"gradually I've come to realise that my house is haunted by the ghost of a dead astronaut"

Sunday, 20 December 2009

15. Mommie, Most Expensive


"As for her interfering, well, you’ve encountered that. For the most part, that’s my own experience of her now. A little like the astronaut hovering above the tree-line. For a long time, my friends would hear from her much more than I would, and she would attempt to influence me through them. And I would hear about her second-hand: through complete strangers that she would call or visit as she would plot my progress through this world. She is like a satellite – untouchable, but watching at all times"

I should put you straight about my mother. I can leave an astronaut hanging, but I shouldn't really do the same thing with my mother. Although the thought of her hanging is quite pleasing to the inner eye!

Really I wanted to conclude my story about the astronaut up to the present day, but I feel her listening and hovering, arms folded, the look of patience about her, but with a shoe or a finger tapping with aggravating and undeniable impatience. So I need to get her out of the way. Out of the way? Oh, don’t tempt me!

You may remember the film 'Mommie, Dearest' – Faye Dunaway played actress Joan Crawford, the matriarchal maniac? Similarly, my own mommie – dearest – has her cerebral challenges in life. She is, shall we say, one colour short of a rainbow; put simply, the lid doesn’t quite fit the jar!
She has, it seems to me, three passions in life: interfering, controlling and purchasing. For the latter reason, she is always to me my Mommie, Most Expensive! Very little was ever bought in our household that wasn’t argued to be the finest, the unrivalled, the superior, the best that money could buy. And why? Because it was the dearest!

Well, certainly my mother had the wherewithal to acquire anything and everything that was a cut above what most other people could afford. Sometimes not a cut above, but a great gaping chasm! And my brother and I would stand back as the latest, absolutely necessary, household or fashion adjunct, was unveiled, blushing, not sure where to look but, boy, our feet looked suddenly damnably interesting! And even less sure what to say in response to our mother’s, “Well, what - do - you - think?”

To curb the excessive silences that so often followed this question, we both coined our own words to reel out when we were expected to wax lyrical. Both our words, we secretly confided to each other, really meant: 'On the surface we appear to love it, but underneath we think it tasteless, pointless and hideous!'

The contemporary world would love our words; we were ahead of our time, don’t you know. They were compound words, you see; created out of two words put together!

My brother’s word was: “Gargantolean!”

Gargantuan + toley (a Scottish word for shit) = gargantolean

My word was: “Splendarsian!”

Splendid + arse = splendarsian

Blog? I don’t know - for me, the term’s just so late eighties!

As for her interfering, well, you’ve encountered that. For the most part, that’s my own experience of her now. A little like the astronaut hovering above the tree-line. For a long time, my friends would hear from her much more than I would, and she would attempt to influence me through them. And I would hear about her second-hand: through complete strangers that she would call or visit as she would plot my progress through this world. She is like a satellite – untouchable, but watching at all times. I’m eternally bugged, spied-on, under surveillance, scrutinised, dissected, appraised – while, at the same time, completely and utterly ignored. Since I moved to Scotland from Arizona there have also been hit-and-run missions to this country to meet with people I know and find out about me. Could she be here now? Probably not if she's been phoning people in the town. But you never know!

"She is like a satellite – untouchable, but watching at all times. I’m eternally bugged, spied-on, under surveillance, scrutinised, dissected, appraised – while, at the same time, completely and utterly ignored"

She had her vicious side too, but it was, on the surface, so controlled and dispassionately exercised. The kind of viciousness of a hitman or an executioner. Details? I don’t know. I’m not sure if there’s a need. And, if they are told, people who know me will be able to identify me from the tales. That doesn’t seem right. Not for me, not for my mother. Not for Ed, my big brother.

Would I call her a cow? Well, you know, my mother’s bovine credentials is an interesting topic. I suspect though that she could walk into any field unchallenged by cow or bull and start grazing with the best of them! Yes, good readers, you have her sussed!

Families, it seems to me, are very private meshes of interlocking grievances and spurious justifications; towers of tiny events piled high into some private sky; unnatural energies powering globes and liaisons and intimate wars. You need to know a whole universe like the back of your hand; know the whole history of a world as well as you know a moment in time.

Suffice to say that the events and struggles and the character of those years gave me a bowed appearance – some spark dimmed early on and never again ignited to quite the same intensity; something loud was turned down to little more than a whisper; and something sturdy grew fragile and never quite recovered its strength. And what’s left? A longing for something I have no recollection of.

In short, I long for the myth of me - that has probably never been - to burst into life in this life and make reality a thing of the past!

Perhaps the astronaut wants much the same thing.

1 comment:

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

The whole thing is very Freudian now my advice is to see a psychotherapist and I know just the one. She is the very best only she is in New York. I would gladly tell here of your plight - so much worst than mere wire hangers - and she would surely take you on immediately.
I suppose you see now I'll say anything to get you out of that house.