Which Todd Are You?

 

 

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Before Sue graduated in 1984, she went through yet one more

metamorphous. Perhaps life was building up to another terrible explosion

-- the routine freakouts Joel and others would attribute to a bipolar

condition.

 

Would she break down into another "crying jag" in the halls of school?

Or was there some more dramatic moment waiting for us?

 

Few of us, even her closest friends, knew about the depth of her

involvement in pornography. Even Glen Kenny and Ron Goldberg seemed to

think her performance art began later in college or after she left.

 

News of her trips to Plato's Retreat and other clubs, she shared only

with her most intimate conspirators, those from whom she had elicited a

vow of silence. Even some of these didn't know like Bill Madaras, who

saw her as so proud and noble.

 

But even the most wary of us, the least shocked by what Sue did,

scratched our heads when she took up with a black man named Todd,

shaping him into the latest of her string of lovers. She, raised in the

very white and racist world of Little Falls, Totowa and Wayne, had shown

no previous predilection for men of other races. Perhaps this was a sign

of Sue's seeking the edge, and a foreshadowing of her eventual wandering

through the streets of Newark in a so-called fugue.

 

For most of us, race was rarely an issue at William Paterson College,

the way it might have been at other schools. Too many students commuted

to campus for it ever to develop that insider mentality racism requires.

This may have changed since because when we left, fraternities with

their dangerous psychology began to reemerge after nearly two decades in

disgrace. During our tenure, Frats kept a low profile and whites mingled

frequently with blacks and Latinos, and only a relationship with a

Martian would have seemed remarkably out of kilter, provided it was

anybody other than Sue. Most of us, scratched our heads over this new

aspect of Sue's love life, then shrugged it off, saying: "Well, that's

our Sue."

 

Most of us were actually grateful to Black Todd because he kept Sue

occupied, and during this time, Sue's exploits declined. Todd

accompanied Sue to social gatherings and showed none of the signs of

wear and tear other boyfriends had displayed after only a few days as

Sue's escort.

 

Perhaps Sue is coming to her senses, we thought? Maybe she's finally

found a nice guy to fall in love with, and later marry after she

graduated school?

 

Black Todd, in fact, struck us as a remarkably reasonable man, full of

sensible ambitions and feasible dreams. We could easily see him

fathering Sue's children, and moving his family away to some ranch-style

house in the suburbs, with tricycles spilling out from the drive ways

and children's building blocks piled on the lawn.

 

Sussex, however, should have warned us.

 

Todd was a black man, living in a Paterson or Newark ghetto but in an

even white and more racist county of Sussex which like Wayne, once

served (and probably still does) as the hotbed for right wing extremism

and the Klu Klux Klan. Sussex was to New Jersey what Montana is to the

United States. Every sort of right wing social experiment goes on there,

from Neo Nazi survival camp training to the "Love thy Cousin as thy

self" sects. like Wayne, once served (and probably still does) as the

hotbed for right wing extremism and the Klu Klux Klan. Sussex was to New

Jersey what Montana is to the United States. Every sort of right wing

social experiment goes on there, from Neo Nazi survival camp training to

the "Love thy Cousin as thy self" sects. The pick-up truck is the

vehicle of choice there. Membership in the NRA i

 

What prompted Todd to live in such a world and put up with such

hostility, none of us could guess. Even the hour trip to college was a

burden of back roads and traffic lights or speeding through heavily

policed Route 23, where every local municipality supplemented its yearly

budget with speeding ticket revenues. Sue with her bright blonde hair

seated beside Todd's black face would have drawn even more suspicion.

Even making the trek by herself, drew cops to Sue, as if they could

smell her as a constant and unrepentant violation. Sue filled up her

glove compartment with tickets along Hamburg Turnpike, and when things

got too hot, she found back routes along less traveled, and less

patrolled streets of the little towns. And even then, she pushed the

issue, her smoking car roaring through these boroughs as if no police

officer would dare stop her -- this particularly an issue when she began

to work for the Paterson News. But none of these things surprised us,

Sue, after all, was Sue.

 

The shock came when Sue found a White Todd as a bookend for her Black

Todd, two boyfriends with the same name, as if defining the world of

light and dark in which she moved. We learned later Sue had picked up

her second Todd, White Todd, as we called him, in one of the local north

Jersey clubs. In Sue's habit for seeking out groups of people, Sue had

attached herself to the whole band, doing multiple sex acts for them

until she finally settled on Todd.

 

"She didn't just start out dating White Todd," said one of Sue's

girlfriends. "She dated the whole band and just happened to hook up with

Todd."

 

Any ideas we had about Black Todd's reasonableness evaporated when Sue

convinced him to allow White Todd to move in.

 

Their resemblance to bookends became the running joke at school, though

no one dared say anything against either Todd.

 

Black Todd's formerly high reputation took additional blows when he

began to appear at social gatherings, clearly now possessed by Sue. At

one Halloween Party, he and Sue arrived dressed up as pimp and

prostitute, the photographs say more about the next phase of Sue's life

than any of us could have predicted. Indeed, Sue remained with these

Todds until her first admission into a Pennsylvania rehab.

 

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A Marvelous Manipulating Sue

 

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