Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ointments and Balms

Grieving has gone to the web.

Living so far away from so many friends who are in different cities and different time zones, I spent much of yesterday exchanging memories of the recently departed Masque owner Brendan Mullen with some of those out of town friends. Funny, touching stories soon managed to turn tears to laughter, and laughter as we well know is the best medicine. It is an ointment for a tender heart.

I told the story in my previous post about some questionable fashion choices involving my friends and the Masque. As I related it via email to another friend, she ROFL’d at my description of what dressing up to go out meant in those early days of punk. Stashed In my closet, I actually found the old 60’s cutout bathing suit I was telling her about, it's a bit different than I remember but it's even more stylish. I've enclosed a picture so you can imagine a slightly pudgy me wearing this out in public.

In a very natural way our online conversation drifted to children. There is a chapter in the memoir I've written called “Children Are The Balm,” which comes from a line in Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Middlesex: "Children were the only balm for death." I found that line not only poetic but very true.

My friend, who works in a school, told me about a little girl she was working with yesterday who was having trouble reading the word ‘second’ and my friend said "okay, let's split it up, what are the first three sounds?" They sounded it out, s-e-c- and the little girl burst out with "Sex in the City?!"

I was reminded of my own colorful stories from my teaching days. I was working with a first grade class of English learners. The children were just starting to add and subtract and I wanted to reinforce their writing and reasoning skills, so I gave them all pennies to buy and sell plastic fruit at a make-believe store. The children were instructed to write down their transactions. The room was buzzing with activity when lunchtime snuck up on us. I quickly collected the assignments and took them with me to lunch so I could correct them.

Uncontrollable laughter seized my body in the teacher's cafeteria as I opened the folded pages. The children had used their Spanish language skills to record their transactions:

10 penis-7 penis = 3 penis. I had page after page of penis problems.

Other teachers came over and tried to see what I was laughing at, but I hid the pages, mortified that I'd be fired for teaching them such things!


Karla Usagi said...


I can't stop laughing. YOu made my day.

ZantiMissKnit said...

First of all, my condolences of the loss of your old friend. I was sent a link to his obituary but only knew him as much as I know anyone I've only seen in a film or read about.

Second, I really want that bathing suit although I'm sure bits of me would flop out of it.

Third, you made me giggle with the page after page of penis problems. Thank you!

Miss J said...

Out of the mouths of babes