April 10th is my good friend Michaeleen’s birthday. She was killed in a car accident almost 20 years ago, but I still miss her. We became friends in Grade 3, and remained good friends up until her death at the way too young age of 21 (2 months shy of turning 22).
Interestingly enough, in my dreams, she hasn’t remained the age she was when she died. She got older, married, and the last time I dreamed about her she had been working as a writer for the CBC. I know that’s a little weird, but I have found it comforting throughout the years.
If she had lived, I’m sure she would have been a writer of some renown by now. She had just had her first published piece in her college writing collection and she was planning to do more classes in creative writing. When we were in high school we were in different classes and often would spend a boring class writing a note to the other, which we would then exchange in the hallways as we changed classes. It was entertaining and a great way to prevent oneself from falling asleep in history class. I kept all her notes to me because, well I’m sentimental that way, and her writing even at the tender age of 16 was so good. And here I share with you one of her masterpieces (I want you to remember back to high school when one had to use blue pen (not black) in English and pencil (not pen) in Math. Ah, the years of petty rules.
To Cluck [ed note: my nickname was Cluck, hers was Muck, as in MuckCluck, get it?]
This is a terrorist threat. If you don’t hand over $1,000,000 you will be sorry. Put the money in an unmarked lunch bag and place it in Rm 21 on the third desk in the row closest to the window. (I realize you must be tired after that sentence, but do it anyway.) If the money isn’t in my possession by lunch time tomorrow life will become very difficult for you. Your Snap album will mysteriously disappear. Your ghetto blaster will be set in front of a herd of raging elephants. And you might as well say good-bye to FRED [ed note: Fred was my large stuffed duck which was something of an ongoing inside joke]. Even I’m too squeamish to tell you what will happen to him. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. These directions had better be followed OR ELSE.
Life is tough eh Cluck? [ed note: you know we’re Canadian right?] Oh well, don’t work. You have to logically list your problems and then solve them. What could possibly be wrong with your life beside Xavier [Ed note, boy I had a crush on, not his real name], school, and a terrorist threat. Look, see it’s not so bad.
Instant and automatic change to pen to make your world a little more blue. Not blue in the sense of feeling but blue in the sense of colour. Since everything in this school is blue [ed note: Catholic girls’ school with Navy Blue uniforms] the pen might as well be too.
WAIT A REBELLION. I DARE TO WRITE IN RED. WHAT COURAGE, WHAT VALOR, A REBEL WITH A CAUSE. I LOVE IT.
Well back to the same, old, boring blue pen. A b rebellion can only last for so long.
BUT EVERY SO OFTEN THAT TINY REBEL WILL EMERGE AND FIGHT AGAINST THE STEREOTYPENESS OF SOCIETY.
Well, must go. The bell.
AND HER TINY REBEL
See what I mean? That was written with only one scratch out–she had started to spell rebellion with a b.
I love the idea of the red pen rebel. On the surface so nice and polite, acquiescent and compliant. And then very quietly doing your own thing anyway. ‘Cause sometimes the rules are stupid.
So, here’s to you my Red Pen Rebel. I miss you.
Tell me about your Red Pen Rebel friends, or perhaps some of your own red pen rebellions. Or just let me know that you too want to sign up to be a red pen rebel. Maybe we can start a little movement in her honour.