n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Sunday, March 13, 2011

past blast

Apparently my dad's old ex-girlfriend -- the one he was with between 1983 and 1999, his former student, the woman he refused to marry -- phoned him recently and left him a message expressing her interest in seeing 'his daughters.' My father told her that A's in Scotland... but that I was around, and that he would put Beth's bid before me... as it were.

The last time my sister saw Beth was in a RiteAid parking lot a few years ago, where A, who is scared of nothing or nobody, caught sight of her and ducked behind a truck until Beth was gone.

The last time I saw Beth was... somewhere in the time frame of '99, when Sarah and I were visiting Dad's and she kept making comments about "getting rid" of Dad soon, and making no effort to pretend that she wasn't sleeping on the couch whenever she wasn't sleeping in some other man's bed. I can't precisely remember what it was that was holding her back -- probably her new boyfriend didn't have a space to move her in yet. The whole scene was venomous, and Beth was in big time freeze-out mode... going so far as to even leave her cat behind because it was "too old, just like your father." I haven't heard from Beth since, nor have I made any efforts to look her up, though for awhile I asked any mutual friends for news of how she was doing, what she was up to, that kind of gossip.

So, now... after 12 years, she thinks we might have something to say to each other?

My first memory of Beth is of us sledding. She lived on the top of the hill in Bville near the college, in what she called the Key Street home. Afterwards I remember various other college homes, with the various other unremarkable college students she lived with... their names once there... but then not. Mostly I remember first the house on the top of the hill near the college that I was later to attend, where a friend of mine would later live, two blocks over, and host a party which I'd refer to in order to convince my best friend to move in with the friend who later slept with etc. My father took us to the Key Street home, my sister and I, and had us lie down across a student's bed to go to sleep while he was elsewhere... making out, I think, on her couch in the living room. I remember waking up and being scared, and Beth telling us that we'd build a snow-crocodile together -- which we did, and which was large and amazing -- before we sled down the hill, the very steep hill, the old-fashioned sled on bottom, then Beth, me next, Ali on top, again and then once again, sliding eternally down and further down, past the homes, and then past the buildings, into the street, upon which we could see the intermittent cars passing slowly, their tires making creaking-crunching sounds upon the snow. Out we'd race into the streets, holding our breaths that no cars were coming, and then back up we'd climb... me pulling Ali, who couldn't have over four, as she lagged up the long hill.

Shortly after that, I found out Beth was having an affair with my father. When you are about eight years old, this revelation feels painful and perfectly clear. What it precisely feels like is betrayal. That your father has elicited your help in betraying your mother. That every ride you took down the hill on the back of your father's student and mistress was a brutal attack on your mother and the responsibility you have towards your mother. I never forgave dad that discovery... and in fact, I'm pretty sure it was the exact moment I stopped being a daddy's girl. I stuck with him through his verbal, emotional, and occasionally physical violence, but that he would have me spend a day sledding, riding on her back was so repulsive I never forgave him for it.

So many memories. The way she walked around the house naked all the time, her labia splayed out when she sat down, legs apart. The drinking. When I complained about her going topless all the time, she'd drunkenly taken tiny band-aids and strapped them across her nipples, taken off the rest of her clothes, come out to the living room where I was seated, and plopped herself down smirking in front of me, legs apart: "That better?" She liked to wrestle, and looked exactly like everyone's stereotype of a lesbian: short-haired, butch Levi jeans with a strut that jostled each large butt-cheek squarely from side to side, her cute head and small breasts unbelievably small and cute in comparison to that large dykey butt and clomping boots.

It took me a long time to admit to being a lesbian because I wanted to never, ever look or behave like her.

She could be fun, though... fun like a big sister who takes us on hikes and buys us hiking gear. Her maturity was clearly at a big sister level; she was closer to my age than my father's. She and Ali early on didn't get along. I'm not sure why, except that maybe Ali was young enough that she really needed someone to take care of her, and Beth wasn't interested in taking care of anyone but herself. She could be downright nasty to A, truth told. I'll never forget how Beth used to offer me gifts, and how it became my responsibility to turn them down unless A got something too... like a little game to see what it would take to get me to betray my sister as well as my mother.

"Your mother is a great woman," she would tell me all the time, and my mind would cast back to the meeting she had with my mom about a year into the affair, when Beth told mom straight up that she was taking my father. My mom came home crying and it was the first time I ever saw my mom cry. "Your mother is really amazing," she would say, and I remembered my mother trying to hug her once, one year away from the divorce, two years past the beginning of the affair. Beth ducked under my mother's outstretched arms and ran away and I ran outside and hid under a tree.

Later, I asked my mother accusingly why she tried to hug Beth, and she'd responded: "Because she looked so sad." You look sad, I thought.

Beth made ginger snap cookies that gave me diarrhea, and beef stroganoff that I liked. Her favorite movie was Harold and Maude, which always made sense to me.

Beth's father was gay and died of AIDs in the late 80s; he was also a drug dealer, and got Beth smoking crack for a few years in her teens. Her mother was apparently such a heinous bitch that I was never allowed to meet her, though I met Beth's gay sister and her cleptomaniac sister and her wild brother and also her sweet sister. I poured over Beth's five picture albums, most of which were in black and white, or I remembered them being in black and white, and tried to figure out why her father was gay. And what happened to the children to make them who they were? And why were some of the children blond with blue eyes and others looked Native American (including Beth)? Would future children trace my albums and wonder similar questions about me? I felt there were a thousand stories in those albums, and I wanted to find them. Every summer, when I came to visit my dad, I would pull them out of their bookshelf and spread them out in front of me, studying.

Beth started out my father's eighteen-year-old technology student, ended up his lover, then his partner, then his co-dependent, never his wife though she deeply wanted marriage. After awhile she settled for being the person who got drunk with him every morning and evening - six beers for both of them, six cheep beers followed by whatever they could drudge up. They went to movies together and pushed piles of pennies through the window to buy tickets while A and I hid behind the bushes, our ears glowing and the line cuing up for what seemed forever. They did this at dinners too, pay with pennies that weren't even rolled up although sometimes they were. They also took us to drive-ins in the pick-up and instead of backing in, would have Ali and I sit in the jump seats, which we detested, behind them, as they made out and blocked the movie screen. I utterly loathed the two of them, together, except when we went camping or hiking, when we would crack open fresh oysters and fry them in butter over the fire; when we'd all pitch in and gather firewood together; when we'd suck lemon drops and watch the sunsets, and have instant pudding for desert in the daylight, then smores as soon as it got dark.

Beth slowly ditched my father after his heart attack. At first, she just started mentioning that she was going to ditch him. Then she actively set about ditching him, eradicating any sense of self-worth he might possess in the process, as if to systematically ensure there wouldn't be anything remotely worthwhile left over for any other woman after her. By the time Beth finally left, she had been gone for about a year and a half. She left tire tracks running across his lawn from porch to road, a metaphor my father often mentions, and he didn't have a single friend left, and only one of his daughters really even talked to him.

I don't feel sorry for him though. He chose a child to mate with, and devoted himself so devotedly to himself, in the form of her, and she no more than a kid, really... I guess that's what he chose to be himself. I feel... a bit sorry for her sometimes. Sometimes I've wondered about her, maybe missed her in that odd way (like the way you miss obnoxious cats who you really didn't like but who occasionally, rarely, would show some spark or sign of a feline essence that you could love... just for a second though, before yowling and pissing on the rug again).

So, I can't really imagine what there would be left to say? Probably, I should just say "No, I'm not interested in meeting you again. It's been twelve years, and it wasn't a lollipop field back then." But I am a little curious. Why now?

Anyhow. Food for thought.
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