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Of Culkin Wildcats . . .
Saturday, August 29th
Of Culkin Wildcats, Warren Central Vikings and the Fort Hill Bicycle Gang
facebook is changing things. My grade school, junior high and high school classmates are finding me out here on the edge of the continent in the Land of Fruit and Nuts. I haven't seen or heard tell of most of them since 2001 when I dared go with Dr. Leon back to Vicksburg for our 30th High School Class Reunion.
They voted and awarded me their "The Most Changed" declaration, which set off an essay back to them about how happy I was to have changed and about how I wished some of that for some of them. Shortly, I noticed the e-mails stopped coming and I figured they had dropped me from the list . . .
Some of them are finding me now, and I don't know if they really know who I am or what I am these days. Do I care? Well, yes, I suppose I do. Some of them are "way cool" southern folk free thinkers who could give a hoot about sexual or gender identification or what anybody does about anything so long as they are good to others. Some of them, I suspect, hardly know the meaning of gender or sexuality-related terms, and some of them claim in their profiles to be very conservative and religious.
Perhaps I shall become their conduit to a friend-of-queers sensibility, such as my children have, or maybe PFLAG gets new members. I think some of those girls in our class were among the first I ever fell in love with . . . and they are still beautiful . . . and some have memories of my playhouse.
I'll invite them to come visit out here, and we'll drive across the Golden Gate with the top down and sing Beach Boys songs and yell at the top of our lungs about pushing our bicycles all the way up Fort Hill in the Vicksburg National Military Park on a hot and humid Mississippi day way back when we were . . . well, we were probably about in Mrs. Wilkinson's Class or some where there 'bouts. Kathy and I chat about that sometimes.
Do they really want to be friends with me on facebook?
I typed "Culkin Wildcats" in and Google searched. The thing spun and spun and spun . . . and I thought I'd have to refresh and start over. Then comes the list and it's all about that child actor Macaulay. Somehow, I found my way to the Culkin alumni website Annie Douglas keeps and found they've written there about Miss Louise and her English teaching.
What popped up on my desktop here, as I searched for a place to copy and paste their words to keep and read again sometime, . . . what popped up was something about Conde Nast declaring Infusion to be one of the Top 35 hottest new clubs in the world. Tomorrow I'll go back to writing about Infusion, Orson and gay life here in The Castro. Not the Baptist Church, as my cousins write about.
I wonder what Miss Louise might have said about my writings on that phenomenon we call "Ladies Night." Probably she'd say something she said so many times and I hated it: "Do the best you can. That's all a mule can do." Admitting I too say it now . . . she was cutting me a break but at the same time urging me on and inspiring me too. A friend I told about that recently asked if Miss Louise might have been comparing me to a jackass.
Well, there you have it! Her students wrote that she had a wicked dry sense of humor. She spoke from the grave when my friend said the jackass part, since I'd never even thought of it that way in all these years. I think, too, that my friend, who is a California girl, probably doesn't have a clue about the difference between a jackass and a mule.
I think Miss Louise also would most likely have found it funny what Pop said to me the last time I saw him before he died: "Go on out now and get your brother." In other words, get the hell out of my hospital room . . . But, hey, I had the last word anyway in his . . . his what's called a eulogy . . . and I spoke right at him too from up there at the funeral home podium, looking down upon the flowers and his casket, the casket my brother had picked out before I got there. My brother was always there before I got there.
Sometimes lately I've missed ole Pop and wished he were here to cook up something with me late at night like we used to do when I went home. He'd stuff some leftover cornbread with a teaspoon into a glass of cold milk, finish it off and then have a link of pork sausage from Bryan's packing company in Jackson . . . He'd say nothing and cook one for me, too, just because he knew I loved them wrapped in a slice of Wonder bread. But, I never have understood why he liked so much having cornbread soaked in cold milk.
Where I live now there are so many varieties of fancy baked fresh bread with special stuff inside, like olives or cherry 'n chocolate or more grains than anyone can count. So many to choose from, it's hard to say, but none of it here smells as good to me as Koestler's Bakery did when we rode by there on Clay Street headed to what we called downtown Vicksburg. I have come to know that Vickburg really has no downtown or uptown either.
So, when someone asks me that question: When did you know you were gay? I used to say I knew in first grade when my best friend Mary and I got locked in our classroom's restroom one time. I've realized, though, that it was even earlier. As a toddler, I had a favorite babysitter, one of Miss Louise's students. Her name was NonaVee and she was indeed my very first dreamgirl. On some level Miss Louise knew it too, because she'd always ask NonaVee first if she was available to come over, if she could, and take care of me. When NonaVee did come, I was then just sure - even though I could not explain why - that all was good in this world.
(Entered 12:45 AM)
(Vicksburg National Military Park Photo) |
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