Well, I grew up in Salt Lake City in the early 70’s. First off, I’ll say I know what a Jew felt like in Nazi Germany, before the ‘Night of the Broken Glass’. If you are not Mormon, people hate you, they’ll try to run you outta town. You look like everyone else, but there is no way any of them will ever accept you. So, you are always considered an outsider, and you were not allowed to do anything that has anything to do with Mormonism. You were not allowed in any of the religious buildings, and every building was a religious building, everything weaved in and around the church. The whole society was like an old buddy system of, ‘my family knows your family’, a Mormonism club. And, if you’re not a Mormon then you can’t get in. Most of the kids were big bullies and they were always teasing me. They would always mess with my personal belongings and ridicule me, humiliate me, and set me up so that people would laugh at me in public, basically.
It was getting close to Valentines Day one year, we were all making Valentines and I wanted to really make sure that these kids liked me. I wanted at least someone to like me. So, I brought Donnie Osmond posters and expensive candy to make them like me. At the end of the day after everyone exchanged Valentines, there was none for me. God, I started crying, I was really sad. I couldn’t understand why no one gave me a Valentine, so I asked the teacher. She said ‘what makes you think you deserve our love, gentile?’ She told me that they did not love me, that God didn’t love me, and that I didn’t deserve Valentines. I cried, and went home and told my mom and dad. They told me to buck up and not show them I was weak. I was supposed to continue on and just take it, and act like it didn’t affect me, I guess?
My mom and dad came from Ohio. My dad came from Toledo, and my mom came from some rich place. She grew up next to the infamous Dr. Sam Sheppard, who everyone thought killed his wife, which was the claim to fame of her house. My dad was a third generation German, the type who knew how to do all sorts of things. During the depression, all the people of the town relied on his people for food and resources and clothes. They fixed cars, they were real into doing things with their hands. They knew all types of things about tools and how to fix anything.
My mom’s family was snootier, like ‘Ick! We don’t eat ice cream out of mixing bowls!’ One time my uncle came down for dinner, and he told us we weren’t dressed properly, and that we were all going to grow up and go to jail. My mom and dad both fit the mold for what was handsome. They got together and were like the big hot couple of Toledo. Then, the war came and dad went off, mom stayed behind and entertained the soldiers, ha, ha, seriously. It was the big band era, and it was the biggest time of their life. They never got over that era, everything paled by comparison. Then, they started doing the downward spiral into the drain pipe.
I went to high school in Louisville, ‘Ken-tuck-ee’, for all four years. It was a miracle, since we moved a lot because of my dad’s job as a traveling salesman, he sold heating and air conditioning shit. We were asked to leave places often because of my brother, Rob. He was sort of a juvenile delinquent. My dad dreamed of having a boy, and when Rob was born it went all wrong. My dad was disappointed that he didn’t get the son that he wanted, he got my brother instead. When Rob was a little kid he was always very super duper hyperactive, and they thought he had Turrets Syndrome for awhile. He was banging on the walls, and ripping shit up, and making these sounds all the time. My mom was all frazzled, trying to figure out what in the hell was wrong with this kid. She was always trying to help him and it never worked out.
More and more, my dad just didn’t want anything to do with him or me. So, Rob would do bad boy things. At first it was controllable through drugs and therapy, but as he got older his impulses grew stronger, and we were always being asked to leave places. He would destroy stuff or break in somewhere, he had no common sense. One time he broke into the laundry room of an apartment complex we lived in, and stole all the quarters out of the machines, and took them to my dad’s bank in coffee cans. There was like five hundred dollars in quarters, so they called my dad.
One time, I found all our family silver under Rob’s mattress. He just needed to get away with it, he didn’t need the money. I didn’t want anyone at school to know we were brother and sister, and eventually I wanted nothing to do with him, he embarrassed me. And besides, he was always tormenting me anyway, marching after me, chanting weird ‘satanic-like’ verses, aiming a large kitchen knife or a pretend spear at me. Acting real strange and hollow, he would try to corner me with the point of his weapon, it would scare the hell out of me, but he didn’t seem to mind.
My dad was a person who had a larger-than-life personality. He was really just some guy working a mundane job after the war. He was kind of like a war hero in Patton’s army, and then had to come back to heating and air conditioning. He embellished things about himself that probably were lies. He was a liar. He would say he was a hit man for the mafia, and he would kill people for money. He would get off on people really wondering if it was true. I always thought it was a bunch of bullshit, he was actually just a sucker punching bully, ha, ha, ha, I hated him.
I never really did like my dad. When I was little he was the big hero figure, six foot something. Then I got older and realized he was just some abusive drunk. I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him, he was such an ass. He’d always be slurring and weaving around knocking into things, saying with his bourbon in his hand, “let me tell you something…let me tell you something”. He would always try to insinuate that there was something wrong with you, and you’d always have to try and validate your existence. Some people play that game, but I don’t get off on sadistic mind games. I find it hard to respect a grown man who pisses his pants and sucker punches people in front of his daughter.
I was the baby of the family, I came at the very end when they were just totally over having kids, and not wanting to do that shit anymore. They weren’t even willing to put up a pretense that they were my parents, or cared about me, ha, ha, ha, it’s hysterical, I felt so rejected. My mom was very meek and quiet, pretty passive. She mostly just lived for my father. She would be waiting at the door when he came in to ask how his day went. Then, they would sit there and drink and drink and drink until they passed out. She never really had a job her whole life, her family was wealthy. So, she had this privileged, like ‘I’m better than you’ air, like ‘huh’, a disdainful approach to things.
My mom wasn’t real warm and motherly. She never went to any of the teacher’s meetings or basketball games, or any of that crap. My house was like a boarding house, and my room was at the top of the stairs. I lived alone in my little room, I had no friends. I just did my little thing, I was sort of a recluse from the age of fourteen until my twenties. I just zoomed in close on my art and tried to ignore my family and the outside world. It was fairly easy to do, being that I was always very isolated from my parents and I readily avoided my brother. My mom died when I was still in high school. She died in our house of an aneurism, at the age of fifty four. My dad asked me accusingly ‘what did you do to her?’ when he saw her lying dead on our bathroom floor.
The first family that I ever felt a part of was when I was taking drama classes at the Louisville Community College. I moved in with Ben and Bobby, a gay couple. Bobby was a boy toy transvestite, and Ben was a straight looking, bi-polar genius, who would lovingly chase our quilted family through his manic states of creativity, and then despairingly drop us into the destruction and hollowness, which always came next. They were crazy, constantly getting into arguments and horrible fights with each other. And then there was me, who was all repressed, all weird because my parents never taught me how to be a human being.
There was also Diana, the blind science fiction writer. She wrote volumes and volumes of science fiction novels, and would give them to Ben and Bobby to send off to publishers. But, they would never send them off, they would just throw them in the car. She would get in the car and step on them without a clue they were there, it was horrible. She was really into Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy. She would take her glass eye out and leave it on her bible at night. And, I had to share a room with her. She was gross. I had to, because I was female.
In the mornings, Diana would ask ‘how do you want your eggs?’, and Bobby the flaming queen would answer ‘how about with a little less hair in them this time?’ She would put her face right down into the skillet so she could hear the eggs cooking. She had huge thighs and an ass, she would knock into you all the time. I didn’t like her at all, and I was stuck with her, because I couldn’t go back to my father’s house. And, besides, I was finally relived of my desperate need to isolate myself, I now had a family I actually didn’t mind spending time around. Dealing with Diana was easy enough, unlike my father and his demented drunken side show antics.
I had moved out in the middle of the night, while my dad was in a drunken Lazy Boy stupor. I lived with my dad for one year after he tried to commit suicide, and ended up shooting a big hole in his television, because that was all I could take. So, I snuck out while he was passed out in the flickering machine gun blasts of his favorite old autobiographical war movie. I moved in with my new surrogate gay bipolar family, and blind Diana with her big ass. We were all very close and always together, very codependent, sort of like a little Manson family.