Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tomorrow's Boys 2 Men

This morning I'll spend time thinking over my presentation at tomorrow's Zilker Elementary School's Boys 2 Young Men Speaker Series. I'll be speaking to a group of 5th and 6th grade boys.

Originally, I thought it was more of a typical school visit where I show my art and talk career, but I've learned it goes a bit deeper.

Eight men in very different fields will share their lives with these young men in an attempt to counter our cultures very limited definition of boyhood.

Hmm. I'm going to have to think on this.

They want me to "get real" with em. Talk about my personal experiences from Jr. high school. Discuss mistakes I've made. Tell em about my experiences with girls or about trouble I've gotten myself into.

Again, I'm going to have to think on this. I don't really have any big stories to tell. There was the time I made some homemade wine from a recipe given to me by a class mate. One day after school, when my concoction was fully ripe, I drank down half the jug like it was Kool-Aid. And I got so drunk, I was rolling around in leaves in a gully across the street from my house when my mom came home from work. I got a ride to the hospital in the back seat of a cop car that my frantic mom waved down. And, in a drunken stupor, I cursed out a doctor who had stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat to pump out my stomach.

Also, I'll probably talk about how I wasn't into sports. That was a big deal for a boy and especially a black boy who was expected to hoop and run and hit better than the white boys. I remember attending an almost all white elementary school in 6th grade. I'd get picked first when choosing up teams. "The black guy can ball," they'd say. The surprise was on them. I'd much rather have been sitting in the art room macrameing a wall hanging with colored twine and beads. And when it came to Home Economics and sewing a darshiki and frying eggs, I showed the girls how to do it and wasn't ashamed. Those were my talents.

One last thing I'll probably touch on is how I didn't like to read. I literally was not reading anything unless it was related to art, and sometimes I wonder how I made it through school at all. In retrospect, I think I was dyslexic, and in addition, I had trouble retaining what I'd read. In my early 20s, I re-taught myself to read by reviewing every few words, then every few sentences, then paragraphs and chapters of a book. I overcame my reading problem, but I missed out on so many things. Steinbeck? Roman myths? Poe? History—huh! I wasn't reading that stuff. So, now I'm playing catchup.

Well, now that I give this some thought, I do have some stories to tell. I'd probably better run my ideas past Lindsey Lane and the school librarian just to be sure I don't get myself put out the school.

Edit to post: Just learned that my stories will be fine as long as told in in terms of growth, learning and responsibility. Ah, glad I asked. I'm gonna recall some other stories.


cloudscome said...

I think those stories are exactly what boys need to hear. I think a lot of boys feel they don't fit in to the type they are supposed to fit... and the reading struggle is good to share! You taught yourself as an adult because you wanted to do it.

I'd love to hear about your experience learning black history. Did you have adults guiding you there? It's on my mind lately, as I posted in my blog...

rindambyers said...

Typing here with a bloody finger...Don, I hope you tell one story about something nice that you did growing up, too! I'm SURE you did. Do something nice while growing up...oh,oh, finger's gone numb...what'll I do now....hmmmm..time for voice recognition software?