Archive for October, 2006


October 3, 2006

He decided that he would be a literacy volunteer. He knew there was a literacy program at the gray dragon community center in his old college neighborhood. He knew it because he had been down there in college for a used clothing sale that he had gone on while trying to hit on a girl. And another girl that he knew in college had volunteered there. He always thought that was because of her Catholic upbringing though. Then there was yet another girl he knew in college who had volunteered there. This girl was something of a hipster. He had seen her at his dealer’s house one night when he was there to buy pot. But he had also seen her around campus. One day he had seen her in the campus coffee shop, and she was in her pajamas. She was going on about the little kids that she tutored over at the gray dragon freaking out because she was in her pajamas. They couldn’t believe they were actually her pajamas. “No way! They just look like pajamas. You don’t really sleep in them.” “Yes, I really do sleep in them.”

That was a memory, those pajamas, that if he were still plugging in he could register it, put it in a drawer in his mind, and he would keep taking it out of the drawer to look at it at least once a day until he got a chance to plug in again. That way he could be reasonably sure that it would make its way into the memnoscape. But now it just floated up away into the mists of forgetting.

The next Saturday morning he went down there just to check the place out. He told himself that he could just walk in and sign up, though he knew he was too chickenshit for that. He’s gotta do something, though. He’s got to at least *show up*. Woody Allen said that 90% of life is just showing up. Didn’t he? in Side Effects, maybe?

He did show up at the entrance to the gray dragon at about 10:30. The entrance-way of the stone building, a little foyer, was in shadow, much darker than the bright autumn morning. Outside it was crisp, despite the brief rain from early in the morning. In the lobby it was muggy. And perhaps the clouds, though they were light enough not to make the sky gloomy, can reach inside the building to gloom it up. Steve wandered farther into the lobby. Nobody much was around. There were students around outside, that much he noticed. They were around, like walking around the neighborhood. Not necessarily around like hanging out in the lobby of this building. Or anywhere near the building. A fair amount of them were wearing sweaters. That’s what he noticed.

He inspected the the bulletin boards. Nothing about signing up for literacy volunteering there. There was an office at the end of the little hall there, setting up a little corner, a twist, a little jog to the hall/lobby. And he saw some one eating a lunch or a snack or something in the _back_ of the office. It was at this point that he chickened out. He looked at the bulletin board some more, and then left.

He walked back outside. The only thing assuaging his disappointment and disgust in himself, holding down his self respect, like a barely-large enough stone that holds down a fluttering tarp int eh wind, was his just-right-then formulated plan of calling them up later in the week. He told himself this would be a more official ‘channel’, the channel that he should have gone through in the first place.  As he was telling himself this, running along a parallel track in his mind, which he noticed but refused to acknowledge, was the logic that questioned why the phone would be any more of an official channel. After all, the phone would ring in that very same office, disturbing that very same fat person eating their potato salad out of a tupperware box in a back corner while listening to talk radio.

Later that same week that he dug up from the net the phone number and called them up to ask if they have a volunteer literacy tutor program. The woman who answered tells him that they have enough tutors for the number of students they have now. Registration for their next term is in a month. Depending on how many students sign up, they may need more tutors at that time. He should probably check back then.