shampooing my hair and also vaguely re-reading "Dragonriders of Pern", and if you don't believe I can do all three things at once, a) read pern books b) wash my hair c) reminisce complicatedly, then you're wrong) as he sighed and said "Well, that's that. I guess we're going to have to have him committed." As if his longstanding suspicion had been confirmed; he had been a good father best he knew how, his son had not turned out well despite his efforts with the 2 x 4 and his wife's with the difference between complex and compound sentences; now his son had turned out crazy and would have to be committed to a mental institution; the end.
It was so creepy and wrong and I felt sorry for the guy. Through the years in Austin that I continued being scared of Radeck and still today I am sometimes haunted by the way his parents treated him. I know he is the sort of person who might very easily have murdered me, though. That was the last time I went out with anyone who was scary like that. After that I think my "scary" detector was finely tuned.
Then I thought about Raquel some more and why I loved her so much and just pondered it as I rinsed my hair. She was wild and unlimited and uncategorizable! We ran around actually doing all sorts of odd things and art projects and performancey things! She puzzled and scared me in a good way. She was sad and wouldn't talk about it! She was sort of weird and robotic! She'd look at me in that way that chicks do when they are trying to make you kiss them, until I kissed her - and then she'd look smug. Her vintage hats, her polka dot dresses... She tasted like garlic... Her pensive moody gaze made my heart flop around madly! Her laughter that sounds like crying. Her cruel, snobbish streak and curt impatience reminded me of my grandmother - in a good way. She was everything interesting and outrageous and her art was good; lively, morbid, energetic, not like anyone else's. When she was in the room, everyone else turned invisible. She read me Georges Bataille in bed and we were partners in crime pouncing on nerdy slightly nebbishy guys and tying them up with our bathrobe sashes! I'll always love her. This is completely true as of course whump and skarat know very well.
My point was something about teaching and my childhood ideals about love and relationships and how I like them to have both sanity and shared creative expression. Lost it somewhere along the way. (The point, not my ideals.) You do see I hope with some amusement that my criteria for going out with boys has not changed much. I am writing this to Iris because I haven't written her enough letters lately and because she said my blogging had become dull and less wild, implying that because I have a job or am too influenced by people reading my blog that it's impossible to say anything juicy. But also to feel better and more myself by writing globs and globs of stuff and a little to show away for xyzzy who will enjoy the parenthetical structures and funny parts. Also for anyone who wants a sort of roadmap of what qualities I tend to like in people and what scares me away. This post might not count for Iris since it's about the past, but she is good at extrapolation. If only she would start blogging again with some insane stories of being exactly my sort of wild girl in 1969 or whenever it was probably wearing platform gogo boots and a swirly pyschedelic minidress, or so I like to imagine.