Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Name We're Not Mentioning

On my 19th birthday, my friends Hank and Erin kidnapped me to watch the not so fantastic version of The Bell Jar. Hank had been madly (emphasis on the mad) in love with Erin since high school. Erin felt substantially less fond of Hank as she didn't invite boys to her ice-cream and cake parties, although we she hadn't come out at that point unless you count propositioning me once or twice in a way that could be serious, could be laughed off as a joke. Erin had a serious owlish look set off with big glasses and frumpy clothes that hid her rather large breasts. She barely hit five feet, Hank was well over six feet tall. The plan, if it could be called such, for my birthday was to kidnap me away from my godawful boyfriend, who Hank referred to routinely as "that fucking prick" (that was when he was in a good mood) and we'd all sit in a teeny-tiny apartment that belonged to a mutual friend and get good and liquored up for the great acting that was The Bell Jar. Why, I wondered, did we need the movie when we were living it? No, the Rosenbergs weren't be executed that summer, but it was Texas, and in Texas, someone is always being executed (that summer it would be Carla Faye Tucker, the famous born-again who claimed her conversion should keep her from the lethal injection, Texas' preferred method).

The night wore on, the movie stayed nearly unwatchable, and our talk turned to matters of a dark nature. Hank and Erin took turns telling me why I should leave my then-boyfriend. Happy Birthday to me, I thought, but I knew they were right. The boyfriend became someone we mentioned in code, fearing we might conjure him up by saying his name. Sure enough, he showed up anyway, looking tore up and sucking all the goodwill out of the room. He had a present for me, wrapped in a brown paper bag. I opened the bag to find an antique fan in it, heavy as hell. "I remembered you said you liked fans," he said. Umm, okay! I couldn't remember the comment at all. The fan didn't have any blade guards -- it was scary even when it wasn't turned on. I put it on my dresser where one day without warning it fell on my head and hurt me (my head bled and bled until my hair become a clotted mess of dried blood -- bye, bye good hair day!), almost bad enough to scare some sense into me.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Freedom fighters, people who fight for truth and justice, for the downtrodden and broken, don't always win, but they're always right." Molly Ivins

Country Music to Drink By:

"If This Drinking Don't Kill Me" Dwight Yoakum
"Cocaine Blues" Johnny Cash
"I've Seen the Light" Hank Williams
"Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" Willie Nelson
"Don't Think Hank Done It This Way" Waylon Jennings
"Angel From Montgomery" John Prine

Benedictions and Maledictions

To Hopeless in Bloomfield Hills,

I think all the advice on the comment is sound from Cheri's "Leave the fucker" to Robin's more measured approach about treating yourself as a friend and going from there with a journal or talking with someone who won't pass judgment on you. I'd love to have a little more information about your situation -- are you also married, what are the stakes for you, what keeps you in it, what makes you want to get out of it and so on. Does anybody else know? Often when I have needed advice, I have given a sugar-coated and/or incomplete version of the story because of not being able to articulate it or being afraid of telling the whole (in my mind) sordid tale. Also, how often do you see this man? What keeps him in this situation of the divided heart? If you can, give me a story that you believe best signifies the nature of your relationship with him, an antecdote that will make us understand the ground scene better. With a little more information, Robin, Cheri, and I (and anybody else who wants to join in) might be able to give even more detailed advice. Most of us keep doing the same things because we don't know how to do anything else and because there is an awful comfort in it. The things to remember is that everything passes, even the most horrible intolerable situations and that change, while difficult, is possible.


Sheila said...

Love the post today! Sorry the fan fell on you. hehe Cute pic. I love the Tazmanian Devil!

cindy said...

Erin sounds great! What ever happened to her?

Paul said...

Cajun Queen,

Wow, Tazmanian Devil rocks out! If this drinkin' don't kill me, I may be in Heaven already. Rock on, pretty lady!

CCR and R2 C2!

Anonymous said...


this one made me laugh out loud! There've been a lot of pink elephants in the room for so many of us for so long that it makes me wonder if we are drunk all the time, or just should be! I hope all goes well for the poor Hopeless woman. How's your car these days?

kiss kiss

Cheri said...

I agree with you- I'd LOVE to know more of the situation, and make a better response. My usual reaction to unworthy men is to say "fuck 'em" and move on.

I made the chocolate cheesecake again. Care for a slice?

Jason said...

The Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins is also a good country album to drink too.

Anonymous said...

I have many stories, but I need to think of the perfect one. I'm going to do this. Hopeless in Bloomfield Hills

Anonymous said...

Jesus=freedom fighter par excellence.

robin said...

Haven't seen "The Bell Jar," but I did see "Sylvia" w/Gwyneth Paltrow. What did you think of that one? Any better? -R

john said...

Dear Michelle,

Another incisive post, as always. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Michelle, the picture, thanks so much. It's an uncanny resemblance. And on such short notice, too. Your staff is mahvelous, darlink. Give them all, how you say, zee big varm foozy for moi. This just shows once again that the camera does not lay. Or is it lie? Never mind.

Anonymous said...

On a more serious note, did Ted Hughes drive Sylvia Plath up the wall and into the oven, or was she the agent of her own destruction? Brilliant poet, though. I studied The Bell Jar in grad school in a course on Lit. and Psych.

Anonymous said...

Was the "old fan" in "The Name We're Not Mentioning" a symbol? Intentional or organic? Maybe it's just a plain old fan, and a bloody old fan at that, since what it did to your head and the blood splatter and all. Toodles.

Anonymous said...

Today's quote: I can resist everything but temptation.--OW

Anonymous said...

Red and Green colors in the picture. Kind of like a Christmas tree. Yeah, those things could be toys, too. Tannenbaum means Chistmas tree in German. Are you under my spell or am I under yours? Don't say, "try to remember."

robin said...

Not all professors "affirm the truth through the use of skill." Some affirm bullshit just to see if their students can sniff it out. Symbolic of...?