I found out how cool Russell Brand, aka Mr Katy Perry, was when in 2006 he hosted a show called Big Brother’s Big Mouth on the UK’s Channel 4, doing post-show analysis on that year’s Big Brother. Aside from its being an unusually good Big Brother season (I guess… I haven’t seen any others actually, but the guy with Tourrette’s won), it hooked me because of Brand’s “coverage.”
I was living in Edinburgh at the time, and during that summer’s Fringe Festilal, the three nights of his comedy tour, called Shame, sold out right away. I hovered over the internet until they announced a 4th show, and immediately got myself a ticket. His show, in which he basically made fun of himself for all the terrible things he did when he was addicted to heroin, was as my boyfriend at the time liked to say, life-affirming.
Anyway fastforward to May of 2010 and I am living in Mexico City, teaching two elementary school girls English in their Lomas Verdes high-rise apartment in the afternoons, and I have been working with their mom in the mornings. Their mom is only a few years older than me, and I think in different circumstances I would like to be her friend. I have been told that she and the girls are taking English because they are going to Miami to live with the dad, in time for the start of the Dade County school year, late August. But with that the subtext has gradually come out that the mom doesn’t necessarily want to go, because she is thinking of getting a divorce. She has begun taking classes to complete her master’s in psychology. As the classes go on into June, July, every time I refer to my own experiences travelling or exploring or experimenting in my life, which are generally received neutrally or with interest by other students, I feel I have put something weighty out on the table between us. Eventually she tells me that about 12 years ago, when she was 24, she wanted to move to Australia to study, but that her mother didn’t want her to and eventually convinced her not to, and that, among other things, she would find herself too old to get married once she returned to Mexico. Her daughters are 11 and 8 now. She is a really smart and very open-minded woman, and a good mother, with a husband who must be quite driven and intelligent, and their daughters are equally bright and worldly.
Another thing is, all three of them love Katy Perry. I ascertained this pretty quickly from the girls, probably within the first class we had together. I eventually mentioned, as part of my contemplated teacher-student discourse with them, that Katy Perry’s husband is really cool. This guy Russell Brand, a British comedian.
The girls didn’t really react with anything other than polite interest, but the mom, who was in the kitchen cutting vegetables, stopped what she was doing. “Katy Perry is married?” She had to raise her voice in order to interject that. She half walked over to us, still musing. “I had no idea! Wow…”
In July, when the girls finished up school for the summer, the mom told me she wanted the girls to have a break, and that she might as well, too. In my last class with them I gave them a somewhat ceremonious goodbye, explaining that I couldn’t guarantee that I would be available in September when they were ready to resume. Of course I didn’t know what I would be doing in September, that was true, but I was actually pretty certain that I would not see them again. Either they would move to Miami before then, or their mom would decide to divorce their dad, and his company would no longer be able to justify their private English lessons. Hopefully they are in Miami now, but who knows.
The Brand-Perry union was announced as officially not long for this world not too long ago, and I wondered if that family thinks of me as much as I think of them.