Wednesday, August 09, 2006
All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go
I look like my dad's mother, so much so that dying relatives have mistaken me for her or the ghost of her, depending on how long they've been on the morphine drip. I don't have much memory of her save for the summer trips my dad, sister, and I (my mother wisely opted out) took to see her in Kansas and one hellish six week stay at our house where she watched the Oliver North scandal unfold every day on television, interrupting my stories as we used to call soap operas back in the south. I, like all brilliant people, loved All My Children and hope to teach at Pine Valley University someday since none of the teachers there every seem to do anything but hang out in the student union. One night during her stay, my sister and I were at the dinner table, calling each other dorks and then telling each other how dorky the other was when Grandmother Brooks looked up from her ham and said, My God, you wouldn't call someone a darky, would you? I had never even heard the term until then, but Beth and I broke into laughter at her horror and misunderstanding.
There was certainly a dark side to my dad's family, but unlike my mother's, it wasn't obvious. No one brandished guns or drank, no one screamed at anyone that they had fucked up my life forever, you stupid bitch, or broke dinner plates when it was that time of the month. My dad's family seemed to function without a ripple or a hug or a raised voice. When we'd go for our summer visit, Beth and I would stay in the basement almost the entire time with a bunch of Barbies until dinner. I'd dress Barbie for all sorts of special events and then tell her that she wasn't going anywhere because she was evil. She'd be all dressed up with nowhere to go, as they say. I'd lay her in my grandmother's old case surrounded by tissue paper, like a plush coffin. That's what you deserve, you dumbass, I'd say, smiling. I'd be dressed beautifully, given that Grandmother didn't like children looking bad, especially the one that looked like her. You play so nicely, Michelle, Grandmother would say after coming down and making sure none of her dolls had been damaged. Barbie is sleeping, I'd say, thinking she's dead and you are attending her funeral. I guess Barbie had somewhere to go after all.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"There is not a word of dialogue in that story that either of us ever said, yet it's a true story." Amy Hempel
Chocolate-Covered Cherry Shake
1 shot of vodka
1 shot of Kahlua
2 shots of Godiva liqueor
1 scoop of ice-cream
Blend into a milkshake
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Dream Cruise Month!
First published in Cairn:
Working on his antique car, it exploded,
and he lay suspended between life
and death for months until he woke to what
remained. Before he went deaf from the pain
medication, he’d heard a few people say,
Wouldn’t it have been better if . . . He could
finish the thought, but instead drifted off into
visions of cars stretched for miles, him behind
the wheel of his gleaming machine, the envy
of everyone sitting on the side of Woodward Avenue,
a glittering mirage that they could only glimpse
for a moment before he became indistinguishable
from all the lucky ones that were driving the same road.