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November 17, 1946 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1946-11-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

P E*R SPECTI VE ,S

AlKp s o,

THE BARGAIN
... Donald LaBadie

N A WAY, since it happened after he
had stopped speaking to me, I don't
feel quite so much this sensation of not
being in the right which is probably,
after all, only wonder and bewilder-
ment. He lowered his eyes every time he
met me in the hall those last two weeks
and hugged the side of the wall as if I
might reach out and touch him. In a
sense he cut me off from his life so that
what happened later is really no part
of me and my life is going on just as
before. Still though my notebook is on
the desk, my Pathology text to the side;
my suit, my tie, and my shirt exchanged
for jeans and a sweater; the sum of my
actions for this day in agreement with
my purpose tomorrow; I can't work as
I must work.
It's the same feeling I had when we
came through the cafeteria line togeth-
er and I took the plate with the most
meat. For a little while after I'd feel
that things weren't as they should be,
I'd wonder if he'd noticed, I'd feel that
I'd hand him the damn plate if he
wanted it; then I'd get my balance
again and I'd say once or twice to osy-
self, "What the hell, it's a small thing!"
Then I could continue. That's how I feel
now, only no matter what I say I know
that everything's not in order, that
there's something I don't see and I've
got to see it, I've got to find what to
say. The magic word, twice to myself,
and then I'll go on.
It's really my own fault for trying to
be a friend to anyone like Peter, get-
ting him a room in the house, taking
him home with me at Christmas. It's
just what mother said, my pity for ti-
mid people, for people who need to be
liked, and it would have taken a saint
to fill his need, so that I neglect my own
direction. Then that I should have
thought so highly of him afterward,
thought that he had a fine mind. But
that's my way, thinking people are so
much, wanting them to be so much, and
then to see them in the end. That's the
world and I never could accept it.
I should have known from what Jack
Levine told me, what he said about
Peter when Peter was moving away
from him to come here. He told me Pet-
er was cracked, but Jack was a selfish
lout, who only could think of his sports
and his games. He and Peter were good
friends at first. It wasn't like Peter at
all, getting so interested in sports, do-
ing just what Jack said as if something
depended upon agreenient, and then in
the end he wouldn't speak to Jack just
as he finally wouldn't speak to me,
I don't know what I don't see about
Peter that would give the answer. He
was interested in medicine. That was
something I, gave to him, his desire
to be a doctor. Of course it was never
clear on his part, that habit he had of
trying to relate science to some outer
social ideal, taking it away from what
it really was, a thing in itself. It was
such a confused idea, that science
should assume social responsibility and
still remain objective, but he clung to
it for a long time. It sprang from a
theory that his friend, Dino, had
worked out while he was at the other
school. It seemed to be fixed in his
mind like the remnants of some relig-
ious teaching, as if he might have
memorized it, and I suppose it was
given added strength by the fact that
Dino had died. That was the reason
that he had come to the university,
but be never said much about his
friend. There was only this idea when
I first met him and it kept him from
doing a good job on his ground work
in Zoology.
I remember once at a party to which
Marjorie had invited him at my sug-
gestion that he interrupted our dis-
cussion and :began to ask us all if we
didn't feel sonse social responsibility
a future scientists. It wasn't like

Peter to do anything like that, and I
never would have asked Marjorie to
ask him if I'd known. Now that I
think of it, it was the only thing on
which he really ever asserted himself.
He sat on the edge of the couch and
kept on arguing until it became private.
It was just like babbling and everyone
was embarrassed because no one agreed
with or even fully understood what he
was saying. So finally one of the fel-
lows began to argue back with him
and then we all joined in and he stop-
ped talking. That seemed to convince
him and he said several times, "Yes, I
guess you're right, that's right," and he
smiled apologetically to everyone in
the room. He was quiet the rest of
the evening, but he drove Marjorie
crazy, following her around, asking her

and record. What is is, and one phenom-
enon is as natural as the next through
its very existence." For a moment he
looked bewildered. Then he came back.
"But if you're having a social system
everything must take a social line."
"Already you're taking a viewpoint,
and that's not science," I argued. De-
spite the fact that I spoke to him then
as clearly and as definitely as J ever
had he didn't seem to comprehend what{
I was saying. Finally I became tired
of the discussion and left the room in
irritation.
I had just begun to study again when
he knocked at my door. From the man*
ner in which he entered I gathered
that he had overestimated the decree
of my anger. "I'm sorry," he said, "I've
been thinking about what you said and

lack of reaction, the dependability of
his being there in the chair, the smiles
and questions which came to lack spon-
taneity, the repetition of my opinions
and an almost mocking agreement. He
spoke little, yet ultimately that was bet-
ter than his not speaking at all. It
was during that time that I first met
Joan. When I introducedher to Peter
she expressed what was already in mys
mind, that he was an uninteresting per-
son and a waste of time. He went with
us to have coffee one night and spent
the whole evening smiling when we
were looking his way and looking lost
the rest of the time. I couldn't stand
'that look, there was something of
water about it. It made me want to
push him into the dirt; I began to de-
test him then.
I stopped studying at home and was
curt and indifferent in my relations
with him. But this only produced an
increasing sweetness on his part, an
increasing attention to niceness that
infuriated me. He must have under-
stood finally because he ceased waiting
up for me at night. I felt guilty at
first; then I stopped seeing him alto-
gether. Feeling ashamed one night I
knocked at his door but he wasn't in.
The Dean's office called the same week
to find why he hadn't been attending
classes.
One rainy Sunday night when Joan
had gone home for the weekend I no-
ticed a light under his door and
knocked, intending to ask him"to come
to the movies with me. He admitted
me and motioned to a seat. I beggn to
speak to him about the weather when
he interrupted me. The first sound
came out slowly and between each
word he hesitated as if it were an ef-
fort to produce speech "I'm - - almost
- - - sure --- you're -- - wrong - - -
about - - - science. - - - Not - - - al-
ways - - - but - - - sometimes - - -
when - - - I think - - - of what - - -
Dino - -- said - -- I - -- think -- -
- - - you're - - - wrong."
I was so embarrased by his difficulty
that I did not let him go on. I talked
to him quietly, tried to find out what
was the matter, insisted that he go to
the hospital. He relaxed, sat still in
what seemed to be the beginning of an
unending silence, and then began to
cry. As I left the room he called to
me in the same voice, "You're - - - not
- - - wrong,"
He did not go to the hospital as I
had told him to do. For a few days I
continued in my renewed friendliness,
but I felt with each succeeding day as
if I were being drawn into' something
unpleasant until my indifference took
hold again, this time naturally. I sup-
pose he must have noticed. He came
into my room three nights, then he did
not come again. Just before I went
home on the weekend I encountered
him in the hall. He lowered his eyes
and turned his head slightly to the side.
When I came back he would no longer
speak to me.
Two weeks ago Mrs. Partridge asked
me as I came in one night if I would
knock on his door and ask him to
come down to see her in regard to pay-
ing his rent. When I did so he opened
the door slightly; but did not motion
for me to come in. I told him what
Mrs. Partridge had asked. Then I asked
him myself if he had dropped out of
school. He did not answer, so I asked
him again. He hesitated, then went
to his desk and drew out paper and
pencil and wrote three words, handing
the paper to me, "I cannot speak." I
tried to question him, to persuade him
to go to the doctor now. He stared at
me; he seemed to be agitated by some
great struggle in that instant. Then
suddenly he brushed past me and
(Conlinued on Pes Eight)

if he could help, if he could do any-
thing.
That was the way he was when he
went home with me at Christmas. He
was timid about coming downstairs and
when he did he was so nice to my
family that they felt strained. Mother
became rather attached to him finally.
On Christmas Eve when we were all
sitting around the tree he turned to
her and said, "You don't know how I
appreciate being here. This is the first
Christmas Eve I've spent with anyone
in a long time. When I was little my
mother always had a tree and we were
very happy." I thought Mother was
going to cry because Jim is overseas
and that's changed her somewhat. She
always wanted him to come down after
that. The last time I had to tell her
why he didn't.
I only know that he wanted to be-'
come a doctor and that this idea about
social responsibility confused him so
that he couldn't study, or even plan
his future career at first. He never
tired of trying to explain to me, it
seemed an urgency, something that he
should have to get out. A week after
the party .he ventured again.
"But," I said to him, "science has no

-Marion Carleton
I think you're right about science being
detached from the social sphere." I
shrugged my shoulders to indicate that
it really meant nothing, but I was hap-
py that he had at last emerged from
confusion.
After that we settled down to being
friends in earnest. Every night he came
to my room with his books and we
would study together. At ten we stop-
ped for music and I made tea on the
grill. Then I talked to him about my
day in school, how the dissections were
coming, and if we had time I engaged
in a little philosophical speculation. On
any winter evening I had only to look
up and he was there. Sometimes, how-
ever, when he didn't notice that I was
watching I would see that he was no
longer looking at his book, but just
sitting there staring at the floor. I
felt that he would reach out at any
moment and try to grasp something.
There was something that he had lost
and even then was on the point of re-
gaining. When I would say, "What are
you thinking about?" he would turn,
a quick smile rising to his face, and an-
swer, "Nothing, just memorizing." With
that he would run back to the book.
Just two months ago I began to be
.. o, th ti .. he o--L-le bu;sL , ith his

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