I can't seem to shock my parents. I have to admit that they've pretty much seen it all with me, and what they didn't see they heard about long after my adolescence had faded. Perhaps after the whole coming out thing there wasn't that much more about me that could surprise them.
But still, you'd think coming home late a little drunk and with a head shaved completely bald would stir some sort of parental tsk-tsking. After all, now I look exactly like the kind of thug you see quite regularly on British sitcoms and soap operas. But no. My father simply said "oh" and continued his back-stretching exercises. My mother had a slightly more involved reaction: she laughed at the fact that my face is brown and my head is white and that there is a very sharp line between the two colours and told me it looked as if I were wearing a tight costume from a bad sci-fi movie. No hysterics. No pleading to know why I had marred my beauty in such a fashion. Doing not so daring things when you're 34 is boring.
Come to think of it, when I was a teenager my parents always seemed more concerned with things like my grades, like whether I had practised my viola (it's like a bigger, better, deeper violin) that day, like why my sister was stomping around the house giving everyone a very loud silent treatment ("I dunno what her problem is. I didn't say anything to her. Really. I didn't . . . ") and so forth. The length, colour, consistency of my hair, the music I listened to, the clothes I wore were never gigantic emotional issues for them. My mother even went with me to thrift stores to help me pick out everything black they had for tall, skinny art fags (still deep in the closet). Where was the fun and the shock in that? I had to find my angst elsewhere, something I managed to do quite well.
The whole head-shaving activity was inspired by my friend The Lizard Queen, whom I've known literally since I was only a few weeks old. She asked, admiring my simple buzz cut, if I had ever shaved my head completely bald. Nope. Wanna try? Ok. Ten minutes later I was bald, slightly drunk, and running my hands over my head in satisfaction and disbelief.
This kind of "let's see what happens if we" attitude had always fuelled our activities with varying, though always entertaining, results. Inspired perhaps by the blue milk from "Star Wars", we decided to see what would happen if we tried various hues of food colouring in our own milk. What happened is that our milk eventually turned black and was really gross to drink (although it tasted fine) and that our poo was bright green for the next few days. That, as you can imagine, fuelled conversations for years afterwards.
When we got older "let's see what happens if" also caused us to things like smoke a lot of pot before and during really scary movies? Result: we both had to sleep in the living room because there were quite obviously zombies and possessed children in our bedroom). What will happen if we live together and work together and also live with The Lizard Queen's boyfriend at the time, who also, by the way, worked with us (ah, stupid youth!)? Result: fun that quickly changed to anxiety, pain, duplicitousness, several threats to quit/move out, the beating of breasts and the slamming of doors, many statements beginning with the words "I will never again", war, anarchy, the end of romance, the end of that job for The Lizard Queen, the almost complete destruction of our lifelong friendship. Ugh. What will happen if we invite two feuding former best friends to our party without telling each one? Result: a few snippy comments, but not the Alexis-Crystal Dynasty bitch-slap fest we'd hoped for. A fun party was the real result. But then again, all our parties were fun.
This "let's see what happens if" attitude had sustained me throughout my life. Let's see what happens if I move to Montreal and live with a Francophone who doesn't speak a word of English. Result: I now speak French so well I'm told I have little accent, if any at all. What will happen after graduation from university if I decide not to go to grad school after all? Result: the balance of the universe remained unshifted. What will happen if I quit my high-paying job and try to become a professional writer? Result: utter poverty, complete joy.
The Lizard Queen is now a married homeowner with a job and everything and she is still very much the Lizard Queen. And I am still very much me despite my frequent swings back and forth from respectability to dreamy and artsy. She is my oldest friend who had never done me wrong (except maybe a little during the war alluded to above, but there was a lot of wrong being done by all sides). Despite the lack of frequent contact some things never change. My head is bald and I am happy to be from this city with its hundred-foot high elm trees, architectural nightmares right next to beautiful turn-of-the-(last)-century buildings, totally funky little cafes in strip malls, and old friends, even if I only visit every couple of years.
Black Milk and Green Poo
September 20, 2004
posted by GreyGuy on 20.9.04 | Permalink |
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