i bought a new book, ostensibly for fun!
I have a stack of thirty or so books that I want to read before September rolls around, but yesterday I heard about a new book, bought it, and it's moved to the top of the reading list (in fact, I've started reading already). It's by a fellow that I knew in college, a billion years ago.
You know those alumnae/i magazines that follow you around to every new address regardless of the fact that you've never given one red cent to the school after graduation? For some unknown reason, I read mine cover to cover. It's kind of like watching a train wreck: you don't want to look, but you do. I can count on one hand the number of schoolchums I wonder about, two hands if you count faculty. But the other day, the most recent issue offered an update on someone of interest to me. Amazing!
I went to a small (less than 900 students at the time) conservative women's college in Virginia. It was my only option at the time, because I sure wasn't staying in high school. The school has a unique set of programs which include the program I was in as well as an adult degree program and a few others having to do with leadership and the military. So, although it's a women's college, there were probably fifty or so men taking classes when I was there. The person I read about in the alumnae/i magazine was one of those guys. He was also the absolute antithesis of everyone else in the college (being a boy helped with that) and as such, I loved running into him on campus. We only had six main buildings so running into people wasn't that difficult.
This fellow, Dustin Wells, spun a great tale about how he got there: he was from PA (homeboy!) and been in engineering school in the northeast and that didn't work out (he was an English major at my school), he went to a mediocre school in PA and that didn't work out (the reasons were specific and wild, and I have no idea if they were true), so he hopped on his motorcycle and headed to Mexico when his tire blew out in my college town so he just stayed. No idea if that was true. He got a job working in the physical plant at the college, working at night and using his tuition break to take classes during the day. I heard he lived in a shithole little basement somewhere, had no shower, and used the facilities in the gym. I never saw him eat anything, and I heard that he drank like a fish. No idea if any of that was true.
What I did know was true: he was the smartest person on that entire campus. He wrote beautiful papers, was the only other person who read the dribs and drabs of literary criticism that our little library offered, could talk for hours about just about anything intellectual. He dressed like James Dean and had skater boy hair, listened to the Cure and Siouxsie, and I swear to god if he hadn't been on campus I would have gone insane. Not that we were actually friends. We weren't. We were just sit-and-talk-before-class buddies.
We had some classes together, and I always sat in the back and never said a word while he always sat in the front and engaged the professor in discussion and asked pertinent questions and I nodded in agreement. The I'm-here-for-my-Mrs-degree Bitsies and Mitsies hated him, whispered (loudly) to each other everytime he'd speak, and generally made me want to smack them (hard) for the entire class period. See, Dustin was smarter than they were, and had no money. That rocked their world. He was a better person than they were, was more tolerant of others than they'd ever dream of being, and he had the worst stutter I have ever heard—all the major consonants. It would take him a very long time to get out what he wanted to say, and these people were assholes to him. I hated them for it. He acted as if they didn't exist, and went along his merry way. I learned a lot from him.
So yesterday I read that he wrote a book. He actually lives out here, in San Francisco, and is involved in the graduate program in Writing and Consciousness at New College of California. His book is called Cappuccino Cowboy. I'll write more about it when I finish it, but I'm chuckling so far—if for no other reason than the appearance of a sushi bar with a club downstairs called...wait for it...Tokyo Blue. Dustin, my friend, just call it Tokyo Rose. It's ok.
[Tokyo Rose is the name of a sushi bar with a club downstairs, in Charlottesville VA, and was a refuge of sorts for the few cool people who went to my college; the 45 minute drive was well worth it. I realize there are only two people who read my blog who would find this at all amusing. Go with it—it's funny.]
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