Tuesday, November 21, 2006

All About Eve

Not so many years ago, I had a student named Eve who wore a flack jacket to school almost every day filled with spent ammo shells. She carried around plastic grocery bags filled with books, papers, clothes, and God knows what. She'd set her bags down around her each class, forming a barrier between her and the other students and often came in late, apologizing underneath her breath. I couldn't discern Eve's age -- she could have been anywhere between forty and sixty and learned over the course of two semesters that she lived in her van, that their were "people" out to get her, and that she'd taken piano lessons as a young girl from the one person in her life who had been kind to her and gave her what she considered the most fantastic advice of her life: If you don't run, nobody can chase you.

Eve was the kind of student that other students mocked because of her appearance and the weird mumbling monologue that she kept up, even when she was talking to you. She had an oddly deferential quality that kept me a little uncentered -- I couldn't quite square it with the flack jacket and the ammo shells that kept falling down around her. But I had an exceptionally kind creative writing class that treated her well, and I edited her writing (which had its moments). As per her stories, though, she became disenchanted with all of us (her main theme in her work was how people betray her -- I should have been warned that there was no acknowledgment of any of her own complicity in any of these tales). I worried that something had happened to her as this was one of the very few cases in which I was completely befuddled as to what had happened to make her turn away. I saw her one more time, standing by St. Donald's Church, all her bags in hand, waiting for the bus. I felt relieved and sad. Once in class she'd brought in a color picture of an ovarian cyst that she'd printed off the internet. The story we read had dealt with one -- and it was just as described, with teeth and hair, something that had been growing for so long that it had become an intimate, vital part of someone. The woman in the story did not want to part with her cyst and kept it as decoration. It sounds strange, but I assure you, I'd seen stranger things.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"That's what they said Prozac would do for me! I never before could have imagined I could sustain twenty-one kitties in my studio apartment." Stacey Richter, My Date With Satan

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: Home For the Holidays

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Tuesday!


Wichita-Lineman said...

Eve was a very interesting character and I myself often wondered what happened to her. I remember her stories well. One of the most impressive things was how well she read; she has such emotion and enthusiasm. I'll never forget her prompt about her first thanksgiving. The one where she took the bus downtown to buy a goose and how it still had air in it's lungs on the way back and would honk whenever the bus hit a pot hole. She was an interesting character and quite radical at times.

Special said...

Make sure you get some under Grouchie's shirt, Michelle. Brylcreem, a little dab'l do ya.

Anonymous said...

I had a classmate, somewhere in his forties, who wore the same white shirt and black jeans everyday and used a golf club as a walking stick. He always said things like "You wouldn't believe what these homeless ladies carry around in them bags" or "I've spent a night in jail, so I know what it's like." He was, like Eve, totally fascinating, and though I knew very little about him, I am sure he had a fascinating life story. I still often see him sitting at the bus stop, whistling and leaning on his "cane."

Laura said...

Interesting story, Facinating character.

paul said...

Cajun Q Foxy HotLegs
Rock on
O Mighty Isis
R2 C2!

Tim said...

I think that some people are so mistrusting of others, probably because of the way they were raised or a traumaic event in their childhood, that they resort to mannerisms which are odd to everyone else but gives them some sense of security. I've run into a few people like that, some who've seemed like they'd be very likable if you got to know them, but always distanced themselves from people. Eve kind of sounds like that type person.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Eve's the type of student I would've sat by just to keep things interesting. By the way, feel free to write about me any time. Oh, and what ever happened to that long haired dude in our class. I know his dad did some time. I hope he's out there skate boarding and doing his own thing. The dude could write.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle, you are such a kind and observant person, writer, and Catholic girl. It is an honor to read you. Lovely view and post, as always. To you and yours, Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Margaret Atwood- Hairball right? I feel very sad for this lady with the bags and and jacket. I don't know why but I have terrible feelings of sadness whenever I see someone like this...

The Walking Man said...

Eve sounds about right to me, except the short barrell shotgun she had in one of those bags must have had a hell of kick to it. I mean this is Detroit, or near enough in your case where the old saying that emerged after 1967 has become a way of life "It's better to have your shit with you, than to have to go home and get it."

But the truth is what makes her so different than any of the rest of us, except she put the walls around her heart on the outside, barriers people would have to stumble through in order to get to her.
Most of us just are not that honest, we build the barriers wide and tall around ourselves but put them where no one can see them. At least in this case there was no subterfuge it was pure "stay the fuck out of my zone" unlike most of us who it's "Come into my zone so I can fuck you up in one way or another."
Personally The walking man prefers them with some form of mental defect, or at least what "normalcy" would dictate mental defects because at least with them a little patience and kindness will get you to their heart. Not like most people who either have no heart worthy of knowing or have it so covered in protective wrap it would take an act of the Diety to get to it.
Try it and see and before you do try it buy a pack of clean socks because there is nothing more important to them who have nothing but empty shotgunshells and whatever in thier luggage then dry feet.

Cheri said...

I second Jim about the long haired 'dude'.

I had some of my own experiences with people of our class outside of class. A married woman with loads of children using her husband for cash and cheating on him left and right, the Marine with a child exposed to TB with said child and wife living in Mongolia, the sixteen year old girl obsessed with animal/human hybrids having sex when the closest that she'd gotten to sex was HBO.

I'm looking forward to the next class in the winter.

Susan Miller said...

We all know those people, don't we? Those people, like the walking man said, that hide nothing. Every inch of them tells you who they are. I've always admired the courage of people to be who they are no matter how painful it may look to the rest of us. Thank you for sharing your story of her.