god. What a day. It doesn't matter what I did, because most of the
day was normal. Sweet heresy. It used to matter that I ran 4.4 miles
today and that we did it in 39 minutes. Now, who gives a flying fuck
(except for Arthur Dent and whatshername).
upstairs in my room, minding my own business and reading Nietzsche.
There came a knock on my door. Strange. Few people knock on my door.
It was Val from Before the Dawn [Note: Before
the Dawn was a weekly radio show I hosted on WPSU]. She wanted
to talk about her script. I invited her in, and we talked it out.
just about finished, and I was about to go back to studying, when
another knock came on the door. Very strange. I opened up to find
Maureen standing there, the girl who lives next door.
have some bad news for you," she said.
right. Out with it."
He's in Monty Python." She pointed to my John Cleese silly walks
poster. "Is that him?"
John Cleese." I told her. Then I pointed to my Graham Chapman
shrine [Note: I had a number of Graham Chapman posters
up, him being my favorite in the group] and asked, "Is it him?
I wavered. "How... when?"
afternoon he died of cancer. He was 48."
spoke up. "Do you want me to leave?"
it's not as if it's someone I know," I said. I tried to smile.
Maureen left, apologizing for being the bearer of bad news. I finished
up with Val, and then she left, too.
together my stuff; I knew where I was headed. I wore my heavy coat,
put Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez in the headphones and swept
out into the cruel night.
back my sobs, I decided I'd rather walk in the road than encounter
all those people on the sidewalk. Somewhere near Shortlidge, I almost
got run over by the Campus Loop. Suddenly, there were bright lights
in front of me. I stepped onto the curb and gave the finger to the
blue metal wind that blew past me.
coughing, and it felt good to cough. I wanted to get everything out,
everything. I coughed harder and harder until my insides started to
come out of my mouth. I spat them in the grass outside White building
and again closer to Atherton. I wiped my remains on my wool coat.
the window of the GFC [Note: The Grandfather Clock Lounge
in Atherton Hall, the University Scholars dorm], I saw a godsend.
Kzin [Jon Kilgannon], Eric [Schr9ager] and who knows who else, all
sitting in a circle, laughing. I stumbled in, wiped my wet face, and
entered the GFC.
first thing Roger [Christman] said was, "Did you know Mel Blank
is dead?" He's always had perfect timing. [Note: This
had been a running joke from the summer, where one day every time
we ran into somebody new, that person informed us that Mel Blanc had
died. And so it became a sort of conversation starter, or a macabre
I said. "And someone else is dead, too." I saw the stricken
faces. "No one we know personally, but... Graham Chapman died
today of cancer."
disbelief registering on Jon Acheson's face. Then I had to leave,
coughing a gastric storm again.
I came back out of the women's restroom, Kzin and Eric were out in
the hall. I hugged them, and Eric told me I'd better sit down. He
kneeled by my knee and talked to me, and he even started to cheer
me up. We started thinking rationally, calling people and trying to
think of a proper dedication. Eric wanted to put a huge sign up on
the Obelisk or something. Someone suggested the Onionhead. [Note:
Also known as the Fighting Red Onionhead or Ode de Capa, an ugly red
sculpture that sat on the lawn near the Hetzel Union Building.]
meeting (for it had been a meeting of The Athertonian) broke
up, and some people hung around, like Cathy Nelson and Ben Liblit
and some guy named Steve [Note: I'm guessing this was
Steve "Attila the Pun" Gradess]. We got the tears and into
the black humor stage. Eric and Cathy launched into "We'll All
Go Together When We Go," with Roger playing accompaniment on
the piano by ear. We got so loud that people in the Zombie lounge
across the hall kept telling us to shush. [Note: We
called the study lounge across the hall from the GFC the Zombie Lounge,
because of the gray, quiet pallor of those who hung out there.]