31 July 1999


As for an assignment, why not write about a day in your life 10 (or so) years ago? It'd be great if I could make a cameo, but that's not part of the assignment.

Best regards, & love to sis if you see her --


Of the many scenes of histrionics and humiliation to which I have been a party, I remember none so fondly as Vaughn's end-of-freshman-year soirée at Wright Hall on Yale's Old Campus. At many points in my twenty-nine years and two months have I exposed myself as an hysteric, a crybaby, a racist, a sexual predator, and an exhibitionist, but when else have I revealed myself to be all five at once?

The pleasure with which I recall the event contrasts starkly with my first recollection of it, the following morning, staring deeply into the filthy toilet of my deserted Farnam Hall suite, depositing screechy, fiendish and mostly dry roars into a soup of regurgitated vodka and orange juice. Gripping the toilet seat, I tensed every muscle and tried to force out the poison. Every little bit counted, and it was coming out one drop at a time. By noon, I had to be out of the fifth floor suite with all my things including the 800 lb. sofabed my roommates had graciously left behind. Meanwhile I was so nauseous I couldn't think.

But I could remember, and I remembered terrible things. First I had accosted Sam, dragging him into the bedroom and delivering myself of a tearful soliloquoy about our "relationship," how despite his obvious suspicions I never wanted to go to bed with him, how much I had wanted us to be friends, how painful his and Vaughn's and Byron's aloofness had been all year. The part between that and the two of us stripping off most of our clothes and rolling around the common room floor escaped me the next morning. But I did remember overhearing Vaughn's remark to Megan, in his inscrutable monotone, "I've never seen two men together--like that." And Megan, ever jaded, replying dismissively, "Oh, I have."

More information was blacked out between that episode and the next, which involved sitting alone on the common room floor and honoring each of the guests with his or her own personal jeremiad. This activity elicited a mildly horrified interest among the others, as if they were examining an unusually large, wounded roach in the middle of the room.

I moved clockwise. First I upbraided Vaughn for his cool reticence, which I had never failed to take personally.

"You may be from Portland but you're no better than any of these East Coast emotional cripples!" I cried.

Vaughn looked down at me, mildly affronted, while the others remarked on the spectacle.

"God, listen to him," said Megan.

"He's so intense," said Larraine, who had spent the previous two hours staring into the fire. With that she went back to the fire.

Before the commentary could continue I moved on to Sanjay.

"And you," I said, drawing myself up in righteous indignation. "You think you're so fucking cool, because you're straight, and you're Indian, and you have all your shit together..."

My next words, whatever they were going to be, were drowned out by a howl of protest. "Rough! You are rough! Oh, man, shut him up! Get him out of here!"

It was the sound of a large cane come to yank me offstage. I buried my face in my hands, bitterly ashamed, but before I did I caught a glimpse of Sanjay, a stunned and wounded look on his straight (and rather handsome) Indian face.

There are two more extant memories from that night, both taking place in the bathroom. In one, Sam and I are sitting on the floor of the shower for what seems like hours, hot water pounding down on us while we repeatedly gratify each other. And then, wrapped in a towel, I am clutching Sanjay and apologizing profusely, bewailing the pressures of Yale's race war, where "half of us have to deal with being people of color, and half of us have to deal with the guilt!"

"Whoa," Sanjay replied. "Whoa."

Whoa indeed. It occurs to me that the last few posts may lead the reader to think that I spent most of my time at Yale shouting nonsense at the top of my lungs. This is not the case. I also spent a fair amount of my time there stuttering incoherently in section, sleeping through lectures, dragging gay men kicking and screaming out of the closet, flirting with married professors, and masturbating in the stacks of Sterling Memorial Library. My education there was nothing if not well-rounded and it helped make me what I am today.

Is it possible to sue for educational malpractice?