A Sea of Splitting Her Peas
For one reason or another, Ed and Meryl's conversation reminds me of the first time I met Louise. It was in college at Brigham Young University and it was the mid-nineties. I had signed up for a two-semester class she and Tom were team-teaching on Identity, Film, and the Weimar Republic. Louise showed up for class all of twice. Perhaps thrice.
Once was on the first day.
I remember little about that day. I do remember sitting in a round of chairs up front and that the group was a bit larger on the first day than it would be by the last day. I did not know then that two of the people from that group would be friends for the rest of my life. Near or far, they are friends.
Khoren is one of the two.
"You are, bar none, the smartest student I've ever had." This was Louise and she was standing on her lawn in the Fall. Khoren and I were standing next to her. She wore a gigantic smile and her words were for Khoren. "Bar none." She drove the point home so there was no mistake.
I had just made her a plate of Spanakopita for her birthday. She told Khoren he was the smartest student in the universe. What did she have to say to me? "I enjoyed your plate of Spanakopita. Though it made my breath smell like tuna poop."
I suppose I get points for comedy.
Anyway, on the first day we met I don't think she gave me a second look. I remember she said something about 'if there really is a God.' And I remember her laugh. If you know Louise, you know her laugh. This is true of every genius or brain-dead dope who's ever entered into her presence. Bar none.
Later, in the winter months, I was walking to the BYU bookstore - an excellent book store I must say - and Louise was coming the opposite direction, presumably out of the bookstore. We met on the sidewalk where the paths cross - one headed into the store and one headed to the HFAC - BYU's theatre and music building.
"Hi Louise." I stopped. She stopped and looked up with a straight face. "You might not remember me. I'm Jason Merrell from your class with Tom." I thought it was cool they invited their students to call them Tom and Louise.
"Oh, I am one who knows you, Jason," she said. Again with a straight face. Maybe a slight grin on the verge. It was an odd turn of phrase.
I don't remember anything we said to each other after that.
The other memory Ed and Meryl's little 'Addendum' exhange reminds me of actually relates to the path leading to the HFAC. I did some acting in college and one of the plays I acted in was all in German. Woyzeck.
If you don't know the story of this play, you're not going to get it from me now. Suffice it to say that Woyzeck is a guy in town. He has a doctor. I played that doctor; the evil sadistic doctor who restricts Woyzeck to a diet of peas and insists on measuring his urine content. And taking his pulse.
When I auditioned for the part, the director - Adam Houghton - handed me the scene where the doctor takes Woyzeck's pulse. I had five minutes with Todd to prepair. Todd played Woyzeck - the man about town listening to all the authorities, going insane. 'Please just go with what I'm about do to,' I said to Todd in the hall. 'I hope it will work.' When it was our turn to do the scene, instead of taking Woyzeck's wrist to feel his pulse, I put my right thumb and index finger on the almond-shaped lymph nodes at his throat. With my left hand, I pretended to pull a pocket watch from my wastecoat.
Everyone laughed. Even Todd started giggling - until I turned my face to his and burned through his eyeballs with my evil doctor look and my evil doctor smile.
I'm certain this was the move that got me the part. How am I certain? Because Adam told me so.
I reveled in it. Seriously, it was so much fun to play such a sadistic bastard in a comic way. At one point in the play I got to wear thick blue rubber gloves. After our first performance, one of the actors in the play came up to me and said I was the star of the show. I'd like to say I didn't care that she said such a thing, but I've remembered she said it all these years later. So what does that tell you? Hmmmm.
Now I'm thinking maybe Meryl should feed Edmund peas. Wrap him in a straight jacket, blow him a big kiss right up close to his face, and feed him split-pea soup one spoonful at a time. "This is going to be so so delicious, Eddie. Mmmmm. Yes. Yes, it is. Ooh, let's not spill that on your lip now. We'll just wipe that goop right on up, shall we?"
MERYL I am going... to kill you, Eddie. ED Hey, Jason said it. I had nothing to do with it. Honest Apples. MERYL I'm gonna kill you. Dead Ed. Done So So Dead. ED But what would you do here all by your lonesome if I were gone? MERYL What a stupid question. I have Waffles. He would never betray me in such a despicable way. Peas. I'll show you split peas. ED I'm sure you will. Maximum velocity peas a la Mary Louise. MERYL Yeppp. Count on it. ED I will. I will indeed. MERYL But later. Later and only I know how much later you'll have to eat that soup. Every damn split-pea bite. Oh now but seriously, would you please just shut Jason up and silence your tongue and typing for one half of an hour? Don't make me do it for you. ED Okay okay okay. MERYL Good boy. Why don't you go down and play with Waffles for a bit. I'm sure he's hungry as ever. Feed him some chum from the bucket. ED The bucket's empty. MERYL Well then go find a way to fill it, why don't you. You're a bright bright lad. You can do lots and lots with what you gots. Now scoot. And please be sure to scoot far far from me. I need to rest. I have a meeting with my publicist in two hours and my eyes have swollen to buckling. ED I have no idea what that means. But really? Your publicist. MERYL Yes. ED You just gave him the address and he's gonna pop on by for a little chat with Meryl, is he? MERYL No, you idiot. It's a Skype meeting. ED Ah. Got it. MERYL I don't care if you got it. Go away now and leave me some peace.
M'kay. (Reaches up to grab a rigging harness for the leap. Then drops his hands and stands still for a beat. Then squats back down at his keyboard.)
Actually, loath as I am to admit it, because - you know - Adolf wants to be the leader, I think Louise's 'bar none' statement was just so. On Thursday Khoren posted his Thanksgiving 'thankful for' list on his facebook wall and in it, he said he is thankful for teachers and mentors in his life who wished to influence him, without molding him.
With that in mind, I have a notion to make it four people from class. I believe four people from that class on Idendity, Film, and The Weimar Republic - near or far - are my life-long friends. I hope it's true. I have no way of knowing for sure now. Waffles and the sea. They know.
MERYL Shut. Up.