Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the secret from the past

Iris enjoys visiting her old teachers and keeping up with them, and one in particular fascinates her. This teacher lived through the tumultuous sixties right here in San Francisco, "but she was a square," reports Iris incredulously, who herself feels cheated out of the sixties and loves to sport peace sign accessories and tie-dyed clothing.

"You would have never known it was the sixties to look at me," agrees the teacher.

However this teacher has hidden depths and told Iris and me, in a discussion about what the sixties were about, that she lived "briefly on a commune. How brief I won't tell you."

I suspect she regrets greatly having let this slip, because Iris is like a dog with a bone. "Can you believe she was in a commune? Why won't she tell me how long?"

"Maybe she was just there for a few hours before she freaked out and left."

"Maaaaaaybe.... Why won't she tell me?"

This isn't the first person I've met in the Bay Area who did something of a communal nature in the seventies or sixties which she doesn't care to discuss. I used to have a friend and colleague who let slip that she used to live in one of the More House sex communes but declined to discuss the matter any further. I realized my friend was embarrassed and let the matter slide, but Iris is unlikely to do that. She wrote a speech down to try to persuade her teacher to be forthcoming:
"If I wasn't nosy, I wouldn't know half of the things I know now. It's not immoral to want to know something, it's human nature.

It is your duty, especially as a teacher, as a human being, to fulfill my knowledge to the extent possible.

Since I was not there at that commune in the sixties or seventies, it is not possible for me to know this.

Every single person on the planet deserves a right to a fair education. No matter how you approach it, from opening a school in Africa like Oprah to telling a ten year-old a secret from your hidden past, you are still making a change.

Maybe you say it is wrong to take this any further, but I strive to disagree.

I ask you only one last time, how long were you in that commune?"
This speech got Iris nowhere with her teacher, although her mother roared with laughter at the line comparing opening a school in Africa to telling a ten year-old a secret. We'll see how what happens next, as "I lied when I said I would ask 'only one last time,'" Iris said sassily.


hughman said...

you need to teach iris the adage about attcacting more flies with honey. she'd probably get farther with timely gifts. perhaps a life time membership to the MOMA or at least a place on the board of directors.

J9 said...

She could always use reverse psychology. Tell her teacher, I completely understand why you wouldn't want to trust your secret past to a 10 year old. Maybe one day when I'm past the akward teen years, we can go for coffee and I will catch you up on my life, and you would feel comfortable sharing such a personal experience with a young adult. Whether we can both laugh about it, or I can take away a cautionary tale of mispent youth, is entirely up to your telling of the events.

Silliyak said...

Having at least misled the teacher with the one question only statement, she should consider the potential consequences of further pursuit of the matter. How does she feel when she feels politicians or parents lie to her? Wouldn't her lying validate "the end justifies the means"?

hughman said...

well Iris lying gives the teacher carte blanche to lie as well. she should say she was in the commune until the aliens came and took all the homemade incense.

Jen in OR said...

Fantastic!!! I'm wondering if the teacher isn't being evasive on purpose so that Iris will continue trying to work it out of her. It must bring her no end of amusement. lol

Anonymous said...

What do you think about the Fat Acceptance movement?

Anonymous said...

I love your daughter - if you ever feel the need to rent her out for a little bit - you know where to find me :)