Friday, August 14, 2015

August 14: Complete Sadness, Sulky Daughter, Michael David Madonick, "The Asp," Spoiled Fairy Tale, Adventures of Stickman

They had gotten there about a quarter to five, and she had to be home at seven.  But when she checked the time again it was twenty to the hour.  That's when Kirk brought out a paper bag and filled it with the contents of a thirty-cent tube of DuPont model glue.  Burying his nose in the opening, he suddenly flew back as if someone had smacked him in the head with a two-by-four, laughing wildly.  Then he gave her [Ives' daughter, Caroline] a whiff and she found herself circling overhead, her thoughts whipping along, propelled by the chemicals, the feeling of strangeness multiplying when he clicked off the light and lit a candle, and then brought her out of that dark blue and black atmosphere into reality.  She opened her eyes and realized that he had his hand up her skirt and that the crawling sensations inside her were caused by the clumsy groping of several of his fingers, and while one part of her seemed interested and flattered and excited, another part of her disliked every last bit of what was happening.  And she would remember how, at about seven fifteen or so, as she had stood up and pulled down her skirt and looked for the light, a sensation of utter and complete sadness abruptly rushed into her, lingering there and then suddenly vanishing.

As the father of a teenage daughter, I find that passage about Ives' daughter, Caroline, difficult to read.  Caroline is testing the waters of freedom.  Without her mother or father's permission, she goes to the apartment of a couple of boys she barely knows.  The boys are older, carry an air of sophistication and danger.  Of course, they're simply teenage males, guided by hormones and stupidity.  Caroline huffs glue, blacks out, gets groped.  And then, at the exact moment her brother dies on a city sidewalk, Caroline is consumed by an inexplicable darkness.  Basically, in a single paragraph, Oscar Hijuelos describes the biggest nightmares of all fathers of teenage girls.  Drugs.  Strange, horny boys.  Sex.

My daughter reads my blog to see what I write about her.  She thinks that I depict her as a sulky, fourteen-year-old girl.  Quicksilver in moods.  Embarrassed by the fact that I breathe next to her.  Stubborn and angry at any suggestion that she clean her room or spend more time with her six-year-old brother.  Tortured by anything that she deems childish or unworthy of her matured sensibilities.

I think her assessment of my descriptions of her is a little unfair.  Sure, I have applied the adjective "sulky" to her on occasion.  Overall, however, I focus on her kindness, intelligence, beauty, and grace.  She has been my pal since the first night she came home from the hospital and peed in my mouth in the middle of the night as I was changing her diaper.  I like to think we share a special bond.  When my wife and I were separated for a year, I volunteered in her kindergarten classroom, braided her hair into long ropes, took her to dance class, and held her at night when she cried in bed for her mother.  She was my girl, my companion in the war zone of my life.

Of course, I know my daughter has to figure out who she is.  She has secrets now, does things that would probably give me nightmares if I knew about them.  She resents having to be an altar server at church.  Every Saturday, around 4 p.m. when it's time to leave for Mass, she flies into a rage.  (I don't think she's possessed, but I haven't ruled out contacting an exorcist.)  Even getting her to go to a private dance lesson, which she used to love, is a Shakespearean tragedy.

I love my daughter.  I miss the closeness we used to share.  That's what I want to say tonight.  She's still beautiful, intelligent, graceful, and kind.  However, right now, I feel like I'm just the owner of the laptop she wants to use.

Once upon a time, a kind king named Oliver had a daughter named Gretel who was his pride and joy.  King Oliver gave Princess Gretel everything she wanted.  He never said "no" to her.  Gretel wanted a diamond bed, Oliver gave her a diamond bed.  Gretel wanted a sailboat made out of chocolate, Oliver gave her a sailboat made out of chocolate.

King Oliver and Princess Gretel were very happy for a very long time.  Then, Gretel turned fourteen.  Suddenly, Oliver could do nothing right.  Gretel wanted a pony, and Oliver gave her a pony.  "But I wanted a brown pony, not a stupid white pony!" Gretel cried.  Gretel wanted to go on a vacation, Oliver arranged a vacation.  "But I wanted to travel by horse carriage, not by a stupid boat!" Gretel whined.  She wanted to have a party for her friends, Oliver threw a party for her friends.  "But I wanted everything to be draped in pink, not stupid green!" Gretel wailed.

One day, Princess Gretel said to her father, "Daddy, could you please build me a new castle?"

King Oliver had had enough.  "No, my dear, I will not, because I will build the wrong kind of castle.  It will be the wrong color or be made of the wrong bricks or be surrounded by the wrong kind of moat.  I cannot satisfy you.  Ever.  You are a spoiled, thankless child."

Princess Gretel started to weep, and King Oliver built her a new castle made out of onyx.  When she saw the castle, Gretel fumed, "I wanted a castle made out of jade, not stupid onyx!"

Moral of the story:  King Oliver was a friggin' moron.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

The Asp
          for Maria

by:  Michael David Madonick

My daughter is fixing her face again, the Saturday
night ritual that takes a thousand pencils
to draw arcs above her eyes, all part of her generation's
markings, along with the new tattoo,
the one I've barely seen, that scrolls along the lower
region of her back, seen when she's
deigned to pet the dog, a fleur-de-lis, toward
provinces I'd rather not think about,
or the flippant gestures of tinted hair, the over-done
dime store glitter, the precarious
mole.  She has not yet succumbed to the piercing
of body parts, the eye-brow, the
tongue, the spike through the cheek, at least I have
not seen them, but I am not so naive
as not to suspect more sensitive areas may already
be skewered.  What can I say?
I'm only her stepfather.  She walks over me like
Cleopatra over one of her bolted
rowers.  But I see something, even through the planks,
through the varied masks of her
labored deceptions.  The odd alignment of her eyes,
the bright wonder that since
she was four could light a room or two, a small city
perhaps, stars.  Beauty.
I'm never sure about that.  But here, in the den, shackled
to the remote, I'll shift stations idly
and look at the way the odd glow maneuvers about
the room, catching in the scalloped
fish-net curtains, or on a silver frame in which a tarpon
nearly comes to life again, or
that fluted celadon porcelain bowl, the whole time
waiting for her to come down
the stairs, to yell at her, the inevitable, at the too-
short skirt, the four-dollar
three-inch heels, the halter top, all the silly accoutrements
that make a man distracted
from the issue.  Simply, and she will not hear it,
some people are compasses
and others row.  She'll storm from the house, and
her mother, who guides some
larger ship, will side with patience, the wind, while I,
gripping the gunwales
of my chair, will sit and later drift the better part of night,
till then, when I hear her
footsteps on the deck, her hand on the door, and I'll snap
at her again for breaking
curfew, for slamming the door, for stomping up
the stairs, for everything
and anything that at that moment comes to mind and
heart.  But never, never do I yell
at her for all that rowing, that damned rowing I do, circles
in a straw basket when she's gone.

Adventures of STICKMAN

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