The Sun finally hits “print.” She revels in each page that slides out from the printer, satisfyingly scraping against one another as they stack up. Her title sits perfectly at top: “Benefits of the Causal Efficacy and Imitation of Visual Representations in Other-Directed Society.” She drops the manuscript in the envelope, the pages hitting the bottom of the envelope with a thud. The glue sweetly melts in her mouth after she licks the envelope. She writes “National Anthropology Review” and drops it in the mailbox.
The next day, her students turn in their papers. One by one, the Sun watches these faces pass by her desk: some still dizzy from the late night of writing prior, some giddy from being done with it, some no different. She takes these papers home with her and begins to grade them in her grading chair by the window. The husband asks if she wants anything to eat, but she wants to get done with some work. Flip, flip, flip through the pages shoddily stapled, reading first sentences, deciding which she’d like to go through first. “Benefits of the Causal Efficacy and Imitation of Visual Representations in Other-Directed Society.” She read it again. One of her students, the Moon, had copied her article, word for word. “I don’t understand,” she thought. “I just finished it last night. How could he have known?” The Moon seemed to pay extra attention in class. He seemed to write down every word she uttered, important or not. The Sun wouldn’t be surprised to find him following her in the hall, eagerly looking like he had a question. But this was too much. There must be consequences.
A month later the Moon was happy to hear the Sun had gotten her article published. The school had a few copies sitting in the lounge area in the College of Arts and Science, so he picked up a copy on his way to the Campus Café. He sat down heartily and sniffed in his overindulgent cappuccino as he opened the magazine. He saw her name in the contents, flipped to the article, then nearly burned his tongue. She had copied his thesis paper, word for word. He could see her scanning it into her computer, highlighting his name, writing hers in. These were his ideas, though it was validating to know that the Sun was following him. But this was too much. There must be consequences.
A RECOLLECTION, A RAMBLING
From the seventh grade to my senior year in highschool, I went to Mr. Hodges’ apartment every Wednesday evening for saxophone lessons. Mr. Hodges was kind and calm, but had a confidence suited to his stature; he was six-feet four-inches tall, and his fingers were thick and looked as though they should not fit well on the keys. Perhaps his fingers did not fit well, but the fact that he progressed to a level of competence that enabled him to become a private tutor speaks to this issue of finger-girth as related to musicianship.
After years under his tutelage, I have only a few memories of him. He was originally from Mississippi, cared for a cat named Hayduke, and kept Southern Living (or some other lifestyle magazine) in a wicker basket by his coffee table. I always thought it surprisingly fastidious of a man who seemed to embrace, at least what I thought was, a traditional masculinity. On a related note, I remember overhearing Amir in Band telling his buddies how he was completely convinced that Mr. Hodges was a homosexual. Amir’s sexuality was not in doubt, as he somehow convinced my friend at the time, Natasha, to fellate him under the stairwell, during school hours, right next to the art room.
It turns out Mr. Hodges was not a homosexual; I saw him at a dinner party with a female companion who, I was told by a source of undeniable credibility, was his girlfriend. Not that any of this matters. But given that stereotypes, as offensive as they may be, also contain a kernel of truth, I can look back at that time he lent his copy of T.S. Eliot’s CATS to me, after I expressed interest in the Broadway adaptation, with a view of things as they are, and not as I wish them to be.
Im looking at the Wikipedia description of “Hayduke,” and it appears that this character is from The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey and has been appropriated by environmental activists to represent a hardline approach to activism, i.e., mischief-making. I remember Mr. Hodges explaining the Hayduke reference to me once, but I’m sure I was completely not interested.
There was one Wednesday night I smoked pot with my then girlfriend (now, some girl’s girlfriend), and arrived later at my saxophone lesson. I would play one measure and drift off so deeply into my thoughts that I could not find my place on the score. Mr. Hodges looked at me incredulousy, but calmly with those kind eyes. I explained how I was really tired with school work, and how I was sorry I couldn’t focus. I was embarassed at the time, but now I’m sure he knew what was going on.