Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Witches of Greeponit

by Ed Lowe

The combined power of my mother and her sisters on the lapses in my sexual education and therefore my development astounds me to this day.

I am blessed with the conviction I am officially old, now; and if not that, that I even have died. Either way, I no longer am bound by rules of other dead members of my family, particularly females, which I have long been suspicious of, anyway.

(Some things just have to be told, and heeded by at least a couple of similarly misinformed wretches about to make fools of themselves for the next year or lifetime.

And no, I don’t think these are irrationality attributed to the Irish exclusively, and I suppose there are far worse attributed to all kinds of people, but I saw a conspiracy of shame and ignorance foisted on some of my fellows, let alone on me, and even if one in a hundred thousand males leaped through the twisted nonsense I suffered to please women, then show him these paragraphs and free him, forthwith.).

By the time I arrived on the scene, there were six surviving siblings in my mother’s family (one had survived almost ten years, a few died in childbirth or shortly thereafter), all girls except the oldest, Eddie (for a total of 13). All 5 of the girls to reach adulthood participated in the mythmaking, some with more enthusiasm than others, but I, more or less, was their experiment.

Their brother, my Uncle Eddie Dimond, who was 18 when his youngest sister was born, escaped as soon as a he could to be a band leader, for a while, with drummer Ozzie Nelson and his vocalist girlfriend, Harriet Hilliard, of later, “Ozzie and Harriet,” fame.

Uncle Eddie then became a Broadway stage manager for the next fifty years. There, I assume he shed some of more socially crippling myths, but I doubt he escaped altogether. I knew his three sons, and they have been similarly lost, though not nearly as lost as I, an only child.

I do know that all five of the sisters passed along the story that immediately following the birth of their last sister, Geraldine, Grandma—Maimie— their mother, made my grandfather, Thomas Patrick Dimond (really, “Grampa,” or, “Tom Pop,”) sleep in the hall, for the rest of his life. Even when Mamie’s hip broke and they lived with, “Aunt Gerry,” in Lindenhurst, they had separate rooms.

I can vouch for that, also, that his last words were to a hospital nurse: “Nice legs.”

Obviously, his sexual appetite was the cause of these maniacal chorus line members and child singers on New York’s radio stations. And, after 13 pregnancies, it had to be stopped.

That was the first clue I should have noted and filed in the cabinet of my brain marked “(?):”
“Sleeping in the bed with a man makes the woman who does it pregnant.” She would have no idea what, if anything, happened, but if she removed the man, the problem would be solved.

I would have added: “Remember this; ‘You are always to blame.’”

When I was small, and playing with my (female) cousins, I would stop and listen to my aunts crack each other up with stories of living over a speakeasy, and hosting out-of-town chorus girls—and, sometimes, out-of-town chorus boys (little did I know that certain boys could be trusted as much as girls) —in their crowded bedroom, while a fight broke out downstairs.
Everything was joyous and giddy and wonderful until somebody threw in a villain, a man, climbing on the fire escape, who wanted one thing, which everyone evidently knew, and everyone nodded about, but nobody revealed what it was. Be-not-mistaken, though, the drunker he was, the more he wanted it.

Listening intently to this, I wondered, “What is this, ‘one thing?’”

And then, the ominous warning to the future: “You know, Jeannie, you’ll be first. (What? Why Aunt Jeannie? First to what?) Your oldest daughter. (Yeah, my cousin, Georjean.). You watch. The boys’ll be sniffin’ around.” (I’m a boy. You talk like I’m not here. I’m here. What am I, “Sniffin’ around,” about. What are you saying?).”

Nobody would go any further. I was left with a man, probably evil, who wanted one thing, evidently one precious thing that girls want to keep, but nobody would reveal. And now, this evil would infect boys, causing them to go, “Sniffin’ around,” like a ferret.

What’s going to happen to my cousin Georjean? What’s going to happen to me?

For years, it seemed (probably weeks), I wondered what the, “one thing,” was. Using a clever (!) reversal, I detected (the only way I could go—detecting) that if man wanted to please a woman, to honor her, to make her laugh freely like the gathered aunts, to make her so happy she could hardly stand it, he would prove that, for her, he would deny himself this one thing, whatever it turned out to be.

He would be the hero. He would be the best. He would be…me.

My first conclusion was wrong, beer. Thank God. The final beer nearly killed me, but the other beers kept me sane for scores of years. The flaw in it was that I had no other information.

But look at it. There was beer at the ball game, at a parade, at bowling, at picnics, after mowing the lawn; there was beer across the street from every funeral parlor in history; there, on the train, in the bar car…why, there was no place where men went except church that did not include beer.

When I got older—not to mention when I noticed that my Aunts Kiki and Jeannie drank beer—I discovered that, “the thing,” was not beer, but sex.

Sex? I didn’t know exactly (…even remotely) what sex was, except that it was more complicated than beer and people were inclined to hide what they knew of it. However, that actually made achieving my goal even easier. I could give that up, because, while I was somehow attracted to it, and, frankly, always felt that I could become really good at it, I could not imagine myself being so bold as to initiate contact.

“You want to do what?”

So, I would show that I was not like other men. I had more than, “one thing,” on my mind. And, I would prove it. I would make a public vow not to have it. I would be celibate, which I understood was not doing something I didn’t know about anyway.

I would be a priest.

…to be continued (I don’t know when, though)…

No comments:

Post a Comment