Monday, October 28, 2013

The Eighteenth Avenue Martyr

Everyone needs to be good at something in their youth. Not necessarily something positive like role model or teacher's pet. Just anything that will inflate your self worth enough to make you buoyant, able to at least tread water when it rains failure for 40 days and nights, and if you're normal it most certainly will within your lifetime.   

While there were many traits I could point to as almost somethings, sort of boastworthys, nearly my callings...what I was really good at was martyrdom.

Now, most martyrs have a tough time admitting their fondness for being heaped upon, taken advantage of and pushed off to the side; they would argue that they've no part in creating the misery, that they certainly didn't invite anyone to shit on them. I could also take that road but I figure, why bother denying my most obvious skill set. 

Besides, as often as I lie to myself, in the end I only get caught and forced to self-punish for both the original crime and the lie to boot. There's hardly a point. I just can't slip one by me no matter how hard I try.

When I was much younger I had 5 female friends, all living with the same dilemma; they'd all become pregnant by the same fellow. They were all teens but one, all party girls if not outright runaways and all of them had found this boy/man to their liking enough to ignore the fact that he was not fond of condoms, nor commitments, nor relationships, nor conversation, nor children, nor anything that didn't directly affect his personal, physical pleasure in a <:0 kinda way.

So Dianne, Denise and Becky grew larger one fine summer and Sue and Maddi put on the bowling ball over the fall and winter of the same year. They all knew each other remotely, and with one abstention, they all hated each other for the rivals they were. But one thing they did have in common was, they all knew yours truly and crowned him friend and part time confidante.

Though I've never fostered a child of my own and have never worked in medicine, I've seen the inside of both a maternity waiting room and birthing room more times than I would ever desire if given the chance to say no.

Each woman in turn called on me to care for them, some with only pleading eyes, some with expressions of complete helplessness and one who (bless her heart) sent me an invitation to sit in as surrogate father for a day so she'd have company while she screamed.

But for Dianne, a woman who was at 27 already bitter enough to have shut out the mass of the world, these were kids whose friendships were on average as deep as a wading pool, as permanent as ice in the noonday sun. They were tough kids, rejected, angry, lost, afraid, who had made their beds in spite of my counsel to avoid what would surely turn out to be no good. They "needed" me, how could I say no.... Ok, they "needed" someone, and I was all there was..... Ok, I thought they needed someone, and I was martyr enough to take my rightful place.

Longer story shorter, I drove them and sat with them and cooked for them and walked them and took days off work to help them in every way I could. In turn they used my shoulder, my car, my apartment and my pocketbook to stay afloat until AFDC would take my place. And they used my arms and hands and even love handles in one case, to relieve them of labor pain. Clip your damn nails ladies...nuff said.

It was likely a year of my life all in all; not every second by any means, not even every day. And the telling of this is in no way meant to engender happy thoughts toward me. As is the case with other personal stories, it's what my brain was doing under duress that fascinates me and make the tale worth remembering.

There always came a time when each of these girls would re-invite the father of their collective citizenry back into their lives. Not because he'd be a father, not because he'd pay even a token portion of the children's freight or hold them or feed them or so much as gurgle in their direction. But because they'd become orgasm challenged and wanted another fix.

And suddenly I got to thinkin', after all that time I'd spent as daddy dearest..."how can I be such an idiot?" I finally got angry and wondered aloud as to why I was never seen as an object of affection...why I was the dupe buying diapers at the corner drug store and not dipping my wick with a smile and a wham bam. Why was I the friend and not the lover, why was I not worth their L-O-V-E.

Imagine hearing someone else say these things to you, and you know how I heard them. This may be hard to get but when I'd completed my tantrum, I saw every goodness in what I'd struggled to accomplish to be tainted. Not only was I not worth these women's affections, but I was not even worth my own, incapable of being altruistic, of being true to even my own ideals. I'd spent a year catering to friends who did care for me in their own teenage meaningful way and I knew it, and I'd let it all explode by boiling it all down to a moments anger, replacing love with lust like any selfish, shallow, immature imperfectionist would do.

I was 20, well old enough to know everything as the vast majority of 20 year olds do. I didn't know shit. Well, I did know how to be a martyr I guess. And that's somethin.

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