Monthly Archives: November 2010

What About Today?

His head hit the metal gym locker with a resounding thud, he crumpled down to the floor. “Stay down you little faggot!!” A chorus of laughter bounced about the tiled locker-room as the group of seniors left, a cacophony of hate was all he heard.

He changed out of his sweaty gym clothes, never once thinking about taking a shower and left for his fourth period English Literature class. He smelled like his locker, but what did it matter, people hated him anyway. Walking down the hall towards room 210, he kept his head down watching his shoes, avoiding eye contact at all costs. Somehow eye contact gave people the invitation to make a comment about his appearance and/or sexuality. He even avoided his own gaze in the mirror each morning, not wanting to face his harshest critic. He had brushed his teeth that morning staring at a crack in the wall and thought….what about today?

Mrs. Langston was talking about the poet W. H. Auden, one of his favorites. Born in England, Auden had become an American citizen in 1946. He knew Auden was gay like him, and also knew this fact would not be mentioned, thank goodness. He drew much comfort in reading poetry. He wondered if that was part of his genetic defect…did being a queer, loving poetry, and Lady Gaga reside on the same genetic marker of his DNA strand? A quick smile appeared and happiness filled him for a fleeting moment. If only he could catch hold of it…

The bell sounded and his school day ended, he left out the back door of C-Hall. Crossing the field to the shopping center quickly, he periodically looked back to see if they were following him. Two times the previous week they had caught him in the muddy field. The last time had been the worst day of his life. It had been three days since they had drug him into the thicket of pine trees behind the very strip mall he was now passing.

They had repeatedly hit him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. What came next was so demoralizing he knew he could never relate it to his parents or any other. “So you like it up the ass, do ya??!!” He left his body, he didn’t remember what happened after that…the next conscious memory he had was dressing for school the next morning. The soreness he felt sucked the life out of him…a broken boy on his way to class. Happiness so foreign to him, a smile so distant in his past, that no one noticed a difference in him that day, not even his own mother.

He entered the back door of his house, drank a glass of milk and then found what he was looking for in the attached garage. He had inspected the length the previous day and found it to be adequate. Now outside, he looked upward and took in a deep gulp of the cold Autumn air. Peace greeted him, the sickening feeling that had enveloped him the last three days was leaving.

A slight breeze moved the branches of the trees in a syncopated rhythm with him….back and forth. The comforting, grotesque dance with the body lasted for several minutes…then the wind took its leave and there was utter stillness.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

They had committed a homicide that day, they had ended him. If it took two steps to erase his existence, they had surely done the first one. He, himself, had completed the last stanza of his tragic prose.

The wave of support was quick and vocal at the school. The bullying had to stop….gay children must know that IT GETS BETTER was the battle cry. But what about now….thought his mother….what about now? Why did my son have to wait until he grew up for the pain to stop? What about today?

**The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

(**Excerpts from “Funeral Blues” 1938 W. H. Auden)

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The Pregnant Pause

I am blogging today about a topic that has been written about and talked about by baby-boomer women ad nauseum….menopause. My apologies to my male readers….and young women for that matter. Today’s blog is for my sisters out there that are between 40-55 years of age. I can’t believe I am in that group, my inner voice refuses to age past 28, but my organs and exterior tell the truth. This piece is not about hormone treatments or other medical topics related to menopause. This blog is about the relationship a woman has between what she sees in the mirror and that inner voice. Just who the hell is this old bitch in my mirror? (bear with me, there may be outbreaks of rage through-out and the occasional hot flash)

Menopause is a term used to describe the permanent cessation of the primary functions of the human ovaries. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? My ovaries have decided to take a break…for the rest of my natural life. There goes any hope of my popping out a Juju 2.0. I am egotistical enough that the finality of that makes me want to shed a tear or two…let’s take a caesura and think about that. (I like words and the chance to be any kind of pregnant at this point is comforting to me…even a pregnant pause.) Okay…so my well is dry, I am no longer needed in society as a possible baby making receptacle. I can deal with that….okay, I will never be anyone’s baby-mama. The only thing disturbing about that is the fact that idiots reproduce like rabbits in America….the gene pool could have used my 23 chromosomes….just sayin.

So I looked in the mirror this morning and wondered who the stranger was looking back at me? Why does the fact that I am no longer dropping eggs make me feel like I am looking at a computer generated older version of myself? I am not ready to get the senior citizen discount at the movies!! Hold on a minute….slow this mother down…I want off this runaway train! Is it me or does that crease on my forehead look deeper today….the one that Linda says makes me look mean or pissed. It is bigger, you could park a 1974 VW in its crevasse! I am convinced that women increase trips to their plastic surgeon right about the time they see a stranger in the mirror. Their inner voice is startled into thinking a nip and tuck will make their outer facade match the girl within. It doesn’t work girls…there has to be another solution! Is it me or did it just get hotter in here?

If you are reading this and you don’t quite know for sure that you are beginning the big pause, let me help you. If you find yourself doing one or more of the following…you may of unknowingly joined my club.

1. you fight the urge to slap the girl at Starbucks that forgets your whipped cream.
2. some days you feel so much bloat, you check to see if “Goodyear” is painted on your back-side.
3. your face gets beet red NOT while watching a hot love scene on TV but by walking to the restroom during the commercial break.
4. you break into a sweat sitting on your porch swing.
5. you cry while watching a tennis match.
6. your bones and joints ache like a middle-linebacker on Monday morning.
7. you start thinking the days in front of you are out-numbered by the days in your past.
8. a good night’s sleep is sometimes 4 hours.
9. your Facebook status strikes fear in your friends.
10. bitch for you is a verb and a noun.

I about lost my cork the other day when a waitress delivered a basket of bread to my table. I was dining with Linda and a couple of our friends…there were three rolls in the basket and four of us!! Linda could tell my blood pressure was going up and reminded me of the time my mother threw a peanut at a waiter to get his attention! We had taken my mother out to eat at a restaurant that had a bowl of peanuts on every table. The waiter assigned to us was flirting with a couple of girls by the bar and ignoring us! My mother lofted a peanut across the room hitting the waiter square on the head! Needless to say, he walked over to the table and got an earful from Jewel. She always ended conversations like the one with the waiter with the phrase, “I am complaining about this…or I am trying to teach you this …FOR THE NEXT GUY.” Why are you flirting with those girls when there are two waters on the table and clearly three of us sitting here?

My mother was not going through menopause at 80, if only I could explain her behavior that way….the point is that I am blogging this today….to help the next guy…or girl as it were. Your inner voice may still be dancing to Duran Duran while wearing leg warmers….but your physical self exists here in reality, ten years into the 21st Century. So don’t get irritated with me for blogging about this topic today….just calm yourself down! Resist your desire to bitch-slap me across the face and understand this…I am only doing this for the next guy.

Growing Up Juju (part 9 in a series)

Juju sat in one of the aqua-vinyl kitchen chairs as her mother combed her hair back into one pony-tail. Juju’s mother with a brush was not so much a grooming event, it was an assault. By the time the kid got up on her feet her face looked like Joan Rivers after a visit to her doctor. My forehead hurts!! Juju wailed. “it will loosen up in an hour or two,” her mother responded. Juju was wearing a matching tank top and culotte set, blue.
She was instructed to go outside and to STAY CLEAN until the family was to leave in less than an hour for her grandmother’s house. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May.

Juju exited the house and could hear her older sister, Junene playing in the backyard with the neighbor boys. Juju ran fast around the side of the house, she was sure they were playing croquet and was anxious to join in with the older kids. As she made the last corner to the backyard she was hit with a large spray of water…Junene soaked her from head to toe and then stood there laughing with the green garden hose in her hand. All the kids laughed at Juju’s expense….her hair stayed exactly in place.

Mother just told me to stay clean Junene!! “You are clean, wet….but clean!” was the retort and the laughter continued. Thinking she had an hour to dry off in the Texas sun, Juju walked over to her back porch and the croquet set. Randall, a kid from across the street had a mallet and one yellow ball in his hands. Juju grabbed a mallet and the blue ball, to match her outfit, of course. Junene had turned the water off and was now placing the croquet hoops around the yard for a match.

Randall, a rotten kid that had once spray painted obscenities on Juju’s front drive, began to throw the yellow croquet ball high up into the sky, again ..and again. The teams were going to be girls against the boys…Juju stood there dripping but happy to be included. Then it happened…and without much warning. “Hey Juju….catch this!!” Randall yelled.
Juju turned in time to see the yellow croquet ball whistling towards her forehead. The ball struck the right upper corner with a mighty thud….falling to Juju’s feet. She stood there shocked and looked down at her white Keds as trickles of blood began to splatter! Junene screamed and ran toward her….taking her by the left elbow and racing back around the house to the front door!

Juju had been out of the house for approximately 7 minutes…..she had left a clean, dry kid, starched and creased with the tightest pony-tail in Fort Worth. The door flew open and her mother now had quite the opposite standing before her. Her two youngest kids were standing at the door, wet and a gory mess….blood was pulsing out of the cut on Juju’s head with the rhythm of her heartbeat! “To the car!!” yelled Juju’s mother Jewel.

Junene and Juju were numbers 6 and 7…at this point their mother didn’t get upset unless they had a limb missing. Jewel came ambling out of the house, her own hair in curlers with a white shirt on that belonged to Juju’s dad and a pair of blue jean peddle pushers….no shoes. Jewel rarely wore shoes around the house, but being shoe-less driving was the one sign that there was an emergency at hand. Jewel threw a towel in the backseat of the car and yelled at Junene to hold it with pressure up against Juju’s head. The Cadillac went screaming down Oak Street, en-route to the emergency room at Glenview Hospital about eight miles away. Juju’s forehead was really hurting at that point. Can we loosen this rubber band now she asked her mother? The only thing the neighbors could hear as the car disappeared down the hill was Juju’s mother yelling, “you want your hair nice for the doctor, don’t you??!!”

A fog of cigarette smoke was wafting about the nurses station as Juju was escorted past to one of the examining rooms. The wound was cleaned and prepared for stitches as Junene stood close by and watched. A large cloth with an opening for the cut was placed over Juju’s face. She could hear her mother complaining about that kid Randall as she felt the needle with the local anesthesia penetrate her aching forehead. After the drug took effect all Juju could feel was pressure and some pulling. Just as the doctor finished the fifth stitch, Juju heard a thud, then all the attention left her for something happening in the corner of the room. Junene had seen the needle and had fainted, collapsing in a heap on the white tile floor. Spray her with a water hose, Juju yelled!

Juju, her sister, and her mother left the hospital for the drive back home. Juju was pretty happy after all the drama. Five stitches in her head meant she was probably going to get to lay on the couch the rest of the afternoon eating a Popsicle. Injuries like this were usually good to her….this might even stretch until tomorrow and she would miss a day of school! Junene had to spill the entire story to her mother, of how Juju had become wet and bloody in the course of mere minutes. Being five years older she was taking the brunt of the punishment…more amusement for Juju….she would be able to taunt Junene as she lay on the couch, with her Popsicle, and watch as she dusted furniture!

Juju ran into her house, now with a blood splattered culotte set and a large white bandage on her head….she was headed for the refrigerator, thinking about her TV schedule for the night….Ed Sullivan, then maybe Bonanza. Junene grabbed the Endust from underneath the kitchen sink and started in on the “crap cabinet” that housed their salt and pepper shaker collection in the corner of the kitchen.

Juju turned on the TV, changed the big dial to the number 4 for Ed Sullivan, then jumped on the couch to assume her place. Her father walked into the room about that time, looked her way and asked if she was okay? Yes, Juju answered as he approached the TV and changed the channel to the evening news. From in the kitchen she could hear her mother talking on the phone…informing her grandmother of the delay….telling her that they would be over to visit in 30 minutes! Oh no, Juju thought…that meant the Lawrence Welk Show!! The smile faded from Juju’s face as her mother yelled from the kitchen, “now get in here, your pony-tail needs some attention!” Junene smirked at Juju as she walked past her towards their mother.

There she was, standing behind the kitchen chair again, motioning for Juju to take a seat. The dreaded black brush in her right hand…her frustration apparent…spending the afternoon in the ER and now seeing a brand new culotte set approaching her…ruined.
Juju couldn’t help but wish her mother was holding a croquet ball in her hand.

Later Juju sat watching Myron Floren on the Lawrence Welk Show, he was playing a medley of Broadway show tunes on his accordion…she noticed her grandmother was pleased with her attentiveness. Juju wasn’t amused and sat there dreaming about a Popsicle….but secretely would have settled for the ability to blink.