A Sequence of Events
When you were six years old your father left. This made you sad for a few days but you got over it when your mother offered you a jelly-filled donut and promised to take you to the circus. This was 1976, after all, the year of the bicentennial. Anything was possible. Later you realized you had blonde hair, and that you were beautiful, and that boys liked to do things for beautiful blonde girls, like hand over their Little Debbie snack cake, their lunch money, or their last blue crayon.
When you were seven you realized this rule applied not only to boys but to men as well, especially if the man was your father, and feeling guilty for having left you the year before. When you were eight you realized your father would buy you anything you wanted, including a ping-pong table, a remote control truck with big knobby tires, and a thin yellow skateboard shaped like a banana that was really nothing more than a two-by-four on roller-skate wheels. This was 1979, and skateboarding technology had yet to reach its zenith. But still, anything seemed possible.
When you were nine you sat in a bathroom crying, dabbing a wet washcloth on your raw knees, wiping blood from your shins, trying not to attract the attention of your mother who had called your new yellow skateboard a "death machine" and fussed at your father for buying it. When you were ten you fell off the skateboard trying to slide down the rail of your mother's front porch steps. More blood. At eleven you sat down on the thing, rolled down an embankment, and into a divided four-lane highway. More blood and a trip to the hospital. By this time your mother said you should know better. By this time your father bought you a new skateboard, this one much wider, this one much faster. You plastered its underside with stickers from the local AM radio station and taught yourself how to do a "One-Foot Tail Wheelie," a "Headstand Wheelie" and a "Two-Foot Tail Wheelie." This was 1982, and skateboard tricks were still a bit rudimentary, but at least punk music was still way much better than it would ever be in the future.
At twelve you broke your arm "Jumping the Ollie" over the cement ditch at the A&P on University Boulevard behind your father's condominium. This is also when you developed your life-long fascination with paramedics, firemen, and the police. At thirteen your mother decided that one more fall would put her in the "poor house" and that girls your age should be more lady like. She threw your skateboard away and bought you a dress and a pair of heels. You walked around on wobbly feet, your toes pressed into a point, your long legs stretched to keep your balance, your calves a perfect round muscle.
At fourteen you realized that boys become men, and in doing so will do anything for a beautiful blonde girl in heels, like hand over their drugs, their cigarettes, and the keys to their 1983 Berlinetta Camero. At fifteen you crashed your boyfriend's car into the side of the McDonald's on Dauphin Island Parkway. More blood, more paramedics, more firemen, more police. Another trip to the hospital. By this time your mother said you should go live with your father. By this time you wished you were ugly. You cut your hair into ugly shapes and dyed it ugly colors. You wore black pants and black shirts and heavy black eyeliner. You cried. You did not go out in the sun. You drew pictures of daggers and coffins. Your father wrung his hands and bought you a moped.
At eighteen you went to college and started dating a Lambda Chi who drove a Jeep and preferred his girlfriend wear pastels. When he asked about the scars on your knees you said you had developed "Osteochondritis Dissecans" as a child and had needed arthroscopy to save your cartilage. When you took him home your mother made pot roast and a pie. Your father took the two of you out to dinner and started making contributions into an aggressive international mutual fund in the hopes that you would go to graduate school and study law. It was 1989, and there were not yet any "Neo-Liberal" failures in Latin America to consider, nor had there been any ill-advised Asian land wars fought on piles of yellow sand.
Many years into the future you find yourself living in a nice house at the bottom of a hill. Your kitchen windows are covered with lace curtains; your sofa is made of Damask and embroidered with a lovely Chinzt Appliqué. Your twenties are gone, your thirties half there. On Saturday afternoons you watch with fear as the neighborhood kids ride their skateboards down the hill and into your flowerbed. You fuss at them for being so careless. They roll their eyes and at night sneak drags of unfiltered Camels underneath the streetlight at the end of your driveway. Your father lives in a nursing home on the bay; you visit him on Sunday mornings and read him the funnies.
On weekday afternoons you run five miles, down the boardwalk and back again. Last week you tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and fell down, landing on your knee. When you looked down there was a perfect circle of red; a silver dollar sized ring, layered on top of the tiny white scars that have almost faded away. When you stood, a trail of blood ran down your shin and into your shoe. For a moment you thought of going back home but it was getting dark so you wiped off the blood with the tail of your t-shirt and started running again. You didn't feel the pain until the next morning, when you got out of bed and walked to the bathroom. You didn't feel the fear until the week after, when you ran the same path, watching for the same crack, and remembered how much it hurt to fall.
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