Friday, March 11, 2011

Turn Home

A middle-aged friend was sexy as the 50s movie star whose name she bore. More the raspy-voiced type, though:  no mascara on blond lashes, weathered freckles to the wind. She both hated and loved the cigarettes we sucked down with gusto. Her eyes were cold blue fire ringed by the deep lines of the fair-skinned. Hair like a hot pepper, threaded with white. Curls ran riot over her forehead, demanding that short, fair freckled fingers swipe them aside. A wild band of eight half-grown, red-headed children encircled her endlessly. And orbiting them  --  errant soccer balls, exploding windows. Falling things. On the slopes, the mother with the paprika-colored hair rocked a pair of spandex ski pants  --  by keeping up with so many children aflame in sibling rivalry, most of them as big or bigger than she. To them, broken bones were simple facts of youth. Casts were tolerable nuisances. Crutches, for wimps.

Best of all, one of her eyes tended to wander. It was fantastic, enchanted  --  it betrayed her inner thoughts. Pitiable was the child who foolishly garnered its attention, but children were rarely the target of her ire. She was unflappable and ceaselessly kind, with children. Far more often, she’d be focused on a conversation with me, when one blue-jeweled orb would move on to an absurdity. And the truly absurd required an adult. A gross display of over-parenting at our children's school, or a lurid conversation across the room. Ugly gossip. Our talk would grind to a halt. On a hard-blown stream of smoke, she’d expel, “Some people don’t have enough to do.”

From elsewhere, Crash! Bang! Owwww Mommmmmmm!

The objects of all her red-headed passion called, and she had eyes only for them.

* * *

As will happen with busy mothers, circumstance eked us apart, and it's been many years since I've seen Marilyn. But she rises up in memory at the oddest times. As in, when I see the butt-ugliest elements of my country.

You there, spewing hate to those gentle women and their daughters wearing burkas. Some people don't have enough to do.

And you over there, with your mind so focused on another's sex life, that the vision of it pervades your every waking thought, misdirects your every wish for change into a fight against this "abomination" that so captures and enthralls you. Some people don't have enough to do.

And you, all of you with the guns in your hands. Aching so hard to be heroes, to fight and to perish as your forefathers, that you make up fantasies and believe them like boys in a tent. Playing pretend, with the firepower to leave real grieving mothers. Some people don't have enough to do.

Too much hate in some people, for them to know they’ve been eviscerated by such seemingly mild words. Blind, ignorant rage, in the name of “patriotism,” can’t really know what it is to love home and hearth. Or there wouldn’t be such time and energy, to joust with windmills.

As for me, when the absurdity starts to hurt too much, I turn inward, toward my own home, the place where the objects of my passion always return. Nowhere, and no one, is more deserving of my time and energy. I have enough to do.

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