Monday, March 20, 2006

Letting go

God take all the dusty summer days
Salt-beautiful and hot
and line them up along the road
for him to walk in once again

A world he knows...
It is a little-known secret that Dr. Solomon's 'Stentialism class was the Best Place to meet Hot Guys. Not only that, but the ridiculous little satyr threw regular keg parties, so as to get the undergraduates tipsy, thus more likely to overlook his platform shoes and gold medallions, and succumb to the allure of the Famous Philosopher.

Pretty Lady never cozied up to Dr. Solomon, but she really enjoyed the parties. Dozens of lovely boys in architecture haircuts, all getting Nietzchean, was her idea of earthly bliss. The class was a senior-year luxury, an exercise in hedonistic self-indulgence. She certainly didn't take it for the credits.

But then, Pretty Lady has always been in her element at keg parties. For some reason the boys get bolder after a beer or two; Pretty Lady gets loquacious and jazzy. If she doesn't end up doing a thrash-belly-breakdance, collecting a circle of gawpers, she collects a circle anyhow, just by yammering off the top of her head. Obnoxious, she knows. I do apologize.

Dr. Solomon's keg parties, though, were special. They were generally the prelude to a set of discrete and extended adventures which lasted until the wee hours. These adventures all blend together--Pretty Lady can't quite recall where one begins and the other leaves off. They were populated by various earnest, drunken philosophers with whom she rarely consorted during daylight; she once considered writing a surrealistic play based upon them, but gave it up. The characters were not sufficiently developed.

Be that as it may, Pretty Lady has always had a soft spot for a curly head. During each of these notorious parties, she would gradually become aware of a certain catlike set of curls, Lurking. As the beer flowed more copiously, the curls would lurk closer. At a certain point the Lurker would Be There, and he, Pretty Lady, and the Lurker's pet person (usually named Eddie) would go wandering over the universe, discovering strange and fabulous things. Oh, those evenings were glorious.

The Lurker, it transpired, was a devotee of Jack Kerouac. "On the Road" was his idea of the artistic lifestyle; ergo his fascination with guys named Eddie. He hitchhiked. He would hang around with homeless persons, just to get a feel for it. He was awfully cute, in a stray-kitten sort of way. Pretty Lady felt an overwhelming desire to take him home and feed him, so she did.
Sweet as the earth
As the river with rain
God take all the damp summer nights
Cooling his bare arms again
Over the semester, this became an unvarying pattern. Pretty Lady and the Lurker never hung out together, while sober; after his requisite two-beer approach-quota had been filled, she used to tease him about it. He would merely shrug. He was a receptive soul. At one point, Pretty Lady wrote a mildly sentimental poem, entitled 'Cat in my room'; at another point, Pretty Lady's sister found the name 'Lurker' written in the dust on her computer screen. Her sister found this unworthy and erased it. Pretty Lady doesn't remember doing this, but she probably did.

On one occasion, her sister was most uncomfortably dragged into the story. This particular evening, the Lurker's pet person was, unfortunately, the Guy Who Understood Nietzsche. It is a fact that fools do not know they are stupid. The Guy Who Understood Nietzsche had developed a fixation; he had Figured Out Nietzsche, he was the only guy in the world who had, and nobody would listen to him. He made a special office visit to tell Dr. Solomon all about it, and the Dr. had not been satisfactorily impressed. So all evening, over and over, he regaled Pretty Lady, Eddie, the Lurker, and anybody else in the vicinity with the news that Nietzsche said that God was Dead, that Man is truly God, and is responsible for his own Ultimate Destiny.

It is a testament to universally instilled Southern manners that nobody ever told him, "Shut up. You're an idiot."

At any rate, Pretty Lady dropped by her apartment around three A.M. to feed her posse, forgetting that her sister was there, writing an English paper from hell, that evening. Her sister said later that it was like something out of Dante, battling with that miserable paper for her abusive, egomaniacal English professor, who had decided to turn her into a Great Authoress by pointedly excoriating every word she wrote, and have us drunken lunatics show up in the middle of it, with the idiot spouting his Nietzchean visions all over the place. Pretty Lady's sister is a very patient person.
God take all the damp summer nights
And lay them down like playing cards
Across the table of the sky
And sit and play a game with him

Far into the night...
Once the semester was over, of course, Pretty Lady only saw the Lurker by happenstance. Happenstance was the Lurker's modus vivendi, and Pretty Lady was fine with that. She never even knew where he lived. She had a lot of other interests.

She doesn't remember how much later it was, that she ran into him at a Killer Bees concert in midsummer. Pretty Lady was rooming with a lady named Diana, who represented her own archetype; she was truly a goddess of womanhood, and usually had two or three fellows on the string. She and Diana would hang out with Leila and Jim, who were virtually married, and the standing joke was--what is Pretty Lady going to perpetrate, this evening?

(Single girls--this is an occupational hazard of hanging out with married people. You become the Topic du Jour.)

That evening, the Killer Bees were smashing, and the Lurker was overjoyed to run into Pretty Lady. The night was hot, the Bees reggaed, and at some point in the dance, Pretty Lady and the pretty catlike boy wrapped round one another, and didn't let go.

Friends, this is not the story of a one-night stand. If you will believe me, nothing happened. Pretty Lady and the Lurker stayed wrapped for five or six hours; they wound up on a couch somewhere, listening to 'Stairway to Heaven' and snuggling into the middle distance. At about 5 AM, the Lurker drifted into sleep, and Pretty Lady tiptoed home.

Again, she doesn't remember how much time went by before she saw him again. It could have been six months, it could have been a year. Pretty Lady was done with that college business by then, and was wrapped up in applying for scholarships to study in Rome. (She didn't get them.)

When she did see him, he burst upon her like the sun had risen. He was glowing. "Pretty Lady!" he yelled, pounding across the pavement. "Hi! How are you! This is my girlfriend, Cathleen! She's from California!"

At this point in the story, Pretty Lady's less perceptive girlfriends say, "awwwww, darn." But No. Not at all. Cathleen from California was adorable, and just what the Lurker's inchoate soul required--a sweet young sprite from the magical land of California, where Jack Kerouac used to hang out. And it was evident from the Lurker's attitude that not only was he showing off his prize--he was thanking her.

Because that night of the Killer Bees might very well have started something; that something would have been Hell. Both Pretty Lady and the Lurker knew it. She could have done anything she liked with him after that, and what she did was nothing. Why would she? Who wants a pretty boy on a leash?

This is why this story is not about a one-night stand. It is a short, silly, Nietszchean love story. It is a story about letting things be as they are, and knowing they are perfect.

--lyrics by the tragically defunct band, Glass Eye, currently unavailable in print.

7 comments:

Mr. Nelson said...

"Obnoxious, she knows. I do apologize.

Please, don't apologize. Bloggerdom would collapse inward upon it's glorious self if obnoxiousness is the standard for apolgies.

Very nice. Always something to learn from you.

Gollumer said...

Single girls--this is an occupational hazard of hanging out with married people. You become the Topic du Jour.

It's also true for single men, the wives of our friends are constantly trying to "hook us up" with various (and strangely not compatible) friends of theirs.

BoysMom said...

I have the opposite problem: my husband's single friends are always asking me to hook them up with single women. Unfortunately, being married with toddlers, I know only a couple ladies who aren't married with toddlers, and those young ladies aren't quite what these gentlemen are looking for.

Morgan said...

"The Guy Who Understood Nietzsche had developed a fixation; he had Figured Out Nietzsche, he was the only guy in the world who had, and nobody would listen to him."

This is my favorite line from your entry. I love it when young people have an epiphany and feel the burning need to share it with those with the less enlightened. My 19-year-old son has about two or three a month. Sometimes he feels compelled to call me at 1 a.m. because some flash of brilliance he's just had can't possibly wait until morning.

Unfortunately, these revelations are never anything philosophical in nature, but usually something I already tried to tell him months back.

prettylady said...

Fortunately, my married friends are usually wiser than to try to hook me up; they generally treat me as a sort of live television set, tuned alternately to soap opera, drama, mystery, or PBS special.

rlh said...

Hi Pretty Lady,

soap opera? Are you a dramatic person?

You do have an elegant way of speech.

erodda said...

Thanks for the Glass Eye lyrics, and the great story they are woven around.