Friday, June 22, 2007

Making my current low mood plummet some more...

After reading this, "Pumpkin Man" porn teacher released from prison, I find that I'm right back to this post from November of 2005: A Proustian Bargain. (You'll need to go read it if you have any hope of understanding the rest of this.)

I hate that he's now known as "the porn teacher," and he so deserves the title. So brilliant and so evil and so damaged and somehow still captivating. He was one of a small number of people at school who made up my strong substantive memories of Andover. He's a unique, integral, and essential part of those memories, which makes his actual person and his actual deeds genuinely horrifying.

(And I can't help thinking of a certain other dustup which just happened, about pardoning the sins of those who are behind bars simply because they are capable of engendering love. That theory doesn't wash with me.)

I'll admit though to feeling tempted by my recent viewing of Capote. I have an evil curiosity to find out where he lands. Just for my own purposes, not to reengage with him in any manner. I want to discover what he does with his brilliant intellect. To find out if his wife will take him back. To find out if his daughter.... Oh hell. Look at that: "tempted by Capote" and "his daughter." I swear I didn't mean to put those in the same paragraph, and here they are. It's an infection. You're a bruise. It's as if you are latent there in my subconscious. Capote. New York. Your daughter. Damn you, Mr. Cobb.

Mr. Cobb once told us, in what may have been an exaggerated dream of his own history and personal experiences, that he worked for the government (in some secret agency, he broadly hinted) dissecting speeches of foreign leaders looking for frequencies of word choices. By examining the frequencies of various phrases, grammatical patterns, and word choices, one could determine authorship. His lovely girlfriend worked as an interpreter for the UN, and they would meet for lunch in Manhattan. Just outside a world renowned landmark.

Their only daughter's name was Tiffany, as a memento of that romance.

They met at Tiffany's, just like in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and you told us the story when you commented on the three most mellifluous words in the English Language: Tiffany, diarrhea, and, what was the third? Nonetheless, you've infected my mind. You've infected my writing, Mr. Cobb. I place adjectives and clauses in an attempt to please you in my rough drafts. Mr. Cobb, what have you done to my memories of your brilliance? And of your charisma? I can see your hands shake as you stand in front of the class, see your tremor as you lift your hair, so dark, off your forehead. I can't hear Prince's "Purple Rain" without thinking of you on that motorcycle. Your costumes, your masks. I feel bound to you in some odd dream where you turn onto the road towards Thebes, and I can see the cart ahead and Laius himself.

I know it all ends in death and destruction, but there's an attraction to Oedipus as he walks into his fate which is awful to behold.

Were you never smart enough to save yourself?

It is an evil thing to have known you at all.

For you are an evil thing. A Lucifer.


Kate R said...

Is it an evil thing? Not a comfortable thing, but to understand (and boy, you really have to understand it, knowing this guy) that the very worst people have redeeming qualities is to help keep a healthy grey in the brain.

Too much grey is bad, but not as unhealthy as a black and white view of life.

But yeah, for your sake and for the sake of his victims, it's too bad he didn't keel over while he was still fully heroic. Maybe an accident on his motorcycle. Then it would have been a simple tragedy instead of a horrible one.

Suisan said...

Well, I think my prose went a little sideways there at the end.

But I do see him as a tragic king. A respected but flawed person who keeps right on walking down that fated path. You watch the play knowing how it's going to end, but still you watch it. You're drawn to it all.

And I'm sad for him that he couldn't step aside and save himself. But it's an evil thing to wish that for him, because I want him to have prevented himself from acting on his impulses only to maintain my own perceptions of his greatness.

He's done what he's done. I don't wish him ill or good. I'm sure he's not redeemable. But I wish that for my own memories of him that he could have not made those sad pictures of penthouse models with kid's faces pasted on them, that he would have not made up a list of services kids could perfom on Pumpkin man, and that he had never packed a pumpkin mask in his backpack.

It's a completely self-servin wish, and I find it evil of ME that I continue to wish for it to have come true.

CindyS said...

But as you say, was it all just a glorious act to cover what was within?

He was a con man and he made victims of all those he came into contact with. Yes, the act against the children is by far the worst (and I could have lived never knowing about a payment scale for helping the pumpkin man - and really, 18 months is just not enough) but it's okay to feel what you are feeling. You don't have anything to apologize for because you didn't break the trust. The children aren't the only victims and every life he became a part of is now tarnished by his actions whether it was as a part of a family or as a teacher who made an impression on a student.

I'm sorry for your loss.


Suisan said...

He was in prison for eleven years, not eighteen months.

But that's not enough either.