Monday, October 12, 2009 HER words

About a month ago I promised to post some of Melissa's quotes from when she
was in the hospital - all funny, of course. But I just found this - she wrote
it sometime last year (because she mentions being 30). This will be the
beginning of the book-whenever I get to it.
If you don't know Fort, or have only known her as an adult - (I guess you could
call her that - she was a kid at heart ALWAYS)....this gives you some insight into
her "formative" years, and I guess explains why she is what she is....(or was what
she was).


Im doing it again. Going back as far into my memory banks as I possibly can, to dissect every awful thing I have ever done, ever said. When horrible things happen to people, or at least when they happen to me, I sit back and try to figure exactly which moment did it. Where did we go wrong?

My earliest childhood memory of being an asshole, was in kindergarten. There was a boy in my class, and he was poor. Or at least he looked poor. And I decided that I didn’t like him. Im thirty years old and I still feel awful about it. Ive never had much of a spine when it comes to social or professional confrontation, and sometimes I wonder if its from the conditioning I got in the form of a verbal smack-down from Mrs. McVey when I decided to “go off” on this poor kid. By “going off”, I really have no idea what I said.

As an adult, I get so wound up and guilty about it, I start to imagine that I, as a five year old, stood up on my chair and read off a laundry list of the reasons why poor people would have such a hard time succeeding in this world. “Your mother is uneducated and doesn’t bathe you regularly, which will enevitably lead to your growing self-esteem issues, a future drug problems, professional struggles. Your abusive father is teaching you that love is dispersed by cigarette burns and slaps upside the head, which you will undoubtedly pass on to your own children.”

No joke. This is how I imagine it, and it makes me feel like shit. In reality, I was probably just being a brat. How much does a five year old know anyway? Maybe I just told him I wasn’t going to share my crayons. Or maybe I really did get nasty and say, “I don’t like you.” I have a hard time imagining a five-year old spouting off the hate my guilty conscience likes to try and convince me I was capable of, but for some reason, that event stays with me. Perhaps it was the memory of turning around and seeing Mrs. McVey looking down with a disappointed look. Ive been uncomfortable “going off” on anyone since.

I pretty much played it straight through elementary school if you don’t count the endless torment on my younger brother. But I don’t feel as guilty about that one. Once Nick hit puberty, his retaliation was swift and violent, and when what used to be a simple battle over a remote control landed my ass getting drug into the front yard by my hair, still clutching those remote controls, I realized my reign of terror was now over.

I then found new ways to torment my brother. He may have been strong, but he was (and still is) more emotional than most pre-menstrual women. A friend once

Road Trip

Its definitely one of the top five meanest things Ive ever done to somebody. And Im pretty sure I regret undoing it, because sometimes squeezing a bakery grade donut jelly filling into someone’s nasty work shoes can be the perfect justice.

I began my tenure at Stan the Donut Man at the tender age of fourteen. I had successfully opened up plenty of free time at the end of my 7th grade year by offering myself up to the social guillotine and cutting my own hair so super short that the “cute wedge” I was going for actually ended up sloping off my neck at a ninety degree angle where it met a wavy plateau of hair on top, much resembling a Tour de France helmet.

I specifically remember the one adult who “Oooh-ed” and “Ahhh-ed” over it. She was the girlfriend of one of my dads softball teammates, and looking back on it, Im pretty sure she was drunk. Everybody knew it looked awful, but I managed to keep a steady brood of friends around, and things weren’t so awful.

That was before my hairdo inspired one of the 8th grade football players in French class to christen it “The Millenium Falcon”, one of films greatest spaceships. To be truthful, I was actually relieved. “Millenium Falcon” sounded so much better than “Spaceship Head”, and as someone who always appreciated a good moniker, I secretly applauded the sharper of the two athletes who finally blurted it out after the other couldn’t get more creative than “Spaceship Head”. Even as the target of ridicule, I tried to embrace it. After all, it was my mistake, and crawling in a hole wasn’t going to make the situation any better.

By my freshman year, the nickname had evolved, as all nicknames do, to simply, “Falcon”, and when I made the freshman softball team and it was time to decide what would go on the back of my jersey, the decision was clear. Oh yeah, and I sucked at softball. Still do.

So there I was. Fourteen, with a severely pathetic social life and a weekend gig at the Donut shop down the road. I worked one weekend and quickly turned around and left Ohio with my family on a three-week cross-country road trip to California.

The Donut Man’s menu was daunting. Forty cents for yeast donuts…..Forty-five for filled….donut holes were ten cents…..a dozen donuts with no filled was two-seventy-five, but if you had a filled donut in the mix it was three-fifteen….specialty danishes (Apple Fritters, Davey Crocketts & Bow Ties) were fifty-five cents and so on. I sat at the counter and diligently wrote down all prices and took it with me on my vacation and would pull it study it. I wasn’t going to fuck this up. No way.

The three-week road trip with my parents and brother Nick, who was entering the 7th grade, took the counter-clockwise route northwest. Mt. Rushmore, The Badlands and Bear Country USA seemed to occur in the beginning.

Mt Rushmore was one of the first stops. We all think of that maintenance guy rapelling down the nose of George Washington and you think Mt. Rushmore is going to block out the sun when you arrive. But the observation deck is far from the actual side of the carved mountain, and it just seemed a bit smaller than I expected. Each night they light up the side of the mountain and play “America the Beautiful”….or maybe it’s the National Anthem. I cant even remember.

I do recall camping out while we were visiting Mt. Rushmore, and I also remember my mother coming down with some sort of stomach cramp so bad that dad had to take her to a hospital. Nick and I stayed at the campsite. While I don’t remember specifically, it’s a safe bet that Nick was playing GameBoy and I was making friendship bracelets. I don’t know why we didn’t go in support of our mother. The obvious answer is that while we were generally labeled as “Good Kids”, we were in junior high, and even “Good Kids” in junior high are usually selfish, insensitive assholes.

As a grown up insensitive asshole, I still can’t even recall what was wrong with her or how she got better in a day. My father had spent an entire year planning this three week trip, so perhaps it was the threat of being left in South Dakota.

Mom came back to the campsite after a trip to the local hospital that was manned by one nurse and a baby in the nursery. Had to call the doctor in.

The next day was Bear Country USA, one of the sleeper hits of the entire trip. We slowly rode through the park in our standard issue light blue Dodge Caravan, heads on swivels, enjoying nature the way God had intended, behind barbed wire. Of the fifty plus hours of footage from this trip, Bear Country USA steals the show.

Upon a large rock sat a huge bear who had a Jabba the Hut quality about him. Eyes closed, he batted flies from his face with his tounge, opening his mouth like a puppet. My brother wasted no time inserting words into the bears mouth, and we all giggled like school girls at my brothers complete comedic ingenuity. He spoke with the deep voice that king Jabba-bear would have. The video is priceless, or it was priceless. I don’t know how funny it would be today. My standards have improved considerably since then.

But make no bones about it, Nick’s remote ventriloquist act with a captive bear didn’t hold a candle to what lie around the corner.

Its best told from the Sony camcorders perspective. Footage is rolling, mom is at the helm ensuring the trips soundtrack is a constant rotation of Kenny G, Michael Bolton, and Luther Vandross.

Suddenly, from the back, you hear my discovery verbalized in a chorus of “OhmyGods”.

“OhhhhMiGod, Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God.”

If memory serves, you hear my mom let out a belly laugh before the camera quickly turns to the woods, and focuses in a big bear mounting a much smaller bear not to far off into the woods.

Interestingly, none of us wanted to stop watching. While I never remember having an actual “Sex Talk” with mom or dad, I like to think of this moment as our unintended family Sex Talk. While our parents didn’t go into specifics, they blurted out one-liners that I like to think was there way of teaching us the finer points of the birds and the bees.

Out of my fathers mouth, right out of the gate, “We could probably take this home and sell it to some sickos!”

LESSON LEARNED: Sex footage of any kind, even bear sex, can be used to make a profit.

Mom didn’t hold back either. “She’s probably sayin’, GET OFFA ME!”

LESSON LEARNED: Women don’t like sex. Or maybe, women don’t like “Doggy-Style” sex. (Is it even called “Doggy-Style” if bears are doing it? These lessons weren’t going well)

Dad then adds, “Beige, I think Ill paint the ceiling beige.”

LESSON LEARNED: Even as a soon to be 9th grader, I could imply this meant that women were bored with having sex with men.

My mother laughed, and I began to think that this was a quote from a movie I had never seen. Dare I ask? I probably wouldn’t get a straight answer anyway. My childhood was a fog of taping movies on television and watching them over and over and over again. Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, and Bachelor Party easily take the top three prizes for most overplayed movies in our household.

Of course our version of Bachelor Party was the vanilla cable version, soaped up, sex and curse-free. We were, however, lucky enough to watch some of the “adult situations” that left me scratching my head.

Even if you don’t know what a “Cleveland Steamer” or a “Dirty Sanchez” is, most people know not to ask a parental figure what they are. You just know its not something appropriate. But what if you don’t know a word is inappropriate? For me, that word was “porno”.

In a scene in the Bachelor Party, the wives and girlfriends of the men who are planning the bachelor party, sabotage the “pornos in Rick’s trunk” by taking them and splicing out all of the “good stuff”. I didn’t know what a porno was, so of course, I didn’t know what the “good stuff” they were cutting out of it.

It seemed innocent enough. I was a curious 4th grader. I approached my mother in hopes of solving this mystery.

“Mom? What’s a porno?”

Pam looked down at me, pensive. This was going to be good. She couldn’t deny me this information. After all, I was the pre-schooler who told announced to my class that my “Dad takes pictures of my mom with no clothes on”. She certainly would benefit by having a well-informed child.

She cocked her head and squinched her eye, confused.

“You know? I don’t really know.”

And I believed her. I was still pretty confused, because my mother was a smart lady, and it didn’t make sense to me that something talked about so casually on a blockbuster movie was so clearly a mystery to her, but I left it at that.

So there we were, bonding as a family, videotaping animal porn and learning some of life’s most important lessons.


Karyn said...

I am laughing and crying! I can hear her through her words....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. My day has now started on a good note, with laughter in the air, and a smile on my face. :-)
I wish I would have had the pleasure of meeting Melissa.....she really was and still is a beautiful person.

Netti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Netti said...

hahah I love it!!! Thanks for sharing Pam!

Misti said...

I miss you so much Fort. You are still making me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Fort is an amazing writer...I miss her


I loved that story! Thanks for sharing!

Lola said...

It was like I could hear her reading it out loud. Such a profound way with words. Loved it!. Love her!