Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Dylan (Part 1)

Filed under: Dylan,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Gifted and Talented (Part 6)

I just found out that Dylan and his wife, Joan, are going to move to Boston soon. May 10th was Dylan’s birthday, so I reminded Mike to give him a call and wish him a happy birthday. We haven’t seen Dylan and Joan for a while and I thought that Mike could open up the doors of communication.

Dylan is one of the original Gifted and Talented friends, but I knew him long before we were placed in that class. Dylan wasn’t the first friend I had when my parents moved me to West Valley, but he was the most memorable. When I described him in the Gifted and Talented class, I said that there were so many stories to tell you about him that it would take you several blog entries to catch you up.

I guess I’m trying to catch you up before he moves away. He’s another in a string of friends who have left Utah to find his fortune. He’s going to get his Masters in library stuff. It all sounds so incredibly boring to me, but I’m sure he’s going to be needed. Can you imagine how the Library of Congress is going to look when they try to archive everything that has ever been on the web? They need some good people trained quickly to get this thing saved for posterity.

I’m sitting here, stuck and unable to start. There are so many stories about Dylan to tell that I have no idea where to start. I guess I’ll start at the beginning. When I moved to West Valley, I immediately became friends with Anita Park. She was an outcast girl in need of a friend and I was a new girl in need of a friend. The only problem with being friends with an outcast is that I became an outcast in the process. I shrugged my third grade shoulders and figured that it wasn’t a big deal.

The first time I saw Dylan, Anita and I were standing outside at recess. It was a dry, hot Utah day and the activity level of all the children was pretty low. There were no frenzied games of kissing tag. There was no fighting for the swings or tricky bars. The entire third grade was just standing in the shade of Academy Park, watching Dylan.

Dylan was on his hands and knees on the pitcher’s mound about 50 feet away from the school. He was spinning madly and a cloud of dust surrounded and engulfed him. It reached higher and higher until it was a six foot tall swirl of dirt, stirred up by Dylan. “What is he doing?” “That’s just weird.” “That’s just Dylan.” They all stood there, questioning his actions. I decided to find out.

I walked the fifty feet from the tepid shade of Academy Park to the blistering sun of the pitcher’s mound. “Hey,” I called out to him, “what are you doing?” Dylan stopped spinning and came to rest on his bottom, “I’m seeing how high I can get this dust.” I looked at him, sitting in the dirt, and I wanted to know what short-circuit made him wonder such a thing, “Why?” He was leaning back on his hands, “I don’t know.”

I tried to convince him to stop twirling like a dervish and to come back to the shade of the school, “People are going to think you’re nuts just spinning around in the dirt like that.” He didn’t seem bothered with that at all. I don’t know if he had given up and assumed that everyone thought he was nuts already or if he just didn’t care what other people thought. He stayed on the pitcher’s mound and continued his experiment.

“Why is he doing that?” they questioned me when I got back to the shade. I shrugged, “He wanted to see how high the dust would go.” It was decided. Dylan was a nut. There was no questioning it now. He was a complete nut. Anita and I looked at each other, knowingly, if he hadn’t been an outcast before, he surely was now.

A few years ago, Mike and I were driving in the Las Vegas desert between Jean, Nevada and Vegas. The wind was hitting our car in bursts: a hot, dusty wind. On the side of the road, about fifty feet from the car, a dust devil raced us to the city. I sat in awe at the height of the twirling column of dust and I thought about Dylan’s experiment.

Part 2


Dylan (Part 2)

Filed under: Dylan,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1

After the pitcher’s mound incident, Anita and I decided that maybe Dylan just needed some friends. Being fellow outcasts, we decided to be his friends whether he wanted them or not.

Sometimes that was easier said than done. I remember trying to explain what I wanted for a knitting box, “What I need is a cylindrical box so I can have the yarn come out the top.” Dylan argued with me, “You can’t have a cylindrical box. Box implies a cube. You need a cylindrical container.” I didn’t have any proof that box didn’t imply a cube, but my instincts told me that he was wrong.

In the end, it didn’t matter. What I needed was an oatmeal container. My family didn’t eat enough oatmeal to empty a box, and I was hoping that maybe Anita or Dylan had access to something like that. I never got to that part of the story because we spent the rest of recess arguing whether the word box implied a cube.

Sometimes being friends with Dylan was difficult, but he always had interesting ideas. I had never known anyone who categorized things so minutely that the simple phrase, “cylindrical box” was enough to cause an argument. I just looked it up and Dylan was right. The first definition for box listed states, “A container typically constructed with four sides perpendicular to the base and often having a lid or cover.”

Part 3


Dylan (Part 3)

Filed under: Dylan,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1 ? Part 2

Being Dylan’s friend was hard for other reasons. He was an outcast. Even though I was an outcast myself, I didn’t particularly want to be. By fifth grade, I had noticed boys, most importantly, Greg Wagstaff and Scott Crookston. I started following them around at recess like a drugged puppy. To their credit, they were always nice to me.

Scott Crookston taught me how to spit properly. Don’t scoff; this is an important skill that is rarely taught to girls by their parents. Anyone who has ever gotten a bug in their mouth knows how vital proper spitting technique really is. Thanks, Scott, for teaching me how to spit and for letting me follow you around like the love sick little girl that I was. I have no idea where you are right now, but I’m sending a little good karma your way, man.

In fifth grade, I thought I was the luckiest girl because I got Mr. McConnell’s class. His class was a city and you could have various jobs in the city to earn money. I don’t think I learned anything in that class that year. I learned a lot about archaeology because that was what I was obsessed about at the time, but nothing was covered in class. I remember listening to Hooked on Classics and being asked to draw a picture that felt like the song. I could do that now, but at ten, it was beyond me to try to paint what I heard. I think that concept is beyond most people in general. I learned that I never want to work in the Post Office because it’s just moving a lot of papers. I learned that the whole city concept of a classroom was just a way for Mr. McConnell to get through the school year without having to teach very much.

I wanted to be like Sabrina Martin in fifth grade. She wore really tight pants and the guys liked her a lot. I wanted to wear tennis shoes like hers so bad that I saved up the money to buy some. My mom was surprised that I would rather buy tennis shoes than Barbies and offered to buy them for me. They cost $9.95 at Gibson’s Discount Stores. They were blue and white.

One day in fifth grade, Greg Wagstaff, Sabrina Martin and Scott Crookston were laughing. It was that controlled and hushed laughing that meant that they really shouldn’t have been laughing at all. I feared that they were laughing at me, “What are you laughing at?” Scott turned toward me and replied, “Your boyfriend.” I was clueless. More than anything, I wanted Scott Crookston to be my boyfriend. They were quiet and waiting. I followed their line of sight; they were watching Dylan.

He was reading a book. We were all supposed to be reading books. My biography of Benjamin Franklin hung in my hands while I watched them. Scott pretended to read his biography of Davy Crockett. We watched Dylan. I was appalled as I saw his hand go up to his face. He was picking his nose and even worse: he ate it. I thought, “Even kindergarteners know that you don’t pick your nose and eat it!”

All of them burst into laughter while Dylan read on, oblivious. I was embarrassed by him. I was embarrassed for him. They looked at me to see if I was laughing, but my stomach was sick. All I could say was, “He’s not my boyfriend.”

Part 4


Dylan (Part 4)

Filed under: Dylan,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1 ? Part 2 ? Part 3

Dylan was the hero for one day in fifth grade. Everyone watched him with bright eyes and for one brief, shining moment, he was The Man.

We had been presenting our reports. I have no idea what my report was on. It was probably on bees. I think I wrote the same report over and over my entire school career. I did reports on bees and diabetes and got good grades every time. I thought that I shouldn’t bother learning anything new when I can specialize. Unfortunately, I didn’t major in either bees or diabetes in college, so all that specialization was for naught. Yeah, my report was probably on bees and boring as hell.

As I remember it, we had been bored all day. The entire class was presenting their reports and every damn one of them had been mind-numbingly boring. I couldn’t tell you the subjects of any of the reports, not even Scott Crookston’s or Greg Wagstaff’s. Now that I think of it. I think Scott talked about some biography he had read. The library had an entire section of biographies about American Heroes. I think Scott read every single one of them. I remember noticing that the only American Heroes that were female were Betsy Ross (for sewing the flag, LAME) and Harriet Tubman (for saving hundreds of lives, ok, that was cool). That makes me really mad right now. How come there weren’t cool biographies about Cleopatra or Queen Elizabeth or Katherine the Great? Sure, they weren’t American Heroes, but they were women who kicked ass just as much as stupid old Davy Crockett. Yeah, I think Scott’s report was probably on Davy Crockett and boring as hell.

Dylan’s report was on medieval armament. After a brief explanation of common weaponry during medieval times, Dylan revealed the miniature catapult that he had made. We were thoroughly unimpressed for thirty seconds. He set it up, placed the small wad of paper in it, and set it off. The paper flew across the room. The power of the catapult disrupted itself, turning the medieval machine on its side on the desk. After the release of the device, the room cheered. Dylan set the catapult up on its legs, reset the spring load and prepared it for another shot.

I was completely shocked. He had kept the fabulousness of his report an absolute secret from me. I imagined that his room at home must be filled with tiny weapons of war, lined up neatly on shelves. While the class cheered, I remember looking at Dylan, surprised and proud of how popular his report was. Yeah, Dylan was the hero that day.


A Cheap Foucault’s Pendulum Rip-Off

Filed under: Books & Short Stories,Dylan,Personal History,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 4:35 pm

“Have you read the Da Vincio…”

His voice trailed off, but I knew what he was talking about.

“No, I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code .”

“I was watching something on The History Channel about it…”

I could tell that he wanted to talk about a book he didn’t read and conspiracy theories he has only had a passing glance of. I went through my conspiracy theory phase in the early nineties, so I had no patience for him.

“I heard it was a cheap rip-off of Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. I read Foucault’s Pendulum, so I didn’t bother with The Da Vinci Code. Foucault’s Pendulum was written in Italian and translated rather poorly, so maybe that’s…”

The phone rang and I answered it professionally even though I was in mid-rant. We never got back to the conversation and in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get to finish. I was about to talk about Portuguese, Latin and Italian. I was about to tell him how I regretted that I didn’t write the translations in my book so that my friends could read it. I was about to tell him about Dylan’s rant, “Bring me the head of Umberto Eco!”

I just looked up The Da Vinci Code at my library’s website. They have 10 books and 49 holds. Anyone who has stepped into a Barnes and Noble in the last year has seen the huge display of Da Vinci items. Apparently, The History Channel even has a show about it. All that popularity makes me recoil from it like a Britney Spears concert.

Yet, at one time, I was so intrigued by the idea of conspiracy theories that I was willing to slog through Foucault’s Pendulum. I looked up the Latin. I muddled my way through the Portuguese. I did my best with the Italian. I consumed the Templars. I was intrigued by the Kabala. I even chuckled at the thought that Mickey Mouse had a part in it all. I didn’t go all Illuminati or anything, but I enjoyed the ideas for a brief month or two in my life.

I liked the ideas in the past. Why do I recoil from them now? Is it just the popularity of them that makes me dismiss them with a “cheap rip-off” jab? I’m feeling guilty now and my words from this morning sound callous and hollow. I guess I should read the book. It’s not like it’s going to tax my intellect like Umberto’s did. I could probably read it over a weekend. I’m not waiting in line behind 49 people, though. I better buy my own copy.

Powered by WordPress
(c) 2003-2007 Laura Moncur