a digital photograph of an avatar that represents a 16 year old kid named Bobby

A Semi-Literate Boy Named Bobby

I was a project kid, pretty but hard to make.

Most of the men I let into my life started in pursuit but stayed as teachers.

I was bright and gave my full attention to any man who was willing to teach me about the world of art.

The music I knew was the music of my parents and the other kids in the projects.

From my Father I got Porter Wagoner, Buck Owens, and Skeeter Davis.

From my Mother I got Dinah Shore and Kitty Wells.

From the other kids in the projects I got Motown.

With the music of Motown I learned I could dance and for me dancing is still spiritual.

Everyone said I moved like a black kid, and it was true.

Black folks were my friends and neighbors.

As far as I was concerned I was a Black kid with pale skin.

I figured that Blackness was as much about class as it is about race.

My friend Paul knew I knew my ‘place’ in Charleston’s antiquated class system and that I wanted out.

Paul lived in the rich part of Charleston; the historic district near Battery Park.

He invited me to lunch one especially bright spring day.

He poured tea and showed me a decorative plate that was inlaid with hundreds of shimmering butterfly wings.

Paul liked exquisite objects.

We stepped onto the patio that overlooked his garden and I brought a branch of wisteria to my nose.

Paul said that he wanted me to hear a record.

He said he wanted my opinion.

Then he placed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Minor on the turntable.

I heard the needle drop, and then a timpani followed by woodwinds.

I listened as Beethoven told me a story.

I had never heard a story more complex and profound.

It was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen or touched.

And I never stopped listening….

Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

by Yehudi Menuhin, violin Wilhelm Furtwangler, cond Philharmonia Orchestra of London Recorded: 1953

  1. Allegro ma non troppo

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55 thoughts on “A Semi-Literate Boy Named Bobby

  1. This is wonderful, Rob. I didn’t see this before. I only found it when I received the notification about As Mary Was Here for God. Sometimes, I think WordPress has a mind of its own.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No one has a reblog button at the moment. WordPress say it’s a ‘technical glitch’ and that they are working on it. I don’t believe them. On the forums they keep saying in the meantime we can use Press This, which is quite different. I hope enough people put enough pressure on WP so they give us back our reblog button.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. -grin- I watched the trailer for the Pathetique as well. Have you by any chance watched Death in Venice? It’s old, dates back to the early 70s but the theme music is so beautiful it still makes me want to cry:
        Mahler Symphony No 5 Adagietto

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Your comment is also moving. It was frustrating to be a kid with an inquisitive mind and an innate sense of language in region that treated intellectuals with open disdain and whose political leadership believed there was no reason to educate the poor.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. He had problems. Most Gay guys before Stonewall bought into the notion that they were destined for sad, lonely lives that ended in suicide.

      The worst thing about a global stigma is that folks don’t know how it wears you down day by day until one day you do the thing that stigma is designed to make you do: you die from self neglect or outright suicide.

      I felt different about it. I had a different attitude. I always bashed back. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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