Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
As the emergency alert sirens blasted through the neighborhood on Saturdays at one in the afternoon, I looked through the window. When I was young, I waited for my father to come by and pick me up for his four hours of custody time on those Saturdays. Never 5 hours, 3 hours, and not even 4 hours and one minute. My mother made it clear that he had only four hours a week and only between the hours specified by the court system after the divorce.
So I waited by the small, rectangular window looking out the front door for his car. He would be there on the dot at 1 p.m. just as the testing of the emergency sirens started to sound. Or he would not. Then the phone would ring as my mother answered and he told her he was not coming that week. That happened quite a few times.
One time I was surprised to hear my mother and grandmother, who were usually hateful toward my father, express sympathy toward me when he failed to show up. I was left looking out the window for nothing and they felt kind of sorry for me missing out on the time with my father. Sympathy and nurturing were never their strong suit, so I still remember their kind words.
My father found a girlfriend and liked to spend time with her rather than me. I guess I understood. Later when I had a child of my own, he said that taking care of a child was a lot of work. I can’t imagine how he would know. He spent such a small part of his life with me. When I got to be an older teenager, he didn’t come around for over five years.
I try to forget the past, but too often memories flood through my head. Even today, the sirens still sound their alarm on Saturdays warning us of potential disasters.
I keep thinking about Andy Miller’s book “The Year of Reading Dangerously.” I started reading dangerously at a young age.
When I was eleven years old, I picked up an old paperback copy of “Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” in a used bookstore. This is an erotic novel published in 1748 that became a best seller even though its publication was illegal.
When I read it, I not only didn’t understand many of the words, I didn’t comprehend many of the concepts. A lady of pleasure: I only had a vague concept of what this possibly meant. The author, John Cleland, used tons of metaphors instead of direct prose when describing sex. It was difficult to decipher metaphors for things I was mostly clueless about.
I reread the book about ten years later with a much better understanding of what that pleasure was all about. I realized that commerce was involved along with the sensation.
At the age of twelve, I read “Soul on Ice” by Eldridge Cleaver. Eldridge was a black man in a Civil Rights era America that made him dangerously angry. He ended up jailed for rape. In his eyes, he rebelled against the white man’s law by raping white women. He exacted revenge for the the way some white men historically debased black women.
In high school, my English teacher began talking about appropriate and inappropriate books for children to read. He was all for anyone reading anything and everything.
I mentioned that I read “Soul on Ice” quite young. He said that this is proof that reading never harms a person.
Ah, but he did not know the depth of my wretchedness. I escaped my own personal hell by reading books, and Cleaver and Cleland were welcome reprieves. Would my teacher appreciate the comfort I found in depravity?
Posted in books, dysfunctional family, literature, musings, reading, Sex, violence
Tagged Andy Miller, books, Eldridge Cleaver, Fanny Hill, John Cleland, reading memoirs, Soul on Ice
Write a post inspired by your sixteenth birthday.
I was sixteen and neither sweet nor kissed. It had been a few years now that no one wanted to be around my mother and me. Mostly it was my mother, I was just collateral. She alienated everyone in our family by now. She made her best girlfriends turn away from her. My father stopped coming by to see me. He could have met me somewhere, I wouldn’t have told. Besides my mother didn’t care what I did and where I did it. But he didn’t come or call.
One of the most enjoyable evenings I spent when I was sixteen I spent in gluing together colored strips of contact paper into a huge chain. Each link represented one day until I turned 18 and could be free from her. I draped it all around the furniture of my room. She didn’t know or care about this odd bit of decorating. Removing one link gave me some comfort.
One time she told someone over the telephone that she could kill me if she wanted since she gave birth to me. I angrily confronted her later on. She said it was none of my business.
I survived to marry a great guy, have a great child, and write this blog. My biggest regret lies in my lack of a worthwhile career. Three out of four ain’t bad.