Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Satanic Purses


Arguments. Fights.

Hit me, says the masochist. No, says the sadist.


We like to keep a positive image of ourselves, but deep down, when provoked, we can turn Neadert(h)al Perhaps like Peter Sellers in the old movie, A Shot in the Dark. Get all flustered and go off into "a fit of realous Jage."


(Quite a mouthful, hey?)

Anyway, we seem the worst when in love, and even out of love. When in love, we make mountains out of molehills, young girls get so high on estrogen that they could faint. When men get thwarted in love, they want to yell, kill. Nature of the beast, I suppose. Conan the Barbarian, sentient but violent.

The somewhat dipsy Dane, Kierkegaard said that is the way you are when in love; you're supposed to make mountains out of molehills; you're caught between the subjunctive and the indicative--will she, or won't she?; you're caught between the "as it is" and the copula verb to be--as in" to be" for all time.

Why am I writing like a sausage?


All this philosophy and grammar.


One is certainly not in love, though I miss the feeling. Miss it terribly.


While in San Miguel de Allende, where I was a prof in nonfiction, I was dating the prettiest co-ed at the Instituto, everything was feeding my ego, but the big published fiction writers who were also profs, decided they would take over the creative writing program, even after they were fired by the owner of the enfranchised school; they were accused of coming on to some of the male "student bodies" and suddenly, two of the big star profs were canned.


This was before the days of political correctness. But sexual harrasssment from the same sex , especially by an instructor, was well, sort of tacky.


So there was this fight, instigated by the straight students. " Hey .... J, when you and B get together, who plays the female part, you or B?" The head of the fiction department figuratively hit one male student with his purse, and said, "There will be nothing for you "C", if you side with this homophobia going around at the school.

Well, I had sided with the straights. And in fact it was the straight professors who had the beautiful women, while the others had to content themselves with shaggy room mates and considered themselve brave. I was there to learn, not to fight, even if they had made me into a teacher, since so many of the regular profs were siding with the gay profs and quitting as well in support of the accused purse-swingers.

I was promoted from student to professor by default, even though I had Canadian prof credentials.

The situation was like Swift's Battle of the Books, where Scaliger yells, "Curse thee for a foul-son of a whore". Umbrellas were raised "en garde" and vyiing artists got smacked by tri-squares and pallets.


I don't know what happened at the Instituto in l978, but it was sheer chaos. The upshot was that the University of California withdrew its accreditation and our adavanced degrees would now come from the University of Guanajato. Mexican paper, but still accredited in the U.S. and Canada.


There must have been a sunspot-- or the rarified air at eight thousand feed in the montains must have made us all mad but the Instituto seemed to go to hell for a while--precisely when my wife back in Canada decided she wanted to divorce me; who could blame her. I was leading a totally bohemian life in an exotic country. This, of course, she resented.

So now it wasn't just the Instituto Allende factulty that had gone mad. So had I.


Something happens when you live for a long time at eight thousand feet up in the air. You could see what happenes to a roll of tightly wrapped film you had bought in Texas.

By the time you get to San Miguel de Allende, it begins to take on the shape of a silver balloon, so light is the air. Imagine what could be happening to your brain.

I see the old American Legion alcoholics wandering about in the streets-- Verduras, --vegetables the Mexicans would call them. Heads made of straw. Heads made of straw!

Talk about hollow men.


One, a dentist, came back to Canada not able to use his hands. Another caught something that no antibiotic could cure. This was the tropics, or sub-tropics. And a strain of malaria thatwas hard to treat.

Well, I ended up maddened by love, sick of love, sick with love, actually out of energy all of a sudden and I had to visit the local apothecary.


He said, "Either the sand fleas have kicked you nearly to death or you have something from some American lady. You know the phrase. 'Since I met your daughter Venus, I've had trouble with ---"

Ah, the great Dr. Olsina, probably the most famous apothecary in local literature for he was often a model for a character in many a novel about San Miguel by us expatriates and a hell of a professor himself. He taught Latin American history and he scored big points with the Vietnam draft dodgers in town when he posited tha even the Aztecs were kind compared to the war mongers in Washington.

I think I am having a San Miguel flashback from those turbulent days.

And it is small wonder; Lord, we used to ingest everything, even shaved spiky cactus leaves if we thought it would give us a high, show us the Yaqui Way of Knowledge or something like that. Some went to the blue hills to apprentice themselves to sorcerers. And the Federales had gone after a famous Canadian author when he ran off with not some Ontario maiden, but the maiden's brother.

Yep. You (had to) Hide Your Love Away.

So I am at a very advanced age, have experienced too much as a young fool to argue with new fools, and there is the grinding sense that there is not too much time left to do what I have to do, and I am growing impatient, even intolerant.


I am starting to argue with people if I don't get my way, and this will not do.


Started with a bus driver with a busted computer who said my transfer was no good. He lectured me for eight minutes on being a "a piker and a cheat." Even after I threw in the offending amount.

I lost it. "You've got an attitude problem."

"So what of it, Big Shot?"

"Youre hassling seniors. Thia could get into the local paper."

"Yeah, yeah said the little old bald guy with the SkaterBoi driving gloves. "I work for a newspaper too." Upbraid a fool; Do not upbraid a fool

The flash of anger. The words were out before I could vet them.

I offered that I would be surprised that with that thick accent, he could even write, in English or his own language.


Oh to be noble, like Herodotus.


"Never let it be said," wrote the antique historian, "That Herodotus was vain, vindictive or even petty."


Heh. The answer always seems to be supplied by humour.

What I couldn't see in my anger was that the little old grizzled guy with the Skater Boy gloves was probably coming on to me.

Hey. Shades of San Miguel.

Who's going to play the female part, Luigi?

##



12 comments:

Donnetta Lee said...

The illness of love! Leads us down the herdy gerdy path, touching every single thing we do or think. Can't even run.
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,
Bob Dylan nearly had another hit two or three years ago with something called "I'm sick of love."
Well, look how handsome Jakob is.

Old Bobby'd been around.

Charles Gramlich said...

Well, one thing about the illness of love, if you wait a while you'll get over it.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Well, right now I'm like a dog chasing cars.
...Would know what to do with one if I ever caught one.

But the little coquettes keep coming around...Use the old guy as a stepping stone to get to a party, I suppose.
Migod, the women of Toronto are beautiful...And so many all alone.
I'd like to say "so many women, so little time", but it's all in my head.
Hm. Where is that stuff form Denmark?

laughingwolf said...

i left trawna cuz i hate the humidity, found my love in bc... 3 kids later, and i'm in your boat, so to speak, looking for a new babe, female, of course....

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

laughingwolf:

They're everywhere, they're everywhere, but TO more violent now.
Checked your post, but couldn't get in to comment. Microsoft has the burps.

Looks like you're a talented visual guy. Good photo "montage".

laughingwolf said...

thx bud... i see you were able to post now... sometime google is all fup duck!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Google probably bad in Vietnam too

Stories used to go,

"In the remote outpost of Fuc Duc..."

the walking man said...

"I offered that I would be surprised that with that thick accent, he could even write, in English or his own language."

You probably were speaking to the next Giller recipient Ivan.

History writ large always has to have some action within it so why bemoan the past as one who spun their wheels or is letting their history rock them back on their heels?

It seems to me O Herodotus, that in order to be a subject of history one must surely no longer be making it.

Love is a child's game I think, either it is within by adulthood or it isn't at all. *shrug* Personally I think you have a lot of love old man both in the given and receiving department but it's too you to feel it.

http://www.cretivewritng.ca said...

Right on, Walking Man.

...Come to think of it, the past two or three Giller recipients all had thick accents.
Crow Jim!
I like to think that I at least showed my country the courtesy to learn its language.

Jo said...

Well, Ivan, you were a very good looking young man, "pretty"> even perhaps, so I can see how both sexes would have been very attracted to you.

Did you hit them with your purse? :-)

ivan@credativwriting.ca said...

Ha!ha!ha!ha!ha!ha!ha!