Sailboat Annie – On an American Education (a 30:30 report)
I first met Sailboat Annie after I had quit college twice and come back again. Was I a student? Come on, who isn’t? Seriously folks, getting to wake up in the morning and unless you are legally blind opening your eyes and start right off to take things in, like possibly your cat Charlie curled up down the foot of the bed or you can hear the neighbors on the second floor of the apartment building across the alley telling each other love stories to start another day, my point is you start taking things in immediately, before breakfast, before heading off to work if you are unlucky enough to work, to think work means shit, of course paying the bills but there are ways and I’m not talking illegal, there are ways to hustle and make enough bucks and quite enough bucks for food on the table and shelter and vehicle maintenance, again if owning a car is your thing,
I’m more of a hitchhiking walker kind of guy, which you better believe I did a lot of when I was down the Cape on my last respite from the school scene, crashing with one sister and then another, plus I met a guy at a Trader Joe’s and we got talking, the Red Sox or something, maybe the space program, and went for a coffee off the Orleans rotary and two weeks later I was on an air mattress in his spare room, which his wife seemed happy for the company, which is a roundabout way of saying again that education is a wake up and suit up and show up process, call it the real deal.
So I am mostly back (at the college) now in some incantation – Student? Hanger-oner? Hippie? Drug agent of overuse? Organizer? – who knows, but I was down in the coffee house in the student union basement and they had Simon and Garfunkel on the music box coming out of the walled-up speakers, it was “America” which if you reflect back you can see that’s exactly what I’ve been talking about, consider you wake up in the morning and your trusted pal Charlie sleeps down the base of the bed and that middle aged couple across the alley have never fallen out of love, no way, they exaggerate their love daily which if everyone in the Country did we wouldn’t be the shithole we are, just think if everyone on the campus felt that way of course then there would never be a need for another class, people could hang out with coffee and reefer and possibly black beauties and simply pontificate how it is and how to go about making it better, which is what I would surely call education and that’s without paying any tuition,
Though I wouldn’t be in disagreement that it still makes sense to have what would be called ‘technical schools’ and I wouldn’t think you’d call them colleges, just extended high school – itself a joke – so someone wanting to be a nurse or someone wanting to be a micro-biologist and study viruses and how to take them on and kick their ass so people, more of them, could end up living longer, if they want, and have more time to better acquaint with their pets (even dogs included, though not my favorites and definitely not Sailboat Annie’s), you get what I’m saying I hope, so like technical skills like automotive shop as a path of study in high school just gets extended so now you are in 17th grade, they’d need to give up sophomore and senior and those words likely, just use numbers, that’s the way I’d think about it, so there would be technical schools which was more high school….
Because Annie, when she ain’t out sailing and more on that later, Annie says that it’s her opinion that most people feel that their high school time was the best time of their lives, they say this when they’re 42 or even 29 and for sure 50, and while negatories (her cool word) like to moan about oh those hard high school years and all the angst and all the depression and probably getting on (prescription) or at least for sure needing anti-depressants like Paxil, for Christ sakes (Annie says) she’d gather up even if by crawling in windows and stealing if necessary all the Paxil’s from everyone who is officially a student here and grind them all up and then make this huge batch of cupcakes with them as flour and have an end the war bake sale, to raise money which everyone buying a cupcake would know was going to end up going to local food banks and kid settlement houses and free information and referral like hotline centers and free literature and free courses on how to make zines, which all this would need to be paid for and people providing these services would be getting paid and this is of course another word for a job but,
Annie can explain this so clearly you can’t help but be all-in on agreement, that it ain’t the same, it isn’t going to sell perfume or women’s fashions in some inner city department store, or being a cop or working for some slick magazine, even Rolling Stone though if there is enough coolness then “a job” kind of morphs into something else,
And so I came back up from the Cape, I thumbed and caught a ride out of Eastham which is just past Orleans where I’d been crashing with the guy and his wife (Bill and Stella) and one ride took me over the canal bridge and halfway up the 3, and since time for me as a drop-out and walker and liver-all-over and never mind stoking up bigtime on “self education” – the school of life brothers and sisters – I walked off where some old lady dropped me, it was in Scituate or Cohasset or one of those rich towns, and walked all the way out to the ocean, and sat on a seawall and decided, well first I thought about it pretending I was in a debate and in this debate I had to argue both for and against the discussed point which was – going to college is stupid – and I argue back and forth, it is, it sure isn’t, you’re stupid if you think that, yeah right lackey to all subservient coulee-like life, you can see how the time slipped by and there were all kinds of people walking out on the beach and even a few in the water though they do have great whites in this neck of the watery woods, and eventually the winner of the debate was, yes, it is stupid to go to college ( a unanimous decision)
But the caveat was that being stupid can be a cool thing, because in some ways the pressure is off, think about it, someone comes up to you and asks you something and you can say “I’m too stupid to answer you”, which means if you’re sitting, like I was, in the student union basement coffee shop listening to Phil Ochs or someone as people approach you to ask your opinion you can just hold up your hand in a stopping motion – like, don’t come a step closer – and mouth in silence but with enough clarity of lip and vocal muscle movement the words, “Sorry, too stupid to help you” and unless the person was a real asshole they would leave and there you go, life on your own terms,
And so when I am with Sailboat Annie there is no better example in the world of life on my own terms and fortunately she feels the same, and I did not mention that while I was crashing at one of my sisters and then the other and while with Bill and Stella, Annie had been working down in Falmouth – also on the Cape – at a boatyard, so I guess she had a job, where she was stripping and varnishing and sometimes working on one of the tour boats, but her best thing was taking townie little kids out for sailboat rides off Old Silver Beach, which if you are from someplace not near the ocean you are truly missing out if you’ve never seen it – wicked beautiful, and even my cat Charlie and especially the across the alley neighbors would be all in on agreement with that.
Talkin’ ’bout education. And my Sailboat Annie.