Sunday, March 18, 2007


   It was as things were getting even worse at that cold little brick boys boarding school in the New Hampshire lake country, where so recently I could not pass any of my courses, and where even now I lived in pain and fear when I did not escape into Keats and Wordsworth. Getting worse even now when it began to seem I was not stupid and I started directing my wrath not so much at the unhappy school boy sadists as at the far removed bully Joe McCarthy and at the other bigoted, greedy  Republicans who would not let Truman -­ so hated right here in this school -- would not let him make America a decent place.

No one, I was certain, would every make this boys school a decent place.

This school where it was getting worse, this school where I could play no games in ways that did not lead to ridicule. Getting worse. I was told by the
music master when he turned me down for the glee club that I should not think ever again of trying to sing, for even if my cracking voice should settle down he said, it was clear that I would never be able to carry a tune. It would not have surprised me if I had somehow learned then that it would be 50 years more before I tried again to sing.

But also in that the glee club barred me, I went along in a school van - full of farts and punches - to a rare evening dance at our sister school, the
all-girls St. Mary¹s-in-the-Mountains.

This room where they had the dance, it was all soft colors and gentle
lights, unlike our school¹s place for a rare casual dance, which would be a room with a linoleum floor, harsh lamps and black leather chairs.

From one end of this girl-like room we boys, flushed from the cold drive, came in. And we saw these girls in girl clothes, some with soft sweaters that
followed actual breasts. It felt like crossing a dangerous mountain pass to get to that end of the room where she was standing. Smiling. Black hair. Chubby, which seemed lush. Big sad eyes that darted. White teeth.

I muttered something about dancing. She nodded yes. And I was not here. I was back in the Broadway theater we¹d gone to on Christmas vacation. It was World War II, and I was a distinguished old French planter in the South Pacific. I
had spied a shy, appealing American army nurse.

Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger
You may see a stranger
Across a crowded room

And somehow you¹ll know
You¹ll know even then
That somewhere you¹ll see her
Again, and again.

And it was quickly clear that that this girl I was with knew all the things I had learned a year and half back in 8th grade about how to really dance, things people like us did not learn in the formal white-glove dancing classes to which parents like ours had sent us on Friday evenings back in Connecticut. My outstretched left arm and her outstretched right arm gave way simultaneously,
her right hand, which had no glove on it, was now down and cupped in my left
hand against my school blazer shoulder. My right hand was way out of dancing-class position, way down her soft back. And the fingers of her left hand, oh God, were on the back of my neck.

And her leg!

She was no more a hesitant army nurse, like the one in South Pacific, than I was a suave baritone-bass French planter. And I had a problem for which musical theater was no help ­ for although my penis was not much more developed than my singing voice, it had to be clear to this non-nurse that this non-Frenchman had an erection.

Some enchanted evening
You will find your true love
You may feel her call you
Across a crowded room

Then fly to her side,
And make her your own
Or all though your life
You will dream all a-lone.

1 comment:

Oneperson said...


Leaves me with a chuckle, a smile....and youth. Ahh...youth. I'm thankful to have tapped into youth again. I've decided with each upcoming birthday I am a new age...not old age.

Old age...bah! *wink* *smile*