The reading list covered the Chinese Revolution, and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. One day while blondie professor waxed poetic about the “beautiful street language” of Malcolm X, I pointed out that Malcolm hadn’t written the book. Prof was stupified.
I explained. Right on the cover, it said ‘As told to Alex Haley’. That meant Alex Haley was hired to write the book because Malcolm X either wouldn’t or couldn’t write the book. So, beautiful street language? More likely, contrived gutter talk.
Prof was stumped by that. From then on, we weren’t pals. He regarded me with deep suspicion. He knew something was wrong, but not what.
On the other hand, he couldn’t fault me. I did the work, I took the tests, I even showed up at his house when he was showing an italian film called “The Bicycle Thief.”
Now this is great cinema, about a little boy whose factory-worker father’s bicycle was stolen one day. The father couldn’t get to work so he was fired. He fell on hard times and things went from bad to worse. One day, maddened, the father stole a bicycle and peddled away, but was caught and hauled off the bicycle by an indignant mob who dragged him off to the police and jail, as the boy watched.
Of course, it was just more grist for our Communist education. I didn’t much care, because I’d written a paper in high school called ‘Altruism and the Communist Manifesto’.
That sounds very grand, but my step-father had bought Brittanica books with many old and famous writers, and my papers had taken a turn for the learned. Since I knew everything in the world about Altrusim, I wasn’t buying it. I was a big flop as a Communist.
However, I got my grade, as needed. I graduated, and moved on to graduate study at San Francisco State.
A few years later, in North Beach, one Sunday I walked to the park on Columbus, to hear the free music and soak in the sun. I was sprawled on the grass, when, looking to my right, there was blondie professor.
“Well, hello,” I said.
He seemed very surprised to see me. He was visiting, and wasn’t San Francisco wonderful. Asked me how I happened to be visiting. I said I lived around the corner.
Blondie was clearly disappointed. Somehow, I had stolen something from him, just by being there. Some magic or enchantment evaporated. It showed in his face, or in a pause of speech. The conversation languished. Soon he stood up and said he had to go.
I never saw him again.
That’s what wrong with these Communists. They fade in the home stretch.