By Robert Guillaume
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Extra info for Guillaume: A Life
I couldn’t stop. After all, I had ﬁrsthand evidence of its pleasures. Still, the church considered it sin. But sin or not, my practice continued for longer than I’d like to admit. I grew increasingly hostile at St. Joe’s. My fresh mouth worked overtime. When an acerbic remark of mine infuriated a priest, I was kicked out on my ear. This was nothing new. It was my senior year, and all I had to do was cool my heels a couple of weeks before going back and graduating. But this time was different. This time I decided to turn my world upside down and get out for good.
For all my supposed talent and intelligence, I had accomplished nothing. I had no money. And I had no access to money. Her strength had begun to wane some four or ﬁve years before her demise. I could have prepared; I saw it coming. But I had no interest in looking. It was painful to see this robust woman turn sickly and frail. She battled asthma; she contracted pneumonia. And if, as Dolores suggested, her malady was also psychological, that was another reason to stay clear. Mental deterioration was as frightening to me as failing ﬂesh.
I related to his fury; I understood how his psychological makeup had him rule in Hell rather than serve in Heaven. In describing the primacy of God and man’s fall from grace, Milton ﬁred my imagination, forcing me to reﬂect upon myself. Was I falling or rising? What was my own state of grace? I couldn’t claim much. I carried heavy shame. I started associating with other St. Louis University students. At times I felt their intellectual equal; mostly, though, I felt inadequate. I worried that if I grew too close to them, they’d discover where I lived.