My mother met an over-the-road trucker named Ken, who moonlighted as a fauxy cowboy. She thought he looked like Burt Reynolds; Smokey and the Bandit, eternally scarred. In the words of Buford T. Justice, “Suuummm-bitch!” Worse though, he pissed all over one of the greatest westerns ever filmed, Tombstone, with his imitation Doc Holliday. “I’m your Hunkel-berry,” he’d say. Oh, fuck you, dude! You’re no daisy at all. I quickly took to calling our new meal ticket Hee-haw. He thought it was meant as an endearment; my mother knew it wasn’t, but she let the jape slide because even she thought it was funny. That’s something I’ve always loved about my relationship with my mother–our inside jokes.
Ken was a gentleman, and he wanted to see that we were all comfortable in our new home in the fancy trailer park, before revealing his other face. He’d managed to stay his hands for a good month after we moved in with him; Tara and I were at our dad’s for the weekend the first time he hit our mother, and threw punches at the walls. Gawd! Trailers were made so cheap back then.
I began freshman year that August, following a summer hiatus marked with black and blue. I was a nervous wreck. In addition to leaving my mother alone with that motherfucking Burt Reynolds rip-off, I had to show up for my first day of high school wearing the clothes he and my mother had bought for me.
Do you know what a body suit is? It’s a fucking Lycra onesie that snaps at the crotch. Mine was royal purple, long-sleeved, and had a pirate-like ruffle. I wore this get-up with fitted black denim. Boys were into me quite a lot when I was a teenager, but I figured they were only screwing with me, because I had no self-confidence. The more they complimented me, the harder I pressed my bundle of books against my chest. A Lolita, I was not; I cursed my mother all day for sending me to school in child prostitute clothes.
Clothing was a hot issue between my mother and me. And it was fucking confusing. She was always warning me about the intentions of boys–forbidding me from having straight male friends. Yet, she would get on my case for not wearing makeup, and dressing grunge. Pearl Jam, yaaaassss! My mother bought me a bikini once, and said, “I want my daughter to dress like a girl. Show off your body, and wear some makeup.” Excuse me? For fuck’s sake, I went through a spell when I didn’t wear makeup, and dressed unisex because the attention I was receiving from boys–and grown ass men–made me feel uneasy; it actually chipped away at my self-esteem. My mother was fucking clueless. She didn’t know her asshole from a hole in the ground.
The first boyfriend I ever had–one that could actually be classed a boyfriend–was a Junior named Nathan; I was a Sophomore, and my mother had given me permission to date him. She must have known something I didn’t, because shortly after prom, I broke up with him. The following school year, he came out as gay. Hahahaha! That fucking tickles me.
The boy I loved the most in high school was my daughter’s dad. He was my best friend. He knew all about the abuse going on between Ken and my mother. And he didn’t care that I lived in a trailer park. For a large portion of my life, he knew the depths of me better than anyone in the world. Even now, he understands the mechanisms that make me tick–the product of an abusive environment.
This is where I leave you for now.