Bad Circus

 I grew up for most of my childhood in Long Beach, Long Island.  Like all childhood memories, it seems the snow was much deeper when I was a kid then it ever gets now.  I would jump off the 2nd floor porch into the snow.  It got icy too.  When my younger sister Colleen and I were in elementary school my mother left us alone one afternoon.  We were walking on the sidewalk and Colleen slipped; she fell on her arm.  She cried and cried.  Poor Colleen.  The night before I had seen some circus movie where the trapeze artist fell.  The net gave way.  He fell to the circus floor and landed on his arm.  He lost all use of his arm permanently.  I thought I might be able to save Colleen from losing her arm.  So I shook it.  I made her keep moving it.  She screamed and cried.  I told her it was for her own good – “please, please I have to do this” I told her.  I jiggled it and bent it at the elbow.  I was afraid her arm would become paralyzed like the trapeze flyer in the movie.  I don’t know how much time passed.  My mother came home and freaked out.  Her arm didn’t look good.  As it turns out, Colleen had a broken arm.

Colleen suffered at my hands indiscriminately – whether for good or bad intentions.  I don’t know why; I can’t remember if it was boredom or mischief – but I took some sharp object and scratched out the pupils of Colleen’s eyes in all the school photos of her around the house.  When my mother noticed she freaked out.  She thought the camera had picked up some defect in Colleen’s eyesight and that it actually meant she was probably going blind.  I got my ass kicked for that one.  I got my ass kicked plenty – and if I dared to cry – which of course I did – then I got my ass kicked more and was told I’ll give you something to cry about.  I got whacked with the broom, the chain dog leash, the TV antenna, the extension cord and anything else handy.  I don’t hit my own kids.  But I must say I provoked the situation plenty.  I called my mother a bitch in a store when she wouldn’t get me the shirt I wanted even though she was buying me pants – which was a big, big deal since we were on welfare and this didn’t happen often.  Another time, I got mad at her and shook up a can of grape soda and opened it in the kitchen – spraying grape soda everywhere.  Today, my therapist tells me I was trying to get attention; my mother never really liked me, I was too much like my father whom she disliked.  My mother hated my big mouth telling her that I, a 7 year old, do not belong in a bar, that my sisters and I do not belong in some guy’s car with her when they were both drunk; she disliked my judgment.  My mother never gave me credit for years of straight A’s report cards but instead called me “Miss Know It All” and praised Colleen for how cute she was despite her failing grades…so perhaps that is why I was such a bitch?

My mother pushed my buttons plenty.  She left me in the car on the street in a bad and busy neighbored – by the train station in Long Beach in the 60’s.  Race wars and retributions were common.  I got my ass kicked by black kids plenty too.  She left me in the car while she went in to a bar with her boyfriend for a quick drink.  My mother was an alcoholic. I didn’t know that then.  She was in there for at least 2 hours.  I was pissed when she got back.  Whatever it is we were originally going to do on the way past the bar was now scratched.  One time she brought me into the bar with her while I got a soda.  I didn’t like being there.  I told her I don’t belong here.  I’m sure she wished I would shut my mouth.  Some woman – who did seem drunk at the time – came up to my mother and started screaming at her that she saw her giving a blow job to some guy’s name I couldn’t remember in a car,.  Holy shit, I wanted to leave.  I wanted to die.  I wanted to be someone else and somewhere else.  I felt hurt for my mother for the attack.  I felt mad at her for whatever the fuck she did to bring this on.  At least we did leave.





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