....since mentioning young Alex, he's been on my mind. He wasn't able to come to his knitting group session last night -- twelve-year-old lads have a lot to do in summer, not least of which might be to practice being a properly flirtatious boy around twelve-year-old girls (he already has a girlfriend, though I confess I like her a lot less than he does).
Alex came to me some months ago to learn how to knit. He was eleven then. When he walked in, I thought, "Oh my god, this is what Barry Klein [owner of Trendsetter] must have been like when he was eleven...." and I think I sat down that very night and told Barry that I had seen a ghost..........Anyway: since then, Alex (whose father is a surgeon, but who is adopted, so it can't be genetic!) has not only learned to knit, but has taken over the place. He now brings his girlfriend in and is teaching her to knit -- who needs me? Dierdre, who is another 12-year-old -- an achingly beautiful young woman with the kind of precise diction and porcelain skin once associated with the two Hepburns -- now relies on Alex and me, which is fittin' and proper. He has made multiple scarves and hats. He has almost finished a teal woolen vest that will have pockets (he made them with scant instruction) and buttons in the shape of fishes.
I wonder what will happen now? Once, when he was about 9 or 10, I taught my brother David to knit -- and he was almost done with a wooly scarf, but then he went to school (it was Worthington, Minnesota, in the 1950s) and told somebody about the scarf -- Suddenly, it was in the trash, and then it was burning, and I was persona non grata for weeks and weeks -- the source of his humiliation. I never did learn what his chums had said to him, but we can mostly iagine, can't we? Will this happen to Alex? He might not care. He brought some friends (mixed sex) into the studio one day, and they were more amused than impatient.
But as I think about Alex, what I see, really, is the shifting of culture, the ways in which a society really does progress, learn, develop. Barry (the wonderful Barry again) told me by e-mail, when we were talking recently about Alex and whether there might be summer camps that Alex could attend (the answer is, No) that he feared Alex might not be welcome in a good many places that teach knitting -- not because people don't like little boys, but because a lot of people just wouldn't know what to do. As if Alex were a member of a different species, or perhaps incapable of learning (poaching on?) female mysteries. He was glad that Alex had come my way, and so am I -- but I wonder about the world right now, whether the Alex's of the world could walk into any yarn shop in America and find friends. Would he be suspected of The Gay (I love Rachel Maddow)? Would he care? I want to take him to Stitches Midwest. What would happen? It's really a test of cultural advancement, isn't it -- of whether our nerves are any steadier than they were in, say, 1958.
And now I need to get back to book revision. svb