Having read my blogger friends’ Jane and Lance Hattatt wonderful, ironic post about their searches for Mad Boy, I noticed that thoughts and memories about my Mad Boy won’t leave me in peace. When Mad Boy and I have met, I was 14 and he was 15. We didn’t go to the same school, but we both enjoyed going to the theater, where we were introduced by our friend who worked there. We quickly became inseparable. We shared so many common interests, and found so much common ground. We didn’t even need to take the time to learn each other’s habits.
Here are the kinds of things that MB and I would do when we had some time off from our school schedules and my extra-curricular art classes. We went to hear live chamber music. We sneaked into the zoo in the dead of night to find out whether the lion snores. We drew comics for each other. We wrote limericks. We discussed books and films. We even gossiped a little about mutual friends.
One time, MB baked me a very challenging cake. And I gave him a bouquet of violets. We made fun of Shakespeare sonnets – I read them in the voice of a dental receptionist, and he did the impression of a 40-year-old man who lives with his mother.
MB wrote some of my school essays, and dropped them off in my mailbox. I would find them in the morning and, with my cup of coffee in my hands, copy them into my notebook. I always got the highest marks. With the teacher’s note “Pretty soon I won’t be able to read your handwriting”.
It couldn’t be any different, because my MB was extraordinary. A long time before Wikipedia, I would ask him questions about anything I wanted to know. By the age 20, he could speak several European languages, and began mastering Japanese. And you should have seen his drawings! His talent was enormous and unique. Whenever I would come to his house, he would pull out a stack of new drawings, and I would forget about everything else while I studied them. Time would cease to exist. It was frozen on the sheets of paper.
MB was the first to finish school and go to university. We started to see each other more rarely. He would pretend to be an adult, which really irritated me. A year later, I went into the same program at university. We began seeing each other more frequently again. However, I now had my own friends, entertainment, and problems. And still, I found that I could turn to him for help with just about anything.
While I was in university, I had a tendency to break up with my current boyfriend right before New Year’s. This brought about the rather dull prospect of celebrating New Year’s Eve with my parents. Each time, MB would find out about my situation at the last moment, and invite me to the most unusual places to celebrate it with the most interesting people. Can you imagine my gratitude?
The first trip abroad that MB took was to the city of his dreams – Venice. My husband drove him to the airport and picked him up when he got back. When my daughter was born, MB reported that he was crying with joy.
This doesn’t mean that we never had any arguments. We had plenty of those. MB would insist that my head was filled with nonsense. I would accuse him of being a snob.
The time passed by with infrequent meetings and phone conversations for many years, until the time my family and I decided to move to Canada. MB told me that he’d have no one to talk to.
Seven years after moving to Canada, I went to visit Russia. Among the first in the list of people to see was MB.
I found that he had hardly changed physically. He also found that I was the same as usual. He even made fun of me, telling me that I had the same hair.
We went over to his place. He lived in the same apartment as before, with his mother. After our discussion, I asked to see his drawings and poems. He told me that we’ll get to that later. Then he pulled out a bottle of cognac and a lemon. The time of the day was around noon. He didn’t have air conditioning in his home – and, contrary to what you might have heard, it does get very hot in Russian in the summertime. We started drinking and chatting. He told me about working as teacher at our university. He didn’t have a computer at home. It had been a while since he traveled anywhere, and, when I asked him why that was so, he told me that the first reason is laziness, and the second one is too much work and drinking. We finished up one bottle, and he decided to go for another.
This isn’t like me at all, but I actually felt like I was drinking tea. There was this tension in the air. He asked me, “What gives you so much sustained drive?” I told him that I haven’t quite figured it out. He told me that he came out as gay. I said that I hope that made him happier.
The tension in the air had lessened. I asked to see his drawings again, and he brought some out. I took them in my hands, and felt a chill. I had seen those drawings 7 years ago. I experienced a wave of sadness, but I pretended that everything was fine.
He offered me to step into a neighbouring gallery and meet somebody. When we got there, MB introduced me as “That girl who gave me the violets”. We were asked into the office, and the gallery manager, who was a friend of MB’s, pulled a bottle of vodka out of her minibar, which she and MB began to drink, while snaking on chocolates. The gallery manager gazed at me in wonder, and asked “Aren’t you going to have some?” The gallery had some of MB’s old works.
I said my farewells to MB. After all, I had another engagement at 5. He gave me a hug and said, “I hope you won’t be going away for another 7 years.” I patted him on the back. I was in a real hurry.
I think that perhaps Mad Boy is not supposed to grow up and grow older.