Communist Huts and Fields

This was written on May 10th, 2002. At the time I was attempting to write in some sort of style, and did write in some sort of style, but in hindsight I’m not sure if I like it all that much; some of the style (which is quite short – two typed pages) seems set apart from the content of the story. I think there may be maybe 3 (possibly 4) sentences that I actually like; suffice it to say, this was an early effort.

And, being autobiographical, it’s all true. Enjoy (and/or critique :P)!

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I was on the bus going downtown from campus with my three apartment-mates today. There didn’t seem to be anything particularly interesting at first, though it appears that a situation did develop. A typical Santa Cruz anti-capital and probably anarchist student confronted me with weak words, and I chose not to respond in any incredibly meaningful way. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As all good stories have a beginning, so shall this one.

Earlier today (or perhaps yesterday), I decided that I would leave campus for an excursion out to the incredibly miniscule (but still somewhat impressive) Capitola Shopping Mall. This mall has also been called “Crapitola Small,” as opposed to the proper “Capitola Mall,” but I’m not as critical of its size as some others seem to be. Regardless, I decided that a trip there (for no reason in particular) was in order. I would leave after my final class of the day (and week, for that matter, as it’s a Friday), a politics class taught by an incredibly gifted professor. I went to class at two-o’clock, listened (and hurriedly scribbled down notes) to perhaps the finest (and most un-biased, fair, and honest) lecture on Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto I’ve ever had the privilege to hear. The talk was both incredibly informative and intellectually stimulating. Eventually, the lecture ended, and I walked out of the classroom satisfied and intrigued. Several questions had arisen during the lecture that I planned to email to the aforementioned incredibly gifted professor.

It was a very nice day outside, and so I walked back to my on-campus apartment in lieu of taking a shuttle. When I got there, I informed my two present apartment-mates (who were interested in the excursion to Capitola Mall) that I would write an email to my professor posing him my questions, and would then leave (with the aforementioned apartment-mates) to catch a bus for downtown. I wrote and sent my question-filled email to my professor, and within an hour, we (the two of my three apartment-mates and myself) were off to the bus stop. Once there, by happy coincidence, we met the third and final apartment-mate, who decided to come with us to Capitola Mall.

This third apartment-mate had recently stopped pledging for a Fraternity after deciding (wisely, in my opinion) that it wasn’t worth everything that he was being forced to go through (by which I mean, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, hazing). He regaled us with stories of various tortures he had endured while we impatiently waited fifteen minutes for the bus. But eventually the bus arrived; we got on, ambled our way to the back, and sat down on available seats.

Through some convention of conversation, a comment was made about my lack of a tan (while my whiteness isn’t that apparent to me, it seems to be quite glaring to another apartment-mate). This led to a question of how I, a person who had lived in close proximity to San Diego for over ten years, could lack such a bronze covering of skin. This further degenerated into a fallacious and jest-filled argument between myself and apartment-mate-Matt, regarding which of us had lived in a better location before college. This entailed such comments as, “Oh yeah?!? Well, I live across the street from a vineyard. And 2 miles one way and there’s a big shopping mall and two miles the other way there’s untamed nature!” (my comment) and his opposing response, “Yeah?!? Well I live close to two lakes! And we have the second-biggest shopping mall in the country within 5 miles of us! 350 stores! And, so there!” This continued for several minutes (during which our other two apartment-mates essentially attempted to disassociate from us) until I remembered the ULTIMATE justification for claiming that had I lived in the better place.

I remembered, quite simply, that the kitchen and bathroom of my old house had been featured in Better Homes and Gardens. And so I went in for the kill: “My distance from a kitchen featured in Better Homes and Gardens? None! My distance from a bathroom featured in Better Homes and Gardens? None! Hah!” And with that, my apartment mate may have conceded defeat.

But I’ll never be sure, for this is when the typical Santa Cruz anti-capital and probably anarchist (and rather large) female student jumped in: “And you’re proud of that?!?” she asked me incredulously.

I was immediately taken aback. I first wasn’t sure if she was talking to me, but she was. She obviously didn’t realize that the entire argument was made in jest.

“This entire argument is being made in jest,” I said.

“And you’re proud of that?!?” she asked again.

Obviously, I wasn’t getting through to her. I pictured the rest of the conversation playing out in my head before I responded again. I would say, ‘define proud,’ and she would stop, stumble over someone asking her to define a simple, but integrally important word, and mumble something like ‘you think that represents you?’ I would then ask her to define ‘represent,’ and she would again have trouble. And in the end, I would say something along the lines of ‘Well, I rather like living in nice surroundings, and I don’t really see why you should be so upset with the fact that I have been lucky enough to have such an opportunity. I’m sorry that you can’t get passed your own personal grudge and feelings of inadequacy that you seem to be feeling, even though you seemed to assert that the conditions in which one lives don’t necessarily reflect one’s inner self. If I were you, I’d probably take some time to think about this entire issue, and then decide if you’d rather live in a shack or a mansion. I’m not going to criticize anyone who lives in a shack, but as for myself, I’d take the mansion. But it’s your choice.’ And then, in this hypothetical conversation, she would either say ‘You’re right! I was an idiot!’, ‘You’re right, I am an idiot!’ or simply leave, disgusted with me.

As it is, though, none of these things happened. You see, we were less than a minute away from the downtown Metro Center, so I just repeated that the argument was being made in jest. She looked down condescendingly at me (she was standing, I was sitting) and moved away. The bus reached the Metro Center. We (the three apartment-mates and myself) got off and walked in a different direction than the typical Santa Cruz anti-capital and probably anarchist student. Matt commented that he considered asking her if her home had been featured in “Communist Huts and Fields,” but thought better of it. The sun was still shining in the cloudless sky, and we continued walking and laughing.

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Date: Thursday, 28. July 2005 23:32
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