I don’t remember much about this particular photo, but I remember high school. High school was from 1990-1994. High school was in the Midwest. Despite the commitment it took to grow the devil lock and my hesitance to cut it (sometimes the lessons of Sampson are internalized by boys who didn’t read the Bible until they are 33, an incidental fact, and nothing related to Jesus symbolism unless it was my subconscious selecting early morning reading material) I sometimes wonder if it was performative. At the time I believe I believed in it. But now I’m not so certain.
I do know that when this picture was snapped it was as likely that I was listening to the Geto Boys as it was that I was listening to the Misfits and that a few weeks later my Walkman was stolen from me by school administration. To be held onto. For what I don’t remember.
But it was the same school administrator who, when I got sent to her office for reading Helter Skelter, asked — “Why would you read that? I feel like if I read a paragraph about it in the newspaper, that’d be too much.”
And I thought, I might only be a teenager, but lady you aren’t going to make it in the real world with an attitude like that.
I would not and did not apologize, though in moments of doubt I wondered if maybe I’d done something wrong.
A month later the school psychologist called my dad at work and said she was worried that I was responsible for “satanic graffiti” in the boys’ bathroom I’d never even stepped foot in. And I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. So we laughed, my dad and me.
Then I typed a letter (on a typewriter) for the school psychologist (who I’d never met) to ask if she’d like to join a cult.
But the more I thought about it, I realized she already had.
One was probably enough.