August 30, 2004 at 10:43 am (Uncategorized)

Marvin was a guy I went to school with. He and I met in 3rd grade after our schools were consolidated. Marvin was a short thin guy who would always remain short and thin. The last time I saw him he might have been 1/2 an inch taller than me and I’m 5’3″ 1/2.

From the moment we started school together we were always stuck in the same class. We were TAG kids. TAG being Talented and Gifted. Marvin was in regular TAG and I was in Science and Math TAG, having missed regular TAG by one point. It was a joke more than anything. Marvin always bitched that the TAG teacher should at least be as smart as the kids their trying to teach. He had little patience for idiocy.

Marvin and I competed in everything. Sometimes we competed against each other and sometimes we TAG kids would gang up against a teacher. Marvin and I both played trumpet in the band and naturally we had to share the solo since we competed so hard against each other, we were both worthy of the position. I’ll not forget the time during marching band that we continued to play and march even as the band director started yelling at us to stop. Marvin and I both turned with disgusted looks on our faces because we had both been playing and marching well. Turns out one of the majorettes had collapsed from heat exhaustion. Marvin looked at me and said, “why the hell did he stop us for? We don’t need her? She needs us!” That was just his attitude.

Marvin’s family was very poor. I can remember his jeans being three inches too short and patched. Unfortunately his brother, who was also in the band with us, was a lot bigger guy so I guess Marvin getting hand-me-downs was out of the question.

If I could pick one word to describe Marvin, I would say… ambitious. He always had ambition. He always wanted to be better. He never took his brains for granted, like I did. Whatever he wanted, he normally got because he was smart and he had drive to get it. A lot of times, he drug me right along with him. I can’t say that I ever felt that Marvin really liked me but when it came down to it, I was one of the more “normal” TAG kids and he knew when he got me going I was a worthy opponent. I can’t say that Marvin was smarter than I was, nor I smarter than him. We each had our strengths and our faults and they normally balanced out. He made me think a lot.

Marvin always knew, I think, in the back of his mind, that college or military was the only way out of the coalfields. I knew he wouldn’t join the military and I think he saw me as a barrier to scholarships and accolades that could propel him into college. I gave all that up when I went to Germany my senior year. I gave up Govenor’s Honor Academy and few other things and a lot of chances for scholarships. I really didn’t need them like he did. My family was prepared to send me to college and could afford it.

Marvin and I did go to the same local college. He majored in Chemical Technology. Although our college was small, the science program was supported by the local chemical factories and was one of the best in the state. He worked as a co-op student at what was then Rhone Poulenc. He carried a 3.9 grade point average. I can tell you right now, that 10th of a point probably irritated the shit out of him. That’s the way he was.

As you’ve probably guessed, this story doesn’t end so well. In April of 1993, a month before graduation, Marvin was coming home from work and, they believe, fell asleep at the wheel and hit a loaded coal truck head-on. Its one of those things that still makes me so angry I want to cry.

He’s one of five or six students from my class that have died since graduating from high school. His is the one that hurt me the worst. I’ve been to wakes and funerals for old people, babies, teenagers, young adults, and a murder victim. None of the people at those wakes and funerals had the impact on me that Marvin’s family did. I have never seen a family more devastated than his. His wife was so drugged, they practically had to carry her in the church. His brother practically ran down the aisle of the church into my arms, sobbing about “our over-achiever.” Marvin carried his family on his slim shoulders.

Marvin’s birthday is a week after mine. I think of him every year. I think about his son and wonder if he looks like Marvin. He did in his baby pictures but that was 11 years ago. I visit his grave when I go to the cemetary. My grandparents are buried the same place he is. Most of our classmates who have died, if not all, are also buried there. I’m not sure what brought Marvin to mind this morning. Sometimes he pops up in my mind and I relive some our funnier moments, when we could just be ourselves without trying to one up each other.

I always revisit his death though. My mind still shouts, “NO! NO! Not Marvin, not Marvin. Not our over-achiever.” Rhone Poulenc established a scholarship in his name. I’ll never think its enough.


  1. Leese said,

    May he rest in peace..

  2. phoebe said,

    Oh, what a heartbreaking post to return to — but beautiful tribute, Sister Spirit. I gather I missed your bday? Hope it was wonderful. Can’t catch up on back posts today, but will work my way back over the next week or so. Love, Sister Moon
    ps got my fingers crossed you predicted accurately.

  3. Morgan Venerumdo said,

    The poor soul… may he rest in peace.

  4. Vadergrrrl said,

    Wow John Kerry reads this blog. Too kewl!

    Hey great post as always. Its sad getting older, and losing friends.

    Great post.

  5. Michael said,

    That’s really sad, Inanna. I didn’t expect it to end sadly. I never do.

  6. jp said,

    That is sad, but at least you’re a better person for having known him. :o)

  7. Queenie said,

    This was wonderful, Innana.
    I am 5’3″ and 3/4.
    Thank you for sharing.


  8. foxymama said,

    You’ve got me thinking about Marvin now too. I miss him…and I don’t even know who he was. That’s quite a trick. He sounds like ‘one of the good ‘uns.’ He should have been a ‘keeper.’ Darn. And there’s so much ‘deadwood’ out there, it’s really tragic. You’re a ‘good ‘un’ too, for remembering Marvin and not letting his memory slip into obscurity…

  9. Zelda said,

    That is just shitty. And random. And pointless. It sucks, utterly and completely. I’m really sorry.

  10. Inanna said,

    Just wanted to say thank you to all of you for your comments. Marvin rises in my mind, uninvited most times, to remind me not to waste my time. For all that I wrote about him and the countless times that I have thought about him, I’ve never told his family. I drive right by their house on the way to the cemetary and I’ve never stopped to tell them that I’ve never forgotten him. Sometimes, I think that is important, that people know you haven’t forgotten the person they loved so much. Next weekend, I’m going to the cemetary and I’m going to stop at Marvin’s house and I’m going to tell his parents that I have not forgotten.

  11. Jack said,

    Another amazing post. Rest in Peace, Marvin.

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