Monday, 4/30

I meant what I said: I am going back to prose in the morning.

But once, when I was twenty-years old and living in New York, I went on a rant against Starbucks to this person I was trying to impress. The P.I.W.T.T.I. said that I seemed a “wee bit inauthentic”: that was his exact phrase; it stung so stupidly that sometimes I still wake up in a panic over it, over this person.

The worst part was that this person was right, of course.

I’d like to think that I’ve since grown into a much more sincere figure; that I left New York and its influences at the right time. That I love Starbucks and can say I love Starbucks because they are all the same, everywhere, which is what I need, having traveled around a lot since New York; so that each Starbucks-the-same feels like a home. (Andy Warhol would have approved.) That I have friends who are understanding; who understand who they are. Who think better of me than I do myself, even, at times; at just the right times. I’d like to think that to my students I am who I am, too. One high school student of mine said, upon graduating and to another teacher, “He always treated us like equals.” I’m sure some administrators would consider that a criticism, but I thought it a great compliment. And, Amy, do you remember what you said about me in your graduation speech that year before I left for London? You said, “Richard Arlington R––, who always told us to just be ourselves.” I still cry about that sometimes, because the principal, he yelled at me that day I wore Chuck Taylors to school, saying it wasn’t professional. But I was just being myself. And you knew that. And all we have in the end, I sometimes think, are our connections to other people, like Forster said. I don’t know that I need much more than that.

Although I used to want better teeth.

Derrida Goes to the Dentist

When I was 17, the dentist said,
“I can put something
behind your front teeth
that will close up that gap.”
I thanked him, but
said I wasn’t ready.

At 24, I made an appointment
with a cosmetic specialist
in Paramus. I went in
and was ambushed by
dayglow smiles; all I remember
are those freaky beams, Alice.
That doctor said, “We’ll fit
two porcelain veneers that will
last twenty years.” I
took the literature and left.

That night I stared at myself
in the mirror, trying to imagine
it. I fashioned a small strip of
paper to cast over my mouth’s
lacuna. Then I stashed away
the pricing plan and
never went back for a follow-up,
fearing, What if that’s how
I’ve learned to
breathe; what if I
couldn’t, not after that.

The next year, before
I left for London,
a student said, “Don’t go there
(don’t leave us).
They have bad teeth
over there. (Why are you
leaving us for a land
of people with bad teeth?)”

I am going back to
my homeland;
will everyone
have teeth like me?

I don’t know if they
did. But I know that
I learned what it meant to be
to just be happy with this lost, lusty
countenance. To have it


be enough.

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1 Response to Monday, 4/30

  1. rachalina says:

    I wish I could triple like this.

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