Monday, January 12, 2009


The assignment for my fundamentals of movement class is to record all impulses I stifle for a period.

My immediate thought was that I don't really stifle my impulses. I generally just tell people what I'm thinking, and do what I want, I was pretty sure.

On my way to choir, which I have right after movement, I was walking with a friend behind polio girl. I don't know whether it's really polio, but she walks the same as a Cambodian girl I know who has confirmed that in her own case it is indeed polio. You've seen these people. One leg flexes laterally, like a slinky. It's obviously not meant to support any weight, and the other leg has to hurry and catch up to lift her torso back to the appropriate height. My instant impulse was to start to walk like her. It was so neat. I studied exactly how her legs moved, her upper body flinging her long hair from side to side. It would be hilarious, I thought, to see TWO such people walking down the hall, seemingly unaware of each other. When I got to class and busted out my binder to write down my experience for the purpose of this journal entry, my buddy confided in me that he'd had the exact same impulse. Maybe it's universal. Maybe we'd all be a little better if everyone just walked like that girl when she was around. I was alone in having the impulse to go up to her and point at her legs and say, snootily, "So what's this all about then? Is it polio or what?"

Within minutes, the fat class clown was saying something about how the choir director was going to be so glad when he was gone. He seemed to think he was the star of the choir. Then he launched into telling us how that wasn't really so; he was the only one who could make our teacher laugh. I held my tongue. What I wanted to say was that a) he wasn't the only one in the class who tried to be funny—it's almost a prerequisite in a choir class to make some smart aleck comment every time anyone says anything at all, and b) that NONE of them, and especially this guy, ever made the teacher laugh at ALL, because they were all trying too hard. But I didn't say that because all of these people would have heard me, and because I'm already not super popular in there because I tend to never speak for fear of becoming one of them. You know, trying to prove my worthiness of their esteem with my wit. I'm above that. So I just let him make his asinine comments, even if it seemed to be offending all the other self-christened class clowns in the choir.

In my third class of the day, the teacher (in this case the flowy English-professor type in a dress and all kinds of beads from some third world country) was talking about the online syllabus, and she said "If you're not able to get it up, come to my office and I'll try to help you out." It took some work, but I successfully stifled a loud sophomoric laugh that wouldn't have been delivered out of actually having found humor in what was said, but rather out of a desire to CREATE humor for the other members of the class, but at the poor woman's expense. Also, I had an add card I still needed her to sign for me right after class.

That's when I realized I do stifle sometimes, but only when there's someone around who would probably be offended by my behavior. I started to congratulate myself on having such an intact superego (I had worked so hard during my teenage years to demolish it).

Until that evening, when we had sneaked into a sold-out movie by buying tickets to "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and then just walking into the one we had wanted to see anyway. There were some open seats, but they were scattered randomly throughout the theater, and it would take some rearranging to be able to get us all situated. One friend suggested that one of us pretend to be handicapped, and before he could even finish the thought, I was hobbling down the aisle with my hip jutting out, upper body swaying left and right, EXACTLY like polio girl. It's as though my body had been waiting all day to mimic that girl, and having been stifled once, was not about to wait for me to think. It just went.

People DID move over for us, but my friends were too embarrassed to sit by me, so we ended up walking (me limping) over to Beverly Hills Chihuahua anyway, which was awful.

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