After posting MADness last week, someone asked why in the world I wanted to be like Rachel, the girl bully who terrorized me and other kids. While I hungered for her ham sandwiches, coveted her hip wardrobe, and admired her glossy bubblegum-smelling lips, more than anything– I wanted Rachel’s balls.
Rachel wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything, and had an uncanny penchant for excelling at any physical endeavor she attempted: ice/roller skating, soccer, arm wrestling, piñata popping and kicking ass…to name a few.
While Rachel ran aggressively up and down the field at recess, beating the boys at their games, I could be found in the bathroom stall singing the Sound of Music to myself: “Oh I must stop these doubts, all these worries… I am seeking the courage I laaaack…”
I spent a lot of time alone back then since kids rarely visited my house after school. Parents (and children) were generally uncomfortable with the nudity.
Nevertheless, I once tried to entice Rachel with the following invitation: “Please come over. We have no TV, or food that tastes good, and we get up at 6am to breathe through pain together!”
She just looked at me (and my purple velvet balloon pants) with even more disgust.
However, once I did have the special horror, I mean honor of Rachel’s company at the commune.
I knew impressing Rachel was an impossible aspiration – as impossible as my dream of returning to the straight life in New Orleans.
At that time the term “straight” had nothing to do with your sexual orientation. It referred to lifestyle, belief-system and appearance.
Straight people lived in freshly painted houses, atop manicured lawns. Their pantries were full of preservatives and their curtains and bedspreads matched.
The straight mothers wore lipstick, whereas my mother dressed like a rainbow and danced in the school parking lot.
Rachel came from a very straight household. I hoped that by tidying-up, and organizing the beaded jewelry, piles of ponchos and various ethnic paraphernalia, I could make the joint look a little more like Aunt Nettie’s house on Lake Shore Drive.
In preparation for this potentially life-changing event, I screamed frantically to my mother in the other room:
“Mom, HIDE the high-priestess, leather and velvet patchwork, antler-horn, pseudo-Native American swan pipe! HURRY!”
As I cleaned for my life, Rachel, having arrived early, catching me off guard with a piercing stare, upturned lip and crinkled nose, before delivering the following:
“Adele, there was a gross naked lady who just walked right by me.”
Apparently, as Rachel was dropped off, she ran into Silver Bird’s lover, Chaya. God bless Chaya, I’ve not since known a hairier woman, nor anyone else who eats onions like apples, while standing at 4’11” and 200 pounds, despite a raw food diet.
Mortified by Rachel’s discovery, I first tried feigning disbelief, then attempted to distract her by complimenting her newest pair of Dittos. But she remained silent, eyeing me up and down as if she were going in for the kill. Desperate, I finally said in a whaddaya-gonna-do attitude: “Those next door neighbors are always coming on our property.”
When in doubt: blame the neighbors!
Instead, she informed Rachel and me that we’d be eating nori (sheets of seaweed commonly used to roll sushi) with avocado (in other words, sans rice and fish).
While staring at my mother in silent fury, I joined Rachel’s protests, echoing, “Ewwww!”
Suddenly, my mom turned to both of us and said, “Ya know, I am sick of this shit! Let’s get real.”
She looked directly at my formerly fearless idol (whose eyes were wide with shock and awe), pointed her finger at my horrified hero’s face and said, “Rachel, my daughta’ lives in fear of you everyday. And I gotta live with that. Y’all are havin’ nori and avo, and y’all are gonna be grateful and mellow out!”
If I could’ve gotten away with it, I would’ve told Rachel that this woman – my mother – was a delusional ‘neighbor’ who wandered onto the property.
Many years later, I no longer long to live in a beige house in the ‘burbs. And the more I place my self-worth into my own hands, the less I care what certain a-holes think of me. Rather than still being mad at my mom for standing up to a brat, I’m finally impressed that at least SOMEONE in the family had some balls.