Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Diary: October, 1991.

I was in 7th grade, and had recently auditioned for, and cast in, the Junior High Drama Club's inaugural production of The Wizard of Oz. I was to play the Wizard. The play quickly became my new social group and, between that and band, I must have asked five or six girls to go out with me. They all said no, and I learned that an assembly-line approach to dating is not efficient. For some weird reason it gives people the impression that their individuality is incidental.

At this time I was also reading Dracula by Bram Stoker, and devouring it. The book filled me with suspense and while it took maybe a week to get through the first section by Jonathan Harker, I read the rest in just a few days. I called it my favorite book, and read my Dungeons and Dragons Ravenloft supplements to get a better sense of Vampires. Ravenloft talked about the "gothic" which was a word I understood in a palpable, visceral sense more than any particulars:

Gothic was a location afflicted with limited light.
Gothic was cool and beautiful and lonely.
Gothic was old; a broken and decrepit relic of something that had once been powerful and inspiring.
Gothic was windy and autumnal.

These were my happenstance impressions based on the sound and shape of the word and whatever associations and imagery I had built in on my own. A few years back, when I reread Longinus' theories on the submlime, I'm amazed how close I got to grasping the "gothic" in '93, just by chance, and knowing nothing about the Romantics or about Germanic tribes and the legacy of the Roman Empire.

At any rate, my 4th hour Skills for Adolescents somehow got into a debate about the existence of God, with me taking on the "nope" view. Mr. Gromak had, of course, spoken in my favor, saying that I thought about things seriously – that I was reading Dracula, "one of the classics," (in fact, he knew this because he had told me to put it away after catching me reading it in class). The other kids took this as proof of some sort of satanic inclination, and harassed me until I started crying and ran from the room (drama queen that I am was). Mr. Gromak chased me out and assured me that I wasn't a satanist, and I remember after school I walked over to my grandmas, throwing walnuts through the holes in the chain-link fence.

I learned my lines.

I made lists of girls I could date and thought about how much I really really wanted a girlfriend.

I pored over Ravenloft and thought about this "gothic" thing.

Where were you in October 1991?

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