I’d asked to be seated in the back, to protect my inevitable translucence.
They sat me between Architecture, Art, and a little old woman who seemed part bag lady and part rebel. I’m not sure if I was surprised by her age, appearance, the fact that she’d enrolled in the class, or all of the above.
I was tempted to introduce myself, but her hair was hidden beneath a dark brown silk scarf, and she was wearing leather gloves, the kind worn by those driving motorcycles with someone straddled behind and wrapped around their waist. Something about her spirit seemed divided as if part of her existed deep in the mountains.
She wasn’t translucent like me but still sat in the back, shrouded in ageless gear. I decided not to introduce myself because I didn’t feel an introduction would meet her wherever she was.
Instead, I busied myself perusing cd’s at a nearby table, silently singing 100 of the most popular silly kid songs, and wondering why Yankee Doodle called his hat macaroni, or whether I’d forgotten the lyrics. It led me to think about refrains, then refried beans and trains, and whether any had them on the menu as an appetizer. My stomach growled loudly, and the old lady looked up from her book as if I’d burped in her face.
Closing it with a look of disapproval, I was able to see the title but unable to hide the surprise on my face. It was a book about the top fifty sex positions, and my surprise wasn’t because of what she was reading. It was because I didn’t know there was a top fifty, and it sent my thoughts into so many directions that the silly kid songs turned into dress up and foreplay music in my head.
“I’ve got to get that book,” I thought to myself as the instructor walked into class.
It was day one in a class about how to own one’s sexuality, one of the few I’d found that didn’t involve outright orgy sessions. I felt extremely sexual within, but it was so repressed and restrained that I thought being in an environment open to discussing sex as both nature and art might offer relief, and give me ideas to practice someday. When he walked in, I questioned my thought process and not for the first time.
I try not to have expectations about appearance, but the instructor was so outlandish in dress that I was caught off guard with an apparent pre-conceived notion of thinking someone Mr. Belvedere-like was going to be teaching.
He introduced himself as Professor Motherless, and though responding in laughter released some of the nervous tension in the room, he didn’t break character or crack a smile. He was wearing board shorts, flip flops, an ugly Christmas sweater, a glittering tiara, and a perfectly coiffed handlebar mustache. His energy was wrapped in that ageless womb we sometimes come across in those so alive to the present that their age truly disappears. He had everyone’s undivided attention.
When the shock, awe, and laughter of him died down, he walked over to the whiteboard in the middle of the room, next to a projector. He said he needed a volunteer that was willing to allow the shadow of their profile to be projected to the class with the lights off.
No one raised their hand.
The room was silent, and if they were like me, they were pretending to be air, so as not to be seen and volunteered for his odd request. He began walking between the aisles, as if on a meditation trail through a Japanese garden, not saying a word, and looking out on us in seeming admiration as if we were bonsai trees resurrected from the ruins of an ancient society.
“What an interesting path to his secret syllabus,” I thought.
When he got to the back of the room, panic set in as I considered blowing air through my mouth to pretend I was the wind. He stopped next to me, and I turned into a statue mime, specifically “The Thinking Woman’. In my peripheral, I saw him pick up the book on the old woman’s desk, before asking her softly if she’d volunteer.
She answered him in Spanish, and he replied in her language. Desperate not to blink or look their way, I tried to focus on what sex position #50 was in her book, and all I came up with were feet in unexpected places.
There was a rustling as the class turned to stare when she stood up, removing the scarf from her head and the gloves from her hands.
As everyone gasped, my acting was shattered as I too turned to look and react like them, also gasping at what I saw.
Such experience is purposed placement that arises from Love.
There exists in many, most, or maybe all, a need or call to blend into its various atmospheres, however unknown, unaccepted, or unappreciated.
I learned very young, that to some, Love is an act that only breaks character after a cheap 6-pack of beer, and that to discover the difference between a play and reality, one must become Professor Motherless or Fatherless.
We must find our unique expression, such that wearing it among the hallowed grounds of conformity causes no disturbance to inner peace.
We must be willing to learn the languages of our ancestors, such that we can speak it, and in courage allow the revealing of their falseness, that we might find greater freedom in our truth.
It is not always in modesty that we cover our heads, nor is it always in protection from the elements that we wear gloves. They are sometimes costumes to accommodate perceived acts of shame; where hidden are thoughts others reject and hands others refuse to give warmth to through holding.
Sex doesn’t lie. It is part of our purity, and one of the most truthful things we can share with another.
The old woman is as pure in her needs as the youthful. She becomes a co-instructor through her willingness to remove facets of judgment lost in the translation of her unique language.
Baring oneself might cause others to gasp, not at what they see in us, but at what our nakedness reveals to them about themselves.