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Jett Superior laid this on you on || March 29, 2005 || 11:15 pm

When I was four….

(so, I mentioned to y’all that I’m having to do that life story thing. it’s now approximately two weeks past due. it was proving to be rather intimidating, so I came up with the simplistically brilliant plan to break it into years. here, for your reading pleasure and general mockery, is one of them)

1975

I started tap and ballet lessons. I loved the notion of dress-up and the one of being presented to other folks, of performing for their delight. Plus, Mrs. Gianconni had come straight from the old country and had that thick-as-a-rare-sirloin accent. She smelled spicy-sweet like my Nuna. I adored the weekly hour in her third-floor studio, with the five o’clock light slanting in the windows, dust motes pirouetting all lazy through the rays.

Always with family, my father’s in the far reaches of Arkansas soybean fields, with a quarter-mile of driveway and a willow-lined creek out back. My Pop was leathery and rained love down on us like the gentlest of summer showers, all warm and refreshing, while pressing silver dollars into palms and shushing us lest my grandmother and cousins find out. My grandmother was the inverse of everything Pop was to us: Cold, remote, witholding, disapproving. She was a mighty disappointment, because you could never please or delight her.

Mostly, though, we spent time with maternal relatives, as my paternal family had not just issues, but an entire subscription or two. I always marvelled at how my father’s family took their hardships and buried them in their collective gut like a cancer to eat away at them while my mother’s family, faced with the same withouts and have-to’s, were close-knit, laughing, raucous people who loved so hard it might scare any newcomers or passers-by. My Memaw was an angel who happened to wield a rolling pin. My Papaw was a hard man, predisposed to drinking and doling out beatings to whomever crossed him on an ill day. He and I were crossways from day one. Out of thirty-eight grandkids, I was his least favorite. My sister was his most favorite. I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t much care, either. I was pretty secure in myself.

One day, we were in the dooryard at my Memaw’s. I don’t remember where my parents were, but I know they weren’t there. There were a couple of aunts, a handful of cousins, the stray uncle or two, and my Memaw. I was wearing brown polyester pants. Flared below the knee. In a word, hideous. I was standing and talking to my Uncle Lonzo and my older cousin Barrett, who sat in fiberglass chairs under a huge oak. Out of nowhere, Lonzo reached out, did some fancy fingerwork with his Zippo and set those brown polyesters ablaze at the hem of the left leg. I began screaming my head off. My Aunt Myrna burst from the house, screaming herself. She scooped me up, ran me into the kitchen and deposited me in a sink of dishwater, effectively putting out the blaze. Remarkably, I was physically unscathed, but I cried and cried because my saddle oxfords were ruined; they were my favorite shoes. Old drunk Lonzo did me a favor, however, by destroying those pants. I hated them with a fierce passion.

Lonzo was gone by the time my parents came back to hear the tale. My father went hunting for him, white-faced and thin-lipped, that night. He took a gun with him. Luckily, Lonzo was laid up in some whore’s house and not at one of the local juke joints he haunted. My daddy was aiming to put a bullet hole in his head that night and a nail in his coffin the next day. Had he found Lonzo, he would’ve; Mother could talk no sense into him.

To this day, if someone flicks a lighter too closely to me, my clothing, my hair, I flip right the fuck out. It’s very Pavlovian, I know, but I can’t seem to recover from the startle of it enough to not react.

I wrote my first book in ‘75. It was about pirates and glowing treasure. I illustrated it. I think I could draw pretty proficiently back then. I don’t know what happened to that particular talent.

4 worked it out »

  1. skillzy 3.30.2005

    Welcome back, mi amigo. I missed you Friday (well not just Friday, but you know what I mean). You should have been here, I was in rare form – Spring tends to do that to you.

     
  2. Nina 3.30.2005

    Ahh… good to see your fine words back upon my screen. Welcome back.

     
  3. CJ 3.31.2005

    Welcome back, oh Prodigal One.

     
  4. Jettomatika 3.31.2005

    Well, you know how it is, out there in the wilds, eating the slop that you’re serving to someone else’s pigs, while back at the lavish homestead, they’re puttin’ on the dog every night.

    Wait. That’s nothing at all like what’s going on here. I’ve been cheated. >:o(

     

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