Thursday, December 28, 2006

family secrets

Sitting around eating dinner with the fam tonight. My little sister challenges my parents to tell us stories about their life before children, you know, the ones that they never told us before "because we were just kids" -- and now that we're all grown-ups, the idea is that they can fess up without corrupting us.

So mom pipes up "You mean like tell you who your real fathers are?"

Ha ha ha, no. We're not ready for that.

Always on the lookout for opportunities to blame others for my misery or shortcomings, I decided to seize the moment to blab on about how I never did anything bad or scandal-worthy, and gripe about how I always had a lame early curfew and was held under serious suspicion but I WAS SO GOOD.

I mean, nauseatingly good. As a teenager, almost all my friends were bad asses, and I lived vicariously through them, always ready to be the non-judgmental DD who'd hold their hair back as they puked or accompany them to the Sexual Health Clinic for a test. (I had a foul mouth on me and talked a good line, but that doesn't count when you don't kiss anybody with tongue until you're 16.)

Although, now that I think about it a bit, I remember this one sorta punk/gothy friend of mine, Carolyn: tiny, beautiful, brilliant, brooding, deceptively selfish, spectacularly manipulative, and hell-bent on causing heart failure or nervous breakdown in both of her over-protective elderly parents (they'd had just the one daughter, and rather late). When we were 15, she was dating some guy named Jack. He was 31, on parole for god knows what, and lived in the basement of this punk house-share downtown. She really wanted me to meet him. So I went over with her one day after school.

Down we went to the basement. The brass bed had dishevelled sheets and handcuffs attached to two of the headboard posts, which I noticed but only later really registered as to purpose and application. Jack was lounging on the bed in tight jeans and no shirt. He was skinny and when he smiled I saw he had no front teeth. He had a scale out and there was a huge brick of something sort of dark greeny-brown, and he was weighing small pieces of it and wrapping the pieces in tin foil. We shook hands and smiled at each other. He suddenly realized his teeth weren't in and apologized, reached over to a small table to grab them and pop them in.

"Hey Roo, do you know what that is?" Carolyn asked, pointing at the huge brick Jack was cutting up with a knife.

I hadn't a clue. Not even the slightest. "No," I said.

"Isn't that cute Jack? She doesn't know what it is."

"Yeah. That's cute!"

"It's hash."

"Oh. OK."

We talked for a bit and Jack said "Hey, I have something I want to give you." He opened the night table drawer and took out a bookmark. It was sparkly and had a unicorn on it. (I still have it somewhere, more by accident than on purpose.)

See Mom and Dad? I was SO GOOD! I didn't even hot-knife! Just hung out with drug dealers and ex-cons who'd have BDSM statutory-rape sex with my under-aged friend! Left with nothing in my hands but something that would help me find my place again in my dog-eared copy of Anna Karenina!

I bumped into Carolyn last year in the women's change room of a Winner's. (For American readers, I understand this is the Canadian sister chain of TJ Maxx or something like that, you know, 30-50% off brand names, and do not even THINK of looking for pants but you might luck out with the shoes.) She was with her mom, who looked about the same as she did 15 years ago (haggard, depressed). Carolyn was living with her parents while she finished her psych degree. I guess they've worked a few things out.


My dad just walked into the room and wanted to know what I was doing. I said "a blog entry". He said "is it about me mourning the death of James Brown?" I said "no, but I would have if you'd made a pilgrimage to the Apollo to see his body." And he said "well I WOULD HAVE if I knew that it would have earned me my own blog entry."

My dad and a bunch of his friends were 16 when they drove down from Montreal to NYC - unaccompanied - to see James Brown and the Famous Flames at the Apollo in 1960 or 1961, before James Brown was even particularly well-known. He says it was 3/4 full and they were in the balcony, but they could see well enough, and JB was sweating and strutting and doing his fancy footwork, and it was fantastic.

Mom, if he's not my real father I don't want to know, okay?


At December 31, 2006 4:11 p.m., Blogger sgazzetti said...

Careful where you tread. I recall all too vividly a night the week my older brother and I returned from college while my father was out of town on business. My brother demonstrated the value of his education by making margaritas and before we knew it our mother was revealing stuff about HER college days that we maybe shouldn't've found out about, um, ever.

Priceless, family. And I like your dad more all the time.


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