The Wonderful World of Dizzy

Thoughtful Woodland Sprite - Tomorrow Awaits

On the drive into camp Stella was buoyant. So was I. The impossible ocean rustled and shone in the near distance, a scratched azure slate the color of a pastille; something to put in your mouth. A certain university campus loomed on its bluff to the right, fake-stately and blank-faced in the sun, the dumb buildings and plazas and towers and self-regarding architectural flourishes as muted as the gestures of an embarrassed arriviste. The helpless minutes are pouring by. In time the mighty university library will be a fallen H.G. Wells ruin of lost provenance, even the far-flung disabled Eloi no longer around to play stupidly amid the disintegrating books. The sea will still be turning there, throwing itself at the denuded shore, the sun not our sun but a swollen dying furnace near the end of its epoch. Stella will be gone by then, me too. Gone. So absolutely gone we will not even be forgotten. It’ll be as if neither I nor my sunburned, radiantly alive little girl were ever here at all. This stupidity pierces me, the bland cosmological fact of our nearly virtual transience. Look at her aimlessly grinning profile, her camp baseball cap, her sun-streaked hair. We aren’t here. My girl my girl my girl my girl o my little girl o my unknowing little girl with the sparkling v-shaped smile and barking laugh and nascent hourglass figure, I love you too too much. Why do we have to go?  Where are we? Where are we going? What have we been before? Where were we? How did we luck into this incandescence? Look how our paths crossed, Stel. Wherever we were 10,000,000,000 years ago, this morning we’ve arrived, two pinpricks of fleeting thought and laughter only momentarily suspended in a ray of sun. We’ll always be Stella and Dad, we’ll never be Stella and Dad again.

‘When is that guy you like coming back from his vacation?’

‘I don’t know,’ she said, shrugging lightly with an almost convincing nonchalance..

“You excited to see him?’

‘He has a girlfriend,’ she said without ceremony.

‘…he has a girlfriend?’

‘Yeah. But…I don’t care,’ she said, shrugging again, more emphatically. She angled her face away from mine. I glanced. She was staring at the dashboard, her little jaw set in an unmistakable attitude of resignation. My throat seized. O my little girl! This is the stuff! Here comes the flood tide! It’s what people are for.

Stel, your mortal life awaits like an unlit movie set. When the movie is over you’ll join the ether. It’s that simple. For now you’re almost ready for your closeup, sweetheart. You can’t know this yet. It’s a short feature. Look around the sound stage. It’s littered with glory.  The Battle of Thermopylae, Debbie Reynolds singing ‘Tammy’, Groucho, Neil Armstrong flubbing his line and hopping like a bunny, da Vinci, Peter Gabriel, Judy Garland hunched in form-fitting black, spotlit, cropped black hair throwing sweat as she reaches for the note, inoperable cancers, the middle east, the far east, Clint Eastwood in ‘Two Mules for Sister Sarah’, Sam Peckinpah, the last afternoon of the last Neanderthal, Thomas McGuane, the Fall of Rome, the Cambrian Explosion, Johnny Mercer, the Impact Event, Harold Lloyd, Sartre, Ava Gardner, Saul Bellow, Anthony Newley, Bob Mould, Neil Aspinall, Stu Sutcliffe, Henry Mancini. The world is huge and doesn’t pause. Imagine what you will. Expansive fields of waving grasses and dark-skinned strangers walking there, absolutely unaware of you, people sitting down to eat all over the world, children pushing toys under beds, then naked children sprinting down sun-dappled forest paths; Hawk faced George Gershwin massaging a Steinway and glancing coyly over his shoulder – the grand, straight unbrowed nose, the slight underbite. Enola Gay, Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, Nouakchott and Wilmington kiss in the night, Henry Fonda, the Marianas Trench, Steve McQueen, Dana Andrews. Jimmy Stewart collapsing atop a paper-strewn table and sliding to the floor. Noel Coward, Glen Matlock, Isaac Newton, Andy Partridge, the Magna Carta, the first bird, the first fish, Gene Kelly, the hasty burial of Pompeii, Dodge City, Verdun, Auschwitz, Cary Grant walking off into a snow-filled evening, Caligula, Captain Kangaroo, Franco Nero as Lance, Dresden on fire, Gene Kelly again, Nelson Mandela, and a distinguished pack of tuxedoed figures standing around a brilliantly underlit emerald swimming pool in the dead of a desert night, pinching martini glasses and tossing heads back congenially, in laughter, free hands in pockets, backs arched, knees bent slightly; the orgasmic synchronous bomburst of everything happening, and having happened, everywhere, every second, even as our dear tormented rock pirouettes lazily through an empty living room.  In the company of all this gorgeous mayhem, a dumb little kiss, your very first, Stel. It will infinitesimally slow the stirring of the stars. I believe this. I BELIEVE IT.

Stel, we’re 2 molecular swerves, two frequencies made flesh, anomalous waveforms, Fancy Children of Christ, bumps in the night. We’re the same age, the same dust and water. We’ll very soon return to the mix. You, my temporary angel. I don’t like to think about it. The day is not long enough. This time I’m your dad and you’re my adored, adorable Stella. Next time, who knows? I can’t hug and kiss you enough. We’re alive we’re alive we’re alive we’re alive we’re alive, honeybun. Small matters of the heart will outlast us and the galaxies. That’s not made up. What we Feel is as large as all of outer space, Stellie, all this black velvet jewel box is a boring hole in time compared to a kid’s awakening heart, compared to you and me in this car under this sun. We look at each other and laugh. That’s no illusion. We’re stardust. We’re elementals. Just forget that two-timing 6th grade lothario, sweetie.

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Stonewalled No Longer

Supreme Courtship

My fam just returned from a terrific weekend spent with two married men; married to each other, of course. Great-looking, culturally informed wits (if I may briefly throw my lot in with the stereotypists), skilled parents, laconic commentators on the current bonfire, and most importantly this weekend, boat-owners.  I have nothing culturally significant to add to the flood of typing that has erupted in the wake of the recent and historic death of DOMA, but to say that the dizzy and doomed legislation, when named aloud, sounds like the inarticulate threat one might puzzle over in the instant before being punched in the face by the idiot school bully after 6th period. By the bike rack. (yeah – he warned me. who knew?)

We zipped around a lake in a sleek motorcraft of some kind, occasionally towing behind us, in an inflatable SeaDoo, my 11 year-old daughter and one or both of their kids, and more occasionally my easily nauseated but otherwise particularly manly 17-year old son. Our kids clutched the pitifully small handles of the inflatable torture device till their hands cramped. Their kids had arms raised in the manner of rollercoaster show-offs. This says nothing about the B.F. Skinner distinction between kids raised by two dads and those raised by one mom and one hesitant coward. Does it?  Behind the speed boat, buffeted by a rocketing flume of water, becoming madly and unpredictably airborne in the boat’s wake, and at the distant end of their wildly swinging nylon rope, the kids (mine) engaged in lots of hand across the neck gesturing, international maritime signal for ‘slow this ****** down or you’ll see my turkey and lettuce sandwich atop a bile geyser’.

By sheer happenstance this planned weekend at our friends’ lake house coincided with the historically raucous days immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision to give their long-awaited blessing to some of the clearest common sense ever waved into law by a panel of ostensible constitutional scholars. That it took this long to Enact the notion that you can’t legally be a jackass to some and nice to others just because you feel scared or nervous….it says less about our nation’s imperfect charter than it does about the frightened, kittenish morons we humans are, despite our mostly honest efforts not to be. We try, and very recently we have been trying harder. That little extra effort has CHANGED WHOLE LIVES NOW. LIKE A FINGER SNAPPING. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT? WHY DOES THIS CRAP TAKE SO LONG?!!!! The parades and celebrations are tempered by the absence of those who couldn’t make the rehearsal, felled in the decades of utterly needless sorrow now ended by glib judicial fiat. Let’s try a little harder a lot more often. Our hosts this weekend were quietly celebratory, not triumphalist. They’ve been married awhile. They read with muted anger of the spontaneous, nearly algorithmic reflex-effort by a coalition of overwrought attorneys to get the Supreme Court to vacate its own decision. We are desperate bird-brains, all of us.

Well. Our cross-dressing Supreme Court, whose billowing black mumu could use an update, has spoken. They’ve essentially pointed at a cat and proclaimed amid trumpets and fanfare, after many decades of teen and adult suicide in this country, deaths by beating, and generalized soul-ruining mayhem, “IT’S A CAT.” Our be-robed, wizened village elders have spoken.

Thanks.

Sturm und Drang. While DOMA wasn’t about stopping people being singled out for beatings, surely a legal pronouncement of this scale augurs change all up and down the acceptance strata. Meanwhile, these Two Dads (as they would be known in a controversial oft-banned book about same-sex parents), like parents everywhere, have their hands full; they have to drag their kids off the electronics, exhort them to walk the dog, clean their rooms, empty the trash; THE MARVELOUS GOLD-LEAF NORMALCY THAT WE LUCKY HETEROS HAVE BEEN VARIOUSLY DRUBBED AND EXALTED BY THESE MANY YEARS. Married with Children. Now our willing gay guys and dolls can have the connubial experience of sitting bolt upright in bed at 4am of a particular morning and shouting hoarsely into the dark, “HOLY SHIT!! I’M MARRIED!!!! Welcome, Moms and Dads of the New Vanguard. If you figure out how to get your kids to brush before bed, like, every night? for g*d’s sake, SHARE!

Final note, apropos of absolutely nothing: at the end of our lake day I asked one of our hosts if the motor on a Jet Ski was an inboard or outboard motor. Was the propeller perhaps concealed inside the machinery?  He regarded me with an arched eyebrow.

“Neither. It’s a jet.”

Oh. Right. Cheers, mate.

Nancy Sinatra Jr.

Nancy Sinatra Jr.

A sun-drenched Saturday and I ask my 11-year-old daughter if she wants to go out and get donuts.

“Yes!” She disappears into her room for 10 minutes, emerging in an outfit that would make Paris Hilton stammer. Her short-shorts are so tiny that at a glance she looks like a semi-nude dwarf in a cummerbund. She’s wearing dark brown pointy boots that reach halfway up her bare legs. I’d hoped to grab a glazed donut with my adorable 5th grader, not Barbarella.

“What…why are you dressed like that?”

“…like what?”

I want to say “Like the Diminutive Saucy Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s forgotten classic ‘Self-Actualized Girl Gangs of Oz'”.

“I don’t know if you should dress like that to go out with me to get donuts.”

“Why not? This is how I dress.”

“I….uh.”

She’s right, of course. Any weekend you can see it at the city parks, a Bruegel riot of swarming go-go dancers and their bedazzled/stupefied preteen male counterparts, struggling to grasp a feminine mystique that will yet elude them even as their teeth sneak away and they are felled by old age.

“Dad, let’s just go-ah!”

We go. Walking into the donut place I feel the accusing eyes of all affronted patrons are on Stella, this strutting half-pint Bardot who has just learned how to add fractions. In reality no one blinks. A couple of the patrons glance up from their newspapers and smile warmly.

“Morning.”

“Morning!”

Was that ‘morning’ or ‘mourning’? I fear the presence of a Child Protective Services mole at one of the tables, pretending to read the morning paper while secretly talking into his lapel. ’Ethically bankrupt dad has just entered restaurant with underage member of the Tom Jones Dancers. Send backup.’ If I had a moral compass it would be spinning like a mad propeller. I feel I can telepathically register the thinking of the rest of the angry fritter-wielding mob.

>We’re so sorry for your loss.<

What loss?

>The loss of the responsible partner in your charade of a marriage, who while alive would have known better than to let her daughter walk around like that in public.<

She’s not dead, she’s at the gym this morning.

>Oh. That explains it. Also, good parental modeling. While your wife is at the gym trying to improve her body and spirit, you are here with mini-Racquel, buying her a raised glazed.<

…to which I have no cogent telepathic response.

Tonight again I’ll read Laura Ingalls Wilder to my daughter while she sleeps, and one of these glorious mornings she’ll awaken and put on the neck-high frontier dress I bought from SwinginGingham.com. I just know it. There is hope.