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Baby Gonzo I

I’m going to be real casual here; writing at a workshop is fsckin hard, and I haven’t been able to make coherent sense of anything since I got here. Nothing seems of universal importance when your job is to hang out with people who are writing all day. Much of my time at the moment is taken up in running around making sure my suite of sixteen-year-old writers get to class on time, have their work edited and turned in, are eating breakfast and not throwing it up again, aren’t fscking the guys, etc. They get all up in my face about how this place doesn’t give them enough freedom ’cause they can’t leave campus at the drop of the hat. They throw the brochure for the workshop in my face, saying, Hey, this program is supposed to give us a college experience, this is a College Experience, we want our cars and we don’t want to be given a specific writing time, we want to write when we please and spend the rest of the time impressing guys who we admit are sleazy and immature.

So Saturday night I told them they had to turn in their pages at four o’clock the next day if they wanted them in the yearbook/lit mag, and then I didn’t warn them again, because I am not a nag and I am not their mother and it ain’t my g0dd^mn deal. Sunday I watched them leave campus when they should have been sprucing up their pages and I didn’t warn them then, and I watched them run around ten minutes before the deadline fussing with their hair and whining “This is just like having a term paper due!” as if to say We reject your overweening authority, Mr. Man, how is it you think you can turn our College Experience into a High School Experience with your oppressive deadlines?, and we were all half an hour late for dinner, and I muttered, You want college? Fine, here’s enough rope to hang yourself with. Welcome to the fscking college experience. You can’t handle it.

Further evidence karma is out to get me, I don’t know what for… probably joining the longhaired rebel boy in my high school class in staring at Laura’s blonde old head and psychically willing it explode. I’m sorry, god! Why god why am I cursed to relive high school schisms? Why did I end up with the people I went to Hampshire to escape, the people who wanted college to be all about beer and Freedom while I just wanted to talk about the Beatniks outside of class?

I’ll never have children. Working out a way to say “pick that empty cookie box up off the floor” without being authoritarian is a fsckin mindbender. I have infinitely more respect for my mother now. This is like working in afterschool, only I don’t get to go home and decompress at the end of the day. Plus the kids are so white and privileged, and so ignorant of it, for the most part, that I want to run up and down the balcony clutching my head and screaming.

Friday the literary journalism teacher took us out to the downtown kitschified area to do Gonzo journalism pieces. Some of the kids got prepped for it. A girl in my suite taped a towel to her belly and put a sweatshirt over it — pregnant — put barrettes in her hair to make herself look like more of a teen mom. The sweatshirt said Princeton on it. Huge drops of sweat were welling up all over her movie star nose. Another kid had Groucho glasses, one Gothed up, one tried some fake bruises and went around looking pathetic. Most kids didn’t do anything.

The fake-antique trolley with the wood benches we were supposed to take didn’t show up and didn’t show up. We stood around outside the bus shelter in the sun like a bunch of cows at Harris Ranch. No grass underfoot. Two black guys we didn’t know stood inside the shelter.

Anyway eventually we gave up and commandeered a workshop van. Me and one of my girls got left behind. While we were hanging out a UPS guy saw fit to comment on her fixing her bra straps. I told him off. My girl was impressed and said she didn’t figure she could do that herself.

Finally we all ended up in Downtown Schlockletsville. The teacher was there waiting, in her usual witchy-woman robes and a glass pendant. We hung out in a café drinking cold things, hit with blasts of air coming from an environmentally-sound and mostly useless fly buster at the door. Felt like a bunch of plantation owners with the kids out in the sun working. One group, we later found out, was busy harassing a Latvian waitress who didn’t understand what they meant by “non-alcoholic beer.” A Manhattan society-type was chucking snap caps at the feet of passerby. Some of the kids got lucky and fell into conversation with God freaks, Nigerian carpet dealers, ancient musicians.

We reconvened on the schlock bricks as an afternoon storm began to progress through the city. The kids didn’t think they had any stories — they tried to conceal this fact, but it was thick in the air like the humidity between the big drops the sky was shaking out. My girl who was pregnant had bought baby booties and a rattle. Here was a story — she had referred to my girl who’d been harassed by the UPS man as if they were having the baby together, and thrilled the boutique owners. Girl #2 was chagrined.

They’d been watched closely in the store. Had the cashiers caught on to the gonzo ruse? The teacher pointed out that fake pregnancy is a preferred method of covering shoplifting. They hadn’t even thought of that. “I want a baby,” whined Girl #1. Girl #2 concurred. What other excuse would you have to buy cute booties?


The pregnant girl did write a gonzo piece in the end. I would put it here, if I could. Let her speak for herself. She wrote about how white trash it made her to be pregnant.

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James: All you’ve really convinced me is I should carry a libertarian economist with me. That’d scare the molesting fsckers away. P.S. got the last postcard, tho I’d read it already on the Lab 🙂

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