Whenever I return to Texas, I know I'm almost home when I pass the 24 Hour XXX-Rated Adult Video Store on the side of the highway. It's been there for as long as I can remember, and there is no fence around the parking lot so the cars and pick-up trucks can be counted. Sometimes I recognize a truck or two, but perhaps the most shocking moment of recognition was when I spotted a familiar mini-van with a handicapped sticker driven by my sister's friend Natalie. Natalie, a sweet girl afflicted with cystic fibrosis and an evangelical Christian, admitted that she frequented the place so often that she'd formed a friendship with the manager. The only thing that kept her from renting videos was when her feet had sores on them from the braces she had to wear when she wasn't in her wheelchair. She told my sister that pornography had made her a shell of herself and as often as she told herself she wouldn't go, she'd find herself in her mini-van with her helper dog Rex, moving toward the store after they'd eaten dinner at Taco Bell or somewhere else that she could pull in and get a meal for both herself and Rex, whom she loved.
When I was a little girl, I thought the Adult in anything meant it was for grown-ups, and I wanted to read and see those videos because kids' stuff was just so dull! When I figured out that adult meant something else, I wondered who might be drawn to such a world and what it would mean to them. Natalie had had boyfriends -- the one she really loved would come over late at night, and she'd douse herself with perfume to hide the odor of urine coming from her catheter bag and hope he wouldn't notice and be disgusted. She'd put on his favorite music, George Strait, and get out of her wheelchair and arrange herself in bed to look as if she could be anyone, someone who didn't deal with wheelchairs and catheter bags and constant pain. For a few minutes, she'd be a beautiful woman waiting for a man she loved until something would happen that brought back reality. She said the man was an addiction, so much so that when she caught him with another woman in a restaurant (she and Rex would follow him around), she threw a knife at him. In that moment, she had fulfilled her fantasy of being like every other woman -- capable of moments of beautiful preparations as well as unplanned violence, the kind we visit on others, the kind we save for ourselves.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
" At some point in your story grief presents itself." D.J. Waldie
Movies that will make you want to drink:
Last Exit To Brooklyn, Leaving Las Vegas, Breaking the Waves, Requiem for A Dream, Deconstructing Harry
Benedictions and Maledictions
Second Day Reported
I have never told anyone this,
and I am not going to start now.
You won’t recognize me because
I’ve dyed my hair, and I don’t
answer to the same name. But
here’s something. This is the worst
story I have ever heard. Once a woman
was gang-raped in an apartment
where men kept streaming in and out
for hours, so many that she couldn’t
identify them all. She changed
everything she could so that they
wouldn’t recognize her, but in the end,
she became Apartment 206, and she
could never leave. Some women tell
themselves this place doesn’t exist,
that she doesn’t even exist. The men, well,
they know better, or so the saying goes.
* second day reported is a police term for rapes that aren't reported on the day the rape takes place