Saturday, November 17, 2007

Part 2

Part 1 is HERE if you haven't read it yet.

I did not want to end up 55 years old and still working at a strip club. I did not want to lie to my friends and family and the guys I was trying to date any more and although I needed to be at the Bubblegum Kittikat exactly when I was and although I learned many lessons there about compassion, generosity and acceptance, I knew my time working the door had to come to an end.

Once the 55 year old stripper had told me that when she was 18 she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but lured by the easy money, which becomes an addiction, she began to dance, always thinking it was temporary – just a few more nights, a few more weeks, maybe another month. But her maybe another month turned into maybe another year and before she realized what had happened, there she was: 55, relegated to day shift, and trying to plaster her face with makeup to trick the customers into thinking she was maybe 35, but for dancers, even 35 is considered old. The 55 year old stripper couldn’t do anything else. She had destroyed what was obviously once a pretty face with desperate, cheap plastic surgery and her greatest skill in life was her ability to move each of her breast implants independently in time to the hip-hop music she didn’t even like. As I sat in my stool by the mirrored front door and watched her flexing her chest to move her deformed, calcified, horribly scarred breasts to the beat of the Notorious B.I.G., I realized that while it was way too late for her that it was not too late for me and then I got up, went in the back office and quit.

My mother had been bugging me to go to school forever. Every single day she said something to me that was annoying and nagging and absolutely true.

“You need an education,” she told me, “You gotta do something with your life.”

Not a single soul in my family had ever gone to college. My sister became the only one of us to ever graduate high school, and I was a horrible student who got in trouble all the time, so I didn’t think I could handle the rigors of college. College was hard. I knew this because when I lived with Evil-Ex he was going to college and it seemed impossible and like something I could never do.

I thought about going to college for a long time but I couldn’t get my act together enough to actually go enroll and it was overwhelming. I didn’t know how to register. I hated teachers. The college wouldn’t accept me. I was older than everyone else there. I would fail. I would have to take math which I was terrible at. I couldn’t even figure out a tip in a restaurant. I went on and on and on with this nonsense, but at least I had taken the first step. I no longer worked at a strip club.

I got a job in an art gallery that only had about five pieces of art. No one ever came in and nothing ever sold, so all day long, because there was truly nothing to do and no other employees and there wasn’t even anything to clean because the gallery was little more than some white walls and wood floors, I sat behind a counter and read books. Sometimes I did the crossword puzzles in the paper, but because I was not smart I could never finish them.

Then I would go home and my mother would nag me some more and tell me that at some point I needed to move out and be able to support myself and a retail job in a gallery that never sold a damn thing was not a useful career that would help me live on my own. I knew this, but I kept reading books.

One day I saw Toni Morrison on Oprah and I was so struck by this regal, majestic, extraordinary human being that I said to myself “I want to be like that too.” Toni Morrison was smart and I wanted to be smart, to be able to articulate gracefully and to sit poised and proud and speak authoritatively in front of strangers. I deduced that if I wanted to be smart like Toni Morrison that perhaps I ought to read one of her books, so I went and bought one and tried to read it, all thinking I was smart now, and then I got about three pages into it and realized that I could not understand a solitary word of what this woman was writing. It sounded kinda good, so I kept on reading and eventually I finished an entire novel, but by the end I still couldn’t say what was going on. It was hopeless, I thought. I was stupid.

Around this time one of my J Dates finally worked out. I met a boy with brown eyes and a space between his two front teeth and this boy was a doctor. He had just finished his PhD, so the boy was very smart and I liked the boy more than I had liked anyone in a very long time. I wanted him to like me back and it seemed he sort of did. Once the boy told me that I was not annoying, and this was and still is, one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. The boy with the PhD and I spent lots of time together. We slurped noodles and listened to Radiohead and kissed all night long and I was constantly in the throes of infatuated bliss, but then the boy and I had to have The Talk. This is the dreaded talk where the relationship has to be defined, and I swore that the boy was going to tell me I could be his girlfriend and that he was madly in love with me, but the boy told me that I could not be his girlfriend and that I was not The One. Some time went by and the boy and I acted, for all intents and purposes, exactly as if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We did everything that people in relationships do except refer to ourselves as significant others. Had this all happened to the Me that I am now, as soon as those words about not being The One would have come out of the boy’s mouth, my ass would have been halfway down the street already, but as you may recall I had the self esteem of a piss ant, so I took what I could get, and plus the sex was good and he played the guitar.

Several months into this I had read two Toni Morrison novels. I still had no idea what was going on. I can’t remember exactly how this happened, but the boy’s friend may have told me. The boy himself may have let it slip, but somehow I came to learn that one of the main reasons that the boy decided I could not be his girlfriend was because I did not have an education. He felt that because he had worked so hard for so many years to become a doctor, that his soul mate should have done the same. Their accomplishments would bond them. They would be on the same intellectual wavelength. His perfect girl would understand how hard it was for him to finish his PhD because she would have gone through it too. I couldn’t possibly understand because I hadn’t even finished high school. There was also that whole issue of class. PhDs belong to the intellectual elite and I was the academic equivalent of an undocumented migrant worker. I was below peasant class and again I was reminded of all the things I couldn’t do, have, belong to or be accepted by because I was White Trash.

While I felt sorry for myself and the terrible trailer lot in life I had been born into, I read Sula.

To Be Continued Again…

5 comments:

Lana Wood said...

Ah, Toni Morrison IS so beautiful.

I've read them all. So Amazing.

I love the device she uses wherein she shows the point of view of all characters. I cannot imagine how anyone could read The Bluest Eye and not be changed.

I don't want to talk (write) your ear off, but I really can relate to so much of what you are writing in this story.

rosie-b said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

secretmom said...

I've said it before and will probably again--i freakin' love your writing and your stories (two very different and important things). you need a book deal--you deserve a book deal!

Anonymous said...

I'm completely intrigued.

Anom. Reader

c-pro said...

Howie's Lipshitz? My ass whistles.

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