Thursday, March 24, 2005

Own Your Own Sins

And speaking of Jacques Brel, when I was a young high schooler in Arizona, my window overlooked the campus "Quad." I made a habit of pointing my tiny but powerful speaker out the window, turning my stereo up to 10, and playing the circus-y horn fanfare that opens "Les Flamandes," a song by Jacques Brel (I got that record from my mom -- pretty heady stuff for a 14-year-old, in retrospect. Les Flamandes dansent sans rien dire, you know).

My thoughtlessness -- OK, flat-out obnoxiousness -- would annoy the entire peaceable kingdom of 130 kids and overseers. The glee this gave me! I still remember hiding under the bed the day one of the art teachers (the married one who slept with his female students) came charging across the "Quad" to tear me apart, so fed up was he with my unfunny little joke. Seems I had to hide under the bed more than once to evade people who wanted to kill me for my dumb pranks. Ah youth. Wasted on the young. What an idiot I was.

I was astonished one day when a more tolerant teacher said he was only annoyed because I'd never played the whole song. And I was astonished yet again, decades later, when I heard that the aforementioned sex offender had found Christ and repented of his evil behaviors. And is in fact now a headmaster at some other school.

I mention this not in the vein of gossip, but to highlight two things:

1. That adults had no respect for kids in the 70s. Apologists tell me that what adults lacked in those dark hippie days was awareness, that "those were different times," and that "we were all still finding our way." Dickheads. When I was eight I smoked pot with the 40-year-old who lived next door to my friend's family in Topanga, the most hippiest shire. He wasn't a sex offender; he just didn't see a problem with sharing a joint and a beer with little kids. I'd like to dismantle that amoral fuck, but he's probably dead anyway. My little pot-smoking friend of yesteryear is. Snatched from the hippie shire in the very flower of his aimless youth.

2. That no matter what the Military-Industrial-Religious Complex tells you, finding your moral compass in a musty book doesn't erase past behavior. Fine, wash your own sins away, but what do you do for your victims? Send an e-card? "Dude. Found Christ/Mohammed/Torah (insert yours here). Don't call here any more, OK? The new me isn't responsible for the old me's sins."

OK. I confess. We weren't speaking of Jacques Brel.

P.S. That's the Old Me confessing. Don't hold it against the New Me.

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