Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Goat Man

My sister's first boyfriend was a real scary dude who talked a lot about being visited by the "goat man" who had the face of a skeleton and was out for blood. It didn't take a degree in psychology or even watching the "special episode" of Different Strokes (you know the one where Arnold and his friend are left in the care of a pedophile who bribes them with liquor and gets them to play naked together on the bunk bed set that he conveniently has in his garage -- red flag! red flag!) to realize he was being sexually abused by his stepfather and no good would come of it, in fact much evil. The mercifully short-lived boyfriend grew up to do things like catch rattlesnakes and hand them to drunks down on the Brazos River. One man died this way, too out of it to make his way to the death hut that is Palo Pinto General Hospital (not the best track record -- most of the people I knew made their way in, but like infamous Roach Motel ads, they did not come out).

When you're traumatized, part of you is dying (quite literally I believe) to tell the story. The other part believes you will die if you tell it. Hence the Goat Man. Our secrets won't stay buried and yet we can't help but try. My sister's dog Ginger often takes her bones and buries them so she can play a little game of hide and seek later, a delight to be savored, money found in an old coat pocket. But what about the rattlesnakes, the rats, the horrors? You can play a little game with those as well. It's just not nearly as fun.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I say what I want to say and do what I want to do. There's no in between. People will either love you for it or hate you for it." Eminem

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Passing For Thin Frances Kuffel

Benedictions and Maledictions
Thanks to the commenters who felt I might have given up enough for Lent this year! I'm still working on a plan, but perhaps a gentle one. As to Lana's comment (and Chris), I live in a highly Catholic section of Detroit, and people still looked at me strange every Ash Wednesday when I taught and one kid asked if I fell asleep on a newspaper which made me laugh. (the idea of actually waking up early enough to read a newspaper hot off the presses, that is).


YogaforCynics said...

Don't think I saw that Diff'rent Strokes episode....

What a horrible story with the "goat man" and the handing of rattlesnakes to drunks...just goes to show how destructive behavior gets passed on like a disease...

Anonymous said...

You're the queen of the simile. I wish more people like you would call in so that I could commiserate in pleasure rather than in pain.--Dr. Laura

Charles Gramlich said...

It also helps, I think, to sort of externalize our fears and hates. It gives us a focus. We can face something OUT there. It's so much harder to face what's IN here.

the walking man said...

The boyfriend has some of the classical signs of a serial killer aborning.

Skeletons, rats, snakes in holes, all handed to the unsuspecting by them to weary to carry them alone anymore. I'll keep mine suppressed awhile longer.

So here's an idea for your fast during the Lenten season...give up cigarettes.

chris said...

Just someone trying to push a snake at me would invoke alot of large rocks being thrown towards his head,or the largest tree branch laying around.

Snakes and myself just don't seem to get along.
I work with a guy,no he is a big guy,ex prison guard. His wife and mine were lovingly petting a friends Boa one night. I for one not being a fan of snakes have no desire to pet or play with one,but I will not shy away from a snake I just won't handle it. Well any way it was funny as hell to watch this Big guy who throws his weight around a little bit,steer a very wide noticeable path away from the snake.

It is kind of funny how some things no matter how small they are, or how big we become, can scare the day lights out of us.

Ok, when did you start smoking ? Something tells me he is only kidding. See you later,have a great weekend, and yes if you are back in Detroit the Sun is out here and warming up nicely. However the fire danger in the East Mountains is dredfull.

Scott said...


Loved this piece. I don't know anyone else who can weave essays on dark subjects and still inject bits of humor ( like the different strokes reference)into them. No bullshit, I love reading your work. Thanks for sharing.

Have a great weekend!