no. (roses_rejoice) wrote,
no.
roses_rejoice

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Shackles.

I knew a girl, Donna was her name. Since I met her, I've never been the same. Well not quite, she didn't make THAT much of an impression on me, but enough. We were high school classmates; she had really long hair down to her butt, and an ankle bracelet and a boyfriend who looked like Leif Garrett back when Leif Garrett was actually cute, and she had a baby. There were several Girls Who Had Babies (just like there were several Girls Who Had Anorexia and probably several Girls Who Had everything else, except that Babies and Anorexia tend to manifest more obviously) but she stands out in my mind because, to be blunt about it, she had kind of a fat stomach to begin with - she wasn't a fat girl, just had a big tummy - so me and a whole lot of people didn't even know she was prego until she actually left school and had it.

I think it was her ankle bracelet and her hair that made the bigger impression on me. I always wanted hair that long, and although hers was kinda ratty compared to a couple other girls with super long hair, I envied it. I'd wanted long hair my whole life, just like I'd always wanted to be named Sandy or Linda, but my hair had always been short and I figured it was as pointless to want long hair as it was to want my 'rents to change my name. I had very short hair the first two years of high school, I had never in my life had hair even to my shoulders, I didn't think it would grow even, until I was almost 16 and started putting my hair up every day with bobby pins in this ugly little bun, just to feel different I guess, and because when I took the pins out my hair would feel more elongated, stretched out. I think my mom might have told me, off the cuff one evening, the way she tossed bits of information that seemed unimportant to her but were crucial to me, that if I put my hair up every day, it would eventually grow long. And suddenly after a couple of months I had *gasp* Long hair! This made much more of an impression on me than when I grew breasts, because I didn't notice my breasts growing when I was 11 or 12, I was busy, I just looked down one day and there they were...I think it was the day I was sitting on the brickwork over at St. Clements with Kelli Galvin, who was totally flat-chested but had a Bermuda bag and a feather cut and wore lipstick and smoked, and she pointed out that I had huge boobs and should really be wearing a bra, and I looked down and she was right, I went straight into a 34 B cup by the end of the week. But the hair, I noticed it growing all right, it was a weird adjustment getting used to Having Hair. And I would never cut it off, even when I was the only punk chick down at the Shoop or the 'Front with it long and I worried that the other punx wouldn't take me seriously with my hair "wrong", but all those short hair cuts were just like the way my hair was my whole life till I was 15 and I remembered it was ugly on me and made me look old and nerdy. So I kept the hair long and the punx didn't seem to mind and guys liked it OK. I didn't cut it until I was 24 or so, I had it bobbed one summer and I felt totally weird and shorn and naked, and walking down the street to Lafayette Market kept looking at my strange reflection in all the store windows, and I grew it out as soon as possible and I still don't like to bob it so it stays mostly long, pinned up when necessary like my grandma. but I digress, let's see, we were speaking of Donna.

oh, and her ankle bracelet. she was the first girl I ever saw in person wearing one of those, a little gold one, which looked kinda weird with a school uniform because it pointed up the fact that she wore nylons to school instead of the normal sox that most every other girl did. And I immediately wanted an ankle bracelet myself and my mom just as immediately said NO, too sexy. I didn't see how but I wasn't getting one obviously and there were enough other battles to fight over makeup and high heels and virtually every other dang thing that weird Catholic parents can decide they have an issue with on a boring Saturday afternoon, that I didn't push it. Then when Donna had the baby, I vaguely wondered if her ankle bracelet had something to do with it. Not in a sense of luring some guy but as some sort of signal, signification, that this girl was more attuned to sex than the norm. There was nothing else blatantly sexy about her, she was attractive and had nice legs and breasts but she didn't run around falling out of her clothes or slathering on five pounds of makeup or anything. Just those nylons and that ankle bracelet seeming to communicate a secret. I didn't want to have sex myself at that point, the fear being that it would hurt, and the guy would ditch you right afterwards (all of which happened to my friend Lisa among others so I knew it was true and not some Old Catholic Mom Tale), and in the worst scenario you would get Pregnant which was a Huge Disgrace and would mess up your life Forever and everyone would point and whisper at your family and you might have to leave School and then you would never get a decent job or be independent. There were other girls who got Pregnant and literally disappeared from school almost overnight and were never seen again and we never found out where they went or what happened to them. But it didn't seem to bother Donna or her family that much. I remember them all outdoors by the statue in the schoolyard at some school function, Donna or her parents had brought along Donna's baby, it was a few months old, and she was bouncing it in her arms and teachers and classmates were going over to coo to it. And my mom was all like, That's shocking! It's a disgrace! That's an awful example to set for the rest of the girls!! Like we were all going to decide we wanted a baby too (like the ankle bracelet) and run out and Get One? I think I told Mom she was being silly and anyway it wasn't the baby's fault. And she started getting mad at me so I just let it be and felt annoyed inside like I always did in those days...

I sure didn't want a baby, they smelled and made noise and Ruined Your Life. I continued to think this well past the age when I could have had and cared for one on my own. When I was a kid in elementary school, and some mom or substitute teacher would bring in their baby, usually some classmate of mine's baby sis or bro, the teacher would always say, Let Mary hold it because she doesn't have any little brothers or sisters at home. Now I know that was partly because the teachers knew I was Responsible enough not to drop the brat on its head, but at the same time, I always wondered, Why Me Lord? I didn't want to hold those smelly helpless things, they weren't cuddly like kittens or puppies or guinea pigs or other cuddly little animals. They were un-fuzzy and wobbly and you had to hold their head a certain way or it would drop off apparently, and they reeked of sour milk and shit, and worst of all they drooled, which always made me want to gag. It has only been in the last few years, after a lifetime of Mopping Up after drooly, vomitous and/or poopy-butted cats and other pets and occasionally even Humans, that I have stopped thinking of Babies as completely disgusting barf-inducing drool machines and started seeing them as slightly cute. Of course, I wasn't allowed to say out loud in the classroom exactly how I felt about Mrs. Substitute's Baby, or So-and-so's Little Baby Sister, so I had to grit my teeth and pretend I liked the awful little horror OK till I could shove it back on its mom and sit down, and later go home and unload my frustrations to my mom who would just laugh quietly and say One Day You'll Feel Differently (which I really don't, or at least for many years didn't). I felt like the whole circus was some sort of insidious Catholic female programming, like zoos on TV that would try to train animals in captivity to act like moms by shoving a cub on their breast every day.

The worst part was that, even if I didn't want a baby because it would stink and get in the way of me having My Own Life, there is no way I would have been able to abort it if I had gotten pregnant. I don't just mean morally either - even if it was perfectly OK to get an abortion with no fear of hell, or I was able to sneak off somehow and do it without anybody, even God, finding out, I knew I personally wouldn't have been able to. I couldn't kill a baby, or a mass of protoplasm, or anything to do with Life, any more than I could smash a little kitten's skull or scoop a fish out of the fish bowl and watch it suffocate. I just could NOT do it. Especially if I had ever felt anything for its father at all. I have felt this way my whole life, I don't understand how anyone can have an abortion unless it was conceived through rape or incest or some non-loving way and would thus be a bad, bad trigger. (I realize other women feel differently so there is no need to remind me. This is about how I feel; if it bothers anyone, the door is over there *points*) There is a part of me that would have liked to have a baby, mewling and grotesque and huge responsibility and financial drain that it is, with every guy I ever loved, even if we were only "in love" for a couple months, even if it wasn't "real love", even if I know the dude would be a terrible or absent father. I have had to sit myself down often and logically lecture myself on how it is Not Fair To a Kid to conceive it with a guy who's not up for Fatherhood. And then be careful. And also lucky.

So. Nothing disgraceful ever "Happened" to me. No "outward manifestations", no crises requiring a visit to Planned Parenthood, nothing except a pissed-off dude here and there who got mad because I wouldn't put out under his specified conditions. (I was protecting myself, assholes, get that through your head, because I still hate you and think you deserve to be torn into little tiny pieces and thrown down a sewer grate for your lack of consideration for me.) But sometimes I still think about Donna and that baby. It would be graduating from college now, if it went. I think about that whole world of secrets that I couldn't get access to, never wanted access to, maybe just wanted a quick peek behind the door and then shut it because it was too much, too awful to contemplate at that point. Now I am old and nothing is too much, I've seen it all pretty much if not actually done it. But I still have my long hair. I still want to be thin. I still want an ankle bracelet.
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