Thursday, March 13, 2003

I have always lived here

You probably think I’m a stupid petulant spoilt child, a complaining brat, a self-absorbed child of privilege. And maybe I am. I really don’t know anymore.

I can only imagine what it is to have a normal life. Only when I imagine it, it’s like what I’ve seen on tv and in the movies, or like what I’ve read in books, and we all know how un-normal that is. Well, I know how un-normal that is. So many things get left out. What’s important to, say, me, may not be important to say, my mother, whom many of you know as Annette Browning, best-selling author, Oprah guest, celebrity Jeopardy champion, cancer survivor, consort of several famous male and female intellectuals and celebrities. Annette Browning, of the painfully sharp and elegant collar bone upon which rests the simplest and most beautiful strand of pearls, of the sexily unkempt lush black and gray hair, of the men’s trousers that look so goddam good on her that you all, well, a large number of you 30s-50s literary chicks, went out to the thrift store and purchased in droves and which later sat on the floor of your closet collecting dust and cat hair because none of you looked as goddam good as she could in those things, because you all have HIPS and she just has legs that go to her waist on the outside, and to her twat on the inside.

I have hips too. And I am short and stocky and I take after the pool boy and not the man who was married to my mother when I was born, and not the woman who was her wife shortly thereafter, the woman whom I grew up thinking of as dad. She played golf a lot, dad did. I saw a photo of the pool boy once when I was 13. My mother was lounging with her straps down and the pool boy was off to the side of the photo, skimming. This was by the pool. Poolside, as people say. It was 1970, a year before I was born, and my mother not yet pregnant was wearing a bikini and a gondola hat to keep the sun off her face. She was lounging, but she was working too. There is a thick stack of papers propped up on her thighs and she is holding a pencil and looking pensively down at the paper. She is probably working on her first published novel, “Doing More Damage.” Of course, being a trophy wife, a kept suburban woman, and the sexual and emotional exploits of, are something she knows much about. Makes sense that she could right a ‘novel’ that seemed so ‘realistic.’ I’m sure she figured her husband would be leaving her after the book was published, and she took that chance. But as it turned out, it took her kicking him out, calling the police, etc etc and all that stuff she outlined in her rather pre-mature autobiography, “Don’t Forget Your Lunch,” which you probably already know. That’s how I found out that my father was the pool boy. My friend Lila, her mother read the book, and Lila asked me about it at lunch one day and I started to choke on my sushi. It wasn’t Lila’s fault. I mean, who could know that not only did I not know, but that I hadn’t even read my mother’s book?

Honestly, though, there is no 13 year old girl in the world who wants to read what her mother writes about her and her family in an autobiography, especially if your mother is my mother.

Although she has publicly apologized, claiming that she thought she was dying of cancer. But I have a secret to tell you. A benign pre-cancerous tumor is not the same as cancer. One rarely dies from such a thing. Even at 13 I knew she was being a drama queen.

to be cont.


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