Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Upper middle class

But back to puberty, a body I didn’t want, that time when I was ready to say something, something other than what they wanted. I wanted contact lenses. This is when I went to the doctor, they were worried about my weight: 81 pounds. The doctor looked at a chart -- 80 to 120 pounds was normal for my age. I was normal.

A victory, and a defeat: then I wanted to get under 80 pounds, but my body wouldn’t let me -- it’s hard to lose weight when everything is changing, you were tall before but now you’re 6 inches taller. I understood this, I understood it meant I would never win. I still wanted to, wanted to win. I looked at Dan Abraham one time when we were changing for PE, and I saw all this extra flesh on his body. We had been friends a long time before, he was the first one who showed me Pac-Man, we went to the theater and watched Tootsie, a forbidden movie, where Dustin Hoffman dresses up as his grandmother, or someone’s grandmother. By 13 we weren’t friends anymore, now that we had bodies. But what was that extra flesh, muscle was the same as fat to me and he was an athlete, always good at sports and I was so glad, glad to see that extra flesh at his belly when he bent over, I didn’t have that. I went back to my calorie book: 3 rice cakes, 37 calories each; 10 carrot sticks, 30 calories total; a bagel, 160 calories; an apple, was that a large or small apple?

But wait -- that wasn’t power, when I was allowed to choose my own school. I was my parent’s biggest investment, they needed me to be invested. When I was a broken toy, my father winding me up, picture a toy soldier right hand up left leg down, switch, left leg up right hand down together crack that sound of metal against metal the joints rusted open closed open closed he’s winding me winding me help there is no help there is just this broken toy this. There is this broken toy, and there is this, this me this investment. No. There is no no. There is just this investment.

There is a book, Hardy Boys all of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew when they weren’t looking. There is a book, HMS Hornblower on the seven seas I’m on the seven seas. I was a good investment, they knew that: this broken toy the way that my head opened up closed. Closed and there was the way light became dark my father’s eyes like charcoal I see my father’s eyes through charcoal the light ouch. There is no light, there is only my father’s eyes, my father’s eyes and his hand from my hand, holding I’m holding on until there is no holding I’m split the way light becomes dark becomes light becomes something else I’m still there. I’m not there. I’m here, here with all this pain with no. There is no no.

The way the room could become everything except the room, everything into this toy, this broken toy, this is why toys hurt. I knew about the Velveteen Rabbit, the skin horse that said what is real? Take this broken toy, and then wind me up again.

There are double doors, double doors to my father’s office. This is so his patients don’t hear his other patients. In my psychiatrist’s office, there are double doors too, and his doors serve another purpose -- one of them swings open, and blocks the view from the waiting room: maybe there are no other patients.

There is a knife, and there is my father, my father is a knife, and there are my father’s hands, and there is my father’s, my father’s, that, there is my father’s that, and there is me, there is what used to be me and there is a broken toy. Can I tell you about my body, my body a broken toy, wind me up? There is a time when my father said: you could put dead bodies in a mulch pile, and no one would know. We had a mulch pile in the back yard, the backyard of our new house, and this was when I was floating, like suddenly there’s all this space my throat locked I can see everything except what’s inside. There is a time when my father said: you know, you can inject drugs into someone’s head, and no one would know. There is my head, my head and my father’s eyes and there is no one, no one would know.

When I first remembered, I remembered the sink in the back of the rec room, this sink and all that mold my father fucking me over that sink and all I can smell is that mold my father’s fingers in my mouth choking me my mouth. I must’ve been four. We moved to that house when I was six, do you see how this works, the way they trap you into thinking you need to know, you need to know when you were four, or when you were six and all I know is this pain, this pain and my father’s eyes and that smell and my body.

I will never know whether I was four or two or six or whether it was happening the whole time, because it was always happening he was always there and I was broken. I will never know whether I’m on the counter a table the floor the fireplace the carpet and there he is with a knife, cutting me open I know I was not cut open because here I am but then there’s that knife, my fingers shaking just taking it out of the kitchen drawer years later I was thinking about that knife and I will never know whether it was that knife or that’s just the knife I thought about. I know about my father’s eyes, all that darkness and a knife, cutting me open, and that was my father’s cock my father’s fingers, reaching in, reaching in to take something, me, or his fingers and then his cock, his fingers in my mouth, choking me my mouth I can’t speak and I will never know.

When I was six, it was very hard to go to the bathroom, it was always scary because it hurt so much, there was blood and there was shit and there were worms and the doctor always said wash your hands. I always washed my hands, there was never a time when I didn’t wash my hands and I always had worms and the doctor would say don’t forget, don’t forget to wash your hands, always wash your hands.

I will never know whether he took a syringe and injected it into my head or somewhere else there were always drugs around he was a psychiatrist and there were always drugs around, needles until he decided the needles might be dangerous, we shouldn’t keep the needles in the linens cabinet where the kids might find them but there were always drugs around and I will never know whether I was floating because of the drugs or whether I was floating because of the pain and whether that’s why it’s so hard to remember, because of the floating, or because of the drugs, or because it’s just hard to remember, it’s hard to remember my father’s hands my father’s cock the smell of his breath but I remember his eyes and this pain.

How did he know that my head would survive, my head that was everything, everything he wanted except. Everything he wanted. For me. Except. Everything he wanted. Take this head, kick it like a beach ball, blowing in the wind, bouncing on the water -- take it, kick it until it bursts.

But we haven’t even gotten to the beach yet. In second grade, I brought two bags of lunch to school -- one for food, and one for candy. I would crack those sour balls one by one in my mouth, more energy for math problems, reading. My teacher called a conference with my parents, no teacher had ever held a conference with my parents -- they were worried, they were worried that all my friends were girls. Like Jeannine LeFlore, who lost her ring in school one day and this was a terrible tragedy, she was crying and we all searched the whole classroom until eventually I found the ring, it was on a shelf in the corner. Was that before, or after I hid my grandmother’s keys, or sometimes jewelry?

Another conversation with my father in his office, maybe I’m 14. I tell my father: you’re not middle class, you’re rich. This is a big deal -- I am learning how to fight, how to fight to win. He is enraged, he starts screaming, I stand there so calm it’s unbelievable, or not calm because I don’t know calm but quiet, cold, remember I’m fighting to win. Finally my father backs down: we’re upper-middle class.


Anonymous said...


mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Thank you, my dear :)

Love --