In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
Subscribe and Save up to 45%
Jake Gaskins teaches English and directs the writing center at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.
I first noticed the house early one spring afternoon as I was driving through Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where I’d taken a job teaching English at Southeast Missouri State. I was new in town and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods west of campus.
Unlike some of my more mechanically minded eighth-grade classmates, I didn’t know a thing about how cars worked. I’d never even changed a tire. I just liked how cars looked. While other kids drew hot rods in their notebooks, I made “design studies,” trying to predict what changes the Big Three automakers would implement in their new models. How could the designers possibly improve upon dual headlamps? My answer was to integrate them into the grille beneath a pair of “eyebrows ” that sloped toward the center (a design that was, in fact, used in the 1959 Dodge).
I approached the microphone to deliver my acceptance speech, but the dean held me back while the awards for “scholarship” and “service” were presented. As it turned out, I never was allowed to say anything. So this, without further ado, is my acceptance speech.
Life is a sitcom; our pain is so ordinary, it’s laughable. Almost everybody goes through this at one time or another. The realtor tells me our society is becoming mobile. I agree. But I wish I didn’t have to sell my parents’ house.
He continued riding down the hill in front of my house, wobbled a bit, then lost his balance and fell head first over the handlebars onto the asphalt, the bike toppling and twisting behind him.
I’m also a fag. Which means that I regard my accomplishments and abilities and virtues with considerable irony. Not because I think any less of myself in the abstract, but because I know how little my accomplishments and abilities and virtues protect me from self-doubt.
Miss Eva Hodges, my piano teacher for eight years, now deceased, would be gratified to learn that I bought the Steinway. She’d be proud of me.