If you asked Alex why she helped her professor move, she’d probably say, “Well, I haven’t thought about it, exactly”. Then her mind would drift back to the end of class that Tuesday when Professor Fournier, Ms. Anna Fournier, asked the class if anyone wouldn’t mind helping her move into her new apartment that Friday. She’d like, buy them pizza or something. “You guys don’t have to answer now, just come and see me, if you’d like to.”
Alex would say, “I thought everyone would want to. Help the professor and be with her, outside of class. But I was the only one who stuck around and said Sure, I’ll do it.”
Alex took a bus out to Fournier’s soon-to-be former apartment. She expected some kind of philosophical discourse while they moved stuff, and tried to initiate it herself, but Fournier was all about the nitty-gritty basics of moving her this shit into the U-haul van.
“What did I say? Something like, when we were picking up the huge leather sofa, Ms. F do you think us ladies can lift such a big thing? Ironically, of course. The kind of joke Fournier used in class all the time. But no laughter out of her, not even acknowledgment.”
They loaded everything and moved. Loaded everything and moved. Loaded everything- and moved. Three times. By the time they made their last trip, it was 8PM. Alex helped put the bed where it needed to be and moved a few other things in the right rooms.
“It took a while because she wanted everything in the right spot” continues Alex, “She visualized where everything should be while I twiddled my thumbs trying to appear useful wondering if I could leave.”
Finally, finished, Alex collapsed on the leather sofa and Fournier ordered a pizza. While they waited for the delivery guy, Fournier asked Alex to put on some music. Alex looked through Fournier’s Itunes, found The Bends by Radiohead and turned it on. That first watery sound spilled into the room through Fournier’s expensive German speakers. When Alex turned around Fournier was filling an immodest bong with what looked like killer weed.
“I was surprised. But then pleased. That she would smoke with me. That we were smoking together, committing a transgression. And that I got to smoke some weed, plain and simple.”
One hit of that stuff from that thing was all she needed, but they took several.
The pizza guy came, commented on how good the apartment smelled, but wasn’t invited to take a hit. Then Fournier began talking. A lot.
“And then I finally began to relax. Because the whole time previous she was quiet-like. But when she started talking I could settle in, listening to her, eating my pizza, listening to Radiohead, being high. Then, when the song ‘Just’ started, Fournier became filled with enthusiasm.”
Ms. F said, “This whole ecological catastrophe we’re living in can be traced back to a misogynistic dialectic. You have pristine nature, virgin forests, Mother Nature concealing her secrets like some tease, that these phallocentric guys got to probe with their little lab-tools. They treat her like Jezebel, like she needs to be brought under control. Tamed. Groomed and manicured. Dominated and made to produce, made to sub-serve the ends of the Patriarchy. What a croc!”
The pizza was decimated, at this point. Bits of mushroom and globs of tomato sauce covered the cardboard box like a melted face was peeled off the pavement. The chorus echoed inside Alex’s skull:
You do it to yourself
and that’s why it really hurts
You do it to yourself.
Alex would say at this point, “My mind could only focus on the lyrics. They made me think about my own shit. The guilt. How all of my problems and pains hurt so much more, it’s true, I do it to myself… No, it can’t be my fault. Not completely… what’s that you’re saying Ms. F? Justa bell? God. Everything she’s saying sounded so abstract. Even she herself looked like a hologram. The only thing that was real in the room were the sound waves of music. God! This is good weed.”
Ms. F kept on saying, “And they think the planet is some kind of cog in a machine, rotating mechanically according to the laws of the universe in a perfect circle. What laws? This planet is a hunk of organic matter wobbling along an elliptical path. The Earth is alive. Plain and simple. Down to the core- it’s an egg. We don’t realize it, that we’re floating in egg-stuff, because air is so transparent. To. But fish would say the same about water, and that’s, you know. Water.”
They both laughed, a lot.
“And even the ozone, or what’s left of it, is more like the yolk of an egg than an empty sky. This whole planet is ovum floating willy-nilly in the Milky Way. Gai-a!!!”
She said it just like that, shouting the ‘a’ like the karate kid. That shout broke whatever tension was in the room into pieces. Stomachs filled, adequately stoned, Anna said, “Check this out.” She dug through one of the cardboard boxes until she found a small wooden box of inlaid wood, done just beautifully, made to show The Tower, like in a Tarot deck.
“Ahh… The Edifice.” She said with a voice of familiarity which Alex grappled to comprehend. “What is it with these guys? They all want to erect their own tower of truth- after tearing down all the other guys’. Descartes, Freud, Locke. Heidegger- the exception- at least he just wanted to tear down the tower of metaphysics, not erect anything of his own. Then again, he made that into a fetish of his own. Haha, what the fuck was I doing? Oh, right.”
She opened the ornate box. Inside rested a strip of velvet wrapped around two objects. One was a small brass pipe. The other was a mass of what looked like tar, itself wrapped in a crumpled sheet of cellophane.
“Smoke hash before?” Alex shook her head No. Anna picked a chunk of resin with a bent paper clip and dabbed it onto the end of the brass pipe. Then, before lighting it herself, handed it to Alex saying, “Ovum”.
Alex lit up, handed it back. Fournier lit up, handed it back. Back and forth. Back- and forth. Three times.
“Be careful. The pipe gets hot.” Sure enough. The flame on that brass pipe made it hot, almost too hot to hold. Almost. A big Almost because they were determined to smoke all of the hash in that little box with the tower on it.
Alex could say about this period of time little (11PM?) except that, “When I closed my eyes geometric patterns cascaded from the center radiating outwards. And the music was different- French electronica that I don’t remember Anna turning on. And we were laughing and real warm. And close…”
And it happened. First, Anna’s hand was on Alex’s thigh. Next, their lips sealed. Then, there wasn’t philosophical discourse, just the nitty-gritty basics of fucking, heightened by the substances they ingested.
But you wouldn’t ask Alex, because she hasn’t told a soul.