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If you were a young adolescent in Columbus, Ohio, in the early nineties, in the summertime, your days were most likely spent at the Water Park. We all secured season passes, and proudly displayed them like driver's licenses at the gate--
yes, we are old enough; no, thank YOU.
We'd slyly wave to our mothers in their Ford Windstars as they drove away, to return again at the end of the day, sporting several new freckles, full stomachs and empty pockets.
We were young enough still that we believed in make-believe, and the park became our enchanted forest.
Of course, we were
in our fantasies. Why pretend to be princesses, when we could become (the obtusely more obtainable) newly discovered child actors, models, and psychic mediums?
(Ironically, we all did attend school with a real life child actor, a genuine ginger with long, curly hair, who had made her debut in a local commercial, singing and dancing around a playground, probably hawking D.A.R.E. or whatever en vogue awareness campaign plagued the 90's. We also didn't like her; too "uppity".)
Jayme and I stood at the top of the curly slides, concocting our new identities.
Once agreed upon, we stood on line, discussing loudly the details of our new lives.
I was to be Tress MacNeille ("It's so hard being Tress MacNeille!", I'd say). The decision to become an obscure voice actor was deliberate: no one would know what MacNeille looked like (or that she was 30 years older), and at the time I was obsessed with a cartoon--
Tiny Toon Adventures
--for which she provided multiple voices (I used to tape the shows on our VCR and slow-mo the credits).
"I really shouldn't be talking this loud, I need to save my voice."
I don't remember who Jayme decided to be (though I like to think she stood there, in her 10-year-old body, looking at me with the disdain of a sarcastic 30-year-old, whispering "Bitch, please" under her breath), but for the sake of this narrative, let's say she chose to be Macauley Culkin's sister.
We discussed how we were "just in town visiting", and how "Columbus was nice enough, but ultimately
" We wondered aloud, as we sat in the waterslide jet stream, if our driver would have the limousine waiting for us
for a change.
The day proceeded as normal, and to our disappointment, no one asked for an autograph, or interrupted our conversations to say things like, "Hey, are you Tress MacNeille?"
We filed out of the park around 5, a row of minivans awaiting our contemporaries, now spilling out of the exit gates, still wound up on sugar and sun.
Among the vans, today, an actual limousine awaited, and though my mother was waiving from her van not far beyond, we walked toward the limo, dipping behind at the last minute, to give the illusion that it was for us. Because it was.
This past summer I went to a local pool a few times, and sat around the perimeter with a stack of fashion magazines, feeling dry, restless, and rather pale and bloated. My modern-day BFF was nearby, and she'd sporadically pass me pages of
Martha Stewart Living
with brief commentary ("This is so cute"; "Who the
has time to do this?").
I watched two girls in the pool. They would dive under with exaggerated movements, coming up for air to excitedly report back.
I found pearls, magic pearls!
one would say.
Mermaid powers, activate!
Summers at the Water Park had always been a constant, but by the time I was in middle school, my family had moved away from the city to a smaller town. Summers were now spent signing on to AOL (via modem and at an hourly fee), avoiding potential new friends who had endearingly labeled me "The Human Dictionary" and would encircle me at lunch, asking me why I thought I was better than everyone, why was I dared raise my hand in class, and whatareyougonnadoabout it?
I made my parents drive me the two hours back "home" at every chance.
The promise of one more weekend at the Water Park was enough to shove me through another summer, and I tried to hold on to the tenuous strains of friendships already tried by distance and that awkward transition into teenhood.
I had another friend named Jamie (another child of the Eighties), and we'd make it to the park, this time opting for the lazy river than the frantic shuffling between water slides. The Lazy River, as it were, was a chance to gossip and flirt, something that was now important to us.
We grabbed the innertubes and launched ourselves downstream.
His name was Chris Parker, and he was cute. And more importantly, he was talking to us. He had some friends, they were somewhere in the park, and ohbytheway he lived close to my new town.
Jamie talked of her friends, who were once our acquaintances, Shayla and Kimber. (She had continued on the linear Timeline of Friendship, while I was stuck in some alternate 1985.*) They were here too, and maybe we should all meet up somewhere for lunch! Chris was agreeable. I was agreeable. It was agreed that we'd meet near The Cyclone.
Back To the Future
I don't think I need to tell you where this is going, provided you've obtained a basic foundation in Literature somewhere along the line.
I probably also don't need to tell you that Jamie was blonde haired, and blue-eyed, and well-endowed, as most people with friends named Shayla and Kimber are.
Chris did give me his address. We were to write each other once we parted ways for the day, for the summer. This kept me quiet for the two-hour ride home.
He also gave his address to Jamie, but she was not the letter-writing type.
Throughout the fall, I received exactly three letters and sent two (which would be two letters, and two letters too many, respectively).
He wrote first. A plain business envelope. A typed letter smelling vaguely of Drakkar Noir. Enclosed, a silver keychain (a gift, or consolation prize). Pleasantries about school, filler material, random musings, suspenseful build up. And, "I think you're really cool. Also, I think your friend Jamie is pretty cool too, do you think I can have her number so I can call her some time?"
Sure thing, Chris Parker, right after I get done smelling your letter again.
I wish I had a tidy way to tie up the past couple of days' entries, but I really don't.
"And then, I grew up to be a doctor, AND I SHOWED THEM, HAPPILY EVER AFTER THE END."
"And then, I moved to the BIG CITY AND I SHOWED THEM! HAPPILY EVER AFTER THE END."
"And then, they all had stupid kids and stupid marriages and I SHOWED THEM HAPPILY EVER AFTER!"
"And then, I saw them all at a reunion and said 'Fuck You, Fuck You, You're cool, Fuck You, I'm out'* AND I SHOWED THEM!"
I don't know why I felt the need to tell the story about the letter, but the fact that I can still remember that line verbatim is sort of telling (or pathologic).
I also almost didn't write it, because my memories of pretending to be Tress MacNeille are so fond, and everything after that is just kind of like shitting on that memory.
In fact, I'm still friends with Jamie (and in a twisted. fucked-up cosmic joke, she actually CALLED me as I was writing the entries about her, Ishityounot), and I never had any ill-will toward her.
I tried tidying the entries with the lyrics from the
Facts of Life
I suppose I should, after having bared some really scarring shit, try not to mask the pain with sarcasm. I suppose I should have learned something, too.
I don't know if I have, and maybe that's the take home. I ambivalently quote Tupac Shakur:
"You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened... Or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on."
LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES! LIVEJOURNAL LIVES!
Q&A Regarding Entries From Earlier This Month:
Q: Did you actually just quote Tupac Shakur?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: Why did you refer the Water Park as "Water Park"? Does it have a name? If so, why didn't you give it's real name when you outted Chris Parker?
Q: What message do you have for other Human Dictionaries out there who are having a tough time?
A: ERUDITES 4 EVA
Q: A boy that I like, likes my friend instead. What do I do?
A: Write about it when you're 31 on an anonymous writing site.
Martha would have preferred to have had The Talk with her older sister, or the older sister of a friend of a friend, but her mother, armed with pamphlets and her own clinic ladyparts plastic models, took it upon herself to educate Martha one Saturday afternoon, as Martha sat on the front step of her house, writing surly twelve-year-old poetry that had evolved beyond rhyming "love" with "dove" (though not by much).
her mother said,
we need to talk about vaginas.
Martha quickly searched for a rhymable word, but eventually lumped "vagina" in with "orange" and "purple".
When Martha was sixteen, she fell in love for the first time, and though it was Billy Johnson who was fumbling awkwardly at her crotch as they sat contorted in her brother's Camaro, it was what was in her right hand to which she pledged a life-long affair: a can of Schlitz, stolen from Billy's brother's fridge.
In her early twenties she'd flirt a little with the Mary Jane, but it made her edgy, and confrontational. (She'd been kicked out of many a drumming circle.) But it was beer that was a constant as Martha closed out her sixties.
What a happy baby, they'd say of Martha, who rarely cried or fussed. And what interesting eyes! They'd add, emphasis on interesting, as her right eye had already turned a green that did not match the other's brown. She'd learn to wink before she had basic head control, though her grandmother interpreted this as admission of imperfection, as if Martha intended to hide her green eye.
Martha's other imperfection was the fact that she'd absorbed her developing twin in utero, a slowly disintegrating mass of connective tissue and bone that now resided somewhere in the region of her right kidney.
On the eve of Martha's seventieth birthday, she sat in her recliner in the common room, watching a xerox of a reality show, her beer secured in a cozy at her side.
The show was a retread of nearly all reality shows from the past decade, with contestants scheming for immunity or food or allegiance in a remote location.
Martha shifted in her chair sporadically, dozing during commercials, until she gave in and stood up, stretching as she did so.
We survived the island another year, kid,
she said, patting her right flank and headed down the hallway to her room.
A Kent dreg, Martha would tool around in her brother's Camaro, smoking a roach and hugging the canal with her fast turns. She'd make it back to town in time and high enough for the local open-poetry night at the coffee house, and sit in the front row, unnerving the readers for the night, either by her purposely intense stare (one eye was green, the other brown), or by saying each word the reader said, half a fraction of a second later, a sort of echo. The new readers would stumble over simple words, and Martha would yawn loudly.
It was decided by my visiting mother that I needed a new vacuum cleaner. Mine, she said, had a musty odor, and "smelled". (I neglected to tell her about the time several months prior when I thought it a good idea to vacuum water and glass shards from a broken Perrier bottle.)
We made it to Macy's, where my eyes glassed over as we studied the display. An older gentleman, with a tidy suit, and polished black shoes--a relic from the day when Macy's housewares floor salesmen were, well,
--approached us, his gold ring and silver coif distracting.
My mother suggested The Shark, a mere fraction of the price of a Dyson, but also an insulting lavender color. "Do you have this in another color?" I asked.
[I felt the sudden need to burn a bra. (Intimates was, after all, strategically one department over.)]
"So?" my mother prompted. "Which one will it be?"
"Whichever one will guarantee I will NEVER have to go through the vacuum-buying process again."
I hope the man, who has done nothing to earn my bile, can feel my feminist rage, but I come off as more of a petulant-woman child.
I suppose I should explain my irrational hatred of vacuums.
As a young girl I wrote a story called "Green Carpet", which started out as turn-of-the-century propaganda extolling the virtues of the miraculous
, only to have it end somewhere in the 1950's with a sad alcoholic housewife sweeping some shitty Olive carpet as the apex of her existence.
Adults around me had lamented "today's youth" and how we were entitled teat-suckers, and "If we could go back to the simpler times of the Fifties..." Even as a teen, I did not understand this nostalgia.
I did not have to live the Fifties to understand the incredible unrest, suburban mirages, and immense cultural inequality. This was only a good time for a
select group of people
And even as a young writer, I knew that I would not have been in that group. And decades later, I'm still not, but there's been progress, progress that I hope will not stall under assumption that we've reached our apex of equality.
There are still concessions. I own a lavender vacuum now, but I use it to sweep a multi-colored rug, one that I bought.
I can't seem to focus on the Land Of Make-Believe this month. Old memories are rehashed and remixed with new ones, for a lukewarm October batch entries resembling Memoirs of a Nobody Internet Person. (Most entries so far do in fact start with an irritating, self-indulgent "I").
always hated non-fiction, and it wasn't until adulthood that started gravitating to biographies, true-crime, and shit that I tried to avoid in my reading life (i.e., If I wanted to experience the Real World, I wouldn't be reading it, now would I?) Or so went the reasoning.
So when I was but a mere med-school pup, and flirting with the idea of Psychiatry, I met with a shrink to discuss the career. This deteriorated into a mini-session, were he said things like, "You're very introspective" (To which I replied "Thanks"; though in the years since I'm not sure I was supposed to take that as a compliment.)
He asked about what of books I read, and when I mentioned all things fiction, he said,
That will change, once you get older.
I may read non-fiction now, but Reader, I did not become a psychiatrist.
When asked who assaulted her, she said Karen Allen,
but more syndromic, less flair, more crazy in the eyes.
(The police sketch artist tried his best.)
This was how Haakan explained things. She also claimed to be of a small subset of peoples who were able to see sounds as colors, and feelings as auras. (
You're a bluish-pink,
she had said to me once.)
When I sat with her at the police station, she was less concerned with her forehead laceration and more with the Lieutenant behind the counter.
, she said, and this brevity made me uneasy.
rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain rain go away come again some other day rain...
Having smoked more than 100 cigarettes in a lifetime qualifies as having been a "smoker".
A cigar is equivalent to 8 cigarettes.
The first Marilyn in The Munsters television show was replaced after the first season with another actress. They were both so similar that many viewers did not notice.
The Zodiac Killer was never caught, though the prime suspect died of a heart attack before he was charged.
Sam Lufti is now managing Courtney Love. Mr. Lufti is currently battling legal woes with the Spears family regarding her "Crazy Years".
(I watched a lot of TV today.)
Well this month has been an interesting foray into What the Fuck.
My Halloween will be spent watching
Stephen King's It
, a movie I have seen more times since the age of 9 than an other. A building full of DINK's and workaholics ensure that no small children will be knocking on my door looking for swag. And I try to forget, now two years ago, how we sat on the steps in my old neighborhood, handing out candy, sipping beers surreptitiously in between, and giggling.
He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.
The Tip Jar