47 in 46: Lola

The year was 1970, and what I still consider to be one of the most brilliantly written “shock rock” songs of all time – not to mention a shoo-in to the possible future soundtrack for the life of a certain youngish hero not yet realized – was released unto an unassuming public. 

My tale today is based upon this, a little ditty penned by members of the better Beatles, The Kinks.

I hope you enjoy…
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Mommy always looks pretty.

And sometimes, sometimes we have special dinners. Dress up dinners. Mommy makes something that tastes really good, but maybe is not so good-looking, cuz she turns down all the lights and makes us eat with candles on.

Daddy likes nights like this cuz he gets to get dressed up in his brown sports coat with big wide lapels, and his tie that’s even wider and looks like yucky mustard, and all his clothes look like they’re made of heavy plastic. Something-ester is what he calls it. He sez it’s the fabric of the future. It hurts me whenever I wear it. I don’t like it.

I hope he’s wrong about the future.

Mommy gets dressed up real pretty on these nights, these special dinner nights. She makes a big scene of it too. After setting the table and getting us boys all seated (daddy seats himself), mommy runs to the back of the house to get out of her kitchen clothes and to get on her pretty stuff. She even has pretty shoes and shiny things that clip on her ears. Just for the dinner, I swear!

Coming down the hall really slow, daddy whoop-oohs and ahhhs as mommy gets to the table. I’m hungry mommy, hurry up!  I think he maybe even pulls the chair out for her. Maybe, I can’t remember. I do know that daddy won’t let us eat until we all tell mommy how pretty she is. I’m hungry, but mommy is pretty anyways. Daddy gets too pushy sometimes like that.

Mommy was walking in the hall, and I could see her pretty shoes poke out from her dress, every time she put one forward. Her dress is really pretty, it’s so long it touches the floor, and it’s all white, except for the brown and black shapes that someone drew all over it, and mommy musta got it on sale, cuz there’s no sleeves on it, but it does have a tight collar around the neck. She calls it a mock turtle’s neck, but I don’t understand what that means. There is no turtle’s neck anywhere on her dress, I looked. Mommy’s dress is sorta tight, and I think it’s that something-ester thing again, but hers is soft and silky, very silky. I like it when I have mommy’s dress in my fingers. It feels good. Daddy sez the dress hugs her. I don’t know how a dress can do that without hurting after a while.

I touch mommy’s dress when she’s not looking sometimes. I go into her bedroom and just touch her things. They’re all soft. Not like daddies and mine. Not hard plastic. Mommy’s stuff is nice. And it fits her too. Us boys look like robots in boxes when we wear our ester-something stuff, but mommy always looks like, like, well, like water moving, like she floats.

Mommy always looks pretty.

I want to too. I want to look pretty. Daddy sez that boys can’t be pretty. Boys are just hanb-sum, he sez. I don’t wanna be hanb-sum, I wanna be pretty. I wanna wear the ester that doesn’t hurt. I wanna have people ooh and ahhh me too.

Daddy gets too pushy like that, so I sometimes sneak into mommy’s room when no one knows, so I can look pretty too. No one knows, so it think it’s OK, and I fold everything up real good and put it back when I’m done. But folding lady underwear is really hard, and I think I broke her stocking once, cuz my toenail made a big line in it. I even close the door so that no one can see.

I don’t think Jesus can look through doors.

At least I hope not, cuz daddy and mommy sez that that sort of thing is a sin. That boys are supposed to be boys, and girls are supposed to be girls, and we’re all supposed to make babies, but only after we get married forever and ever, and God don’t like anyone who gets that screwed up. People go to h-e-double-l for screwing things up, that’s what mommy and daddy’s church sez. That’s what school sez too. And school is run by nuns. Nuns are married to Jesus. They got rings to prove it and everything, so they must know what they’re talking about.

I don’t think Jesus marries very nice women.

Maybe that’s why He’s so upset and sending screw ups to h-e-double-l all the time. I don’t know. But I hope He can’t peek through the door, because I don’t want to be a screw up and go to h-e-double-l. I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want Him to hate me.  I didn’t do anything wrong, I swear Jesus. But I do wanna wear the good feeling something-ester. I wanna feel like water moving, and I don’t wanna look just hanb-sum, and I wanna feel special, and whoop-ooh’d and ahh’d, and look pretty…

Just like mommy always does.

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My Prayer…

eustace

“Please.”

The single hardest, single-syllable word I ever had to say.

“Please.”

Forcing it through clenched teeth. Reluctantly, quietly. Earnestly.

Please.

Alone. No other words allowed. No other thoughts entertained.

“Please.”

Just one word to net it all. One word to express the whole ocean of pain, sorrow, regret and yearning. One word only, in asking for intervention.

“Pleeeeaase…”

The breath catches. The tears break. Tumbling in an ever-increasing stream, as their weight pulls my body bluntly face-first to the floor.

“Please. Please, please, please, please…”

Bits of un-chewed food spit forth as I moan through my petition, increasingly acute.

“(Please, please, please, please, please, please…)”

Unable to breathe, the words are now uttered only in my mind, as the rest of my body heaves itself to release deep sobs, long buried by a soul afraid of it’s own life. It’s own potential. It’s own beauty.

Please.

There is no answer. There never is. But the sobbing slowly subsides, and The Darkness reluctantly retreats.

“Please.”

An unforeseen feeling of warmth, of comfort even, comes over me. A quiet yet strong voice – maybe of my own making, or maybe His – whispers to me, “Trust Me to handle this, and we’ll make it through. Trust Me to be in control, and I will walk you Home.”

Realizing it my choice to make, I think a moment, then utter,

“Please.”

This post is being brought to you by both a recounting of Real Life experiences, and by the WordPress Daily Prompt’s question of “Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself?” I would hope that in this case, the answer is clear.

490 Words Plus A Sentence, AND One More To Boot.

I think I’m missing an assignment, but the Prof promised me extra credit, as long as I really “brought it” this week.

Damn. I could’ve used that extra credit…

Anywho, this week’s Master Class 2013 assignment had a bit of a switch in it, in that the prompt came from a song instead of a work of literature; to be used at the end of the submission. As such, and after reading the prompt, I decided to put one more switch into place, and also included a lyric at the beginning. One that was prompted by the prompt. Make sense?

Probably not. Regardless, I hope you enjoy, and invite you to please click on the MC2013 link above, in order to join in on the fun! You know you wanna…

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I’m standing in a line with a dirty mind. Clean it up on Sunday morning.

Yeah, yeah. Gotta go to Big God’s house today. Better clean up. Hide everything… get all the “stuff” put away. Yeah. He’ll never see it up there, tucked way away in the corner of my filthy little mind. All the things I want, all the things I crave. All the things I need, all the things I think would fulfill me. All the things that He said I can’t have, after He created them. Yeah, grab all that shit and hide it away.

Yeah. Put all that shit away. Just put it away, boy-O. No one, but no one, needs to know about all that. They don’t wanna know that you like it a little rough sometimes. No. Just sit there looking pretty. They don’t need to know that your first time wasn’t with the right sex. Oh, hell no! Just sit there with your eyes glued to the pulpit. They don’t wanna hear that you sometimes wish you could dress out here, the way that you dress behind closed doors. They don’t wanna know. They can’t bear to know the person that God made ya to be. They can’t stomach knowing how often you wanna share your love, and with how many different types you wanna share it. No. That would disgust them. They only wanna see the pin-striped, straight-jacketed version of the body that you deny weekly, all in an effort to appease them and their rules. To appease Him. Yeah. That’s what they want. That’s what He wants. Why’d He make you otherwise? Who knows? Cross-to-bear shit, I would imagine.

It don’t matter much. It’s His game, not mine. And every drop of sunshine he lets in, just confuses me more. I mean, why’d He give me these glimpses of happiness, only to have His tool of a shepherd-man tell me it’s all wrong, raining on the very parade He started? Gotta be cross-to-bear shit, man. Gotta be.

So you go on denying. You go on pretending that it’s girls you like, and white lace, and picket fences in the moonlight. You make sure you rough up your brows, just so no one notices that they look a little too nice otherwise. You keep grinning with that same stupid-ass grin you slather on your face every Sunday morning. The same stupid-ass grin your daddy slathered on his face before you. You grin it, and you ignore every last nerve inside of you, screaming to God for freedom in a world that He created, and then gave over to the power-hungry, the homophobes and the pricks.

I mean, why not, right? Cross-to-bear shit, man, cross-to-bear. Besides, it ain’t gonna rain unless it pours anyway. Until then, there’ll be no sun, and no rain. Just constant and oppressive pin-striped straight-jacketed grey. So what’s the point? Like daddy used to spit out through his stupid ass grin, well before the day he blew out his denial-doused brains, “No umbrellas, no sunglasses, hell and hallelujah everyday,” right?

•••

This week’s prompt came from Incubus’ “If Not Now, When?” and the subsequent prompt to the prompt came from The Bolshoi’s “Sunday Morning.” That’s right kids, that means it’s a double song day bonus!

All the sad men, roaming free

She sat there, munching somewhat sloppily on her burger, occasionally spitting forth bits of it as she yelped out to no one in particular. And I sat there and stared. And I felt bad. I felt bad that I was staring, but I wasn’t doing so out of rudeness. No, it was more envy that I felt than superiority. It was more a case of “what if” than of “thank God not.” And here’s why.

Whenever I stumble across one who is severely mentally handicapped, I become somewhat immersed in what I imagine is their imprisonment. Their imprisonment in a world who wishes they just weren’t around. Or at least, not quite so visible. But at the same time, I find that I am jealous of their freedom. Freedom from a world that regrets them so.
A world, mind you, that is far more handicapped at times then they will ever be. A world filled with folk who care more about little dollar bills than we do each other. A world that places much more emphasis on the cut of the cloth than on the content of the character. A world that hopes for a cure to all disease, mental retardation included, but only partially for the benefit of those who suffer from it. And only at the turn of a profit.

In my very humble opinion, this world isn’t nearly good enough for people such as her. Or us, for that matter. This world is a damned and empty shadow of what it could be, and I feel that we’ve all worked pretty hard to make it so. Or at the very least, sat back and simply let it happen.

So what of that poor girl-woman that suffered my “not intentionally rude, but extremely rude nonetheless” stares? Why do I sometimes feel jealousy towards people of her kind? How could I be so mean as to even make mention of the concept? Well, imprisoned as she appears, I would love to see the world through her eyes, just once. Just once to see if what I think to be true, actually is. You see, I’m of the belief that her vision is much clearer than mine. I’m quite sure, in fact, that mine is muddled beyond the point of ever recognizing the Truth. A Truth that I believe she most likely sees naturally on a daily basis. A Truth that she may even long to share with the rest of us, if only we weren’t so ignorant to the language.

She sees the Truth, and I see only what I choose to see. And yet she is locked in the wheeled chair, while I roam free…

I suppose I should step back for a moment and let you know where my meanderings and ideas on the subject come from. I have no personal experience in my own family, but when I was a young boy, I was forced (yes, I mean the word – or at least did at the time) to volunteer at an institution that cared for people with severe mental and physical retardation. My parents, as teachers our church to those who were preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation, felt it was important to teach the children about stewardship (oddly, a belief of theirs that has all but vanished in their later years. A possible topic for a different time). Part of their education to this end included a trip to a local long-term care center that managed the severest cases. As parents who also trusted not another living being on the planet, my brothers and I toddled along as well, even though we were not yet in the Confirmation program. As a young and unappreciative pisser, I recall hating the place when we first arrived. The stark white walls did nothing to conceal the smell of piss and medicine. The painted-over drop ceiling served more to rebound, than muffle, the occasional non-sensical shout or yelp. The halls were clogged with wheel chairs, and in each, sat an alien life form. A being so far removed from my little pisser knowledge of the world as to be almost comical, if it (again, word usage intentional) didn’t frighten me so. Being young, and being a pisser, and being there against my will, I decided that hatred would be my best response. Hatred towards these creatures. Hatred towards their needing my assistance. Hatred towards their being around at all. I did as I was told, but only just. How dare they make me? How dare they be here? How dare they exist?

And then, as happens so often in life, something happened. And that something was this. One of them began wailing. And not just a whimper or a sob, but an honest-to-Jesus moon-raising moan. One that would make you think they weren’t just seeing a ghost, but the never-welcome Mr. Beez L. Bub himself. And for all I know, maybe they were seeing exactly that. The wailing only made me feel uncomfortable. Scared. But to another, it provoked a different reaction. I can’t recall if it was an employee, a volunteer, a random passer-by or even maybe an angel in disguise. But I do remember one soul, walking deliberately up to the young wheelchair entrapped wailer, and hugging them. Simply hugging them. The wails continued, but so did the hug. And eventually both were quietly put to rest. Both the hugger and the wailer were at peace. I stood there dumbfounded as the blinds were torn from my eyes, my little stupid pisser attitude backhanded to the floor.

I could physically feel myself growing up a little bit that day. One of the first of many times I’ve had the experience.

A little while later I was pushing along one of the more talkative residents who would speak and speak and speak, and occasionally even say something. At one point he looked me dead in the eye, and with no prompt or reason whatsoever, he told me very confidentially the exact day it would start snowing and the exact amount – in quarter inches – that we would receive. I’m sure you already know by now that I’m going to tell you he was exactly correct on both counts. EXACTLY. Dumb luck? Could’ve been. Dumb luck does seem to have a way of getting around. But me being me, I’d like to think that there’s something more to it. In fact, I’d like to think that maybe – just maybe – there are certain people who are so spiritually in-tuned, so close to God, that they’re incapable of dealing with our little shambles of a “reality.” They’re exalted over the angels, but trapped on this mortal plain, and they simply can’t function at such a junior level. They need our help in this world, but only because we’ll need theirs in the next. We just don’t know it yet. They’re not “retarded”, we are. They are advanced to a higher prominence, and we sit smugly by and laugh at their superiority.

I know, it sounds a little too “pie in the sky” to be true. And that, in part, is one of the reasons I wanted to jump into my lunch mate’s head. Just once I really would like to see if I’m right. Or if I’m an idiot. Or both. It’ll never happen of course. For one thing, we don’t live in a Disney movie, and swaps of this nature just aren’t possible. But even if they were, I don’t feel the trade would be a very fair one. For her, that is.

•••

I feel it’s important to note, I’m using this song today not in jest, but rather, in praise.  I too, long for the day when all of us “sane men” are locked away, and we allow the “mad” ones to finally be free.

10/12 an unabashed love letter to the people of Saint Ann’s

Its two main steeples reach majestically into the sun-filled Buffalo sky. Well, actually that’s not entirely true, seeing as its two main steeples are no longer there. And haven’t been for quite sometime – lost somewhere along the way from some previous snow-filled Buffalo sky, i’ve been told. So the final effect is that somewhat of a decapitated house of worship, one that begrudgingly admits its shortcoming, but still refuses to fall.

The steeples haven’t been replaced simply because this particular church happens to reside in inner Buffalo, a down-trodden area that hasn’t seen anything even remotely resembling wealth in many a year now. And while the Roman Catholic Church talks a pretty good game about feeding its flock, apparently it walks a much better game in neighborhoods where the flock is pretty well-fed already. Which is sad, considering the diet of this particular flock – but more on that later.

Upon entering the church, you see a past glory, slowly crumbling under the grip of time and weather. While most of the ceiling remains intact – in glorious hues of blue, gold and salmon – in other areas massive bubbles are visible through the paint where previously, rain water on the exterior side lead a recon mission through cracks in the building’s defenses towards the inside. In other areas, the rain was wholly successful in its mission and whatever section of ceiling used to be there is now totally absent, save the wooden skeleton of the roof proper. The myriad of statues throughout the building are mostly looking skyward, but whereas i’m sure the original intent was to show these saints as being “heaven-bound”, in its current condition, they look much more like worried home owners waiting for the roof to cave in. As to the accoutrements, easily half a forest was lost in the construction of the various wooden latticework, railings, doorways, crucifixes and pulpit – never mind the ornate and almost inhabitable central sanctuary at the back of the altar. All carved with intricate expertise, and for now, all safe from the weather. And while children may be prone to scratch their names into pews elsewhere, in this building every one of them seem to be safe from such juvenile branding activities. The floor is a combination of hard wood and ratty carpet – the orange variety that everyone in the seventies felt was all the rage. Fortunately, the carpet is so worn down as to now look far more “historical” than “dated”. Unfortunately, the carpet is so worn down as to look like it belongs to a long-dead building, instead of a living one.

So all said, a church that used to be mighty, glorious – and possibly even a bit arrogant – now sits humbled by time, neglect, suburban sprawl, and a religious hierarchy that sometimes finds it hard to practice exactly what it preaches so loudly to others. But just before you call the wrecking ball and start digging a grave for this once impressive monolith, let’s take another look, seeing as mass has now started…

The choir is small, unorganized and not very well trained. Many of them seem to have never used a microphone before and others simply ignore its existence altogether. They are a mixture of race, age and sex, all led by a doddering old man at a tiny electric keyboard, and when all is said and done – they sing like angels. With sincerity, with faith, and with communion. The congregation is likewise small, especially when considering how large the building is, and much like the choir, a blend of age, sex and race. In fact, to look at them objectively, you wouldn’t see too much that these people would have in common with each other in their daily lives – and maybe they don’t. But when they come together here, they become “One” – again – with sincerity and faith. During the Lord’s Prayer, the entire group becomes part of one long web, strewn throughout the church, with only the very first upheld hand in the line and the very last not being grasped by another. And at the “sign of peace”, it would almost appear to be much more a game of musical chairs than it would a simple gesture of good will. The entire process can take up to five minutes (quite a long time by Roman Catholic standards) and no person is left unnoticed, no extended hand left untouched. It’s the type of environment that would drive someone who suffers from mysophobia simply mad. It would also put a kink in the armor of anyone who happens to be racist or judges others based solely on their appearance as well. In this place, however, faith overrides all of that. And it’s not something that is sleeve-worn or in your face. Nor is it something that you must accept upon entering, or take with you when you leave. It’s not even something that is spoken. It just IS. It’s visible, tangible, breathable even. This small group of individuals create a force so strong that it can not only be felt, but it actually invades your own senses as well.

Heaven bound...

Now, lest someone think that this will become a slippery slope as to my trying to prove one faith superior to another, let me be clear that this is not the intent of this post. And it’s not the intent of the congregation either, i don’t believe. And maybe that is why they can create a force so strong that it almost hugs you upon entering into it. They seem to be focused only on their faith and on each other. It would appear that they have no real desire to shove their beliefs down the throats of others, but you’re more than welcome to join in if you’d like (to clarify an earlier statement, they are very cognizant of possible mysophobia sufferers and don’t grab for hands unextended). It is also clear that instead of focusing on any misperceived superiority towards the faith – or lack thereof – of others, they are focusing only on theirs alone. And when “Mother Church” held back its wallet, these parishioners – many of whom can ill-afford it – started to self-fund the church just so that they could keep it’s steeple-less doors open.

In short, they’re good people, who are quietly living their own faith – for themselves and their God alone. They have found their community, their purpose and their home, resulting in their spirits being well-fed and contented. Not because of some outside benevolence, but as a result of their own hard work. They have a living Strength within a dying building. One that is refreshing to see, and i just thought you might like to know that pockets of humanity like this still exist.  i also think it would be very nice indeed if a whole lot more of us could live the same.