One cold mid-winter Saturday a long time ago (I think it was in 1970), my parents visited me at boarding school in Washington, Connecticut for a weekend event offering as a benefit/attraction the opportunity to meet one-on-one with my instructors. The school-master teaching me English literature that term was a young man, a recent Yale graduate and soi-disant poet, whom I found sympathetic and, to a degree, inspiring. I was enrolled in his Contemporary American Poetry course where I became familiar with poets and verse I still read and think about all the time.
The conferences were held at rows of long picnic-type tables set up in the school’s gymnasium. Afterward, we repaired for lunch at a local ye-olde New England restaurant (called the Yankee Peddler or something like that), a place featuring in almost every student’s family visits. My father was noticeably mentally and physically coiled up, silently furious. He told me that my English teacher had said something to him, something à propos of nothing, on the order of:
“I often believe I could destroy Curtis if I wanted to.”
My father was incredibly angry at me about this. He found it humiliating, I think, and it had lasting repercussions in our relationship. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Unpleasant, non-optimal events were par for the course with us, something I deeply regret and which I’ve tried to avoid in my own relationship with my daughter, who is saddled with me, my father’s angry son, as a parent.
But my teacher’s remarks were positively psychotic, deeply cruel, inaccurate, indicative of a profound disorder. I’ve tried Googling the fellow (author of a single poetry book, his Yale senior thesis, privately published, called A Patch Of Rumors; the volume's best line is “my yawl is weathertight”), but although you can find most people on the internet, you can’t find everyone. I am still here, however, easy to locate.