I grew up telling it to whoever would listen—mostly that fell on my mother’s shoulders.
At the breakfast table, at the dinner table, I proselytized with the fervor of a repenting sinner. And it began when I was only three.
“Oh, oh, I‘m so be-cited!” I squealed like Horshach from Welcome Back, Kotter, after seeing my mom’s birthday cake all lit up with candles. “Nice pants,” I added, grabbing my pink, kid trousers for comfort.
We all have a need to tell it, the big events of our lives, the small moments of our days, but mine was based on the sheer anxiety of being in a body.
“It’s been dismal weather since you left—800 people hurt in the Chagrin Falls area because of flooding!” I wrote on a typewriter. My parents set it up to help me and my sister avoid withdrawals when they traveled for weeks in Europe.
“And a twig got caught in my leg when I was playing Capture the Flag and Dee, well…she just fell out of a tree after becoming terrified of a spider, and now she’s in the front yard on the ground.”
Though I wonder now about the accuracy of the number injured, obviously, I felt their pain and had to speak on it. Just as I did when I felt bad about the fact it felt so good to BE bad.
“Yesterday we went skating and after that we went to Barnhill’s and ate hot fudge sundaes and then we got fifty cents worth of candy. Ha Ha Ha Ha…P.S. Send us things!”
Yes, chocolate sometimes took me over the edge. One night when I was 16, I was dropped off at home by my Driver’s Ed. teacher after riding around in the back seat with my friend at the wheel. When I got out of the car in the dark with the headlights on full beam, I noticed I was having trouble walking. I looked down and spotted globs of melted chocolate in the crotch of my jeans. Embarrassment being the worst thing a teen body can go through, you know I had to tell about it.
Just as I needed to tell about the French fries that looked so good in the hot meal line in high school. And how I was too scared to go in it because it was the football and cheerleader line and No, I could not stand next to them, and how, oh how it all was…
The boy that was cute and my pants…how the cheerleaders looked under my stall in the bathroom when my pants were down and made fun of me when I had my period, not like they didn’t have one too, but there I was there was with my fifty-foot unwieldy pad. Even that, though not necessarily at the time, but in time. And oh, how it all came back.
How when I was eighteen, and soon to leave home for college, I drove the red family Pinto into the ditch one evening after a final outing with the girls. “Why don’t you wait until tomorrow to tell them when they won’t be able to tell you’ve been drinking?” one friend asked before I decided to wake my parents at 2am.
“Oh…guilt, and because I just have to tell them now. Right now.”
I have to get it out. Lest the thoughts remain on the spin cycle of my mind with the buttons jammed.
I can only imagine.
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