There's this thing that writers talk about--where the characters take on a life of their own and they run away with the story, taking it off to places the author never intended to go. That's what happened here. Except, that's not what really happens. That's one of the stories that writers tell about storytelling. What really happened was that I sat and wrote and had a conversation with myself--a conversation that wasn't possible, unless I let part of myself pretend it was someone else--a disembodied voice in the typewriter. And so I typed. I typed everything I felt and feared and worried about, everything I thought I knew, and everything else as well, the much larger domain of what I didn't know and didn't know how to figure out.Because this, at last, was a place where I could talk to somebody about it all--and if that somebody was really me, that was okay too, because I was the guy who had to figure it out anyway. So I had all these conversations with myself--and these different parts of me talked into the keyboard. And talked and talked and talked.
When I was ten years old, one of my friends brought a Shaleenian kangaroo-cat to school one day. I remember the way it hopped around with quick, nervous leaps, peering at everything with its large, almost circular golden eyes. One of the girls asked if it was a boy cat or a girl cat. Our instructor didn't know; neither did the boy who had brought it; but the teacher made the mistake of asking, 'How can we find out?' Someone piped up, 'We can vote on it!' The rest of the class chimed in with instant agreement and before I could voice my objection that some things can't be voted on, the election was held. It was decided that the Shaleenian kangaroo-cat was a boy, and forthwith, it was named Davy Crockett. Three months later, Davy Crockett had kittens. So much for democracy. It seems to me that if the electoral process can be so wrong about such a simple thing, isn't it possible for it to be very, very wrong on much more complex matters? We have this sacred cow in our society that what the majority of people want is right—but is it? Our populace can't really be informed, not the majority of them—most people vote the way they have been manipulated and by the way they have responded to that manipulation—they are working out their own patterns of wishful thinking on the social environment in which they live. It is most disturbing to me to realize that though a majority may choose a specific course of action or direction for itself, through the workings of a 'representative government,' they may be as mistaken about the correctness of such a choice as my classmates were about the sex of that Shaleenian kangaroo-cat. I'm not so sure than an electoral government is necessarily the best.
Something went klunk. Like a nickel dropping in a soda machine. One of those small insights that explains everything. This was puberty for these boys. Adolescence. The first date, the first kiss, the first chance to hold hands with someone special. Delayed, postponed, a decade's worth of longing--while everybody around you celebrates life, you pretend, suppress, inhibit, deprive yourself of you own joy--but finally ultimately, eventually, you find a place where you can have a taste of everything denied.