Tuesday, April 3


He was a high school senior, alternating between vociferous and pensive, always memorable, always utterly annoying. After graduation, we all remembered him as the first flaming queer we ever knew at close quarters.

No one remembered Jenny. She had braces, thick glasses, anemic blonde hair, and was skinnier than a hard winter's coyote. As a freshman, she lived in the long surreal shadow cast by her flamboyant brother.

I was a lead in the band's brass section, a lead in the theatre group, a lead in the Honor Society. I was surrounded by likewise superior youths. We were aware of our priveleged position, but did not thrust it at others. We just knew we were the cream of the crop. The stoners hung out near auto shop. The gangers hung out in the parking lot. The other ne'er do wells hung out in their respective spots of choice. But we went everywhere. We were sometimes reviled, sometimes exalted, sometimes ignored, but we never stayed still, never feared to break barriers, never apologized for our talents, smarts, or abilities. We knew that high school was temporary, but character was forever. There were hangers-on in our elite circle of artistic intelligentsia. We accepted them all. Jenny was one.

I think she played clarinet, somewhere in the bottom third of a line of twenty or so. She was a good student, as I recall. I do have a clear picture of her huddled within her jacket, no matter the season, sitting at the end of the bench, or two seats ahead on the bus. She was quick to laugh at our jokes. She listened, attentive to our philosophical discussions. At parties, she agreed with our taste in music, movies, culture.

Somehow, I don't remember her brother's name. But I remember Jenny.

Years after high school, I saw her. She was making a business call at the television station where I worked. I was stunned.

Jenny was beautiful. Her teeth flashed a brilliant smile. Her face was intelligent, sans glasses, and burned with curiosity. Her hair was a cascade of luxurious sex. She was tall. Her figure was the envy of Hollywood starlets.

But she carried herself a little crouched, as if still huddling her blossoming womanhood in her jacket, unsure if her presence was worthy of those around her. Her words were assured, but her countenance timid. Jenny the woman had grown, but Jenny the girl still haunted her eyes.

I was filled with uncomfortable questions.

What is our Jenny?

Who made her?

Are we responsible?


tiff said...

I see you're coming up with your own topics now.

To the questions - We are who we are and no amount of willpower or training can get us completely beyond what remains at the core of our identities. Jenny made herself. You may have helped. Thousands of others may have too. Nobody raises themselves, in other words.

I have a feeling her brother had something to do with it too....

rennratt said...

At the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for who we become.

As Richard Bach once wrote:

Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there.

What you choose to do with them is up to you.

- from "Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"


If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it.
If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim.

- from "Running From Safety"

Sorry. I'll stop now.

KOM said...

I disagree with the comments above. We had a friend in highschool that we nicknamed "The Doktor."

We could get into the ins and outs, but he essentially became his identity. I've spent hours or weeks of my life going over this... we created the Doktor.

College kicked the handle, but he is still in many ways the object that we "wished" into existence.

I guess the only question is whether we created the Doktor, or simply recognized him. To me, knowing him, it sounds redundant.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if Jenny maintained the timid countenance, the haunting eyes when she was around others. Perhaps it only surfaces when she encounters people from that difficult, awkward time.

Incredible post. Really.