Whisper 1.8

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Shea and I always seem to talk about vegetarianism. I applaud him for it, but at the same time, I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

“Isn’t that like cannibalism?” I ask him.

“Not really,” he says. “Well, maybe a little bit. Well, OK. Yes. It is. But I never eat relatives, that is, unless I can help it.”

I realize he’s joking. But still. What kind of plant eats other plants? Would it be better if he were a flesh-eating plant, like a Venus fly-trap?

He is kind of a Venus-trap. Lately, at the end of every conversation, he blows me a kiss.  It feels amazing–like a rush of, I don’t know, phytohormones, or something. I buzz from head to toe and feel like I might be sprouting leaves.

He blows me a zinger of a smooch before my midterms, and when I’m riding off to take my first exam, all I can think is how I’m so zinged-up on phytohormones that I’m going to ace this test.

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I think phytohormones must make you smarter. At least they make me happier. And a happy student is a good student, right?

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I come out of the exam to find a woman in a witch hat, hot pants, and go-go boots doing a rain dance in the courtyard.

My plant-kiss high has worn off, but I feel like I did all right on the test. As I was leaving, the professor said to me, “You’re on the Dean’s List,” and she showed me my name.

Now that feels pretty good.

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Shea’s out raking leaves in the rain when I get back to the dorm.

“Wanna play hop-scotch?” I ask. Neither of us is very good, but we have a blast.

While we’re playing, Shea says, “You make a pretty cool friend!”

“Really?” I ask him.

And he says, “Yeah. You’re my best friend. Who else is crazy enough to play hopscotch with me on a cold foggy night?”

I notice that when Shea’s happy, the air feels thick with alkaloids, and it makes me feel happier, too.

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Other living things seem to notice this, too. A little squirrel comes to watch us play, and it isn’t at all timid.

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This term feels so much different than last term. I’ve got two best friends, and that makes me feel more comfortable around everybody.

When you can be yourself around people, that’s when you’ve got a chance to gain true friends.

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Shea stops to blow me another alkaloid-laden kiss.

“Shea!” I say. “I feel so goofy when you do that!”

“I know!” he says. “That’s why I do it!”

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My phone rings.

“Aren’t you going to get it?” he asks.

I answer. “It’s Cid,” I mouth to Shea. “And he’s asking me on a date.”

“You should go!” Shea says.

“Really?” I ask Cid to hold on for a sec and mute the phone. “For real?”

“Sure!” says Shea. “Cid’s a great guy! Go! Have a good time!”

So, really quickly, I figure that Shea’s just being a plant, sharing his good feelings with everyone around, and so those kisses, though they make me high, don’t really carry any significance more than Shea’s overflow of good feelings, and maybe, just a general fondness for me. It’s like a rose–it’ll bloom for anybody.

I unmute the phone. “Sure, Cid,” I say. “I’ll meet you at the quad in a few.”

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I guess I’m still high from Shea’s wonder-kisses when I ride to the quad. I see this rainbow arcing over the campus, and six geese fly towards its center, perfectly framed.

The heavens open just then, and the hills rush out to greet it, and I’m coursing below, riding along a string of destiny that will bring me to the secret of the Universe, if I just have the eyes to see and the spirit to decode.

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Everything sparkles, lit up from the energy within.

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I see Cid standing across the quad and race over to him to share this vision.

“It’s like everything is alive!” I tell him. “And that’s what’s art for, so that we can describe this shimmer of energy that animates it all!”

I tell him about the rainbow and the geese and the earth opening up and the heavens showering kisses.

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“Was your mother a llama?” he yells. “What kind of doped-up nonsense are you spouting? I guess next you’re going to be painting rainbows and V-shaped geese! What then? Happy kitties? Tragic clowns? Have you lost your edge?”

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He’s lost all respect for me.

“I can’t believe you said that,” I say.

“And you didn’t even dress up. This is a date. Put on some make-up, or something.”

“I don’t wear make-up,” I say.

“I’m thinking of leaving soon,” he says.

“Don’t bother,” I say. “I’m outta here.”

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I take off. I don’t need to be treated like that.

That’s for sure.

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As I ride home, I realize I actually feel sort of glad this happened, in a way. It helps me choose. Now I know not to choose Cid.

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When I get back to the dorm, there’s Shea, raking the maple leaves. Does he feel sad when leaves fall? I can’t wait to ask him and to hear what he has to say, about leaves and autumn and anything, really.

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Whisper 1.5

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Drawing days are so much fun. We sit outside the building and sketch from life. It pours down rain, but aside from Ann (my knee-socked dorm mate), none of us care. We’re too into the drawing to mind the wet, even as our notepads get soaked and our pencils rip holes in the paper.

Derek sits as far away from me as possible, so I take that as a sign to pay attention to my work, and not to him.

You never know. Maybe he’s sitting behind you so he can draw you!

After class, I call Cid to see if he wants to catch a film with me. I hear there’s a neat independent film showing.

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We’re talking, then I notice a guy performing magic tricks for tips. He’s making pigeons disappear and flames turn into roses. I head over to watch, but then Cid comes storming towards me, looking very angry, like he’s going to yell at me. Is he mad because I left our conversation to watch the magician?

I want to break that pattern that’s happened with Chauncey and Derek, so I deflect.

“Let’s head in to get good seats!”

Half-way through the movie, Cid mutters something about “worst time ever” and he leaves the theater.

I stay to watch the rest of the film. I’m so engrossed in it that I hardly even register that Cid left.

When I step out of theater after the movie’s over, though, it hits me. I’ve been ditched.

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I feel like I lost a friend. This makes the third guy who became my friend quick, started to become something else, and then rejected me. Bummer. I think I’ll just forget about guys for a while.

It’s OK. Being alone is pretty neat.

While I ride home, I think about the film, “Corduroy Glasses.”

I’m not sure what the film signified. I think it has something to do with perceiving reality through a warped world view, so what one perceives isn’t really reality–whatever that is–but one’s culturally defined perceptions.

I think about taking off my corduroy glasses. Isn’t that what college is all about? To learn what is one’s culture, what others’ cultures are, how our cultures inform our world views, and then to begin to make conscious choices about what we might want to discard and what we might want to preserve of our own cultural heritage, precepts, and constructs?

God! I am so excited to be here! No wonder I always wanted to come to college! Who needs guys when we can take off our glasses and look at the world, as if for the first time?

Yay, independence!

There you go!

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When I get home, Derek calls and invites me to a party. What? I thought Derek hated me.

Cid lives in Derek’s dorm, so maybe I’ll see him there, and I’ll be able to talk with him, and we can re-establish our friendship. I bet he wouldn’t think “Corduroy Glasses” was such a dopey film if he knew what it meant.

What happened to “Yay, independence?”

Cid is streaking through the quad, yelling at the top of his lungs.

I realize that know may not be the best time to talk with him about culturally constructed world views.

Inside, I notice a cute guy with long dark hair. Oh. It’s Anoki Moon. I’ve heard of him. I feel an instant connection to him, like maybe I’ve known him in another life.

He’s surrounded by girls.

Are the corduroy glasses on or off right now?

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When the women head over to the keg, I approach.

“I feel sirens going off,” I tell him, “but I’m not heeding any warnings.”

“You’re Cathy!” he says. “I heard about you. Derek and Cid don’t stop talking about you.”

And I feel all kinds of awkward.

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Anoki and I begin bonding over our shared vegetarianism. He tells me he’ll get me a great recipe for veggie burgers that he has up in his room. Before he does, the two women come back from the keg. One of them looks really mad.

“Burgers!” She yells at Anoki. “Not bloody salad! You should be eating burgers, fool!”

“OK, so first of all,” Anoki says,”I would never eat bloody salad. And second of all, where do you get off deciding who can be vegetarian and who can’t? It’s my body.”

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It’s time for me to go, anyway.

Just once, I’d like to have a peaceful, friendly conversation with somebody, where nobody gets mad, nobody gets insulted, nobody gets offended, and we all find common ground and appreciate each other.

That’s a great goal. Don’t lose it!

So far, all I’ve encountered has been conflict. I’m kinda into peace. I’m hoping to create a peaceful world. And I thought that a lot of people my generation agreed with me. But how are we supposed to create peace when we fight with each other? We need new sets of corduroy glasses.

I get home and just as I’m getting ready for bed, I notice some strange lights outside.

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Holy uh-oh!

I feel my corduroy glasses being ripped off my head!

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Next thing I know, I’m standing out back of the dorm, with a weird feeling in my head and all these strange sensations in every orifice. Ugh. What happened?

Relax. Breathe. You’ll be OK. Once you truly succeed in escaping your culturally constructed world view, your memories of these events will return. Until then, just know that you are home now, and you are safe.

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In the distance, I see a figure riding away on a bicycle.

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I guess life still feels random to me.

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