the life of richie

EN BRETAGNE, AGAIN; OR NOT

Posted in is by Rich on May 23, 2010

A former student from many years ago posts to his Facebook feed, “en Bretagne,” and because he is one who never posts anything, it is a mild shock, the return of one once familiar in an unfamiliar setting. (I will call him Andrew Bretagne here.) Hours later, I think I see him sitting outside Express Pizza, talking to two police officers. Could it be him? and it seems plausible; this was the kid who over spring break the year he was in my class (he was a junior in high school) left train schedules for Boston in his bedroom for his parents to find, when really he had stolen aboard a bus bound for Chicago. Police eventually were sent to find him and return him to Bergen County, NJ. But still, you see why I wouldn’t put it past him. “Andrew est en Bretagne,” when really he is sitting with a girl outside a closed pizza shop on an island off the coast of South Jersey. And with the police: it is a rerun of spring break his junior year –– that year we took off for Amsterdam to see the tulips and Anne Frank’s house, my friend. While we were touring the annex, Andrew was aboard a Chi-town bus, running away, only to be found by the secret police and taken back to the Garden State.

There is no place like unheimlich.

At breakfast, there seem to be too many babies (I feel claustrophobic –– like their screaming is eating up all the air), and I wonder why must there be so many children in the world (and before 9 A.M.) and want to post to Facebook, “Rich thinks there should be a tax on babies in restaurants,” but know it will perturb friends who’ve gone to seed (in his feed). So I decide, instead, to later blog about it: because none of the breeders have time to read this (and if you are reading it, well done, you, still finding time for yourself, what with the child/ren, and when you do steal a moment, what do you do with it but read this blog: I am touched but unmolested). The homefries at the Beach Club are delightful, but need some ketchup; the Florentine and rye toast exquisite. A woman with a baby cranky about its hotcakes being too hot, pushes her chair up against mine and complains, “I don’t have enough room!” –– but I was here first, and so refuse to press in tighter. Besides, how will any of us ever have enough room again with all your spawn, woman? The nerve.

Unheimlich is where you hang your pointed hat.

I did a travel project about Brittany (Fr. Bretagne) when I was a junior in high school. (Brittany’s birthday is tomorrow; I must remember to return her e-mail.) I remember –– (I did not run away from home on a bus, but) standing in front of the class –– gesturing to a map –– Mme. Rinck smiling with approbation as I tried to articulate, in an awkward tongue, the walled cities like Saint-Malo, tous les châteaux, and with England just across the Channel, what more could you want from vos vacances? Were we, my class partner and I, both wearing pointed hats for some reason? (I seem to recall.) I seem to remember that –– Andrew Bretagne, when he was in class, always looked so detached from us all, but would sometimes offer something to our discussion, being pulled from his inner abyss a moment , and once he used the word behoove when speaking. And it behooved everyone to smile when he did, for he was much admired by everyone.

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