~Not to pay a debt but to acknowlege it~


"These brighter Regions which salute mine eyes
A Gift from God I take:
The Earth, the Seas, the Light, the Lofty Skies,
The Sun and Stars are mine: if these I prize."




Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Ice cream... you scream..."



P.D. was my adviser my first year, a danger in itself since on occasion he'd sign you up for a class that didn't count toward your degree... but as he often said, "Suffering is good for the young." Always loving English History I took a class that unexpectedly turned out dry as dust and fast became tantamount to the dotted line around Anne Boelyn's neck. In a panic about grades and my scholarship I turned for help and ended up at P.D.'s apartment. His solution? Everything would be fine and he gave me a bowl of vanilla ice cream. 


I passed the class (by the skin of my teeth) and my scholarship was only slightly reduced. 


This was the beginning of many visits off campus to his tiny apartment that had a ceiling to floor Langoussis painting, tiny cacti in the messy kitchen (opening the refrigerator was like opening the door of a tomb, some items fermenting since Calvin Coolidge had been in office), silk screen curtains of British grave rubbings, lots of that nasty primitive art work and fabrics that we never saw eye-to-eye on, and one singular aberration that sent chills down the spine and recoils of terror: his little cat Poobah. Named after The Grand High All Everything from Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado and a gift (!) from Roland Poska... though I often assumed she was the dark emissary of Lucifer.


~The Dream~ (detail)
Henri Rousseau


There was always ice cream, popcorn, tea, and strange food items. I warned everyone I brought over to bring a napkin and beware of the cat. Those who ignored me ended up 'chipmunking away' in their mouths something bizarre for the sake of politeness only to have a spitting fest once outside the door. Others wiggled a finger or cooed sweetly to Poobah only to be rewarded with ferocious paw strikes and a hiss like a water hose. "Oh, look," P.D. smiled as he gently stroked the vile creature in his lap, "Poobah is letting out a little air." One time a fellow art student stood and held out a piece of string to play. I sat back, arms folded, and warned, "No good will come of that!" And Poobah leapt into the air and hooked a claw into his thumb, and dangled merrily like a Christmas tree ornament. The blood made me think of a water sprinkler. And when you are visiting a Christian Scientist you are hard pressed for any typical medical solutions including Band-Aids.

I stayed in Rockford one summer while P.D. went on a trip and in a moment of mental instability offered to baby sit the furry fiend. She sneaked out the apartment and hid in a wood pile where I reached and grabbed: it was like shoving my hand into an oscillating fan. I held her by the scruffy little neck while crimson trailed along my arm and dripped from my elbow. Weeks later I told him I would stop being a vegetarian for five minutes if he would allow me to EAT that animal.


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