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06.21.03 2:16 a.m.

An inamorato is somebody in love. That's the worst addiction of all.

 -Thomas Pynchon  

Previously in Xenology: Conor and Bard are a bit like a duck and oil.

I Do Bad Things
Ghetto Superstar  
Ghetto fabulous!
Recently, sitting in my bed with Emily and lavishing her with kisses, I cooed, "I want to worship your breasts and idolize your lips and dive into your eyes."
She smiled at me wistfully and responded, "What did I do you deserve you?"
"Many bad things."

I had my interview with Mount Saint Mary a few weeks ago. Rightly, I had scheduled it a month and a half ago, however New Paltz, Dutchess, and Mount Saint Mary were all unable to act sensibly. This resulted in my arriving to campus slightly early, bereft of jewelry, and in uncomfortable shoes only to be told that none of my transcripts existed, thus I couldn't be granted an interview with the head of the department. Thus, I could not yet be accepted. They did not deny that they knew this for weeks before the event, they merely did not see their way to calling me and letting me know so I would not waste my time. I know this beast! I thought I had slain him, but Bureaucracy has more lives than a cat.
After deriding New Paltz and Dutchess and making certain that they had sent out my transcripts this time and to the right offices, I got another meeting. I would be meeting with their head nun. I will admit it, nuns scare me. They have this proclivity toward rapping one on the knuckles. I have no personal evidence of this, you understand. I would likely grab the ruler and refuse to be hit without a sound discussion about disciplinary methods in American schools. But I have heard stories and seen scarred fingers as evidence.
Again, I wore clothes too formal for the humidity and brown shoes that will never be properly wore because they pinch the back of my heel. This, however, was the costume required of me. I must pretend I dress with a modicum of decorum on a regular basis to impress the bride of Christ, else she will sic her husband on me.
The head nun was a bit too officious to be called matronly, but she certainly could have been worse. She ordered me to sit as she absently stroked a ruler. I quickly did so, mentally instructing my various appendages to behave as ordered on pain of... my ordering them again, I suppose. This did little good and my shoulders needed a stern glare before they would cease slouching. Feet on floor. Make eye contact, but not too much eye contact. Hands on lap. Good.
"Why do you wish to attend our college?"
Sister Mary
I have girded myself for this question. "Well, ma'am... sister... ma'am... I have grown up in this area and am really attached. The campus is beautiful - " (I have no idea if this is true. Is it a sin to lie to a nun?) " - and graduated from this institution are looked highly upon in the area high schools. Ma'am." I stuttered out, reminding myself to sound confident and composed. I doubted this was quite the image I projected.
"That... that was very nice. But that wasn't what I asked you. Let me rephrase. Why do you want to teach?"
Again, the nun forces me to lie. For the record, I wish to teach because I do not wish to starve. One rather requires the other. What I would like to do is write articles and books. I would like to see the world and distill it for a pubescent who desperately needs my wry interpretation of Nova Scotia or Usa. I want people to have to put down a book I wrote to let a turn of phrase wash over them or read it aloud to a friend because it needs to be shared. No, I do not wish to instruct ill-mannered, barely literate high school freshman on the subtle humor of Hemingway or Nabokov (at least when I am not preparing them for an increasing number of stultifying and largely useless standardized tests). However, this ostensibly is the lot I must accept if I want to write. There are worse fates.
"I want to teach because..." I thought, trying to phrase the answer that was most honest and still flattering to an antiquarian educator, "because I have had some excellent teachers and I am quite literally in their debt. I would not be who I am now if it weren't for teachers that have made me a passionate lifetime learner. And maybe I can convince some inspired kid that he owes the world a debt too." I omitted the part where the secondary school teachers that inspired me can by counted on the paw of a sloth and with almost as much zeal. Or the fact that the teachers who kept me reading and learning were not always English teachers. Vonnegut once said - and excuse the paraphrase, Kurt - that one seeking brilliant writers should look everywhere but in the English department.
She mulled over my answer and, after tracing the ridges between 3 ╝" and 9 3/8", deemed it acceptable. She pulled out copies of my transcripts and started scribbling away on a cerulean leaf of paper and mumbling. I patiently waited.
"Oh, yes. These are your classes. You are starting when?"
"The fall. If possible. Ma'am."
She smirked, "Oh, yes. Good. Here is your schedule. Bring it over to admissions. Good day."
I shook her hand and stood up. As I left her office, I processed this turn of events. Did I just get accepted? I scanned and decided that it did seem likely. One doesn't just hand longhaired boys bits of paper willy-nilly. That wouldn't be any good for the economy.
I guess I am getting my Master's degree.

Emily and I attended a friend's wedding a few weekends ago. We were a bit concerned as to what was sartorially expected of us as it was a Pagan wedding. We both shared the fear that it would be skyclad (naked, for you non-heathens). This would rather preclude our attendance.
Emily arrived at my home, a vision of loveliness. Then again, I always think so if she has graced me presence in something other than workout clothes. I had just awoken from a dream about hunting ghosts in New Paltz. M was a bit frustrated as this meant that I had not selected my garments for these nuptials. She darted through my considerable collection of shirts, selecting a black one that shone silver and black pants.
"There, that looks nicer than what you would wear to work."
I pulled down at my shirt to stretch the wrinkles and demurred, "Actually, I have worn this precise outfit to work and was complimented on my 'nice blouse.'"
The wedding was being held just within the bounds of Cold Spring at Inn Credible Caterers. Yes, I know. The name is cheesy. I didn't make it up.
We entered and stayed as close as was allowed by the laws of physics. The room was bereft of familiar souls as yet, so we occupied ourselves looking over the guest cards held in tiny chalices. The names, while largely as unfamiliar as the company surrounding us, lacked any trace of disagreeable parties who feel it is both prudent and mature to accuse perfectly civil boys called Xen of crimes that would be rejected from the sketchpad of Poppy Z. Brite for ridiculousness.
In perusing the seating assignments for the reception, I noted with apprehension that we were ostensibly seating as the kiddy table. Emily pronounced this an honor, as it meant we were sitting with the bride's darling daughter. I was more concerned that the mean age of our table would be 11.
While I was checking to see if I had brought my camera, the bride's mother approached Emily. "Is that your fiancÚ?"
Emily looked stunned and checked to make sure this stranger had indeed directed this question her way. "Er... no. Not yet. He's my boyfriend."
She seemed disappointed and touched Emily's shoulder conspiratorially, "Do you want me to drop some hints?"
Emily, I suppose, did not feel this was necessary from a complete stranger.
The ceremony was remarkable in that they formed it in a code. Persons of a Pagan orientation would know instantly that this was a Pagan wedding (in case we, having been deemed goodly enough to be invited, did not know the bride and groom were heathens) but it would seems like a perfectly pleasant generic wedding to all others. Also, the bride and groom incorporated the bride's young daughter into the wedding ceremony. As this girl has grown to see the groom as a father, I found this so touching. No, really, Emily and I weren't crying when the groom put a ring on the daughter's finger... We just got some glitter in our eyes.
happier times  
The happy family
During the reception, they engaged in the custom of tossing the bouquet. Emily stood up but, as she has had bad bouquet catching experiences in the past, made absolutely no effort to try to catch the flowers. In fact, she made a concerted and conspicuous effort to avoid this "honor" (it should be noted, I initially wrote "horror"). The officiant's fifteen-year-old daughter was the lucky recipient and peered around confused when told to wait patiently in the chair.
The moment I saw her get seated, I knew what parallel custom was coming forthwith and what would follow. I mumbled that I should better head to the bathroom now but the groom darted and brought me onto the dance floor despite my assurances that it was really quite okay if someone else had the pleasure. I see the bride's mother got to him too. The garter was removed from the bride and tossed to the group of males and me. It landed five feet away from us with a "chssshthpt." None of us made the slightest effort to walk toward it. The groom whispered to the DJ who kicked it at me and, when it stopped several feet to my left, pronounced me the winner. I narrowed my eyes and screamed, "YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS, YOU BASTARDS! OH, HOW YOU'LL PAY!!!" Or maybe I just narrowed my eyes and smirked, acknowledging the conspiracy. I was flustered, it's hard to remember accurately.
Women surrounding the seated girl held her shoulders firmly enough to assure her that there would be no escape, though she did not know from what she was escaping. I mouthed apologies to her as I knelt. The women held her more tightly. I inched the garter midway up her calf and stopped once I knew it would stay. Her mother later thanked me for having been a gentleman about it, though I would hardly act differently considering that the fifteen-year-old girl's Santerian priestess mother was standing a yard from me.
Any wedding you can walk away from is a good wedding.

Soon in Xenology: More weddings. Invisibles. Parties. Nationals. Witchcraft. Mantras. Conor. Scarification.

last watched: Kiki's Delivery Service
reading: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
listening: Leonard Cohen
wanting: Bryan to be more reasonable and not cause a large rift over his attachment to... whatever it is to which he is attached.
interesting thought: I finally have enough material and slaves.
moment of zen: finding my mantra.
someday I must: Hug Tina.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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