A bull, a rose, and a storm.

September 2019

My earliest role model, Mr. Meacock, has died.

An openly gay, fiercely intellectual, biologist-turned-High School English teacher who savagely insulted his students was quite a treat to encounter in the suburbs of Minnesota as a malleable youth!

He was not my friend, and I’ve long since forgotten the poetry I memorized in his classes. But he showed me how independent and complex a person could be, and that there is a deep reservoir of beauty in the world that we can draw from with our minds.

His character was stonelike, so colliding with it could leave a permanent mark. Just the other day, I told the story of when, after discovering a homophobic blog post by an acquaintance of mine, I skipped into his office to enjoin him to post a withering reply. Noting my giddy zeal, he instead placed me in his crosshairs: “David, this is not a game to meā€”this is my life. I have dealt with this kind of hate my entire life, and I don’t have time to deal with another idiot.” I learned more in that moment than in all of his classes.

I don’t have a mind for poetry, or literature for that matter, but reflecting on the impression he made on me, I recall these lines from Borges:

That evening, at twilight, he dreamt of the statue. He dreamt it was alive, tremulous: it was not an atrocious bastard of a tiger and a colt, but at the same time these two firey creatures and also a bull, a rose, and a storm.

Mr. Meacock was a bull, a rose, and a storm. And on fire. And an atrocious bastard. I’ve always striven to be more like him.