30 April 2012
the shy rebel
Stafford has always had a strange sense of the world. Even in 1st grade he admired the kid who couldn’t do the normal 1st grade assignment, “naming his parents and grandparents and where they were from.” “Tony” was a kid from down the block and his parents and parents were always around our block. They were from Cambridge, the town we lived in, Stafford could have done the assignment for Tony: “my parents and grandparents are from Cambridge, Massachusetts, just like me,” he should have said in Mrs. Pierce’s 1st grade class. Instead he wet himself in front of the class: “Stafford’s hero!” For some perverse reason, ever since then whenever Stafford encountered a “freak” who couldn’t or wouldn’t “behave normally,” he had a new hero. I think that this is because his parents told him to respect people who stood up for themselves, and never to shame children who refused to conform to the norms of society. Ever since then Stafford has elevated people who refused to conform to society. Personally, I think that he elevates eccentric people to defy conformity and make himself more unique.
As soon as Stafford grew up, he left home. Arrogant, he wanted to make his way in the world on his own as a bicycle messenger. He moved to New York City in 1979, just after the city went bankrupt and was allowed to default by the federal government. The crumbling city was perfect for Stafford because “[t]he small community often tolerates eccentricity. The city, on the contrary, rewards it” (Park, cited in Kidder 307). Like yeast in moist flour or hops in a brewery or a bully on a 3rd world police force, Stafford had found his perfect environment. It is a place where he can live the fantasy The Toronto Star reporter Cheney described as “[l]iving by your own skill and animal cunning, like a gladiator in the Roman amphitheatre, surrounded by fat and decadent citizens” (Cheney A1). Of course, that is a young man’s dream of rebellion. And if you look at most of these imaginary heroes of the street, they prefer to keep these fantasies to themselves. So Stafford lived his fantasy life of an urban warrior.
Cheney, P. “Bicycle Couriers in Love with Life on Mean Streets.” Toronto Star, 27 March 1993, A1, A8. Print.
Kidder, Jeffrey. “Appropriating The City: Space, Theory, And Bike Messengers.” Theory & Society 38.3 (2009): 307-328. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.
 passive aggressive