Monday, October 10, 2016


I have to admit, half the
time I didn't know what
anyone was ever talking
about. Photo-voltaic cells?
Positive ions? We often
had to take subjects and
courses of which my
exposure was meager
and minimal. And without
a care. I just was not the
analytic type, the resourceful,
categorical and methodical
type. You had to prove
anything to me first, and
even then I felt it was
mostly all conjecture;
circumstantial, with some
evidence backing it, but
conjecture no matter. I went
by the facile stuff : the guy
or lady in the front of the
room, being mostly an
abject idiot, or coming
across as that anyway,
with doting attention to
their little, black, lesson
plan books, attendance
sheets, decorum and 'how'
people were or acted, as
main concerns. That was
supposed to be education.
How deceitful was that?
If they came cross already
so poorly, why in the heck
should I give them a listen?
'By their works ye shall
know them.' And their
works were all pretty
obvious, blatant, steady.
to me. I already had it in
mind that it didn't matter
what you did  -  life was
a constant rolling frame
of predestination. Your
numbers were already in,
no thanks to you. You
either had the 'moment',
the grace, the shortcut,
or you didn't. God was
a cheatin' fool when it
came to people. He was
OK with birds and cattle,
maybe; but with people
He mostly stunk.
In 1960, I was stuck in
the 'portables.' They were
some wooden-shack
additions added onto the
back-side of School 4,
an addendum of necessity
because of the burgeoning
fertility of our mothers
and dads. All of a sudden
there 3 or 4 kids per
household, everywhere.
Don't know how it all
happened, except, frankly,
the usual lustful pursuit
of young marrieds in their
own 'new' homes. That's
all OK, acceptable, the
American way. Except for
us  -  mostly just stuck in
schools, sent off each day
into potboiling slums of
lethargy and kid-angst.
The 'portables' were one
ostensible answer  -  truly,
slum-schooling for kids.
'We built them a ghetto
of their own, and we force
them to go there!' That's
how the Board of Ed
creeps think. I don't
even think  -  in fact I'm
sure  -  that these portables
even had running water,
or water of any kind.
Who would even put
up with that today?
We had to get a
permission, and
then walk (kids do
exaggerate) for a
half-mile of concrete
basement walkways
and slop-rooms used
for volleyball and gym,
to pee. And to pee in
some crap-infested
cold and damp concrete
room, next to the janitors'
closets and sitting room.
Unheard of. Just to learn
some dumb geography
and a Christopher
Columbus rhyme.
('In fourteen hundred
and ninety-two, Columbus
sailed the ocean blue').
Oh man, the pathos and
the sorrow, and the
glory be!
Now I ain't no, haven't
never been no, Tom Sawyer  -
much closer, if I was any,
to Huck Finn anyway  -
but how he could ever
do all that stuff he did,
and  -  according to these
stories anyway  -  keep
his fool hands off the
likes of Becky Thatcher,
is beyond me. I guess it
was all some societal
form of Victorian propriety,
but, for me  -  and my
friends  -  it was mostly
about what glimpse of
this or that we could steal,
whose bloomers were
showing, and the new
budding-bump sweaters
of Mary or Jane. So here
we were, any number
of pre-adolescent, or just
about there, sex-thought
predators (about stuff
we didn't even really
know about), locked
in a series of oddball
claustrophobic wooden
boxes for some six
hours a day. It was quite
a trip; memorable and
My mother always used to
say to me 'Monkey see,
monkey do.' She said it to
me, and I never knew for
what reason. I mean I
knew what the phrase
meant, why she'd say it,
but I could never understand
why she'd address it so me?
She never followed up  -
so I never knew why or 
what I'd done. Frustrating.
all she had to do was say,
'Raymond holds his pencil
that way, and now I see you
do,' for explanation (That's 
just a made-up example. No
Raymond, no pencil really).
And then, anyway, what
if I did? Why would it
bother her so much? All
these things I could never
figure out. If Raymond had
a nice new black coat,
couldn't I have one? All
the time, just too much,
too much stuff going on.
It all began to be a burden, soon
enough anyway. I got tired of
being second-guessed, as if I'd
been caught trying to be some
London greaser with shiny hair,
rolled collars, leather boots and
jacket. A Teddy Boy, I think they
were called. Maybe. Then my mother
could have said, for her monkey-see
monkey-do stuff : 'I see Teddy bops
girls, beats up immigrants, steals
from old ladies, drinks and smokes.
And now I see you do too. 
 Monkey see, monkey do.'
Yeah, Ma, yeah.

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