Friday, March 16, 2007

part one in a series

Lets take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
(note: this a.m. i spellchecked and changed the family names. oops!)

Waaay back in the late 'Seventies, after I left The Dishrag, I found myself temporarily homeless. I moved back to Milwaukie where I stayed for awhile at a former boyfriends house until that arrangement upset his mother.
Now mommy dearest lived in a separate house, and sonny boy was 22; still, she ruled the roost. But rather than simply ask me to leave, she did a very strange and rather creepy thing... she started following me to the bus stop every morning and pointedly ignoring me. And by this I mean following me at a distance of about five steps, up a number of blocks to the top of the street and standing nearly shoulder to shoulder with me, waiting for the bus...with her back turned the whole time. Making sure she sat in a seat near me. Looking away whenever I glanced in her direction.
She had no idea how badly this backfired. That is, if her object was to keep me off sonny boy.

Fortunately (or not, read on and you decide) the people next door to where I was staying were in the process of remodelling a nearby house. They offered it to me as a place to stay, free of charge, so that they could continue to claim it as occupied and keep the fire insurance rates low.
I was happy to take them up on this. I moved into the abandoned house, set up a mattress on the floor and a little bedside table for my tequila, ashtray, lighter and asthma inhaler, and I was all set. I had my unemployment check (my boss fired me after he found out that I'd left my boyfriend and wasn't looking like giving him nexties) so I could buy sandwiches. It was June and the weather was fine. The place had a roof, some clean places on the floor where the previous resident's appliances had been, no electricity and no heat.
There was no toilet; but there was a hole in the floor where the toilet had been. Not a problem unless I had to get rid of some beer in the middle of the night. After splashing my feet a couple times I soon became an expert markswoman, and remain so to this day.
Everyone has hidden talents. Sometimes it takes a certain set of circumstances to bring them to the fore.

And life was actually pretty good for awhile. At least, I wasn't living with a junkie and being threatened with corkscrews anymore. So yeah.

But that couldn't last, of course. I was expected to help with the remodel,and that meant having contact with the family.
The family themselves were named Meadows. Remember that name, kids. (or not because I just changed it. woops.)

Mr. Meadows was a milkman. He delivered for Dairygold in North Portland, where he spent a good part of his shift committing acts of commercial miscegenation and eating pork feet. Every morning I would meet with him and his sons around their breakfast table, where he'd pour us a pitcher of screwdrivers and line out what the remodelling project was for the day, and brag about hookers competing with each other for his business, and berate his sons for being lazy and useless and not worth feeding, and question me, leering like a chimp, about my recent past as a 'shack-up job' as he termed it, and other warm family subjects like that.
Because he was Satan. Satan the Milkman.

Son the youngest was named, and I kid thee not, Kelvin.
Kelvin was exactly what you'd expect with a name like Kelvin... a 22 year old bachelor who lived at home and worked nights as a janitor in a grade school (eew). His bedroom was in the garage. The front portion of the garage, partitioned off with some plywood. (still had the garage door; when it would rain the water would wash a puddle full of earthworms underneath it) His room was exactly what you'd expect, too; tinfoil on the windows, black mold growing up the walls, full of unwashed wads of laundry, science fiction paperbacks, and old t-shirts stuck to the floor with jizz.

Kelvin had the worst case of night terrors I have ever seen, and I've seen quite a bit in my time. He could fall asleep almost instantly, anywhere he was, and in a matter of minutes he would be screaming and fighting ghosts. One morning, as we were sitting around the breakfast table discussing panelling and passing a bottle of Midori, Kelvin wandered off to sleep on the couch. Five minutes later he was bucking some couple of feet off the cushions in full arching convulsions, , eyes bugged out, screaming, punching himself and yelling "Motherfucker!' He ended on the floor and rolled halfway across the room. Never woke up.
I didn't know whether to shit or fly south. Everyone else ignored him. Ignored him COMPLETELY.

One night in particular I recall him tearfully begging me to go out with him. His endgame very nearly melted my resolve, too..when he said, with utter sincerity, in a hurt puppy tone "Well, you're doing it with everyone else on the block, I don't understand why you won't let me go too!" you say...lacked game.

So finally, one night he tried to 'kidnap' me, presumably to have his evil way with my tender flesh. He was supposed to be giving me a ride into Portland when he suddenly turned off the man road, smiled at me and started to head out into the county. I burnt him on the wrist with my cigarette and told him to quit screwing around and take me into town.
And he did. Happy as a clam.

Ever read 'Myra Breckenridge?'

Years later I realized that I gave him a moment right then that he's probably spent the rest of his life trying to recreate.

To be perfectly honest, I was not screwing everyone else in the neighborhood. Just his older brother and two other guys.

Now his older brother was an interesting kind of guy. Interesting, friendly, kind, sociable, extremely intelligent and a stone fucking lunatic.
He quit a job working at a meat cutting plant 'because there was too much blue light'. He quit a job in a refrigeration manufacturing plant because there was 'too much emr and it was giving him epilepsy.' He quit his job with the Navy by dumping a bucket full of sand into the ships' engine and then reporting himself to the officer on watch, still holding the bucket, because 'he knew it was time.' He claimed to have been handed the reins of the universe by God while walking over a bridge in Singapore. Explains a lot, doesn't it? The universe is presently run by a man in Oregon whom I had to teach to wear suspenders so his pants didn't fall down around his ankles every time he got up from a chair. Because he wouldn't wear a belt; it cut off his chi.
I wish I was lying.
And yes, I was bonking him. Enjoyed every minute, too. Guy was nuttier than a tree full of squirrels, but he had a great 'can-do' attitude.
He firmly believed that he had to protect me from the evil forces wielded by his mother, who was trying to 'posses' me and 'vampirize my aura'. He caught her fingering a pair of earrings I had left on the table one morning, and when I went looking for them he presented them to me in a cup of salt water. In order to 'purge the bad vibes' from them before I put them back on, as he explained. Hell, I thanked him. I'd met momma.

Her name was Sunflower. I cannot adequately describe this woman and I've had years to think about it, too. I'm gonna try.
Imagine Betty White, playing the character Sue-Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore show. Cheerful to the point of mania, syrup-sweet, smarmy, utterly insincere. Now blow her up like a big, red, manic balloon and feed her a bunch of LSD and caffeine. Dress her in a flowered dirndl, rolled hose, and a pair of harlequin glasses and give her lines like "You kids don't know what I have to go through! Your father makes me take my teeth out for him!" and have her interject them into casual conversation.

The woman would say and do whatever came into her head, like a two year old. she had no boundaries and no sense of what was or wasn't appropriate.
One evening I walked into the kitchen and caught her eating out of a pot of ramen soup I had made for myself. Dip, slurp, spoon back in the pot, slurp, drip, back in the soup. No 'may I' no nothing. I put it in a bowl for her, and made myself another pot.
And dumped a third of a bottle of Tabasco sauce into it.
And went to the bathroom.
About a minute later I heard a screech from the kitchen and the pot hit the sink.
'You shouldn't do that! she scolded, ramen everywhere. 'That much Tabasco isn't good for you!'
Yeah, you either, huh? After that everything I made in that kitchen had Tabasco in it. And it's a good thing because I'd catch her huffing whatever I had on the stove just to check and wrinkling her nose. I learned to keep the bottle of Tabasco out on the table where she could see it and told her I was part Mexican.

Then she decided she didn't like my hat-a nice grey cashmere flatcap I kept my hair up under. One morning I came into the living room to see the last of the bill crumbling away in the fireplace. 'Oh, I threw it in the fire. I didn't like it on you,' she cheerfully said. A 20 dollar hat. In 1970's dollars, too.
Well, alrighty, then.
I decided I didn't like her mail.
For the rest of the time I associated with them, she never received another piece of mail. As long as it had her name on it, into the fire it went, flick, flick, flick. Birthday cards, bank statements, magazines, paychecks-oh yes. You bet. Up the chimney like Good Saint Nick.

She had a repulsive and bizarre habit of grabbing you by the arm suddenly and talking to you, for no apparent reason. Her grip would get tighter, she would pull you in closer, and whatever she was talking about would gradually turn into some kind of strange, confidential rambling story about God knows what, as anything like logic or subject was completely overtaken by whining, or weird, sexualized free-association. It sounded like it was about something. The intonation was there in the right places. But you'd wrest yourself away and think about what you'd just heard and it was just...freaky weird.

But now and then I would catch her looking at me with the oddest-for her- expression of calculation on her face; her usual look being one of utter simpering vacancy, like a drunk person at closing time. That's what convinced me that there was probably a really good reason why her son thought she had demons that did her bidding. Not that she did, but that she was way less sick than she acted, and she played it because she plain got a kick out of being disgusting and weird.

One night I came in to take a shower. Took the shower. Turned off the shower.
Gracious, what was that odd sound?
The Mr. and Mrs. were doing the hibbity-bibbity.
And not just the hibbity bibbity.
The pounding the walls, bouncing the bed frame off the floor, slapping, squitting, grunting hibbity bibbity.
Now the fact that those two ALL was wrong. Wrong, and sick. That the two of them kept up a steady commentary throughout in what honestly sounded like character voices...Like Edward G. Robinson fucking the daylights out of Billie Burke to be specific, I swear to God. THAT was Blue Velvet times Videodrome.
Little Caesar banging away on Glinda the Witch. Squit, smack, thump, yip, Oh daddy.
This went on forEVER.
And I was trapped.
The bathroom opened right across from their bedroom, and their door was hanging WIDE OPEN.
I turned on the shower again. I flushed the toilet about six or seven times. I ran the water in the sink. I put my fingers in my ears and put a bathmat over my head.
Finally I just decided fuck it; I pried the screen out and climbed out the bathroom window with my hair still in a towel.

Middle of the night. Teenage girl with a towel on her head wandering around town barefoot. Walked back to the abandoned house, sat on the stoop and drank tequila. And smoked. I coundn't quite bring myself to laugh, but I couldn't quite keep from laughing. I'd get chuckling, and then gross out and stop. And then do it all over again.
Middle of the night, sitting there with a pink flowered towel on my head, slashing booze straight out of the bottle, chain smoking and giggling to myself.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I was beginning to fit in.

Oh yes, there's more.


  1. Wow, so much in there what a great story you got me hooked gurl, and just as I thought, you yanks are all nutters.

  2. Good Lord.

    I hope Augusten Burroughs reads this and shits his fancy, embellished pants.

    I'm glad you're alive, sweetie.

    Now write some more!

  3. I'm with Old Knudsen. Totally hooked. Weirdness is contageous.

  4. hendrix6:05 AM

    Brilliant. Now where's part 2?

  5. I can just tell that this is going to be veerrrrry interesting.

  6. I'm amazed you're still alive and kicking! Fascinating stuff.

  7. (please tell me, because I'm sure you'll know, what are shoulder shoes?)

  8. knudie: not all, but most.
    danator: had to google his ass. oh! THAT guy!
    tick: in more ways than one, lemme tell ya.
    ara: and it was. yes, it was.
    ziggi: so am i. and ss-shoes you buy that will look really nice resting on a guys shoulders while you're...abed.

  9. what am I supposed to be looking at, his knees?

  10. ye gods, I have just realigned my position there a little -

    I seeeeeeee

    I've never worn shoes . . .abed

    (I did once keep my wellies on but it was cold and I kept my coat on too)

  11. Leave Kelvin alone.

    It's a better name than Celsius and Fahrenheit any day.

    And he came up with 'absolute zero' (slightly chilly).

    And he was Scottish. They like to look on the bright side.

    Where's my eiderdown?

  12. I loved it, was there with ya and was asking myself, by god, you've partied with this chick, huh?

  13. Holy Dysfunction Junction Batman!

    I can't believe that you burnt all of her mail..that is awesome.
    OK let's see if I can even process were starting to fit in and on one hand that must have been terrifying but on the other it proves that we can get 'used to' almost anything.

    The Blue Velvet reference and the whole hibbity thingamabob is right out of a movie..climbing out the window...burning wrists..peeing in the drain...we are talkin' SCREENPLAY here!
    Who do you see playin' you and some of the other parts?
    I'm thinkin' Dennis Hopper as the Milkman now that I can't get Blue Velvet out of my head...

  14. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Man oh man Ms FN - that some weird shit you got going there... Can't wait to read the rest...

  15. I think I love you.

    Carry on.

  16. "I decided I didn't like her mail."

    You utter, fucking genius. You have balls of kryptonite, woman. Kryptonite.

    I know this must all be true becuase it's too fucking wierd. No one could make this shit up! More please!

  17. your life is like a movie.