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Disco Diaries #73
Good morning! A brief PSA:
You may not have been devastated by the absence of Disco Diaries in the past few weeks, but I have. This newsletter means a lot to me, as does your time — whoever you are, wherever you sit.
I wish that my focus on this series was invincible. This spring it was defeated by Covid, depression, and interpersonal drama — which is ok, because this work is free. :)
Nonetheless I hunger — hunger! — for an unstoppable devotion. With a portrait of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate as my witness, I will keep showing up.
At this time, I turn the mic to you. What keeps you opening these emails? Or not? I would love your feedback, and so I’ve created this form where any interested party can share with me their thoughts.
Tears of a bully
I like to wear dark sunglasses because I love to stare. Observance is my natural state. Absorbing and observing and trying to be subtle about it. If not sunglasses, then I look far away, through a crowd, where no one will notice. And if I do get caught, I can pretend to have been looking for someone else all along.
I wouldn’t want to be stared at by a stranger. So no, it’s not fair.
In case it helps my case, I will note that it is not a judgmental glare. It’s simple curiosity, sometimes awe. There are so many — so many! — people on this planet, all of us existing at once and at the center of it all. I’ll never get over it.
Sometimes I look around me and consider all the different people that contributed to whatever environment I’m in. For instance, the author who wrote this book, the teachers who taught her to write, the artists who designed the cover, and the workers who bound the pages. The patio built by someone who knew how to build second-story patios, the architects who designed the buildings on either side, and the old men who gave the patio a fresh paint of coat mere weeks ago.
Staring is invasive. Certain things are not my business. I’m more respectful now, but as a kid I was particularly eager. I’d go on with it, letting my eyes intrude on the most personal moments.
In second grade, there was a boy in my class named Brian. He had trouble sitting still — which seems reasonable for a seven year old — so he got scolded a lot. Mostly he acted unbothered by this, and would just fuss a little in his seat until he could break free for recess.
But one day, something bigger happened — I don’t remember what — that struck him down. After the teacher had asserted herself, I watched from one row behind as he shrunk down onto his desk. My line of vision was perfect. I could see a single tear roll down his cheek and situate itself beside his nose. It reminded me of a beautiful, tragic diamond.
I was particularly interested when the tough kids softened up. Sometimes that got me into trouble. I learned they didn’t like to be noticed in their vulnerable moments. If you did notice them with their head down on the desk, crying after getting detention, you’d best pretend you didn’t.
But I couldn’t resist knowing something more about them. I wanted to witness the devolution from bully to regular kid. The rest of my class would keep their eyes forward, while I stared unabashedly. They felt you notice them, and they’d get you back for it later.
In the lunch room they had regained their power and were ready to attack. Once enough people were in earshot they would cut you with mean words. It felt like a betrayal. I had seen them at their weakest when no one else would look. Now they were just another estranged classmate, lurking in packs that I could only penetrate with my eyes.
Disco Diaries is a free publication of micro-essays and vignettes. If you enjoy it, consider supporting it financially. You can send a few dollars straight to my Venmo (@katyabaro). No wiggle room in the budget? No problem. Sharing this newsletter with friends who may enjoy it shows immense support, too.