At sixteen I had an odd, almost compulsive desire to wield the phrase, 'Repent Walpurgis' at someone, anyone, as long as I thought they merited being adjudged a cad – and merely because the phrase had a nicely prophetic and damning ring to it. But timing is everything. Not that I had any idea what 'Repent Walpurgis' meant – but as put-downs go, I figured this one, somehow, was too muted and obscure to invite any serious bodily harm. Perfect for all self-absorbed and misguided acts of righteous indignation! And just perfect for a small-boned little wuss like myself!
I didn't hate high school; I got along fine. But a precocious interest in the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites (!), and a magazine called The National Lampoon made 11th grade a little more bearable. Ah, so did Celeste; a girl I loved from afar for some time. Strangely, soon after I loaned the first Procol LP to her, I had enough nerve to ask her for a date ... and she accepted. I didn't even mind her tepid response to the LP – she was such a doe-eyed Pre-Raphaelite beauty! And at least in hearing it, she'd have some context for the 'Reidspeak' I was fond of lapsing into. I was oodles of fun back then.
So, I took her to see an equally fun and incomprehensible Antonioni movie called Blow Up at a local university. There was more than one member of the audience wearing the popular stank of patchouli. Freaks ruined a perfectly good scent back then. But ach, as an Eastern Rite Catholic, Procol and Pre-Raphaelite fan, I much preferred the smell of frankincense and myrrh, anyway! And Celeste, it seemed, much preferred the Zappa lookalike sitting to her left. Unnerved, and in J'accuse pose, I let out an unsteadily aimed 'Repent Walpurgis' to a couple of loud talkers a few rows ahead of us. A terrible pause, and then ... isolated, multi-colored hisses of 'A**hole!' were aimed my way ... seemingly from all corners. Ohhh, this wasn't expected ... I'd been hit; I'd been hit badly.
I shrugged, very red-faced, in Celeste's direction. She returned it with a withering look. The Zappa lookalike said something to her, and posing it as a question made her damn near convulse in laughter. He Walpurgised my Walpurgis with a damning parody posed as a question, and wrapped inside a stigma: 'Re-Paint Wallpaper?'
Yessir ... timing is everything.
More Walpurgis revels here