Saturday, January 19, 2013

Molly's Room

[From my journal, dated June 4, 1980. I was 20, Molly was 21. This was Molly's room in the house she shared with her dad, whom we called "King" (short for "King of All Fathers"). The house, which backed up to the arboretum in Seattle, was called "Baird's Home for Wayward Girls" because there were always a few of us flopping or living there]

I'm sitting on a double unmade bed in the middle of Molly's room; my back is pressed against the western wall, one of the four walls in Molly's geometrically square room. Balancing on my left little toe is a black push-button desk phone (which rings consistently by 9:00am every morning) swaddled in Molly's orange quilt like a shivering kitten. Besides myself and the phone, the bed is adorned with a stuffed blue worm named Hug'em, Molly's white overalls, a lavender sweater and her night shirt. On either side of the bed, like mismatched gargoyles marking the pathway to a crumbling castle, are night tables, one white wicker, the other a box tiled with mirrors.

Moving clockwise around the room, on the mirrored table have been left and forgotten: a stuffed miniature octopus with the expression a boy might have when peeping up a girl's dress for the first time, an invitation to a baby shower that happened 2 months ago, 3 baby-poop green candles - two of which have dripped like diarrhea down a side of the table, 2 tubes of Ortho-Gynol contraceptive jelly, 5 pennies, 3 bobby pins, a Longacres occupational permit, a box marked "My Offering" filled with envelopes, supposedly for her offerings, a yellow tray on which sits an adobe tea pot, a jar of honey, a honey jar lid, an ash tray overflowing with butts and one crisp joint (not yet smoked), a package of Wrigley spearmint gum wrappers  sans gum, a used snot rag, a spoon, a glass mug half empty of tea (last night there were also three other mugs, two in which microscopic cultures were growing. Molly said, "let 'em grow, maybe they'll get up and walk away." They must have done just that because they're gone).

Strewn about the floor are damp towels (possibly from last month), a lavender belt, 2 back issues of Cosmopolitan, a box of Kleenex, a marked-up Longacres racing program, a book by John Irving called "The Water Method Man," a Bell System Yellow Pages directory so big it should have carrying handles, a Longacres visor, a sea-green angora sweater, a picture of Molly and several other race track aficionados in the winner's circle, an acting paper she wrote last August, a six-inch bottle of Nivea skin oil, a pair of scrunched up nylons, a pair of coolie shoes, an electric blanket control device, an empty box of Chlor-Trimeton allergy tablets, a used band-aid and a hanger from the cleaners. That's to the direct left of the bed.

Against the north wall is a television stand upon which reside: a broken television, stationery, old magazines, an empty bottle of Valpolicella, a book about rhinoceroses, a small-scale replica of an Asian elephant, an empty honey jar and, on the wall, hangs a bizarre pseudo-primitive burlap hanging with pictures of deformed birds and lizards and a poster of the inside group portrait of Heart's "Dog and Butterfly" L.P. Between the T.V. stand and the north-eastern corner, but not against the wall, is a black chest which serves as a combination T.V. and clock-radio stand. The T.V (this one works) serves as a combination butter-knife and brown felt dress hat stand. Behind them, on the floor, is a never-been-used-but-often-fondled Yamaha CR-820 receiver, which in turn serves as a resting place for a brown paper bag with an old brass tea kettle in it.

In the N.E. corner leans an antique-ish love seat with tassels dangling from its bottom. On this chair is lounging a life-size Raggedy Anne doll and draped over her are a magenta skirt, a blue-print sundress, a pair of purple corduroy baggy pants with bleach stains, a Ziplock bag holding 2 cotton balls and 4 q-tips, a wool scarf and a comb. Above Raggedy Anne's head on the wall hangs a W.S.U. cushion used at football games to keep one's buns from numbing.

Now, moving to the center of the room, facing east, we find the area of densest mass. Taking up the better part of the eastern wall is a window which, in abnormal circumstances, lets in the sunrise and greenery that surrounds the house en masse, but it's always covered by a tan sheet which hangs in a rectangle over most of the window. On the window sill rests a photograph of a pair of time-battered sneakers, a bunch of cord, books whose titles range from "The Forest People" to "Rubyfruit Jungle," and a red paper bag containing paper. Tacked to the right upper corner of the window frame is a program guide for the Harvard Exit Theater. Near the window but not quite against it is a lime sherbet green desk with brass handles, and on that desk is: a pile of bills, a bottle of Elmer's rubber cement, sunglasses, a see-through plastic belt, a doo-dah pin [the Longacres ditty at the time, think "Camptown Races"], a French grammar workbook, "Fool's Die," by Mario Puzo, a folded-up coat, hat or towel rack, a curling iron, an ash tray sprinkled with ashes and 2 half-smoked cigarettes, a shoe, a notebook, a psychedelic paper stage for "Sleeping Beauty," a pencil with a broken lead, a social security card, a box of spark plugs, a match book from Hector's, a huge greeting card from Molly's sister to her mother for last year's birthday, a chaotic checkbook, a flat desk calendar and a flier telling about a brown bag lecture series in ethnic studies. I dare not venture inside the desk.

With the desk goes a wrought-iron chair acting as a clothes hanger for a grey dry-clean-only skirt, a pair of black velvet pants, a turquoise silk Gloria Vanderbilt sweater and a sheepskin jacket. Between the bed and the desk, on the floor, are random, undefined piled of clothes, some clean, some dirty (Molly says she knows which are which), more towels, a package of hosery, a pair of sandals, the lids of two big cooking pots - both yellow, saddle shoes, stationary embossed with "kisses 'n hugs," a plastic, empty, yellow shopping bag, a racing form, an open suitcase left with only a pair of purple pants from a recent trip to California, a brown plastic garbage bag overflowing with garbage, more shoes, panties, bobby socks, a black Danskin, a matchbook from Hector's, a book on medieval cookery entitled, "Fabulous Feasts," a box filled with cooking utensils brought back from Pullman in the summer of '79 and an empty Bon Marche bag.

On the right of the desk is a wooden chair with a wicker back and a fraying wicker bottom, providing a deep hole, like a toilet, for one to sit in - that is, if you'd dare to. On the chair is: a back issue of Cosmopolitan almost sliding through the bottom and antler's growing from the back of the chair. In the southeastern corner of Molly's room is a closed suitcase, a hamper bag full of unwanted clothes and a script for "Play it Again Sam."

On the south wall, near the corner, is a poster of the album cover from "The Stranger," by Billy Joel. Beneath that is a wooden chest of drawers where numerous articles have been discarded: a shoe box containing old cards and receipts, a puny tube of Colgate, an empty bottle of Chanel Cristalle spray fragrance, lipstick, a dime and a nickel, a used Kleenex, an invitation to some extravaganza in California from Molly's grandma, an empty 8oz. can of Tab (with cigarette butts in the bottom, no doubt), an unused container of Johnson's baby oil, a much-used container of Johnson's baby powder, a tube of cuticle remover, a bottle of Sweeta concentrated sweetener, a box containing a broken string of pearls, an earring, some tacks, junk mail, jewelry, a tampon (fortunately unused), a can of Off insect repellent, a bottle of Aramis spray cologne, a wooden dresser drawer knob, hair clips and 3 bottles of finger nail polish.

To the right of the dresser, just before the door, is a plastic milk crate filled with sweaters of assorted colors. Past the door and between the closet door on the southern wall on the floor (you're not gonna believe this), among the scattered clothes (some of them mine), are 2 open suitcases half unpacked with clothes from Molly's week-long drunk in Pullman 3 weeks ago, another towel (orange), an empty paper Nordstrom's bag, a make-up bag upon which is written in seeming children's crayon "molly molly molly (etc)," a pair of leather driving gloves, another Longacres racing form, heels, flannel blue and red and white vertical-striped p.j.s, a pillow tossed probably in the middle of a restless night, a rolled-up bag with a psychedelic patchwork print keeping manicure set and precious keepsake rings and necklaces, more shoes, an unopened package of purple thread, a sexy support bra, a pair of knit-looking nylons and a scrumpled dry cleaners bag.

To the immediate right of me, on the lacy wicker nightstand is: a Sucrets box, a broken pencil, a safety pin, a Cars and a Steven Stills and a John Klemmer tape collecting dust there since January. Part of the west wall consists of a door, on my right, which blocks the exit to the roof of the carport. And completing the end of this unkempt square, to the left of the bed and above the mirrored night stand is a window - both door and window always discouraging daylight with their stuck-up, turned up Venetian blinds.

The walls that I have up to now been exploiting for directional purposes are remarkably, purely white. From the spotless ceiling, above the top corner of the open door, dangles a Shell no-pest strip that is beyond its days of zapping pests but blends in nicely with the atmosphere of the room. Molly's room reeks of that "lived in" quality I love so much.

Of course, the portrait of Molly's room wouldn't be complete without Molly. Oh, and here she is, breathing dreams and stardust à côté de moi, and I think I'll join her (why, are you coming apart?)

(Camera fades back with a wide-angle shot of the room as author puts book and pencil next to a pineapple-print blouse on the floor and turns out the light).

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Vestiges & Keepsakes

It's the wee hours on a clear, crisp night, about 17 degrees. The sky is black enough - even in Uptown - to see Orion and his neighbors tonight. I just got back from dancing at a club I hadn't been to before, the Paraiso Lounge. The band was the one that plays at Famous Dave's on Tuesdays, and I recognized a few regulars in the crowd.

I've been dancing a lot since I moved out, sometimes several times a week but about once a week on average. Busted some major moves on Monday night, New Year's Eve, to some great 70s soul - Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Boz Scaggs, Michael Jackson, Tower of Power - you get the drift. So fun because I was with a couple friends who could keep up. The sleeper was Larry, dirty dancer extraordinaire. Who knew?

Tonight's Friday, and although I was tired from a long week of partying, I hate to waste a weekend night. I stopped at Flo and Bonnie's, who were not ready to retire the holidays and hosting a few folks for
after-sunset cocktails, then came home for a quick nap before freshening up, pulling on a a black velvet jacket and black and pink lace leggings and boots and heading down Lake to the club. Latin dancing requires a little machismo to deflect the rejections. I don't think it's polite to turn down an offer to dance, even if you suspect the person asking isn't a good dancer. But Hispanic men have no qualms about begging off when you ask them to dance. They no wanna salsa with no gringa who probably can't move her hips to the ritmo. It takes a second to shake it off - I'm not made of steel - and try another option.

Tonight I stood and watched while I sipped my drink through the first several songs, noting all the voluptuous big booties already writhing on the floor. Lots of the girls dress is tight, short dresses, exposing as much skin as is legal. They are mostly Latina, gorgeous, curvaceous, mounds of cleavage shimmying beneath the leering eyes of their partners. It's a little intimidating. I dressed like that when I was their age, but I don't believe in reducing myself to a mere object of desire anymore. I do sexy, I just can't do naked, not for any man, unless he's that naked, too.

A man with a thick mustache asked me to dance. He looked like Edward Almos, wearing a dark fedora, red guayabera, white pants and shoes. His salsa was slow and not very creative, but it was a good warm-up, built up my confidence to take a turn around the room and pick out other partners.

I took some great turns with several decent dancers through a couple sets, then asked Senor Almos to dance again. - a slight miscalculation. I had forgotten he was a slow dancer, and this time he just pressed me against himself and swayed back and forth. It's not unusual to dance close, do a little grinding. But this time, there it was, a big limp dick hanging down the left side of his leg, rubbing against my right leg. I backed off as much as I could while remaining in his embrace. When the dance was done he didn't even look at me as I walked off in disgust.

That need to remain polite in the face of such crudeness is a vestige of my girlhood. I am usually my bravest protector, but sometimes I choose not to fight the battle. It's what I did for much of my early sexual years, just go with the flow, love the one you're with and all that. It probably got me into a little hot water at times, but through so many experiences, things never got really dangerous. Even during the years I was hitchhiking, I'd get picked up mostly by men and, although there was always a special request (which was never granted), things never got scary, I was always able to charm my way out of it. I've also never it let it offend me when someone makes unwanted or relentless sexual advances. I usually consider it a compliment.

But these days I'm much more direct with my intentions, letting the guy know in no uncertain terms my level of interest. I'm no angel, as Greg Allman once sang, I'm no stranger to the dark. But I'm trying to be honest, even though I don't always attain perfection.