James was in my ward for a year or two until he aged out of it. He's one of those guys who will talk to you for half an hour no matter how little interest you show in what he's saying. Unlike most of those guys, however, he thinks he's some kind of holy man - he literally told me that everything he says or does is "sanctified" by the Holy Ghost so that he can say or do whatever he wants and remain temple worthy - with the mission to share his special, deep, made-up doctrine with anyone who will listen. This time around he told me about how the "Second Coming" doesn't actually refer to Christ returning to the Earth, but rather to the people of Zion coming together and coming up to meet him, or something, and the leaders of the Church just don't understand that yet. President Nelson, did, however, say in the last General Conference that time is running out, which James enthusiastically took as validation that "I'm not crazy!"
I just nodded through it like usual. I didn't know what else to do. He masterfully weaves unrelated and decontextualized scripture verses together to support his hypotheses, and I lack the skill to refute them on the spot. Besides, telling this kind of people they're wrong tends to just give them a persecution complex and reinforce their conviction. See also: anti-vaxxers. And I try to be nice to him because I know what it's like to be stigmatized for mental illness and I don't want to do that to someone else. But when he felt the need to tell me in graphic detail about his imaginary sex life that I never asked about, and called my dear friend Mackenzie whom he's never met a whore and servant of Satan, and got agitated while driving and started grabbing at imaginary demon-things he called "birds", and said he was working behind the scenes to stop the missionaries from baptizing those he deemed unworthy, I had to do something. I told the bishop everything and made it his problem. I felt bad, since he was new at being a bishop for the first time, but better him than me. Then James aged out of the ward and things calmed down for a couple years until the other night.
When he left to wander around I bolted from the gym and found a table in one of the lounges. I had to socialize, but so be it; at least I was safer. The dance was supposed to start at 7 so I returned to the gym only to find that it had been postponed by fifteen minutes, so I went back to the lounge and found a chair by the corner where I could be alone. Some girl perpendicular to me was still eating. Then "Joe" happened by. Joe is a regular fixture at the institute who looks for girls with athletic figures and then talks to them about football until they wish they were dead. I mean, I don't know what exactly they're thinking, but even I can tell they're not enjoying it. So he said "Hi" to this girl and she said "Hi" back and they stared each other down for a moment and I don't know how she did it, but he left. That was a surprise. Another surprise happened when she subsequently turned to me and said, "And how are you, Chris?"
Sometimes I feel like I have real honest-to-goodness dementia. It's absurd how often someone addresses me by name and I don't even recognize their face. Apparently this was someone from my ward named Jessica who's friends with Amelia Whitlock whom I quoted in the blurb for this blog, and she said Amelia recently noticed that and got all excited but I could have sworn I asked permission to use it in the first place so I thought she already knew that. Jessica asked what I was doing and I said I was reading an article on my phone about computer reconstructions of historical figures' heads and she said that was cool. I tried to scroll down to George Washington and show her, but my phone chose that time to replace the article with a choppy white screen and the moment I got to him she said "See ya" and left.
Then the dance started and I wandered in because a. there was nothing else to do and b. I never get to play my music that loud at home. So that went on and then the first of two slow songs came on and the DJ complained that there were too many ladies not being asked to dance. As generous as I am, there was nothing I could do to single-handedly solve that problem, and I don't typically ask strangers to dance anyway because in my view it's one of the least efficient ways to meet people. I looked around for somebody I knew. Technically I knew Jessica now, so I figured I'd ask her if I could find her. But someone very unexpectedly tapped me on the shoulder and asked me first, having either taken pity on me or taken her destiny into her own hands. So we walked sideways in a circle and demonstrated why this is one of the least efficient ways to meet people.
Me: WHAT'S YOUR NAME?
Me: WITH A 'T' AS IN 'TRAILER'?
I thought she said Tori, but I had to verify that it wasn't Corrie because that's technically a woman's name and even if it wasn't, you can never be sure. Given that she's from Utah I can't even be sure that "Tori" isn't spelled with four m's and a silent q. We had a nice conversation, all things considered, but it was over so fast, which is the other reason why this is one of the least efficient ways to meet people. After two or three minutes we just knew a few basic facts about each other, mostly about me because she asked most of the questions because I was still perplexed that this was happening, and then we high-fived and there was little else to do. Maybe this works for attractive guys, but I don't feel like I can ask for someone's number or add them on Facebook after two or three minutes of small talk, and I actually gave up years ago on asking for numbers without a legitimate reason at all because texting them and getting no response got old fast. I'm not likely ever going to see her again. So this experience left me more depressed than if nothing had happened. Don't get me wrong, though, I do appreciate Tori for being nice and assertive.
Eventually I needed a water break and there I ran into the missionaries, or rather I chased them down and demanded to know why they haven't visited me yet. Sister Black asked if I'd been dancing and meeting girls and whatever, and I said yes, but I guess she didn't hear me because she pushed me back to the gym. She pushed me with the fingertips of one hand, and I could have easily resisted or moved aside, but they wanted to come to my endowment if possible so I needed to discuss that with them anyway so I decided to just cooperate and let her feel like she was doing a good deed by forcing me to be sociable. I happen to know that she wants to travel the world by herself instead of getting married, so it seems slightly hypocritical, but whatever. I talked as I let her push me and then we reached the gym doors and the second of the two slow songs came on, which made her extra insistent that I go ask a girl to dance. I would have taken fifteen seconds, tops, to finish talking to the missionaries and then gone in and maybe found Tori and asked her to dance again if that wasn't too weird. But James showed up again.
James literally pushed me aside - a gentle push, like Sister Black's, though unlike Sister Black he's big enough to pound me into a pancake if he wanted - and started talking to the missionaries as if I wasn't there. He launched right into his special doctrine. I zoned out and only caught a few words here and there, but it went down exactly like the last time I lingered nearby while he talked to missionaries. One companion stared at him, enraptured, while the other glanced at me and smiled as if to say, "Is this for real? Are you hearing this too? At least I'm not alone." For at least five minutes he talked to them, long past the end of the second and final slow song, ignoring my telepathic pleas that could have been accurately bowdlerized as "Go away." At long last he did, and we wandered away in a daze. Sister Black, the one who'd smiled at me, said, "That was the craziest person I've ever met!"
"Was that your first time?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "You know him?" I said I did, and we finished talking, and she characterized his interruption as "rude" which made me feel better that I wasn't the only one annoyed by it. If I have to suffer, other people should too. That's just fair. I'm glad I'm no longer the craziest person she's ever met.
The following evening USU held its monthly "Poetry and a Beverage" event. It was Glasses' final performance. I wrote years ago about my fiction writing group members whom I dubbed Bracelets, Redhead, and Glasses, and those were stupid pseudonyms and I usually don't even bother with pseudonyms anymore, but I stuck with them for the sake of consistency even though I think I only mentioned Redhead and Glasses one more time after that. At that time I described the latter as "a culturally unorthodox Mormon who hates society, speaks his mind and swears a lot", and that's still pretty accurate except that we're not supposed to say "Mormon" anymore. He's a real cool guy and I've talked to him and seen him around over the years but I just never wrote about him because our conversations are none of your business.
He's a master of rhythmic, almost rap-like, humorous and unfiltered poetry that he's performed at almost evey PoBev while here, and as far as USU is concerned, last night was his magnum opus. (As far as I'm concerned, his magnum opus is still the ode to Oreos that he wrote back in 2015. Good luck ever topping that one, pal.) It was long and covered a lot of unrelated topics, kind of like my early blog posts but actually entertaining, and included enough opinions to offend everyone in the room. Among other things he reflected on his time at USU, his positive memories and his less positive memories and the fact that tuition has risen 22% while he was here even though the national average increase was only 9%. He listed some things that everyone is supposed to love that he doesn't love (like animals, babies, and Bernie Sanders).
He concluded by expressing exactly how he felt about certain aspects of USU and college in general, repeating the same colorful four-letter verb as a mantra for each aspect. A very few people got up and left at that point, but when he finished he got the loudest and most enthusiastic applause of any act I saw that night or at any other time. The organizers were well aware of his previous contributions and smart enough to save him for last. I know I can't do justice to his poetry or convey its appeal with my weak summary, but this being his last time and all I wanted to pay tribute. He and a couple other people have asked when I'm going to perform at PoBev. I'm thinking probably never, but stranger things have happened. I just can't think of any.