Thomm Quackenbush, author

05.07.05 9:20 p.m.

Friendship is... the sort of love one can imagine between angels.  

-C.S. Lewis

 



Previously in Xenology: Xen got on well with few.

Beltane

"I see the goddess in you in the juxtaposition of your Shiva's tears mala and your candy necklace," I said, restraining a smile to no effect. Everyone else in the circle had chosen poetic or more religious. However, I do see the divine in Emily through her as a composite, the blushing ninja, the Shirley Temple emu wrestler, the scientific heathen. The man who had spoken to me in the ritual saw the divine in me only in that I was a stranger and was there. That, he stated, was good enough for him.
Beltane Altar  
Even the goddess likes candy necklaces

My comment got a laugh, though this wasn't wholly my intent as I stated. The ritual for Beltane, a ritual traditionally rife with the sensuality of the return of spring, had been planned laboriously and was summarily abandoned on account of rain. This was not a problem for me, as the idea of strangers chasing me around and trying to kiss me made me wish I had invested in a better pair of shoes and a plate of garlic pasta. Just standing in a circle, drinking and spilling juice (the gods preferring their libation diluted with rainwater and mixed with freshly cut grass), and telling one another how we see the divine in them was a pleasure. There had been a maypole, as Beltane rituals demand them, but it featured small children racing to complete it and a high priest smacking us on the ass to hurry up near the end so it was more a festive than religious symbol.

After the ritual, Emily and I crowded back into her friend Christine's house where the food was steadily growing warm or cold, depending inversely on how we would prefer the items to have been. "When do you see the divine in me?" I asked Emily as she sat on my lap, though not through a lack of available seating. The flow of comments went only one way and thus I was only graced for being a divine stranger.

Emily bit her lip and thought, "I see the divine in you when you are a social butterfly and talk to people you don't really know."

"But I do that all the time." I did not add that I do it mostly to amuse myself.

"You do not. Your mother told me the other day that you haven't changed since you were a little kid. You like who you like and hate everybody else."

I furrowed my brow at this accusation. "I don't hate people, for the most part, but there are people I instantly prefer. You, for example. And my good friend Monique," I added, motioning to the tea colored thirteen-year-old to my left. I looked at Dives Dives, the serenely smiling songstress with the teak colored hair and do not say anything. That I preferred Dives Dives to people who aren't Dives Dives seemed unspoken. Dives Dives was, unfortunately, an excellent example of what Emily was claiming. In the car on the way to the ritual, M had informed me that Dives Dives was the first girl in a good long while that Emily considered attractive. As I like to know my competition, I immediately had scanned the gathered throng of thirty Pagans. While there were attractive people, I honed in on the girl who was all skirts and smiles. It was hard not to take to her.
Dives Dives and Emily  
This picture is sexy. Really.

I do not mind that Emily tells me when there is a girl she finds attractive. Primarily, this is because I know that Emily is not going anywhere. I have such innate trust in her that I would honestly think she would become a nun long before she felt it necessary to cheat on me. However, I also acknowledge that Emily the firm monogamist is far more interested in girls than boys. I am a genderless entity that just happens to have boy parts, so I slipped under her radar. To deny that she is attracted to girls, particularly when they are as sweetly charismatic as Dives Dives, would be to deny an aspect of whom she is.

"Everyone else just makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable," I protested to Emily's argument. Earlier in the evening, Emily had begun a conversation with one of her grove mates and, as the woman was just getting warmed up, left to get something to drink and became sidetracked for tens of minutes. There I sat next to a pleasant but off-putting middle aged woman who scolded me against washing my hair daily and tried to talk to me about Stephen King books, based upon the fact that I am reading Carrie. When she got a call from her husband, I disappeared into the house to abate my anxiety with salty food. Still, I held my own until escape was polite.

"And that you'd kick people," Emily added to her teasing list of crimes against my childhood form.

"I did not kick people ever; I bit them."

"You bit them?" confirmed Dives Dives with a smirk and a half-laugh. She has a voice that always seems like it is about to tell you a punch line. I can only imagine how she sings.

"Yes. It wasn't always a weapon. Largely it was a greeting. However, once I figured out that biting was an effective weapon, it was what I did when confronted. I've had to stop that, though. Adult teeth," I explained, pointing to my mouth. Dives Dives outright laughed at this and at Emily pleased expression that she had won this little tête-à-tête.

Permanent Temp

I was just offered a job at the middle school at which I am placed for the next three days. I will be the permanent sub for the library media specialist until they can find a new one over the summer. So it is roughly a job for the next six weeks. This is a boon to my checking account though it does complicate my plan to attend FreeSpirit, a week long Pagan festival Emily and I were going to attend together.

The interview, if it can be so called, was brief and officious. I had been seeking out an interview from the principal for days, but he was either out of his office or unavailable. So I waited. His demeanor seemed better honed for disciplining unruly twelve-year-olds or perhaps I was just uncomfortable with the mere idea of a middle school principal. (Don't get me wrong. With rare exceptions, I was only called to the principal's office during my academic career to be offered praise or special programs.) He asked if I wanted the job. I was so enthusiastic, I interrupted him to assure him that this was certainly the case. He said, pending talking with my current supervising teacher, the job was mine. Then I was dismissed. As he had been busy that week informing teachers that he was sending them to other schools or not continuing their contracts, I didn't wish to take up any more time than I had to.

The offer was not originally mine. My cousin Phil is currently a sub and was asked if he wanted the position. He did not, as he preferred to float around to different schools as needed. He told this to my mother, who holds an amorphous job at this school too. My mother, hearing only the words "Open Library Job" immediately talked to people to put my name in the running.

I do not quite know what to make of all of this. It is quite nice to spontaneously have a job, though I was looking forward to sleeping in for once. It would be much, much nicer were this a longer lasting position, though it is a good foot in the door for such.

I suppose this is how careers are begun, though I still cannot help but wish my career began by someone offering me a writing job. Nevertheless, Faulkner (though very much my literary superior) did very well abusing his post office position to become more writerly. I think flitting about in a juvenile collection and teaching sixth graders to write research papers is not much worse.

Soon in Xenology: I can see oversized dolls.

last watched: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
reading: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
listening: Wreck of the Day
wanting: If I knew, I'd tell you.
moment of zen: Acquiring a new soul friend.
someday I must: not bite others.

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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