0353603

 

Somehow when I see numbers below my name, I picture a bad mugshot from a dusty, Oklahoma jail. My unshaven face, and not enough bail money to beat the reckless driving ticket in that redneck town.

 

So 0-3-5-3-6-0-3. Lot of numbers to acquire after just a week on campus. Seems like I’m in a cell created by time, from wrong decisions to wild women, limping home on my last legs in a race against a shameless clock, ticking along, against others who could be my kids.

 

Well, he’s sworn to be dealing out only four aces. “About four A’s,” he said. “About four A’s?” I’m too old to leave things to chance. It’s extra credit or death. I’m taking one of those A’s!

 

I have to admire a self-proclaimed lunatic. I’ll admit he does border on the manic-depressive; but how can someone such be anything but envied? Somebody so brutally honest, I feel like breaking a Prozac in half and silently staring out the window with this man. My professor.

 

Being in class seems like having a role in the King Of Hearts, and I’d say his hair is nicely groomed, but, oh my, he cropped it off as if he was about to join in a chorus with Stipe and REM. If he doesn’t sit still for a second; there’ll be no sleeping, at all, on this assignment.

 

Too thin, and too smart to be instructing, if you gave him a sword, he’d be the lead in the Pirates of Penzance. If you gave him a mike, he’d be running for Congress. Don’t put this guy on a pulpit, he’d be a busy televangelist in no time – requesting checks to be sent to some P.O. Box just down the street from that Oklahoma jail.

 

Put away your notebooks. “I don’t like people looking down while I’m talking.” You can bet he does not. He articulates, enunciates, speaks, utters, verbalizes faster than I did when I was his age – and makes about as much sense, maybe more. Don’t take away his unique elocutionary style or his style book, even old dogs can learn a few new tricks from his fresh set of eyes. Four aces – no joker. Surprise, surprise. And very curious why either of us is here.

 

Is it his subliminal mind tampering? I have no idea why I’m typing this, I assume it’s the contact buzz from listening – as instructed – instead of note-taking. However, this is not about the guy with Icelandic tendencies or, me, his middling grifter in tow from L.A.

 

It’s about a chick from New England, a Richard Brautigan wannabee: Susan Minot.

 

Stream of consciousness Susan. Revealing Susan. Hippy, slutty, delicious Susan. Transitional too-modern-to-get-fucked-and-laugh Susan and her lovely accounting of pure agony and splendor in her shortee entitled, “Lust.”

 

I didn’t want to read about somebody else’s sex life. Mine sucks, why shouldn’t hers and yours?

 

As a second assignment (the first was writing a short bit about me by longhand, when everybody knows I can’t write or spell for “chit” in longhand) this was an expedition into a recount of Ms. Susan’s exploits from the 60’s through her near vaginal burnout of the 80’s.

 

Every suck, every fuck, each and every boy. One who died, one who did her while the Stones’ Under My Thumb was crankin’ – and, then after stealing a verse from Joe Jackson’s 1979 Look Sharp album, when she wrote “It was different for a girl,” she spins off into female buyers’ remorse spewing, “After sex, you curl up like a shrimp, something deep inside you ruined, slammed in a place that sickens at slamming, and slowly you fill up with an overwhelming sadness, an elusive gaping worry.”

 

Look, if you blew it, you blew it, Susan.

 

It was short shrift figuring out her generation. Easy to come with the era when she put tush to chair, giving away the mid-80’s period whence ending one sentence in a valleyesque, “As if.”

 

Like a Springsteen’s character, Minot calls one beau Gentle Eddie, who “waded into the sea,” to love her. And she slowly lets you know, in ever subtle way, she’s from somewhere in New England by eluding to Johnny driving “up” from Baltimore . . . and spilling the beans about “some people had apartments in New York,” where she’d go down “south” on vacation. Prim and proper at Smith and Harvard, ain’t it?

 

Tight. Concise. She must have written for a newspaper once, where they taught her to be chincy with every word as if they paid her to keep it . . . short. Surely, she graduated harmonically into the magazine scene prior to her crowning glory of flowery short stories. This girl sings words.

 

The end of her story, is about the same as my life, muddy and obscure. She tries to explain what sex is all about and fails miserably – but only in the last graph. There, she reminds me of every girl I ever had, spacey, far away, mindless and wonderful, Venus De Milo and Mars Candy Bars.

 

Women need to always leave you lingering without a clue about what they mean. And, they usually do . . .

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