1st Dialogue with Adam

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Adam’s story is about redemption, but he wants to tell me the story about his sexual awakening.
1st Dialogue with Adam written 19 Jul 2001 (10:50-11:42). Edited 24 Jul 2001.

FRATER GYMNOS. So, hello, Adam.

ADAM. Good morning.

FG. What is it that you want to tell me today?

ADAM. I wanted to tell you about my sexual awakening.

FG. Did someone touch you when you were young?

ADAM. I WISH! No. That never happened. Actually I was in the church and I discovered the organist fooling around with one of the deacons of the church.

FG. What were you doing in the church?

ADAM. I used to like to watch the Organist practice organ. He was a good organist. He actually should have been playing somewhere more prestigious, in a musical tradition that let him use his talents, but there he was, trapped in a tiny Episcopal box church with a creaky old pipe organ.[1]

FG. At least it was a pipe organ. Our church didn’t have one – at least not one you didn’t have to pump with your feet!

ADAM. That would have been truly hell.

FG. Did you ever study organ with him?

ADAM. I wanted to – he gave lessons – but when I would mention it, my Dad would scowl and look really strange and say that organ might be a distraction from my studies.[2]

FG. But you learned piano.

ADAM. Piano was expected. Piano was safe. My mother made sure that there was a piano in the house at all times. She made sure I had piano lessons.

FG. Did she teach you?

ADAM. No. I studied for about ten years (5-15) with Mrs. Winchester, a woman who was married to the only lawyer in town. She always liked me. I always reminded her of her husband when he was young, she said.[3] I hadn’t realized how much [I was like Mr. Winchester] until he left her for a man. (Actually, he never left her, he just sort of added the guy to his household as the gardener and moved into the fixed-up barn with him. The gardener dies of AIDS and Mr. And Mrs. Winchester never moved back in together, but remained close friends.)

[Note: talk about Mrs. Winchester’s effect on Adam, especially since she was Episcopalian. She suggested that he take organ with David, the Episcopal organist, and maybe voice also.]

ADAM. My mother made sure I had piano lessons.

FG. Did she play?

ADAM. No. But she felt that ladies should.

[Note: come back to this later. Find out if she was too intellectual to play.]

FG. Did she think you were going to be a nice young lady?

ADAM. Funny you should say that. My mother was Southern, and she wanted me to be a gentleman, but she wanted me to be a rather more effete gentleman than my father was comfortable with.

ADAM. Dad didn’t mind the trappings of luxury, but only to a point.

FG. How do you mean that?

ADAM. I mean, he had aspirations for me. He wanted me to be a doctor. Something prestigious.

FG. He was a doctor.

ADAM. Yes, but a rather obscure small town GP. I think he wanted me to be on the boards of hospitals and things like that.

FG. When did you know that wasn’t going to happen?

ADAM. I’m not sure. I always thought it would happen. In fact, I sometimes think that it will still happen. That God will strike me and I’ll find myself in Medical school doing my duty to God and Country and Family.

FG. Was that all it was for you? Duty?

ADAM. No. Not really. Part of me really wanted to be pleasing to my folks.

FG. And the other part?

ADAM. The other part wanted to be playing piano or organ, or looking at art, or being a minister…

FG. I just realized something!

ADAM. What’s that?

FG. Well, I was surprised to find out that you were a Baptist – raised a Baptist, but that you became an Anglican priest.

ADAM. Why is that strange?

FG. Well, it’s not that being an Anglican doesn’t suit you to a perfect “T” but I wasn’t sure how you got from Baptist to Anglican.

ADAM. It was the organist.

FG. So the organist was not at the Baptist Church.

ADAM. No. He wasn’t.[4]

FG. He was at the Episcopal Church down the street.

ADAM. Yes, that’s correct.

FG. Was it an All Saints? A Trinity?

ADAM. No. Worse! It was a St. Mary’s!

FG. How awful! Were they actually Maronite?

ADAM. No, but they sure were Mary’s.

ADAM. At least that’s what I recall. Dad used to call them Mary’s Fairies. Mom used to hate that. She would say “They’re just cultured, that’s all.”

FG. Was your mother raised a Baptist?

ADAM. No. She was Presbyterian. But she secretly wanted to be an Anglican.

FG. So you were raised with two Calvinists?

ADAM. Yep. A frozen chosen and a fire-and-brimstone type.

FG. Was your dad actually that bad a fire-and-brimstone type?

ADAM. No. Not really. I’m sort of misrepresenting him.

FG. Tell me more.

ADAM. My dad was in line with the conservatism of the Fundamentalist church – the old school fundamentalists. They were passionate about their beliefs, but weren’t sure that anyone outside of the fold would be able to be saved. They didn’t really try all that hard. They weren’t the Evangelicals of today.

FG. Where’s your Mom now?

ADAM. She’s traveling the world, tasting wines.

FG. A former Baptist tasting wines!

ADAM. The Baptist thing never took.

FG. Was she Baptized?

ADAM. No. She flatly refused, and Dad didn’t push her. They were married in a Presbyterian Church. The one where my mother grew up.

FG. You were baptized, weren’t you?

ADAM. You bet. I made my decision early. At eleven. I was really supposed to wait until twelve, but I figured that I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go to Hell.

FG. Were you in danger of going to Hell?

ADAM. No. Not really, but I did love God, and didn’t want to be separated from the love of God – especially not on a technicality.

FG. Come on, Adam. You know the scriptures: Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

ADAM. Yeah, I know.

FG. So what was your deeper agenda?

ADAM. My deeper agenda was to bring some sort of revival of life and passion into the church.

FG. Say more about that.

ADAM. I saw the church as a place for passionate healing of the emotions and the soul and the mind. A place that could uplift the emotion, the soul, the mind.

FG. Not the body?

ADAM. There was no place for the body in my theology, except for the dirt it came from.

FG. And the resurrection.

ADAM. We spiritualized it. I believed in the resurrection of the body, but I believed that God would create an entirely new body from scratch to clothe our souls. Might still be the case.

FG. Might be nice.

ADAM. I can’t imagine us being more beautiful than we are now.

FG. I can!

ADAM. Thanks a lot!

FG. No, I mean me. You’re perfect.

ADAM. Thank you. That’s the way God sees it.

FG. Do you see it that way now?

ADAM. Most of the time. It’s been hard fought – that conception of myself, and the old man is still dying. You see I’m still in the flesh, so there must be some work to be done.

FG. Yeah, I can get that.

ADAM. But we were going to talk about the organist.

FG. Ah, yes. That.

ADAM. Makes you nervous. Doesn’t it?

FG. I’m just pissed that you got to live out those fantasies of mine.

ADAM. Anytime.

FG. Yeah, whatever. So how old were you. What happened?

ADAM. Well, I remember that I was eight or nine.

FG. Impressionable.

ADAM. Very impressionable. Remind me to tell you about the time that the shit hit the fan.

FG. You mean the kiss at the Baptism?

ADAM Yep. That one.

FG. He was a friend of yours, wasn’t he?

ADAM. Yep, and I got him to get baptized. He did it for me.

FG. And you guys kissed at the Baptismal picnic?

ADAM. Down by the river.

FG. How romantic!

ADAM. Yeah, until Dad caught us and dragged me home.

FG. Did he make a scene?

ADAM. No. He just dragged me into the station wagon, drove off… he left mom at the picnic in fact.

FG. He LEFT her there?

ADAM. He left her flat.

FG. She must have been pissed.

ADAM. She didn’t even know he was gone. I don’t think he ever told her what happened that day. If he did, it was much later. I’ll have to ask her.

FG. Or I can ask if you’re embarrassed.

ADAM. Yeah. You ask her.

FG. So what happened when you got home?

ADAM. He pushed me into my room, sat me down on the bed and paced back and forth.

FG. Did he hit you?

ADAM. He didn’t have to. His disappointment was great enough.

FG. What did he say?

ADAM. He said “what you did today is going to lead you right to Hell. And no church is going to ever be able to save you if you go down that path. You’ll be damned for all eternity and life here on earth is going to be even worse.”

FG. Wow.

ADAM. He was succinct but clear.

FG. Was that all?

ADAM. No. The worst part was that he told me I was never to see my friend again. That if he caught me with that boy, he’d send me away if he had to.

FG. Was the boy the problem?

ADAM. He was from the wrong side of the tracks. He was a cute blonde, redneck.

FG. Mmm.

ADAM. Yeah, you would have liked him. He liked to strut around with his shirt off after school.

FG. How did you get to be friends?

ADAM. We met at school. In high school. We were in the drama club together.

FG. Oh, my God! What a stereotype!

ADAM. Actually, I was in the musical. And he was in the pit orchestra. Played trumpet.

FG. His name wasn’t Gabriel, was it?

ADAM. No. But we were doing “Anything Goes” and he was playing “blow, Gabriel, Blow.” His name was Terry. Terry Johnson. And he had those really, really sweet lips that trumpeters have…

FG. I thought all trumpeters were straight.

ADAM. You know better than that. And what about Chet Baker.

FG. Touché.

ADAM. You bet, touché. And Terry was really into Chet Baker. We listened to his albums. We hung out together a little after rehearsals sometimes, until Dad found out I wasn’t at the library and gave me grief over it.

FG. So he knew you two were in love?

ADAM. He knew better than I did. Pretty embarrassing in retrospect.

FG. And you two never fooled around…

ADAM. Never touched each other. That was my fault. He knew about Chet Baker. He knew all about the love affairs.

FG. How did he know?

ADAM. I don’t remember. I’ll have to do some research on that. I wonder if information was around in the seventies’ and eighties’ about that sort of thing.

FG. I can check it out a little.

ADAM. But, anyway, we never touched. I was afraid to. I figured it was sin. I was masturbating a lot, and I figured that touching him would only make it worse.

FG. And did it? After you kissed him?

ADAM. I wanted to die. That was the worst period of my life. I don’t even know how I got my grades up enough to get into college.

ADAM. Actually my grades dropped off really badly, so I didn’t go to as good as school as I was expected to go to.

FG. Yikes.

ADAM. Yeah. Yikes.

FG. And then you became a Fundy.

ADAM. Then I became a Fundy.

FG. Another time for that?

ADAM. Yeah, another time. And you haven’t even let me talk about the sex scene at the church.

FG. Maybe I don’t want to hear about it.

ADAM. You need to hear about it. And you need to put it in the story and you need to draw it.

FG. Why do you say that?

ADAM. It will be very good and healing for you if you do.

FG. Thanks for the insight.

ADAM. You’re welcome. Now go eat something, you look tired and worn out.

FG. Yeah, I am.

ADAM. And this is enough discursive work for the day. Take a good break and do art.

FG. Thanks again.

ADAM. Thank you for incarnating me today. I appreciate it.[5]

[1] At first this was the Baptist Church, but later Adam clarified that this was the Episcopal Church. The one next to the library. Fri, 20-Jul-2001 (11:47).

[2] At one point, the organist made a drunken pass at Adam, Sr. The senior Adam almost “lost his religion” over the incident. Noted Fri, 20 Jul 2001 (11:49). Edited Mon, 17 May 2004 (23:21).

[3] That insight just popped up. Mrs. Winchester is the lady and she was known as eccentric all around. Fri, 20-Jul-2001 (11:50).

[4] Yes, this is a change from what Adam told me earlier. New information takes precedence over the old, and I need to let Adam go where he wants. Fri, 20-Jul-2001 (11:05).

[5] If I don’t give Adam the last word, I’ll never get to eat. He keeps coming up with good stuff for me to chew on, and he could keep me here all day! Fri, 20-Jul-2001 (11:41).


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