It was the day that Mel Gibson’s “N” word rant was exposed on tape. The day the inarticulate ass Jesse Jackson decided to throw his hate into that ring. Never has a cause had such an enemy in its own camp, unless you consider Al Sharpton, which I prefer not to do. So as I was saying, it was that day. The day that I had finally sent my book out to agents, knowing that if something didn’t come of it – if no one was interested – I’d have to go back to work with the rest of the world. Or leave my kid with his rich dad and just piss off back to Europe where I belong. I’d never do that, but the fantasy of it is the only thing, aside from the book, that keeps me from playing with semi-automatic weapons in a McDonalds. Not that that would be fair. Fish in a barrel is one thing. Pigs in a trough is another. The fat chick who lives on the third floor who somehow miraculously has no ass and bad French manicure press-on nails was on the lift with me that day, tapping away insidiously on her fucking Blackberry, though we had no signal, and in those cheap as hell polyester pants it’s not like anyone was actually urgently awaiting any sort of message from her anyway. Pig in a lift.
So that day I realized that I had been so set on finally getting the book out the door that I had forgotten to do what it takes to ensure I had enough money to pay the rent the following Monday. For months I had been selling off trophies of my former life as an overpaid creative type in another world just to pay the bills. Only my family knew while everyone else whispered about how I must be “loaded,” not realizing the irony of their assumption and its correlation to my stash of vodka. It never bothered me, selling me stuff. It’s just stuff, and if I didn’t have $3000 handbags and $8000 watches then the money that I spent on those things would not have been sitting in a bank for me, waiting for a rainy day, or there when I wanted to take a year off to explore my writer self. It would have been blown on something, if not these now negotiable vessels of materialism that were for me better than savings and by all accounts better than having invested it with some low life scammer. But most months I started in the first week of the month prior preparing for the next month so that I was never caught unawares.
When you’re a writer and you need to write, you wait for those days to come when you no longer want the distractions or the noise or the thoughts. And like a junkie who treats every fix as though it were their last, a writer lives in eternal fear that the words will come no more. That it is a defined well of bullshit from which we draw, and that one day the bucket will come up empty. So on those rare days when the page is our friend, we write. And in those rare weeks when we feel strong enough to write the query, draft the synopsis and have enough self-esteem to refine our bio without staining the page with our own vomit of self-loathing, we do it. That was this week, and the next week was rent and now I was fucked. So whereas I’d usually methodically decide what to sell, offer it to a few different sources and then strategically work out the most profitable combinations, this week I had no time. I had to find the one thing in my closet worth enough at resale on its own to pay the hefty rent for the overpriced loft. Only thing was, it was my son’s. My beautiful baby boy, who despite my earlier comment that I would leave him here, I love more than the air I breathe; he is the reason I write and continue to hope that someday I’ll actually make money at this thing for which I gave up afore-mentioned overpaid job.
I had no guilt. He loved our home and wanted to stay and the next time he asked where his alligator Prada carryon had gone, I’d simply tell him to look over his head. Then I’d have guilt. But until that moment comes I live with the reality of the need to, well, live. And with the hope that I‘ll make the money to buy him another. Not because I want him to kneel at the alter of materialism. But because my kid shouldn’t pay for my choices.
I know what you’re thinking, reading this now. If anyone is. Dumb bitch gave her kid an alligator Prada carryon. Not entirely the case as it was given to me. And even if it hadn’t been, we single parents overcompensate a lot. But the bag hurt my hands and made me look like a dyke and when one day we were traveling abroad he asked for a manly bag in which to carry his own things, I gave it to him. And he forthwith stuck his trusty bear in the outside pocket, his face pointing outwards so he could breathe and see, and his little paws hanging over the edge of the pocket so he could touch. My son said. And shit like that can melt this heart that is otherwise impenetrable by a diamond tipped drill, so from that day forward, it was his.
And that day as I stood in my bedroom making sure any belongings had all been cleared, putting it back into its dust bag and then tucking it into a box, I listened for any sign that he was coming out of his room and into mine, knowing that I could explain it to him someday, but not that day. That day I had no feelings, as most survivors don’t. I did what it takes to give my son another 4.5 weeks of normal. All that he craves. Normal. I sent my book, either ingenious fluidity or absolute banal crap, out into the world to be read, trod upon and coffee stained. I sent his bag out into the world as currency so I could drivel on a little longer. And when I came from the post office that day, where I had been to spend $71 I did not have to send my book to London agents because American ones suck, and where I had spent $48 I did not have sending his bag across the country, my son came downstairs, hugged me and told me how proud he was of me and that he believed in me and that he knows my book will sell. And he meant it. And the guilt came.
tumblrbot asked: ROBOTS OR DINOSAURS?
Robots + Dinosaurs = Brains and Brawn.
No, you are not a queen just because your pantyhose say so. What, do you think the “HRH” in front of Queen Elizabeth’s name stands for “Huge Round Hiney?” Or that the “XXL” in your clothing refers to what number you are in line to the throne? Let me assure you, it does not. But I do truly believe, now more than ever, that marketing, political correctness and our society’s new found tendency to “understand” everyone and to thusly pander to their problems or even exploit them for commercial gain is largely to blame for the now epidemic obesity figures in the US. So if you are one of those people who went to see Wall-E and laughed throughout thinking that it was cute cartoon about a mostly silent robot rather than being a predictive social commentary on where we as a country are headed, you might want to stop reading now.
I do not spend as much time traveling inside the US as I do outside of the US, but when I do, I very often seem to end up in the Atlanta airport. And whereas I do hate most everything about it, there is one thing about it that I do love: there is no place else on this earth where I, at a very healthy size 8, can be made to feel petite. Bug like. As though I could be overlooked whilst sitting in a chair at a gate, sat upon and squished lifeless all the in the bat of an eye and without any realization whatsoever from the creature whose sitting caused said squishing.
Very often I am either en route to or returning from France, and given that “fat” is a swear word there, the positive reinforcement of my normality provided by ATL either being my last impression of the US, or my first reminder upon return is priceless. Yesterday, in the space of 80 minutes of sitting perfectly still and observing, I saw enough jiggling lard lumber past me to knock the earth from its axis. Seriously – how are we still here and not just floating remnants of a former planet? Or at the very least how does the earth continue to balance and rotate at all without the US tilting it to one side and eventually turning it into oval? How do some of these people not eventually become planets themselves and create their own gravitational pull and force field? Do they know for certain that their neighbor’s dog isn’t missing, or has it in fact been magnetically sucked in and suffocated in one of the layers of their atmosphere?
But what scares me more is that you cannot simply sit and look at these fine examples of America’s abundance and think innocently to yourself “ Gosh, bless their heart. Their enlarged, struggling for space, grease-decayed heart - I’m glad that’s not me. Why doesn’t someone tell them? Do they know? Oh, whatever…” and then move on. Because very often when you do move on – to the plane – you find that they are right next to you. Behind you, in front of you, all around you. And that you are on a 50 seat CRJ. You quickly calculate your own weight, the weight of the bags you have just checked, the weight of those around you, their luggage, and the fuel and you quickly become religious. Because suddenly their problem has become your problem.
Am I being “fattest,” that newly coined word which suggests that obesity is an unavoidable, pre-determined illness that defines a certain sector of society as protected and against whom their should be no prejudice? Yes, I am. Because by definition when another person’s issue begins to encroach upon your personal safety, rights, space or liberty, it is a public issue – not a private one.
In 2003 a small commuter plane crashed in North Carolina killing everyone on board. One month later the FAA ruled that the plane was over weight for its load capacity because the average weight of the passengers far exceeded the standard weight assumption used by the airplane industry to construct and execute seat plans on planes.
Last year, comedian Ricky Gervais was severely scolded in the press for remarks he made about himself – HIMSELF – with regards to his weight issues, his lack of discipline and getting fit. He essentially said that he, too, thinks society is to blame and that he wishes that when people see him in public rather than shouting out “hey, love you on The Office, man” they would say “hey, fat ass, get back in the gym,” because then, he might stop living in his delusions and realize that he needed to do something about his health. But he was crucified over his remarks. What does that say about us? That we have taken tolerance to a whole new level that now far more closely resembles ignorance.
So perhaps he’s right. Perhaps we should call it what it is. Maybe airlines should change their online booking function so that in addition to asking if you want coach class or first class, it will also say “and how many seats do you require for your great big bottom on this trip?” Maybe it should even go so far as to make you enter your weight so that they can properly balance planes. And maybe instead of having every sort of greasy spoon on earth available at the terminal intersections in the Atlanta airport, they should have the salad bar and café from Whole Foods as well as educational books on how not disintegrate your own flesh or the flesh of those around you with the friction caused by the rubbing together of your thighs. Maybe sizing charts for clothing should be changed to “too small,” “small,” “average,” “above average,” “freaking huge” and “are you sure this is for just one person?” Why aren’t children taught at school how to eat properly? A chef in the UK is championing such a cause to feed children better and to educate them about what is good for you, what your body needs and that other activities do exist that do not require just your thumbs. And that it’s safe to go outdoors. Where those strange tree-like creatures live. The ones that are called trees.
Wall-E is coming true. We are fat, under-educated, TV obsessed and lazy. And I’m not saying this because I hate my country. I’m saying this because no one else will. We read articles (the 93% of us that can read as reported in new statistics) about how we’re falling behind in the world marketplace. How we are less innovative, less important, less competitive. And soon? Obsolete. Yet we allow people to reinforce or imply that this is okay. But have you ever met one of the people in the big ad agencies on Madison Avenue who helps to construct the ad campaigns and packaging that tell you in every way that it’s okay and that “Big is Beautiful?” No, because when he or she turns sideways, they disappear. And even if you went looking for them you wouldn’t be able to find them because if they aren’t at work, they’re at the gym, out for a run, or in the bathroom doing a few lines. You’re being sold to by people who do not buy the product themselves.
Yesterday I was on a flight next to man who took two bags of pretzels from the snack basket, proceeded to inhale them in three seconds, then took his finger, licked it, and ran it across the inside of both of the bags to gather as much salt as he possibly could. He also, during the course of our 1 hour and 8 minute flight, consumed 4 gin and tonics. Was he large? Oh yeah. And red-faced and wheezing. And he kept staring at me with this horrendously bitchy look on his face. Maybe it was my clear skin, white teeth and youthful appearance. Or maybe it was because he was trying to figure out what I was writing. This, Mr. Arterial Clog, this. But I don’t have to worry about every seeing you again, because the way you looked to me, you died three paragraphs ago.
I dropped him off that day at 7:40 in the morning, a little later than normal, but still in time for assembly. I waved at two of his friends who were walking nearby, having just before exited their own parents’ cars. Best boys ever. I could have never hoped for as much for my precious son. Great, albeit pricey, private school where he had somehow managed to make friends with the most decent, bright and down to earth kids within moments of arrival. I was bursting with pride.
We went back there for him to go to school. That’s what he wanted, and after all, I had worked all over the world and he had resultantly been schooled all over the world. But whereas I had been tempestuous and stressed due to my demanding yet highly paid job, he had been a constant calm in what was otherwise a sea of discord. No matter how shitty my days might have been, no matter how screwed I felt at the end of a day dealing with them, regardless of how much money I had potentially lost, when I came home at the end of the day and saw his bright angel face, nothing else mattered. He was there for me when he was too young to have known; when he was too young to have had a choice. It was my turn.
But going back there meant giving up my overpaid job. We’d have to manage with what I had saved while I looked for something that could occupy me; some company that may want me in this provincial town where underachieving was glorified. We would make it, I promised him, come hell or high water. But after a year of living in the expensive apartment, paying tuition to the toney school, things were not so certain anymore. I never got one call from the countless resumes I sent, a friend of mine telling me I was more qualified than the few CEOs who lived in this pathetic bastion of mediocrity, and therefore no one wanted me around.
So I spent my time being good at something else. I had always been the best at whatever I had done, and this time it was the most worthy pursuit of all: being his mom. I was there every day like clockwork to pick him up and take him where he needed to go, bringing his friends home with us when he wanted, dropping him off at their place if so desired. I was the cool mom, the one who had lived all over the world; who spoke three languages; who had the crazy IQ; and who, they said, was hot. I spoke to my child as though he were an adult, and having been everywhere I’d been, and having inherited my intellect and perspective, he was the consummate mini version of me, except with better temperament and as it turns out, a moral compass that followed what I had taught him instead of what I had exemplified. Some moms feel threatened by their kids, especially in the teenage years, not knowing how to keep up or how to keep hold, but for us it was natural and never a struggle.
He was elected class president at the end of his first year there, over kids who had been there since they were five. Over kids whose dads were famous for this thing or that. He was talented, but not arrogant; brilliant, but not cocky; model-like gorgeous, but goofily unaware. He was happier than he had ever been. And I would do anything to make sure that his next three years were as happy as his first.
The money had been okay the first quarter that year, and I planned for us to go back to Europe for the Summer, wanting to always remind him of where he had been raised up until now; the pleasure of the simplicities in life, like riding our bikes to our favorite cheese shop, or walking slowly by the lake on a Sunday morning, in no great hurry to reach our table at the petit café. But by late March, the market began to slide and I, being over-confident of its inevitable recovery, stuck by my positions. By the time I saw I was wrong, the losses I would have suffered were more than I could sustain. There would be no trip to Europe, and if the stocks did not come back, there might be no return trip to school come Autumn.
It started innocently enough, selling the things that meant nothing to me now; remnants of a life that felt so distant and shallow. I got $2500 for the Birkin; $3700 for the alligator; $4000 for the gold Cartier I never even wore. I had found a simultaneous means of cash flow and cleansing, and we could now make it until the end of the year. He knew I sold things, but he never cared. Ironically the more coveted of my items were those he found most hideous, he said, but he also sensed synchronicity, I believe, in the way I was sacrificing the relics of our past for the benefit of his grounded future. His life was settled and for us both, that was all that mattered.
Our landlord raised our rent in October that year when our lease was up. The economy, they claimed, was rebounding, though there was still no pulse or any other sign of life in my portfolio to corroborate this. I recalculated we could now squeak by until just about Christmas, or maybe a little beyond, but begrudgingly I realized it was time to lower my sights and look, once more, for work. This time was worse. There were no jobs in our town for someone with my background, and to get a position for which I was qualified I’d have to move elsewhere. He cried as I’d never seen him cry at that age, and I promised him he would not have to move. We had plenty of family around and he, for them as for me, was the center of the world, so there was never a doubt that he’d have a home if I were away.
But it was too late. He was used to me now; used to the routine of it; the stability and certainty each day would bring. I was also, he told me, the hinge that made his social life go around; taking the kids to the concerts no other mom would; the mother who had the time to work late on projects that no other mom could; the only parent in his school who could translate from the original text of The Three Musketeers for their honors English paper; I was his mom and he worshipped me. I was going nowhere. So not saying a word, I quietly agreed and promised him I would be here; we would be right here, in this home, for the next three years.
Why do married moms always assume that the single ones – the ones who look like me – are and always have been sluts? Maybe it gives them comfort, in their modern day versions of indentured misery, to think that everything I got came from a man; or it at least gives them the ability to cling to righteousness when all other qualities worth holding onto have long since drained from their domestic melancholia. I did not care. I had no cellulite; I had no wrinkles; I had no heinous Southern accent borne purely of ignorance that a world beyond there existed. They were not interested in the uninteresting reality that I had not dated since returning to this country almost two years prior. Nor would I as long as they all sounded, well, like that. In truth I had dated rarely in the years before, either, as I was happy in my own company and in my own skin, and found that the time required to kiss a man’s ass or make him seem more important than I, in order to gain his affection, was time I could have been spending on myself or with my son. Did they think I looked like this from swilling wine and chasing men? Idiots, the lot of them. They’d never figure it out. I did not even eat wheat, let alone indulge in anything that could be even more defamatory to my form, whereas they all looked like wet sacks of discord and complacency; wine drenched cardboard shells of former femininity, wondering why their lives had gone to hell and their husbands were always gone on trips in this seat of sexual repression.
Then the opportunity arose. I scoffed at it initially, even expressing outrage at the very thought of it. But then she pissed me off, that boney assed crate of leather to whom he was married, and suddenly it seemed like karmic balance embodied. My ex mother in law had told me before I had married her son, “as long as you like to fuck – and even if you don’t – any marriage will last as long as you just lie there and take it with a smile on your face.” I was disgusted more at the sound of it having come from her mouth than at the notion itself, but permanently burned into my memory, it was. Unfortunately for this woman, she clearly had not benefitted from a mother in law of similar inclination.
I went back home that morning, took a shower and did my hair; put on a clingy DVF dress over my La Perla best and went to the hotel where we had once lived while looking for a home. They knew of me there, but I did not care as I had no need for respect in this shit hole town and anyway, the one I was meeting was too well known himself to ever let word of this get out, and so I was assured by his compunction to keep them quiet that my secret would never spread. When he knocked on the door of room 803 on the concierge floor, requiring an extra key so no one could follow, I had not even a hint of nerves. He, on the contrary, was shaking and sweating and stammering on in incoherent streams of bullshit that could have made me lose any hard-on, had I been a man. I quickly shut him up and took off his clothes. It was over in 13 minutes, from beginning to end, but judging from his reaction it was the best he’d had recently, if not ever, and based on how soon he had climaxed and how close he’d been to tears of joy, I’d say ‘ever ‘was a far closer estimate to how long it had been for him, period. It was $750, I told him, though the price had been pre-agreed. He asked if he could shower, and I told him he had twenty minutes as I needed to do the same myself, before my next appointment, amused that I was charging him more per minute for the shower than for the deed. He looked surprised, as if he were somehow expecting to be the only one, but also somehow relieved in the knowledge of complicity with others. And to his raised eyebrow of curiosity I explained that every Tuesday from this one forward, I would quite simply be the woman in room 803.
My mother is at church, for what reason, I do not know. I am at home, watching Californication and wondering if it’s too early in the day for a scotch. Better, in my view, than going to church and genuflecting for appearances, reciting the verse as though engrained and engendered, and then going home to Californication and scotch. There is no hypocrisy in my variety of blasphemy.
There is this man at my office. We’ll call him Chris, because that is his name, and I see no need in protecting those who subjugate others. He goes to church most dutifully every time the doors are flung open. His pastor is his frequent lunch companion. Misplaced moral judgement and righteous condescension are his other most frequent companions.
He shouts at his female subordinates in ways that makes them, regardless of their level of achievement, feel belittled and degraded, then quickly quotes scripture to justify his views. I doubt the apostles intended their words for relative moral justification.
He has three daughters over whom he allegedly dotes. The oldest one is only slightly younger than the last female employee he sexually harassed. The texts on her phone in no way resemble the New Testament he so readily otherwise spouts.
This is The South. Where religious zealotry too often goes hand in hand with closeted sexual deviancy.