Thursday, April 29

When not being stupid is not enough
Phil saw a dollop of syrup on the coffee table today and thought (hoped) it was ectoplasm.

I just have one more week of Lesbian Studies to endure. We're having our final class meeting at our professor's house in Smyrna. Because Women's Studies classes are just potluck pity parties and group therapy. Because our vaginas make us form instant, comfortable connections that transcend the classroom and make it OK to have our fucking final out in BFE when some of us have to drive back to M’boro to go to work at 6.

Gather ‘round now. It’s storytellin’ time.

Why Killing Should be Legal Sometimes

Lindsey inhaled the sunshine as she walked to class in Peck Hall. She was reluctant to spend the gorgeous day inside, trudging through cumbersome essays in a class full of people who, like her, hadn’t done the day’s reading. That’s why she was mildly pleased when someone suggested that the class be conducted outside. If I can't participate in discussion, she thought, I can at least bask in the fractured sunlight beneath the trees.

When the women and one man were assembled in Peck Forest, they broke into groups of two to discuss one essay per group, and bring their findings back to the entire class after 30 minutes of private discussion. Lindsey paired off with Helen, the woman who sat next to her in the classroom, and looked at the slip of paper Dr. Smith had given them as their topic: “How have the following religious organizations affected the lives of GLBT persons? The Catholic Church, the Jewish Faith, Wicca, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Religious Right.”

Having not read a word of the related essay, Lindsey sighed and grabbed a copy from the stack of essays in the grass. She sat on her book bag in a shady area, clear of the mounds of cut grass. Helen was babbling incoherently about something unrelated as Lindsey looked around and wished she wasn’t wasting her rare time spent outside discussing religion and homosexuality with someone who constantly made stupid jokes. Lindsey laughed reluctantly, cursing her involuntary courtesy laugh.

The two sat in the grass, peering at the essay. Helen began reading passages as Lindsey took notes. Helen looked up from the paper. “Don’t write down everything I’m saying. It’ll take forever to read.”

Lindsey blinked. “I’m not. I’m writing down the gist of it.”

Helen resumed reading silently. Lindsey could tell that defining the Catholic Church’s role in the lives of gay and lesbian people would take more than their allotted 30 minutes. “I think the basic story here is that the Catholic Church has been a major contributor to the notion that homosexuality—”

“Pope John Paul II wrote a letter calling homosexuals ‘intrinsically deviant,’” Helen interrupted. She began scribbling that tidbit down on her paper. Lindsey sighed and squinted at a woman asleep on a blanket nearby.

Lindsey moved the discussion on to the Jewish faith. Helen found a passage in the reading that described the creation of the Beth Chayim Chadashim temple, a GLBT-oriented temple, but she stumbled over its pronunciation.

“Beth Chayim Chadasim,” Lindsey said as she wrote the words down. Helen was surprised. “How did you know how to pronounce that? Are you Jewish?” she asked condescendingly.

“No, I watch a lot of Comedy Central,” Lindsey quipped.

Helen scowled. “That’s offensive!” she said. “I can’t believe you would say that!”

Lindsey’s brow furrowed. “That is not offensive! It’s a running joke! They turned 13 last week and broadcast a bar mitzvah!” She sighed in disbelief.

Helen looked at what Lindsey had written. “No – that’s supposed to be an ‘A’ in ‘Ka-duh-seem. You wrote an ‘E,’” she nattered.

Lindsey looked down. “No, that’s an ‘A.’”

“Wow, it is? Your ‘As’ look a lot like my ‘Es.’”

Suddenly Lindsey’s blood pressure rose and she felt more annoyed than she had ever felt before. “I guess that’s probably because I’m writing as fast as I can while fending off the wind and various insects trying to crawl on my legs,” she shot back. Lindsey could feel her nice meter overheating, and causing her courtesy-laugh default to malfunction. Her smile coordinates became scrambled.

Above her glasses, she could see Helen look at her and guffaw each time she made a stupid joke, but Lindsey didn’t return the look or the laugh. She glared at her notebook and made violent sketches.

During class discussion, another group was talking about sexuality and gender identity within the Hindu faith. One woman, an anthropology major, looked at her notes with shock and awe and stumbled over each syllable as she spoke. “Some of these words are FUNKY!” she screeched, pointing to “Hijra” and “Sadhin” and “Mahabharata.”

The class erupted in laughter as the woman stumbled over the Indian words.

Amidst the laughter and fellowship of the class, Helen lit up a cigarette and sprawled out on the grass. Lindsey winced as a white plume smacked her in the face. Every 15 seconds. She picked up her book bag and moved to the left 2 feet, but the smoke followed her. Helen didn’t notice nor did she care. Soon, three other people were lighting up cigarettes and releasing toxins into the air and the faces of their fellow classmates.

A small group of people began laughing uncontrollably while a group spoke. No one knew why, and the professor made an impotent attempt to shut them up, but the group kept puffing on their tobacco tubes, giggling at secrets.

Clouds gathered over the group, making the grass feel cold and damp. Lindsey scowled at the magnificent waste of time she had just endured. Her thoughts turned red. She made a solemn, silent vow to herself.

If I ever lapse into wondering why a true egalitarian, cerebral, honest, educated, mature, self-confident freedom movement has yet to congeal and flood the consciousness of the American public, I need look no further than the insipid, immature, hypocritical, disingenuous people with whom I go to school.

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