It’s a mopey day at the Red Sea School. Even though we went to see the totally delightful Children’s Theatre production of Seussical, I ended up yelling at Violet because . . . well, really because my friend is moving to India, another friend just told me she’s getting divorced, and a colleague who had told me last week that his wife was going on hospice just e-mailed me that she died.
I am blue. So I’m quoting an intriguing and potentially controversial column (wholly apart from his endorsement of Barack Obama) from the one-time Mr. Blue, Garrison Keillor, whom I feel I understand well if only because I sometimes bumped into him at the grocery store. And once at a book signing, when a was a darling, nubile co-ed, he winked at me. It’s a nice sentiment for a day when the human need for connection and communion is outweighing the (genuine) pleasures of independence and solitude.
Some of us grew up in great fear of conformity and built that fear into real social ineptitude and then wondered why we felt lousy. We assumed it was the price of being an artist and an original thinker. And then we noticed we were wearing a dumb hat and dumb shoes. Ai yi yi caramba! Depressing. And this was two decades before Prozac, and the only drugs available were the ones at the Grateful Dead concert, which I did not take because they made you do weird things like dance around shirtless and throw your arms up toward the sun and scream in tongues. I felt weird enough already.
Back in the day, we were more alienated from society than kids are today, and Thoreau was to blame for it. A gentle man, good with small children, smart about bugs and plants, but his line about daring to march to your own drummer, which is repeated every year at high school graduations, is just plain clueless. It excuses a rotten sense of rhythm as being a sign of intellectual rigor.
Not so my friend and I — not only did we tend babies together, scrapbook together, drink margaritas together, but at her urging we tap danced together, under the direction of a rather fierce instructor who knew very clearly that a bunch of tappers dancing to their own beats sounds more like an accident at a toothpick factory (as the old marching band teacher used to say) than a jazzy symphony of free spirited revelry. She was my friend during those funny years of transition when, as GK puts it, I got over myself and got with the program.
We’ll see you in Bangalore, or Berlin, or London, or maybe even Solla Sollew.