john lauber

Boarded!: A Fantasy on Willard Romney

Bless me, I hated math. I don’t mind the work involved, in fact, sometimes I find that part relaxing, but the absolute certainty of it all. Any deviation from the correct answer is wrong. There’s something intimidating and yet childish about using a sliderule, too but I’d rather not dignify that with any more undeserved import. I truly prefer French, which has a certain rigidity to it as well, but there at least is an art to its practice.

I share a French module with a boy whom I suspect is one of those boys: his voice, his gait, his clothes, his hair; there is something about his entire demeanor that can be construed by many—not just me—to be unmanly. The thing I don’t understand, even more than the sinful act itself, which I obviously try not to think about, is the lack of a feminine presence in the arrangement. Why wouldn’t you want to take care of a girl; and why wouldn’t you want a woman to take care of you? What kind of man doesn’t need a girl to take care of him?

Let me ask you something rhetorically. What could be more perfect than driving a young lady around the capital, maybe going through Frandor, slumming at a burger restaurant for lunch and then to the University for a walk through its gardens and arboreta, finally back to the capitol for a quick tour and then maybe even listening to a few race records very quietly?

On the other hand, I’d hate to be criticized for an intimate thing such as that. I dread and fear that one day a young man might be as indelicate to provoke me about some idiosyncrasies of my religion: No, that practice is quite rare in modern times; Yes, seer stones and planets; No, it wasn’t Jesus they killed; Yes that’s true about the Afro-race, but sometimes things do change; sometimes you have to abandon your beliefs for principles. Or is it the other way around?

My men had him surrounded in a common area in our dorm. They acted as casually as possible. “Are you ready?” one of them asked. I retrieved a pair of scissors from my father’s hand-me-down briefcase replying, “I think I am.” I bid two of the boys to keep guard and had the rest lie the young man on the floor, on his stomach. I sat gently astride his back. “Don’t you worry, I’ll make this quick.” Armed with the scissors I put my other hand though his bright locks—a rarity I wish I had savored just a bit more, looking back. “Sometimes we have to forgo pleasures for the sake of civilization.”

As I leaned forward to see exactly where I wanted to cut, I whispered in his ear, “Nooblee-yay sayla jah-may.” I felt his squirming through my second-skin and I had my men hold him down more tightly. I did the deed and immediately got to my feet. My boys made him do the same and turn to face me. I admired my work, but made a small correction. Satisfied, we let him go and returned to our rooms. That evening I envisioned the capitol dome from all angles, bright against the Lansing sky at night.