Prep / 139
Before I could respond, Dede said, “Are you crazy? Guys’ hair and girls’ hair is completely different!”
“I just want to get rid of the split ends,” Emily said.
“That’s no problem,” I said. In fact, it would be a lot easier than what I’d done for Tullis. “I can do yours tonight, too.”
“Actually, I have a French test tomorrow, but what about Wednesday night?”
As it happened, I had a Spanish test Thursday. Not that it really mattered—I never did that well on anything, so it was a better use of time to cut hair than to study.
“I can’t believe this,” Dede said.
“Want me to cut yours?”
“No!” she said, and everyone at the table laughed.
Over the next several weeks, I cut the hair of more and more people, perhaps twenty-five of them by late October. Certain things I’d done with Tullis became habits—that I never had them wet their hair first, that I always made them close their eyes when I was standing in front of them, that, of course, I didn’t charge. Around campus, people suddenly talked to me more, especially teachers and boys. Tullis himself always greeted me warmly and by name; once, when I was hurrying through the gym to get to the soccer field, Reynolds Coffey the male senior perfect, yelled: “Yo, Lee, where are your scissors?”; and another time, as I was leaving the dining hall after formal dinner, Reverend Orch, the chaplain, who was completely bald, set his hand on my forearm and said, “From all that I hear, Miss Fiora, it is my great loss that I cannot employ your services.”
In such situations, I was always demure, I’d hardly even reply. But when it came to actual haircutting, I felt a confidence that I had not experienced in any other situation since arriving at Ault. Sometimes I didn’t even give the haircut that had been requested, I gave the one I thought would look good—lopping off an extra few inches, say—and the individual might seem puzzled (not angry, never angry, just puzzled), but everyone else always loved it. I learned to use an electric razor, which numbers corresponded to which lengths, and even though that was something a guy could have done on his own, some wanted me to do it for them. Oliver Amunsen said, “I trust you more than I trust myself.”
140 / Curtis Sittenfeld
In my hands, beneath my fingers, people’s heads felt warm and vulnerable, and I had the sense that I could have cut their hair with my eyes closed, by touch alone. I was never nervous; in fact, I’d experience a suspension of any conscious feeling at all. I almost always chatted with them a little, rarely for the whole time, and I never worried either that I was talking too much or that the silences between us were awkward. Afterward, when the person had left and I was alone, vacuuming or sweeping up the hair, I felt a sense of achievement. I was proud of my ability. Though normally I thought pride of any sort was distasteful, this was okay because cutting hair was a neutral act, nothing to brag about. It was like being good at untying knots, or good at reading maps.
We had finished Uncle Tom’s Cabin shortly before the day of our group presentations. The assignment had been to choose an important scene from anywhere in the book, say why it mattered, and act it out. My partners were Norie Cleehan and Jenny Carter, and we did the part where Cassy and Emmeline hide in the attic and pretend to be ghosts to scare Simon Legree; I was Legree.
After we went, the only group left was Darden, Aspeth and Dede. “We have to go put on our costumes,” Dede announced.
“Great,” Ms. Moray said. No one else had bothered with costumes.
They left the room, and while we waited, a generous, giddy energy hung in the classroom—we’d been getting up from our seats and talking in bad Southern accents and clapping for one another at the end of each performance. During one burst of applause I had thought that we were probably making as much noise as one of those classes you hear down the hall—usually while you’re taking a math test—that’s shouting and laughing like they’re at a party. “I must say, I had no idea there was so much acting talent in this class,” Ms. Moray said.
Aspeth stuck her head into the room. “One thing we have to tell you,” she said. “This is a modern interpretation. That’s okay, right?”
Ms. Moray nodded. “Absolutely.”
“It’s the part where the Shelby slaves get together in Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe’s cabin.” Aspeth was still visible only from the neck up. “It’s while Mr. Shelby is in the big house signing over Uncle Tom and Harry to Haley.”
Prep / 141
“And why is this important?”
“We’re showing the sense of community the slaves have and how Uncle Tom is their leader and they rally around him when they know he’s leaving.”
“Terrific. Go to it.”
“Just one more sec.”
Aspeth disappeared, and the door clicked shut. A minute later, Darden flung it open and strode through, Aspeth behind him gripping his waist like in a conga line, and Dede behind Aspeth. Darden wore a fedora set at an angle, a pair of oversized sunglasses, several gold and silver and pearl necklaces, and a long shiny red raincoat, tight across his shoulders, which I recognized as belonging to Dede. In his right hand, he carried a cane. Dede herself had on a cream-colored knee-length silk slip, and Aspeth was wearing a striped bikini top (the stripes were pink, mint green, and pale blue) and a tennis skirt; on their feet, both girls wore high heels.
“Choo-choo!” Darden cried. He thrust his fist in the air and rolled it forward a few times, then tipped his head back toward Aspeth and Dede. “Ain’t that the finest-looking ho train you folks ever seen?” From various parts of the table, I heard snorts of laughter, and someone—it might have been Oliver—called out, “Uh-huh, brother!” As if in response, Aspeth and Dede held their chins in the air, moved their heads all around, batted their eyelashes.
The three of them slithered and wiggled the length of the chalkboard, until they were between the far end of the table and the window. Darden leaned over and stuck his cheek down toward Jenny Carter. “You give Big Daddy Tom some love, sugar.”
Jenny had a look on her face that was both startled and amused. Her gaze jumped to Ms. Moray, and when I looked, too, Ms. Moray was squinting as if confused. This was a confusion I shared. I literally did not understand what Darden and Aspeth and Dede were doing, what the unifying principle was behind their weird clothes, their gestures, Darden’s lingo. I sensed that most of my classmates did understand. Jenny puckered her lips and kissed Darden.
“Thanks, baby,” Darden said. He took a step back, and Aspeth and Dede rearranged themselves so they were on either side of him, their arms linked through his, gazing up at him, stroking his shoulder or his fore-
142 Prep / Curtis Sittenfeld
head. “My ho’s, you know why we’re here tonight,” Darden said. “And Daddy might go away, but you know he always gonna be looking out for you. It ain’t easy when Master Shelby—”
“Stop it,” Ms. Moray said, and her voice was loud and sharp. It was strange to hear a normal voice. “That’s enough. All three of you, sit down. But first change out of those clothes.”
Darden and Aspeth and Dede regarded her silently. Their posture was already different—Aspeth’s arms were folded, she wasn’t touching Darden at all—and none of them were smiling.
“We were just—” Dede began.
“Right now,” Ms. Moray said. “Hurry.”
They walked quickly past us, back into the hall. In their absence, the rest of us looked at one another, looked away, looked back; Chris Graves put his head down on the table. When Darden, Aspeth and Dede returned, they sat without speaking.
“Would someone like to explain what that was about?” Ms Mortay said.
No one said anything. I couldn’t tell if she was asking all of us or just them, and I also couldn’t tell if she was really asking for an explanation—if, like me, she hadn’t understood—or if she was asking for more of a justification.
“Really,” Ms. Moray said. “I’m curious—curious about what could possibly make the three of you think it’s either relevant or appropriate to portray Uncle Tom as a pimp and the other slaves as prostitutes.”
Of course. I was an idiot.
“Uncle Tom is a Christ figure,” Ms. Moray said. “He’s a hero.”
Darden was looking down, and Aspeth was looking across the room, her face blank, her arms crossed again. To watch Aspeth be scolded was odd and not, as I might have imagined, enjoyable. I would have felt sorry for her, actually, except that she seemed unaffected by Ms. Moray’s comments; she seemed mostly bored. Of the three of them, only Dede was looking at Ms. Moray. “We were being creative,” Dede said.
Ms. Moray smiled unpleasantly. “Creative how?”
“By, like, we were—well, with a modern-day parallel—we just thought it would be fun.”
“I’ll tell you something,” Ms Moray said. “And this is a lesson that should serve all of you well on that day not so far in the future when you
Prep / 143
find yourselves in the real world. The next time you’re being creative, the next time you’re having fun, you might want to stop and think about how your behavior looks to other people. Because I’ll tell you, what this seems like to me is nothing but racism.”
Everyone looked her then, even Darden and Aspeth. Racism didn’t exist at Ault. Or it did, of course it did, but not like that. Kids came from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, with parents who had emigrated from Pakistan, Thailand, Colombia, and some kids had families that still lived far away-in my dorm alone, there were firls from Zimbabwe and Latvia. And no one ever made slurs, it easn’t liek yuou got outracized if uou werne’t white. Racism seemed to me like a holdover from my parents’ generation, something that was not entirely gone but had fallen out of favor—like girdles, say, or meatloaf.
“We weren’t being racist,” Aspeth said. Her voice contained none of Dede’s anxious eagerness, Dede’s earnest wish to set things straight. Aspeth knew she was right, and the only question was whether it was worth demonstrating this to an inferior mind like Ms. Moray’s. “How could we be?” Aspeth said. “Darden is black.”
This was a bold and possibly inappropriate thing to say—Darden’s blackness, in our post-racist environment, was not a thing you remarked on.
“That’s your defense?” Ms. Moray said. “That Darden is—?” Even she seemed unable to say that he was black, which affirmed Aspeth’s power. But then Ms. Moray appeared to regain control. “Listen,” she said. “Internalized racism is still racism. Self-hatred is not an excuse.”
I glanced at Darden, who was looking down again. He inhaled, puffed out his cheek, exhaled, and shook his head. I didn’t think he was self-hating, and I certainly didn’t want him to be—I was self-hating, and wasn’t that enough? Did there need to be so many of us?
“There’s also the issue—” Ms. Moray said, but Darden interrupted her.
“We made a mistake,” he said. “How about we leave it at that?” He was looking up at Ms. Moray, his mouth set in a firm line. He seemed to me at this moment like an adult—his deep voice and his physical size and his reasonableness, how it appeared he wanted the situation resolved more than he wanted himself exonerated. I wished that I was friends with him so that I could tell him after class I’d been impressed by his behavior and it wouldn’t just seem like I was trying to get on his good side.
144 / Curtis Sittenfeld
Ms. Moray hesitated. It had seemed before that she was just warming up, but this was a relatively easy way out. “Fine,” she said at last. “But I’ll make one more point. And that’s that this wasn’t only offensive in terms of the racial stereotypes you guys were playing off. I’m also deeply, deeply troubled by the sexism here. And, no, the fact that you’re women doesn’t make it okay for you to objectify yourselves. Our culture teaches women that our primary worth is our appearance, but we don’t have to accept that idea. We can flaunt our bodies, or we can choose to have integrity and self-respect.” Ms. Moray’s voice had turned high, she sounded a little too impassioned, and I saw Aspeth roll her eyes at Dede. She shouldn’t have been using the word women, I thought. All of us in the room, except for Ms. Moray herself, were girls.
Later that day—news of what had happened in class spread quickly, and even Martha pressed me for details—I was in the locker room when I heard Aspeth talking about it yet again. “Rah, rah, rah,” she said. “Let’s go burn our bras.”
The next day, while we waited before class for the bell to ring, Ms. Moray said, “Who’s psyched to learn?” Then she pretended to be a cheerleader, waving her hands in the air, shouting, “E-N-G-L-I-S-H—what’s that spell? English!” We didn’t have cheerleaders at Ault, and she was making the joke to show that she forgave us; she didn’t seem to realize that she herself had not been forgiven.
(Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld, pages 139-144)
Reynolds Coffey the male senior perfect, yelled: “Yo, Lee, where are your scissors?”
(Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld, pages 139-144)
December 31, 2017, 9am About me. Yesterday on my way to Verizon to request a new sim card for my Jetpack wireless connect which coincidentally stopped working this weekend, New Year’s Weekend, in the lobby here at the YWCA Brooklyn, I saw Lee, a Japanese American resident, taping tape to a box with the word RIVER imprinted in large letters along the side of the box. Lee was returning a lamp that she had purchased. I asked Lee if I could take a picture of the lamp (on the box) because I like lamps, and I’m trying to become a photographer, and when I saw Lee’s cute scissors, I explained to Lee that the light turquoise trimming around the scissors is my favorite color, and I asked Lee if I could take a picture of her scissors and she said yes however I cannot post either of those two pictures and a picture of the rest of the boxes (a picture that I took when I came back from Verizon and Stop&Shop), because, Mormon computer gremlins are illegally preventing me from accessing my Google Photos. When I left my room to go to Verizon and Stop & Shop I did not ask Brenda, who was sitting in the kitchen holding in her hands a fork (an “American Fork”?) if I could take a picture of her fork nor did I ask her, when I was on my way back to my room when I came back from Verizon and Stop & Shop, if I could take a picture of the black surgical gloves she was wearing coincidentally aligned with me as I walked past her door. Brenda, the resident who has the St. Jude’s Childrens’ Research Hospital sticker on her door and the “holy” cross made of two twigs taped together; Brenda, the resident who used to have the Kobe Bryant (teenager Wesley’s favorite basketball player) clipped photo from a newspaper (Kobe Bryant, rape charges, Eagle, Colorado, 2003; shortly afterwards: huge billboard plastered on Empire State building, a billboard featuring King Kong and Fay Wray); Brenda, the resident who slipped under my door The New York Times Magazine issue featuring Kathy Boudine (Brinks bank robbery, two Nyack police officers killed, Weather Underground, Black Panthers); Brenda, the resident who from March or April 2017 to December 2017 had a “Happy Easter” card stuck in the shutters in her door; Brenda, the resident who was coincidentally aligned with me twice in the hall while holding in her hands a knife, and once coincidentally aligned with me in the hall while holding in her hands a pair of scissors, however it is Daphne who followed me into the mailroom while holding in her hands a pair of scissors.
Ms. Moray’s voice had turned high, she sounded a little too impassioned, and I saw Aspeth roll her eyes at Dede. She shouldn’t have been using the word women, I thought. All of us in the room, except for Ms. Moray herself, were girls.
(Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld, pages 139-144; publication date: 2005)
MASPETH BIC 15
(Dumpster, YWCA Brooklyn [for the past three or four years, maybe five—roof repair], Third Avenue at State Street across the street from State Street Deli, December 2017)
December 31, 2017, 9:45am. About Me. Yesterday I typed the above excerpt. I did not know, until a few minutes ago when I went to Bing search engine and searched for “prep curtis sittenfeld” (in search of the publication date), that, the entire book is on the internet! The review sounds like it’s straight out of CIA-M16-ASIS agent George Orwell’s 1984!
The strong narrative voice belongs to Lee Fiora, who leaves South Bend, Ind., for Boston’s prestigious Ault School and finds her sense of identity supremely challenged. Now, at 24, she recounts her years learning “everything I needed to know about attracting and alienating people.” Sittenfeld neither indulges nor mocks teen angst, but hits it spot on: “I was terrified of unwittingly leaving behind a piece of scrap paper on which were written all my private desires and humiliations. The fact that no such scrap of paper existed… never decreased my fear
Prep / 143
“… The next time you’re being creative, the next time you’re having fun, you might want to stop and think about how your behavior looks to other people. Because I’ll tell you, what this seems like to me is nothing but racism.”
I wished that I was friends with him so that I could tell him after class I’d been impressed by his behavior and it wouldn’t just seem like I was trying to get on his good side.
(Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld, pages 139-144; publication date: 2005)
December 31, 2017, 10:15am. About Me. I was not able to post hardly any information yesterday, and am not certain that I will be able to post hardly any information today, because of repeated computer freeze and other computer gremlins glitches. This is what I posted yesterday (with some additional information [Meet Kirsten] posted today):
No matter how many people think otherwise, Jehovah’s Witnesses really is God’s visible organization.
The wrath of Jehovah God really is upon the Mormon Church of Satan, no matter how many people think otherwise.
The stock market really is going to crash, worldwide, no matter how many people think otherwise.
No matter how many people think otherwise, Caroline Kennedy will be elected President in the year 2020; Jim Turner of Texas will be elected Vice President; Robert Kennedy Jr. will be nominated and confirmed U.S. Attorney General; Robert Mueller will be nominated and confirmed Director of the FBI.
No power on earth has the power to prevent this prophetic message that I write from becoming reality, not even these four people themselves. I write under inspiration from and with authority from, God, the true God, Jehovah. cc all Mormon barristers
THIS IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM ME:
Mayor Warren Wilhelm aka Bill de Blasio is the clean-up man, if the Mormon Church of Satan/CIA succeed in their planned nuclear bomb attack on the Hudson River. His administration is already prepared to hold tribunals and immediately execute some of the “troublemakers” (30,000 bananas; nationwide: 30,000 guillotines, to be continued)
Partial List of Scapegoats, if the Mormon Church of Satan/CIA succeed in their nuclear bomb attack on the Hudson River:
Former President Barack “Hussein” Obama
Former Advisor to the President, Valerie “June” Jarrett
Former Homeland Security Director “Jeh” Johnson
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
Minnesota Congressman FBI agent Keith “Ellison”
New York Congressman FBI agent Hakim Jeffries
Former leader of the CIA’s Black Panthers: FBI agent “Malik Zulu Shabazz”
Former Public Relations Spokesman for Mormon Church, FBI agent “Ahmad” Corbitt (now assigned to the Dominican Republic)
The purpose of this website is to expose the Mormon Church of Satan and all enemies of Jesus Christ the Way the Truth the Life, the Prince of Peace. This website is also the beginning of a presidential campaign to elect Caroline Kennedy President of the United States. I prayed to Jehovah God to please, by means of His son Christ Jesus, please, arrange national events and world events in such a manner such that Caroline Kennedy is elected President of the United States. I know Jehovah God hears my prayer and will answer my prayer because that particular prayer of mine is one of my deepest desires and Jehovah God has promised me that he will satisfy all of my deepest desires. All of the information posted at this website is interconnected; directly connected to the Mormon Church of Satan’s illegal sting operation surrounding Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, and me. The illegal sting operation that encompasses every human being on earth, and has resulted in the LEGAL CASE, unlike any other, ever. The LEGAL CASE, headed to The Hague, Netherlands. cc all Mormon attorneys
Maintain Your Focus on Jesus!
(Matthew 14:22-34; Hebrews 12:2)
(Concluding talk, Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention 2015, worldwide)