Thursday, January 22, 2009
When my sister Beth and I were very young, we'd tuck our nightgowns into our underwear and wrestle each other. These were quite the productions; my dad would put on music and we'd stand in opposite corners, doing pre-victory dances. I'd call myself Phoebe Buns and Beth would call herself Bebe Buns. Even though Beth was younger, she was bigger than I was and my mother would panic midway through our bouts, yelling, "Don't hurt her Beth. She's going to snap." But the young and dumb are protected a lot of the time; I am no exception. I remember those times as lovely in the Vaseline-smeared frame that is the past -- my parents alive, the world as wondrous as it ever would be, framed by a sunken living room with avocado green shag carpet.
These days I find myself and a lot of people I know a little beaten down. Make no mistake; we keep going, we retain our humor, we try to love each other. But as I referenced in my last post, the past exacts a cost. In my review of The Wrestler, a commenter took offense at my characterization of certain jobs. All I can say to that is, Brother, I have had all those jobs, the ones where some people are kind and some people treat you as if you have just finished learning the alphabet with the blown-up Letter People we used to have in kindergarten. Once I worked as a receptionist for minimum wage after I received my doctorate. I enjoyed the work and was good at it, but I still remember the day that a man who I assumed was my friend said, You sure would have made something of yourself if you'd just gone to college. I said nothing, just nodded. The days were filled with endless forms, with Tupperware lunches, with sticky school day minutes in the dementia clinic downstairs where aides tried to keep their patients calm until five when the families came to collect them. This place remains a part of me, as does the slaughterhouse I worked at, as does every place I have taught. Maybe I would have been good at professional wrestling -- if I choose to pursue it, at least I already have a stage name.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft." H. L. Mencken
Drinking movie suggestion: Gran Torino (See the scenes of Detroit and weep for the beauty.)
Benedictions and Maledictions