Wednesday, January 8, 2014
"Cinnamon Girl" A Vignette About Worry
Without waiting to close the apartment door she went straight to the kitchen table to see if she had left her cell phone there. It was. The voice mail app was blinking - two messages. She recognised both of the phone numbers and turned away.
She went back to the hall door and picked up the yoga mat and leaned it against the wall beside the door, then picked up the two grocery bags, closed the door with her foot and put the bags on the kitchen table by the phone. The phone had palpably begun to lurk.
The voice mail app flashed up and down like a Vacancy sign in a cheap motel. She sat down and sighed and wrapped her arms tightly around herself. Without noticing she had begun to rock back and forth in the kitchen chair.
When her hands had begun to shake she felt a wave of disgust for herself. This could not be, should not be allowed to be who she was. But she had been this person for days now.
She got up and switched on the radio on top of the refrigerator. It was set to WNYC the local New York NPR station. It was Saturday afternoon and the Live at the Met opera series was performing a celebration of Wagner's birthday. She listened a moment and sat back down as the lady announcer explained the next act, which was presented in German and it all seemed like bees buzzing in her ears.
The third act began. The opera was recognisable now as "The Valkyrie", with the great "Ride of the Valkyries" theme; the ultimate anthem of martial valor. Seven world class sopranos yelped their mighty and silly sounding war whoop "Hiya-toho!" and the audience was on its feet cheering . She stared at her own feet and let her mind drift.
There had been this cartoon once about that very music. This cartoon.
When she was a girl. It had been.
When she had been a little, little girl, there had been this cartoon. Once.
It went like this. Here was Bugs Bunny and there was Elmer Fudd with his double barreled gun and hunting outfit. He was going to kill Bugs Bunny. He was always going to kill Bugs Bunny. That was his schtick. His karma. His Fate. That was all he did. Now, Bugs Bunny runs into this opera house to get away - and there it is - "The Valkyrie" thundering away. So crafty Bugs puts on a horned Viking helmet with long blonde Brunhilde braids and runs right out on stage figuring - Hell - the old coot can't very well shoot a guy on stage in front of people. Not really shoot him. So ol' Elmer, he grabs this other Viking helmet and this big spear and sings along with Ride of the Valkyries - "Kill da WAB-bit! Kill da WAAAB-bit! Kill da WAB-bit." Just like opera. It was the first time she had heard opera.
Saturday morning cartoons. Those were so great then. Kind of innocent.
The voice mail app went on flashing.
She reached into one of the grocery bags and took out a can. She hooked her finger under the zip ring and pulled the top off. It was filled with tiny pasta rings in bright fluorescent orange spaghetti sauce. She took down a bowl and shook the can out into it. She put the bowl in the microwave and randomly stabbed buttons until it began to dance. Orange sauce burst against the glass. She turned it off and put the steaming bowl of Spaghetti O's on the table and did nothing.
Saturday morning cartoons, Spaghetti O's with Bugs Bunny. Baby brother running in his jammies.
. . . . Kill -
She put her fingers in the bowl, scooped up hot Spaghetti O's and crammed her stinging fingers in her mouth.
- Da Wabbit.
She tipped the bowl to her lips and slurped it all down without chewing.
She reached into the other bag and took out a loaf of Wonder bread with its cheerful balloon polka dots. Without undoing the wire tie, she stretched the plastic with her fingernails and clawed the bag open, spilling bread like guts. A bread smell filled the air and she lifted out two pieces of spongy perfect white bread and laid them out. She reached into the bag and took out a bright pink disc of Family Budget Baloney, opened it and peeled off three slices. She put the meat on the bread, tossed the packet on the floor and reached back into the bag. A bright red bottle of Heinz ketchup. She unscrewed the top and splashed a bright scarlet glob onto the center of the baloney and crushed it with the other slice of bread. Ketchup blopped out the sides. She crammed it in her mouth and took a huge bite reaching all the way to the back of her throat, leaving a half moon sized wound in the sandwich.
She rolled it in her mouth. Years since she had eaten cheap baloney. Oh - fried cheap baloney. With eggs. Pig Heaven. She felt vile.
"Kill da wabbit. . . " her lips moved along with the radio, pieces of meat dribbling. "WAB-bit . . . ."
She sucked the ketchup off her teeth and licked her lips.
She went to the refrigerator and reached behind the bright green bundle of organic broccoli and portabello mushrooms for the carton of Organic Fair Trade Almond-Coconut milk and put it on the table. She took down a hand crafted tumbler of certified Chinese purple clay, good for a woman's yin energy field and poured milk into it. She looked at the phone. Looked at the grocery bags. Looked at the hand made clay tumbler with the almond-coconut milk. She pointed with one finger of her right hand, touched the tumbler lip and tipped it over. It rolled and stopped at the table edge. The milk cascaded to the floor and poured and then dripped and then slowed until it finally stopped.
She had discovered masturbation when she was a young girl of about thirteen, somewhere around then. It was perfectly terrifying. When she felt the sunburst blast of her first orgasm she was sure it was her body announcing a fatal trauma, a major organ failure. Worst of all it was something she had done to herself. And then immediately she tried to get the feeling to happen again.
The shower was the best place to masturbate and soon she couldn't take a shower without it. She knew it was a sin. She knew it was abnormal. People who abused themselves could not have normal adult relationships. After a while they'd go insane and be put away and masturbate in a tiny cell until they died. What would her mother say? She tried to stop. God knows. But her body wouldn't let her stop. If she held off for a few days the moment would come when she would enter the bathroom in a kind of nervous trance. Meaning only to wash her hands, brush her teeth which she did sincerely and then her hand would reach by itself for that shower knob. The hand knew what it wanted. It moved by itself as if absolving her brain of any moral culpability. She'd let her hands undress her as this animal quivering began in the belly even before she had stepped under the hot water. The belly knew what was coming. You couldn't lie to the belly. The anguished quivering below would not stop until the act was consummated. And then consummated again.
As she reached into the bag she felt that same strong trembling in the belly informing her of an impending self inflicted rape. Her body knew what it wanted and she would have to just let it happen without fighting it until it was over. Even without the milk.
She pulled out a box of Little Debbie cakes.
With a grunt, she ripped open the box. She tore open a cookie wrapper with her teeth and devoured it in three bites. The gunk stuck in her throat and gave her the hiccups. She sucked the white sugar paste from her tongue and proceeded to work her way through the whole box.
She wiped the spaghetti from the bowl with the last Little Debbie cake and sucked the neon orange sauce from her fingers. She pushed the flashing message app, leaving a gooey sauce print on the glass.
"Maddy! It's James. Hey, is everything alright with you, Jersey girl? You haven't returned my calls. Listen I have some bad news and good news. Bad news. Listen. Your book, 'The Virtuous Vegan' slipped a notch. Okay? Yeah, its number two now on the Times Non-Fiction list. I mean listen, darling, how many authors would kill their mothers with a hatchet for that number two spot, am I right? It happens sooner or later. But we're better than this. The Hungry Blossum says they can give you another signing gig on Friday the 8th, in the evening. We'll get some wine and cheese tasting going on too. Wear that nice batik dress. That persian scarf. Everybody wins. And listen, sweets, I can definately get you ten minutes on Morning Joe. I know the guy. Ten minutes is fantastic, am I right? Listen Maddy, I'm not just your agent, I'm your friend. I care about you. I care like, you know, very deeply about you. We all do. Let's get our heads back in the game and flog this thing up to number one again, right? Love ya, babe. We all love you. Call me. Kiss kiss."
She pushed the app again.
"Ms Carter, Dr. Nick Baker calling from Bethesda Oncology. Your X rays are back and we need to have you come in. I don't want to discuss details over the phone, but I've made you a spot on the board for nine o'clock tommorrow morning sharp and I strongly urge you put aside any other plans and see me. I'm sorry for the short notice and any inconvenience this causes. Dr. Alvarez will be there too to explain a few things and we're going to need a series of blood work ups and a PET scan. So no eating tonight after, say, eight o'clock. Just fasting with water. I'll expect you in my office, third floor Oncology, two oh seven, at nine. Make sure you check in at the registration desk. Have a nice day."
She took a deep abdominal breath and let it out slowly through her nostrils listening to the sound. Then another deep abdominal breath, all very correctly puffing out her belly. With a sigh and a whimper she rose from the kitchen chair with ketchup on her chin and went to the living room and lit a cinnamon-rose aroma therapy candle. Then a cinnamon-cedar candle. Then a cinnamon-acai candle. Then a cinnamon-sage candle.
The aroma therapy candles would help, but they took a long time to work.