But i don't mean that title like the way you think. I was just being cute. Here's the deal: We got a comment here on this blog today from my first girlfriend ever, Quiche Loraine. She wants to know what kind of starter banjo her husband needs to get. Well, i'll get to that in another post, but first i want to talk about something more pressing: the reason i named this post "wimmin."

As i read over Loraine's posts on her new blog i couldn't help but think about how smart she sounded. Hmmm, i thought...my wife's smart, too. And Sarah! (my best friend at grad school) She's awfully smart. I sure do seem to have a lot of smart women in my life. Ms. Evins! (ninth grade English teacher) She was smart, too!

And then i thought about it a little more. It isn't just that these women were merely smart, but it was that they've all had such an impact on my life. I mean, these people are huge figures in my development as a human being.

To talk about how smart and wonderful Alison is here on this blog would simply be redundant. If you wanna know, ask me sometime when you see me on the street. Sarah was both a mentor and muse in school--way more responsible than me, a brilliant thinker, the reason i was able to make it through that process. Ms. Evins, well, Ms. Evins made it into my mfa thesis as being the first person to ask me who "they" were. (Brad Dunn and i, in response to her question "who says it has to be this way?" had answered "they say it has to be this way." Ms E., in then asking who "they" are, started, at that very moment my precipitous (and 20 year) decline into total deconstructive meltdown. And finally (at least for this list), there's Loraine.

The reason i'm waxing poetic over you here, Quiche, is not just that you were a first love, which is pretty neat in itself. And it isn't just that you sounded smart on your blog. No, the reason is how, all along, i've always known you were the first real outside-the-box influence in my life. I think back and realize that if you hadn't come along i don't think Ms. Evins, or Sarah or Alison could have ever existed for me. You may have been--whether you know it or not--the first real feminist influence on my life. There i was in my--literally and metaphorically--ill-fitted Van Halen shirt, and you came along and changed it into a B-52's shirt. Suddenly i was able to take off that silly man-costume--tryin' to look all big-booted, shirtless and leaned back--and was able to become the kind of nerd boy i really was. The kind of nerd boy i needed to become in order to internalize the real meaning of Ms. E's question--which she would ask that very next year.
You tolerated my fumbling boy ways, my jealousy (did you know that Ricky was on America's Most Wanted?), and helped me understand stuff like being smart did not actually endanger my heterosexuality.

Anyway, i read your blog. You sound really smart. You also sound like you've been through some hell. I'm sorry. I hope its just a little helpful for you to know that i'm grateful that i got to know you when i did.

Oh, alright. I guess the most common banjo question i'm asked--right after "Hey! Can you go play that thing somewhere else?!"--is what kind of banjo should i get?" Well, i have a simple answer: A CHEAP one. These days, until you spend 3k+ dollars, every banjo is gonna sound like crap. The most important thing is to get one that plays easily. So. Get someone that can play a fretted instrument, get them to find a cheapo banjo, and if it seems to play better that can Mack truck, and cost around 150 bucks--then buy it. There you have it. Good luck, James.


Salvador Dalai Llama said...

Oddly enough, when you look up "Walter Biffle" in my brain--and anyone skilled enough in Legilimancy is welcome to, by the way--you see that picture. Go figure.

Quiche said...

You cannot imagine how much that means to me. I am honored to have known you, and you were every bit as influential to me, in more ways than I could possibly express. There have only been three profoundly influential men in my life- you, my Dad, and James. It is ironic that I thought I was the awkward oddball that was fortunate and honored to have such a very “cool” (the quirky but cute Mercurochrome streaked hair), very smart, far from nerdy first love, you were the first person aside from my Daddy that really saw me, and made me feel truly comfortable being myself. It was also because of you that I knew I was worth something, that I was smart, and for the first time I truly felt loved, cherished and honored. You were not just a boyfriend, you were (and are) a best friend. Had I not been blessed with occasion of that experience, I would not have recognized or appreciated the phenomenal, other worldly arrival of James in my life, nor would I be the same person that he fell in love with. By the way, I have wanted to thank you for coming to Dad's funeral, and apologize for how cold and unfeeling I might have appeared to you, but it meant the world to me. My ex-husband was obsessively controlling and jealous, would not have understood (nor ever did) my intent, and would have made a huge scene had he known who you were. I have regretted and grieved over that all of these years. Please forgive, and have Allison give you a hug for me which is what I would have done.
Thank you for everything- beyond words. Thank you for the banjo advice. James won a bid on ebay for a vintage Kingston 5-string, mahogany resonator, which looks to be in excellent condition, other than the usual scratches on the back from being played. He's excited. I want him to learn Grandfather's Clock, which I have always thought sounded best on banjo with the lovely chime-like harmonics.
Thank you.

Sarah said...

Dammit, I might just cry.

Kenneth said...

Walter, Quiche and I had extraordinary times.

Cassie said...

I just wanted to say thank you to you both for sharing your thoughts of love and admiration for each other with us all. It seems like it is less common, alas, for former partners/bf/gf's to stay best friends and to become truly meaningful figures in one's present life. Seeing you two standing up for your relationship and acknowledging how it made you more open and able to love your current partners--well, that's just plain beautiful.

Play on!