Thursday, July 05, 2007


When I was in high school I kept a poetry notebook. I like to remember because it’s something I would never do now. Hardwired into my brain is the urge to recoil at awkward moments, and few cringe with full fury like making the leap to attempt poetry and then fail miserably.

Mine was OK. You might even say well-developed for my age. I toted it around and committed anything reasonable to page, sometimes when I should have been listening or piddling on homework. At some point the notebook neared the end of its empty pages. This is when I left it lying around.

Bearing one’s work to the public could be one of the few experiences more emotionally daunting than deeming your mind worthy to commit to verse in the first place. In small-town Baptist country, this is doubly so. Though not Salem 1692 crazy, some creationists do not accept the full variety of creation. My work was not altogether rebellious or upstart, but one afternoon after leaving the book in that shiny metal tray under the desk I found myself called into the guidance counselor’s office.

You see, I’d written this little AABB rhyme from the point of view of a frat-boy type, talking about, in more words, using women and casting them aside. And the frizzy-haired woman across the desk either didn’t understand rudimentary satire or disbelieved a 15-year-old was capable of it. I don’t recall putting up much of a defense – at some point came a moment of clear understanding that nobody around me got it, could not or would not. Not that I was too complex for comprehension; rather I was shocked at the sheer lack of intellectual potential in most of the adults around me. This hasn’t changed a remarkable amount, though now I revert those feelings to the back brain and replace them with grace, the true country way.

All this jumped to the front of the mind while I watched “Idiocracy” earlier tonight. It was passable fare. Luke Wilson is live-action Futuramaized, frozen and accidentally awaken 500 years in the future. In the meantime mankind has devolved into an abysmal stupor and he is the smartest person on earth simply for pointing out irrigating plants with Gatorade isn’t a great plan.

On one level I feel insulted that the creator of “Beavis and Butthead” made this film warning of society’s intellectual decline. You began this war, sir. But like my high school poetry, “Idiocracy” is underdeveloped but valid. And it still hurts me a little to watch Luke Wilson defend himself with fancy words and be denounced as a ‘fag.’

Perhaps finding myself utterly misunderstood started me on my guarded manner. Journalism professors taught to spill it all out on the page and edit later, but this is a pattern I cannot bring myself to adopt. I write with a typewriter jockey’s hesitance in an age when this is not technologically necessary. And I fear that a year as a man’s man has only braced and buttressed my emotional defenses even more. I’m trying to prepare myself mentally to be back in school, and not just back in school, but back in school at Elite Tech with everything expected of me. I’ve spent a lot of time here building this personality, and I’ve got to finish my job so I can begin to unravel it.

1 comment:

Chris said...

It's no surprise that the adult world is full of people who can't comprehend satire. There are very few professions where the ability to read and act upon subtext is rewarded. Irony has no place in a team player's rhetorical toolbag.