Neil Perry gets his rather introverted classmate to experience a few of the less serious things in life.
It was quiet in the dormoitory wing of the stately old prepatory
school. Nestled in between the rolling hills of prime New England real estate and the border of the big city. The school offered all the advantages that upper crust families could wish for thier sons and then some.
Light crept in through the leaded glass panes of the windows set high up on the wall causing bands of light and shadow to dart across the splayed open pages of the book of poetry with its pages open in front of him on the bed. Todd lay on his spring mattress and pretended to be studying the verses on the page that lay open before him. It was hard to concentrate, not just because he was tired, and distracted, but because he had read through the same tired old verses, and they just were not speaking to him.
Todd had never had this much trouble with class work before. Sure, he could do angles and equations in his sleep, forward backwards, and any other direction one might care to name, but despite repeated explnations from Professor Keating, the verses still refused tohave any deeper meaning than what the words themselves meant. Todd briefly toyed with the idea of asking Neil Perry, the class brain to help with the text, but his brain was working a mile a minute, wavering between 'should I, shouldn't I, what if he says no? It will be mortifying, in front of the other students.
In disgust and frustration Todd lifted up the heavy paper bound
book of verses and threw it as far as he could, memorie of the pond in the backyard of his home, where ducks would gather every spring morning, and he would be out there to greet them with broken off pieces of his mother's freshly baked bread, and when that ran out, and he would see how far he could skip stones across the pond's surface. Todd would not actually hit the ducks, he liked the mallards causal indifference to the two legged animal that stood on the shore and never actually dared dip so much as dip a toe into the water.
Todd liked the dappled shades of black and green across the bird's back, and how it would dip its beak into the water, and flap its wings. That memory, before it could summon others Todd realized that he what he was do was allowing himself to become home sick, and distracted from his work. But at this point he really did not care. He needed a break and decided he would go seek out Neil Perry.
Neil would understand, if no one else did. Todd caught a glimpse
of himself in hallway mirror, hair mussed, bags under his eyes, the sleeves of his school uniform rumpled and not tucked into the waistband of his startched slacks. For once, his outward appearance took a back seat to his need to seek out Neil.
Neil Perry it turned out was still in the classroom staring up at the framed black and white portrait of Professor Keating's literary inspiration for his admitedly unorthodox teaching methods.
Walt Whitman. From Neil's perspective the man did not really look like a poet. But then what was a poet supposed to look like? The portrait done by the artist in a manner that the subject had been
captured facing away from the viewer, captured in profile. The
poet's beard crept down his narrow face in a scraggly mass, and his eyes seem perpetually lidded at half-mast as if he had not woken up yet when he had posed for the portrait. Neil took his attention off the picture on the wall and glanced around at the rows of wooden desks, considering standing up one and spouting off some of his experimental verses, wondering if someone would come in and complain at the noise or the disturbance. He had taken a few steps toward carrying out that very plan when Neil noticed that Todd Anderson had come into the room.
"What the hell are you doing standing on the desk?" Todd asked,
blurting out the first thing that came to mind.
"Practicing my barbaric yawp."
"Anybody know that you're in here. I figured all the classrooms
would be locked when not in use."
"I'm multt-talented." Neil replied, his balance precarious on his improvised oration stand. Neil spread his arms as if he were a bird about to take flight. "Carpe Diem! Sieze the day.
"You will get us all in trouble." Todd shuffled his feet,
shifting his weight from right to left, looking up at the sight of Neil rocking precariously back and forth, for all the world like the pendulum that sat on the edge on the baby grand piano in the music room. Todd found himself think thoughts that boys his age should not be thinking.
"Neil!" Todd hissed. "You can't use language like that around here."
"I want to get in trouble. Is that not want we've been taught.
To challenge authority, to think outside of the lines of what society would have us believe." Neil shouted, at one instant in danger of toppling over completely before he once more regained his balance. "You should try this." It gives one a whole new persepective on things."
"All very well, and I suppose if anyone can get away with this
kind of behavior it would be you, but if you want to go on an one man crusade against established order a little moderation in your zeal wouldn't hurt." Todd tilted his head to one side thinking matters through. He knew Neil often his considered his thinking slow and plodding, his thoughts nowhere near as swift and rapid fire as Neil's, but they were friends and given enough time and opportunity they usually arrived at the same destination.
"All right, I see your point. A little moderation in all things,
after all, it might help me from burning out completely." Neil said. He tilted forward, subconciously adjusting for height, weight, and relative distance to the floor, the desk tilted forward at just the right angle, allowing Neil to step down as if descending a gradual slope outdoors.
"What's on your mind?"
"I'm having no luck with the assigned reading."
"Well, you've come to the right place."
"Come on, let's go out to that clearing.
"Where the club meets, I thought we could only go out there on
days when it meets."
"I'm invoking the rule, that rules are made to be broken."
"I am so going to regret this."
"Live a little, Todd. Live each day like it was your last,
because you never know if it might be your last shot, catch my
drift?" Neil nudged and winked at
Todd, his uniform still unwrinkled and crisp as when he had put it on, which was something Todd still had trouble figuring out how he managed it because Neil had gone to bed wearing his uniform, as had Todd. Too exhausted to take it off after the most recent meeting of their clandestine club, the Dead Poets, and suddenly, against his better judgment, the restrictions of his upbringing. But something in either his own mind, Neil's conspiritoral, jovial manner, caught him up and he pumped his fist in the air, "I'm in!"
Disclaimer: Dead Poets Society is the property of Columbia Pictures, Sony Entertainment and its respective producers and creators, as are the characters of Neil and Todd; they do not belong to me.