html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: My people.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My people.

My friends in Ultimate have the wrong impression of me. They think I approach strangers with ease; that I’m open and friendly. They’re wrong, though. It isn’t that I like all strangers; it’s that I like all Ultimate players. They’ve consistently shown themselves to be smart and fun and nice and thoughtful, so I assume the next one will be too.

I loved my students. Back when I was a TA, I adored every one of my students. From the instant they registered for class they were mine, and I would get them through with the best grade they could earn. I memorized their names from the roll sheets, so that on the first day of class I already knew them. I was fiercely on their side and they knew it. Some still call or write me.

I’ve never been able to re-tell this story in a way that is interesting, much less funny, but one time Chris was telling us about a film he saw about some fungus. I guess the spores from the fungus grow independently into little free-moving ciliated guys with their own lives until one day when they get inspired. Then they all somehow find each other and coalesce into a bigger fungus that has differentiated parts and reproduces with another coalesced fungus and then both explode, releasing more spores. That story is neat enough, but then one of us said “What if people were like that?”

Like, what if all your limbs and organs lived on their own for a while, then one day decided to come together to be a person? And, what if that kept happening your whole life? And your final shape wasn’t determinate? Like, one day, another of your arms appeared and attached itself? Would you hold parties to celebrate? Or get a quarter under your pillow, like the reverse Tooth Fairy? Chris and I started talking about autoimmune diseases, where your limbs would run away from you. And romantic love stories, where someone with an unusual number of limbs finally met the boy of her dreams who had almost the same number of limbs, but then there were difficulties and they both sigh sadly, but then! One more of her limbs shows up! And now they are perfect together and their parents approve and they look all radiant and beautiful together, holding hands and hands and hands! Or horror movies! Where the bad guys are holding someone’s limbs hostage and the good guy has to break the code to find the room where the leg is futilely trying to kick its way out to get to its person.

Chris and I got going for ten, fifteen minutes on this. We were laughing ‘til tears, cheeks and stomachs aching, sliding down our chairs. There were a couple other people in the room. One woman didn’t think it was funny, but she was enjoying our fun. One woman thought the whole concept was dumb and acted impatient as she waited for us to be done. I would like those women or not on their merits, but we are not like enough to be lifetime friends.

In Pasadena last Friday, I was sitting next to Tom. When he mentioned that he used to work with horses I asked whether he would rather ride a horse or a giant spider. He looked at me for a second, maybe wondering why I would ask a question with such an obvious answer, then said “Giant spider. ‘Cause then I would be riding a giant spider.” And when the whole table stopped to consider how the bridle would work, I knew I was with my people.


Anonymous Becks said...

And romantic love stories, where someone with an unusual number of limbs finally met the boy of her dreams who had almost the same number of limbs...

This reminded me of the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

I should point out that I'm deathly afraid of spiders. But riding a giant spider would just be that cool.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wit penetrates; humor envelops. Wit is a function of verbal intelligence; humor is imagination operating on good nature." - Peggy Noonan

I love humorous flights of fancy. I myself was laughing earlier today about how cultural anthropologists of the future will see Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps".

6:03 PM  
Blogger susan said...

Giant Spider Riders sounds like a band name.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and then there was the King Missle song Detachable Penis.

-Silicon Valley Insomniac

3:28 AM  

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