Thursday, January 30, 2020

Lilith goes to school

Lilith came to my classes yesterday. The intensity of my students' response was startling. "I LOVE YOU, LILITH!" one student yelled, amid some pre-linguistic cooing sounds; soon after, I saw Lilith on her lap. During a walk around campus, a tall, young Asian man emerged from behind a vending machine area and said in a soft English accent, "May I pet your dog? I remember her from last year." Lilith kept walking, her nose thrust firmly in the ground cover. A blonde woman asked if she could pet Lilith, and was ignored in the same way. In my second class, Lilith methodically smelled the students' feet, then spent some time playing with a dead bug, before eating it. But I wonder at that human intensity toward her. The reaching out to touch an animal. The disappointment when she turned away. A sense of loneliness, of need for contact, of need for a pure expression of love. Palpable.

1 comment:

Jonathan Morse said...

The idea of love as not a state of the soul but an action to take?

My anecdote without a punch line: one evening when my daughter was a baby and I was strapping her into her car seat in front of the McCully-Moiliili Library, which serves as a daytime sleepatorium for the many group homes in the neighborhood, I was shoved from behind so violently that I almost fell over. The shover was an old woman who crowded past me into the car, shouted, "Little Jesus baby!" and then backed out and ran away.

And a completed anecdote from a work of art: the scene in The King of Comedy where the Johnny Carson character played by Jerry Lewis is walking down the street minding his business when a woman on a pay phone spots him and implores him to stop and talk, right then and there, to her husband. Johnny politely declines, whereupon the woman abruptly stops smiling and screams, "You should get cancer!" Jerry Lewis, who adlibbed the scene, said it was based on something that actually happened to him.