I used to live with someone who was the most sweetly, fantastically strange human being I've ever known. His name was Michael. He wrote convoluted abstract poetry that wandered all over several sheets of paper, and posted it in bathroom stalls for people to consider. I spent a week of pee breaks debating with myself about a word in one of these poems, which a footnote insisted was in Aramaic street slang but which I eventually decided he absolutely must have made up. I never asked him if he had, because if he was ballsy enough or addled enough to claim to know Aramaic street slang then he would certainly be ballsy enough or addled enough to convince me that he really did know it.
When there was an open mic night in the house, Michael would get drunk on boxed wine and stand up to read his work with a pen held between two fingers like a cigarette. After a few lines he'd have to stop and explain that now the words were starting from the other side of the page, see, okay, now it kind of goes like this, and he'd get distracted and have to take a break to smoke his pen. Once he got so caught up in trying to describe what he was looking at on the piece of paper that I think he actually stopped speaking English. Another house member had to take the paper from him, finish reading it, and lead him back to the couch where he sat and giggled for the rest of the night.
I was thinking of him earlier today, after reading an interview with Morrissey and finding something extremely familiar in the spontaneous self-contradictions and stylish surrealism. I googled Michael's name and didn't come up with much: just a frame from his acting/directing masterpiece, The Sentimental Education of Gustav von Thunderpony, posted without elaboration on a page created by another former housemate. She also posted this out-of-focus snapshot of people cuddling on the house couch, which is what's really captured my attention. I recognize three of the people in the picture straight off the bat and can guess who the fourth might be. I recognize the couch, and the lazy, tangled group hug that could have meant "bedtime" or "soap operas" or "too many margaritas to stand up".
Only now, of course, when I live in a nice quiet house with my one boyfriend and two cats, could I possibly miss living with a shifting cast of 40 drug-obsessed, self-absorbed, perpetually helpless and artistically unhinged layabouts who'd race each other to come up with the next preposterously impractical harebrained idea just to have an excuse to stay on that couch and talk about it instead of getting up and entering the world of school and work and showers and meals. So, now that I'm here and not there, I can tell you: I miss it like hell.Posted by dianna at December 30, 2004 10:22 PM