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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

where you get that sugar from?



The city is waking up. Awkward and naked, as if the elastic waistband from underwear marks its hips. Mascara smudged, trash cans are on their sides rocking slightly in a low wind that comes up from the river. The snow is gone here. Forgotten mittens and store receipts, dog shit and rotting leaves. Everything awry.

I don't like sleeping alone on foreign beds, no matter how soft the covers.

I miss you.

I wander in darkness, headlights blooming in my tired eyes. I walk in the gutter, not the sidewalk. The Empire State Building is white, magnificent above me for a little while. I feel a bit like Brando in Last Tango. I want to chew some gum and stick it under a railing. Some mark that says I was back for a few days. Yes, lost. Yes, foolish as ever.


And now it is raining. A fat lady is running for the bus, a smile pasted across her face. The driver waits for her, umbrella crashing into her coat as she disappears inside.

Men wear heavy perfume, and I smell Polo, Ralph Lauren as they pass, thick and mouthy in between the raindrops. There is construction down here. Workers in slick yellow suits are digging a great hole on Fulton Street.
"Yo, Steve." On yells from below. "Yo, Steeeeeeeeeve."

Yes, I am back to eat great bowls of soup alone. To gaze up at the fog hiding the rooftops. To buy birthday presents for my little girl. Maybe a jar of maple syrup.

A lumpy fellow is dressed as the Statue of Liberty, dancing around on a particularly wet corner, passing out flyers. Behind him, a new place that serves the best bacon egg and cheese I have had in a long time. Music is playing, John Lee Hooker.

Sugar,
Sugar Mama,
Sugar all over this town.
Sugar Mama,
Where you get your sugar from?

Comments

Mely said…
Please do not forget to buy Canned Chipotles in your way back to Russia. :) I do not if you have room in your suitcase for them to go alone with the many presents for the lovely and sweet E.

I read somewhere you like them.

So bad you are 3 hours drive from here. I will invite you over for authentic homestyle Mexican.

Have a safe trip.
Annie said…
Brilliant.

You can bring a place to life in words like nobody's business.

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