Friday, February 20, 2009
Desmond writes the line down in his notebook, scribbling quickly before he loses the wording:
Adolescence is the furnace in which the great themes of our lives are forged.
He looks back up at the kid who said it, silent now, then up to the head of the table where Mr. Isaacs purses his lips.
"Interesting quote, Richie. Who said that?"
"I did. I mean, I didn't say it, I wrote it down a while ago. But it is mine."
Mr. Isaacs arches his eyebrows. "Well, I'm certainly impressed that you didn't mix your metaphors, but I do have to question the validity of your statement."
The kid, Richie, folds his arms, leather jacket creaking. "Why?"
"Well, to begin with, the experiences of a sixteen-year-old boy and the thirty or forty-year-old man he will become are, by definition, vastly different. The great themes of a man or woman's life change as the circumstances of that person's life change: who they love, if they marry, if they have children, what they do for a living...where they choose to live." Isaacs pauses. "The great themes of a person's life have to change after adolescence or that person will end up - again, by definition - completely mired in the past."
Richie leans forward, places his hands palms-down on the table. "I don't mean that, like, all of their concerns or beliefs stay the same - you're right, that would be crazy. I mean the stuff they deep-down care about, what's most important to them - what they think is right, what they think is totally fucked, what makes them feel, you know, passion."
A couple of chuckles around the table at the word "passion". Richie scowls, gestures to Mr. Isaacs. "You know what I mean."
"Yes, Richie, I do. And I admire your passion." He casts a glance around the table at the other boys in his class, who now remain silent. "But I think that the evolution of those passions over the course of a life into...more reasonable modes of expression...is what separates an adult from an arrested adolescent."
Richie sits back. "So you don't think that...the truer we stay to the stuff we believe now at sixteen, or fifteen, or whatever is...the more we stay fully alive?"
A smile slowly breaks across Mr. Isaacs' face. "No. Not at all. This may be," he tilts his head, "something that...can only be learned by experience."
Richie, under his breath: "Maybe."
Mr. Isaacs checks his watch. "And that's probably as good a place as any to stop. Chapters four and five for tomorrow, gentlemen." A wave of groaning protest engulfs the table. Mr. Isaacs' previous calm, easygoing demeanor immediately disappears. "Look, you little weasels, stop bitching or I'll throw in chapter six!" Silence follows. "Okay, then."
As they pack up their books, Richie casts a glance over at Desmond pulling on his pea coat. "Nice shirt."
Desmond looks up at Richie, surprised, then down at this shirt, then back at Richie. "Oh, uh, thanks."
"I didn't think anyone at this school would know about Robert Williams."
Desmond finishes putting his pea coat on. "Um, who's Robert Williams?"
Richie looks at him, taken aback. "The guy who drew the picture that's on your shirt, dumb-ass."
Desmond shrugs, drops his gaze. "I just got it 'cause Ben from Kill Taker wears one on their website."
Richie whistles sadly through his teeth. "That band sucks." He pulls his backpack over one shoulder. "Do an image search on your shirt tonight and find out about Williams. He's awesome." Richie swaggers out, big black boots thudding across the hardwood floor as Desmond quietly murmurs to himself, "Sure."
Posted by Jason Gusmann