11 September, 2007

that mean-spirited heart? it's mine

I had an embarrassing episode in class today. Embarrassing only to me, but I guess that's what makes it embarrassing.

Before I relate it, I have a confession to make. When I am not paying attention in class, I write little vignettes in my notes about my classmates. I give them pseudonyms and make up all sorts of insupportable things about their unknown lives. It's a dreadful and addictive habit and it's a wonder I've managed to make good grades.

So there's this kid in my class. I call him Poet Lad. He likes to wear loose button-down shirts and colorful pants and black-framed glasses. And he waves his hair. ("Never trust a man who waves his hair, old boy."--P.G. Wodehouse) According to my notes, he listens religiously to indie music and likes to draw spiritual parallels out of lyrics. He smokes cigarettes under trees and pretends to love Thai food and the representation of the sublime in modern art. Poet Lad likes to talk a lot. He especially likes to talk in that winding, intellectual fashion representative of his class. You know what I mean. It's the kind of speech that is peppered with references to all of the obscure literature he's read and all of the deep, probing theories he knows. Brevity is a stranger to him. His insight runs in free circles, never reaching an intelligible destination, but seemingly content to wander and spew ideas.

I have to temper my portrait, though, lest you take it too harshly. I actually like Poet Lad. Somedays I admire his pretentious loquacity. He seems incredibly interesting, for all of his posturing, and I think we ought to be friends, because I have a hunch we'd be good ones. But today I was getting tired of his affected comments.

I was writing some snarky remarks in my notes about him, because I am unkind, and then he raises his hand to make a comment about the novel at hand. He said something that sounded like this: "I just wanted to make a point, or, rather, pose a question. Do you think that this passage is indicating the emergence of the early structuralist philosophy? Possibly with some Hegelian reactions, at least, that's what I'm getting here. The obvious humanism is overpowering to the context of the novel blah blah yes, that's clearly the intention blah!" (He seriously used those words. I wrote them down.)

And as soon as he opens his mouth and all of this tumbles out, I react. Involuntarily. Horribly! My face twists into a strong and very clear grimace. The whole scornful lip curled up. I scowled at him. Utter disdain written all over my countenance. As soon as I realized what I was doing, my stomach dropped. I could have just died that I couldn't control my face. I wiped it off as soon as I realized what I was doing. I hope no one saw me. Especially not Poet Lad. Because I do want to be his friend. Repentant, afraid, I began writing real notes.

This seems like a very insignificant incident. Maybe it is. But I was so mortified and so alarmed at my visceral reaction... at my lack of self-control! It is proof that I am far too critical; it is proof that my heart is black and cold. Out of the overflow of the heart the face moves?

That's all for tonight. Maybe soon I'll write about my perceptions of being a "journalist" and Owl Glasses and the spectre of doubt. But soon is not now.


Anonymous said...

you with a black and cold heart? haha. right.

honestly, your reaction to your reaction shows that you care about being that polite, elegant and KIND person that you are to people ..(despite made up stories that may in fact have more truth than previously thought about said people..)..

although, i rather like your snapshot of the guy


Jeff said...

What a bizarre habit. Highly amusing though.

Ivy said...

What can I say? It was time.

And that is not a bizarre habit; I do it. (Oh, wait...) I'll just say that I'd prefer Poet Lad to the Albanian boy who sits next to me in English and texts his friend in the last row while I'm attempting to focus. It's very trying, especially because I try very hard not to give him my evil eye...