Literary Journal of the University of Houston â€“ Clear Lake
Buxton, Camille:. Saturday Morning Book Club (2010).
STAFF Editor Patricia Dixon, M.A. Managing Editor Camille Buxton, M.A. Artistic Director & Photographer Catherine Louvier, B.A. Cover Photography Camille Buxton, M.A. Poetry Editors Veronica Nadlin, B.A. Daniel Ford, M.A. Critical Essay Editors Gloria Sisneros, M.A. Stuart Brooks, M.A. Short Fiction Editors Alicia Costello, B.A. Amy Smith, M.A. Faculty Adviser
John Gorman, Ph.D.
Copyright 2010 University of Houston-Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu.
Poetry Blake Binford Abbey Estillore Dennis Forest Marvin Jones Veronica Nadlin Sarah Ann Tielke
Critical Essays Stuart Brooks Camille Buxton Patricia Dixon
Short Fiction Stuart Brooks Alicia Costello
Copyright 2010 University of Houston-Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu.
Table of Contents Poetry
Because I Promised My Father I Would
Friend of the People (Paris: July 13, 1793)
The Final Thoughts of a Wicked Old Man Shortly before His Death and Condemnation to an Eternity in Hell
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
Literature and Literary Traditions: Whose Feminism Is It?
Cuttin’ the ‘Fro: The Disappearance of the Afro in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun
The Garage Sale
Kayak Journal – Dylan
Copyright 2010 University of Houston-Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu.
Inspiration by Dennis Forrest
Louvier, Catherine: Pigeon in Paris. (2009)
I was gonna write about egrets – how their white plumes naturally grow long during breeding season to attract a mate. I have always known this bird – but by a different name. The mystical egret was gonna be a metaphor in my poem – I have watched them through the bars of my window – swoop down behind the tractors and eat earthworms from the rich soil being tilled for another season of slave labor. The egret would represent faith – faith in Creation and the natural order of balance in a world that so often feels out of tune. I was gonna write about egrets – but then a dove landed on my windowsill, ruffled her feathers, and cooed a message of hope only I could understand. Sometimes what inspires us the most, there are no words for.
Sleep by Abby Estillore Sleep is like being suspended on Amusement park rides that never stop We beg for it to stop but our buttocks Are nailed onto the cold seats Amusement park rides that never stop Our hands melting the handlebars Buttocks still nailed onto the cold seats Of the eighty-nine degree drop rollercoaster Our hands melting the handlebars Brains shutting, eyes venturing into dreams Of the eighty-nine degree drop rollercoaster Arterial veins suspended on a vacuous eternity
Louvier, Catherine: Tunnel.(2009)
Brains shutting, eyes venturing into dreams We count the turns, twists, and loops………… Arterial veins suspended on a vacuous eternity We wait for the final dose of organized orgasms
Counting the turns and twists of this strange exhilaration Amusement park rides that may never stop (stop…stop..st--) Waiting for the final dose of organized orgasms --- --- --Spinning sleep on the eighty-nine degree drop rollercoaster
Southern Wild by Dennis Forest
Louvier, Catherine: Paul’s Pond. (2010).
On Turkey Ridge, bluebonnets are wilting in the afternoon sun. A cornbread cooking old woman sweetens her mix with salty tears. Red-faced children with dirty feet, are playing in the abandoned barn. Rosie, the feral cat, catches another rat, her kittens safely hidden are sleeping. Night falls. In the distance a coyote howls. A cowbell clangs. The silver haired old grandfather sits out back under the live oak he planted the same year their oldest boy was killed in a foreign land. He’s praying to the evening star— God stopped listening the fall of ‘63.
A warm breeze blows in the faint scent of honeysuckle. Moonbeams pacify the weeping willows, at the edge of the pond.
Because I Promised My Father I Would by Sarah Ann Tielke I wait outside her broken door Hesitant to shift my feet My mannerisms like a child’s
Before I arrived I knew I had promised my father I would And so I begin to sing
Slowly I move closer As I hear her soft cry And the clock on her wall ticks and tocks
“Amazing Grace” makes her dance A happy and gleeful dance indeed Her gestures scare me
Grudgingly I pull the handle The wind opposes my efforts for a bit But it slowly opens
She seems to sleep As she moves back and forth Unaware of my tears
I tiptoe inside Afraid I will wake her And she’ll scream the way she did before
Her memory has been gone for a while In December it will be two t years Since she’s known who I am
Her white hair holds icy blue hues It’s not in a style she would prefer She would scold them if she knew
The doctors say she only moves When her granddaughter comes to sing “She isn’t real” I tell myself But I weep as I sing
Louvier, Catherine: Mother. (2010)
Copyright 2010 University of Houston Houston-Clear Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. 283 Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu. Buxton@UHCL.edu
Plip by Veronica Nadlin
Plip Plop Plip Plop Go the raindrops Forever pulsating in my mind. Reflected in danger (nature?) Only when thereâ€™s too muchPlip Plop Plip
Louvier, Catherine: The Pond.. (2010).
Shhhhhh! by Marvin Jones Little likenesses of whispers Inhabiting indistinct shadows Scream hunters. Tendentious little whispers.
Louvier, Catherine: Cyn in Oak Creek Canyon (2007).
Friend of the People (Paris: July 13, 1793) by Blake Binford HE What have we here? A list! Let's see! Let's read their cursed names. Ah, royalists and Girondins! I love these little games! Though not a violent man, you know, (I wouldn't hurt a fly!) I promise thee, quite faithfully, that all of them will die. SHE How can this rotting mound of flesh be he who conquered all my smaller, simpler dreams, the thought of whom has driven me from home and like a Siren draws me to my doom? The man I've longed to stand before, embrace, and plunge the knife into, twelve inches deep?
SHE He's lost his mind; there's nothing human left. He has the leprosy of true belief that turns a gospel to an inquisition. But even now I still believe the gods are good. It's only men who make them monsters. My opportunity is now, there'll be no other—why then do I hesitate?
HE J'adore my Lady Guillotine, helpmeet without a peer! Before whom all uncertainties must perforce turn clear— as all of these will soon find out when rounded up and caught— Hey look at me! I'm Antony! I damn them with a spot.
HE There's those who say we go too far, or that we've lost our way. I counter with the argument, "You'll die this Saturday." Then how they groan and cry and faint! I say, "Don't be appalled." "At least today, in France," I say, "No monarchist grows bald." SHE The path is openâ€”there's no question now: a single thrust would show the world the power that lies in these, my woman's hands, to cast a Mountain down, at least, if not to build the world anew. I'm not afraid of death at all, no more than any bride can fear her groom. I've kept myself intact for him. The consummation would be sweet to me. But if I take that final, fatal step, what difference then, between the two of us? He's helpless here as anyone he's killed. Go back now, girl, to Normandy and live a normal life.
HE Understand me: Does Revolution justify the Terror? No. The Terror is the Revolution.
I love, at execution-time, to watch the children play. When they grow up they'll never ask if there's another way. Now's not the time for squeamishness. We must see more heads fall! I feel no shame as I proclaim, Let's kill them, kill themâ€”
Legacy by Dennis Forest
His long slender hands with their distinctively curved nails placed perfectly across his chest, reminded me how quickly life passes. That my own life had passed like an event on the evening news. That it was his legacy I had been running from all these years. Through that awkward transition from innocence to awareness. Through the narcissistic years of self-indulgence. Through all those mirages, in the desert wastelands of youth, filled with so much, sweet flesh. The enemy nearly got what he wanted once. But then my heart tasted its own bitterness. I would see those same curved nails on the innocent hands of my newborn daughter a few weeks later. And all I could doâ€” was hang my head, and weep.
Memory II by Veronica Nadlin
Please keep me as a memory For memories are free of misery No matter how dark they may appear They lack the presence of present fear. Memories so warm that they glow. A comforting silence only you know. Louvier, Catherine: Canal in the mist. mist (2009).
Steadfast Wanderer by Marvin Jones
Stone gods of old Lay crumbled, forgotten Like the bits first chiseled away. I travel these shifting sands of time, The incorruptible foundation
Louvier, Catherine: Circus Maximus Maximus. (2009).
Of my monumental heart.
Copyright 2010 University of Houston Houston-Clear Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. 283 Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu. Buxton@UHCL.edu
The Final Thoughts of a Wicked Old Man Shortly before His Death and Condemnation to an Eternity in Hell by Blake Binford It doesn't bother me to go alone like this. It would have been unbearable to suffer through surrounded by those persons, who'd strut, savor this still-half-living corpse of mine, and hold their breaths at my every gurgling gasp. Circling and circling as they anticipate the thing they think they know is coming. They'd want a bit of theater, some bold dramatic show before the end. Something they could wrap their hearts around. That I'd beg forgiveness with my dying breath, or toss a "Rosebud" out, for them to marvel at when I'm gone. Failing that, they'd be as glad to hear me curse God as I went. Vultures looking for some scraps of sentiment to feed upon.
Louvier, Catherine: Laocoรถn and his Sons (Vatican, 2010) (2010).
The truth is less romantic. Do I renounce my works of darkness? Of course, of course, I do. I do, in a general sense. In a general sense, I do.
But I don't see what good remorse can do me now. To hell with it. To hell with them.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave by Stuart Brooks As we were leaving class on October 30, 2008 after discussing the works of Plato, I overheard a conversation in which one of my classmates stated “That’s always the way it is. These people think they’re smarter than the rest of us and look down on us.” I thought it was unfortunate that the speaker had come to that conclusion, whether or not that is a fair reading of Platonic thought. I decided to tackle Plato’s allegory of the cave, discuss why he chooses an allegory to develop one of the fundamental concepts of his philosophy, and discuss the implications that the cave has had on philosophical thinking today. I think it is important to begin with the speech given by Socrates in the Symposium concerning the hierarchy of love (104-116). The gist of the speech is that love consists of four levels: love of the beauty of the individual, love of the beauty of all individuals, love of the beauty of the soul, and love of the beauty of knowledge. Socrates presents these levels as stages that a man moves through as he matures, so that young men t the “truth” is unimportant in the persuasion of an audience and that it is more compelling to speak eloquently than it is to speak the truth. Another contemporary and fellow Sophist, Protagoras famously stated that “Man is the measure of all things” (Poster n.pag.). Again according to Poster, Protagoras' notion that judgments and knowledge are in some way relative to the person judging or knowing has been very influential, and is still widely discussed in
good from all other things, then he does not know the real good at all” (392-393). Copyright 2010 University of Houston-Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu.
For his part, Plato states that “If a man cannot distinguish by reasoning and isolate the idea of the
contemporary philosophy (Poster n.pag.).
The notion that the truth exists and can be distinguished by reasoning has been a very successful notion in the history of science. Plato’s concept has led scientists to discoveries as diverse as the nature of the universe and the functioning of the human body and is the de facto view of reality today. As an example, most people believe that light travels at 186,000 miles per second. This figure is generally accepted as an absolute truth and has led to one of the starkest realities of the 20th century, nuclear fission and the atom bomb. In the late 20th century, philosophers began to challenge Plato’s vision of reality. Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962. Kuhn’s premise was that science does not progress in an orderly fashion, but moves in fits and starts, which he labeled paradigm shifts. Kuhn stated that the scientific old guard hang onto established theories and tenaciously defend them until they are bowled over by the momentum of new thinkers. An example of this is the Geologic Theory of Plate Tectonics. Prior to 1960, conventional thinking held that the earth’s crust is unmoving and the continents have been in the same locations for the entire four billion years the earth has been in existence. When the fossil records began to show that the same creatures lived on different continents at the same time, old-guard geologists began penciling in land bridges to connect North America to Europe and South America to Africa. When new thinkers showed that the geologic formations of Western Europe and Africa matched up with those of Eastern North and South America, the concept of a static crust began to lose favor. When the new guard was able to show that the continents are actually moving today, plate tectonics became the established theory regarding the earth’s crust. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) has been used to argue that science is not a rational searching after the truth,
as Plato would have it, but is really a social, political exercise.
In 1979 Bruno Latour published Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts. Latour went undercover at the Salk Institute while scientists there were working to discover a neuropeptide they were calling Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone (TRH). Working as a janitor, Latour observed the scientists as they argued with each other, fought for their individual positions, and ultimately acceded to the wishes of the senior researchers. The Salk Institute was ultimately able to synthesize a compound which it claimed to be TRH, for which it won the Nobel Prize. Latour’s argument was that, rather than discovering the truth, the Salk Institute constructed a fact using social and political means. Latour coined the term Social Construction, which harkens back to the quotation from Protagoras that “Man is the measure of all things.” Social Constructionism caught fire as a backlash against the mystical nature of science and has been applied to widely disparate topics. In his 1999 book The Social Construction of What?, Ian Hacking gives us an alphabet of Social Construction topics such as A is for Authorship, B is for Brotherhood, C is for Child Viewers of Television…I is for Illness…Q is for Quarks, R is for reality…Z is for Zulu Nationalism (1). Hacking goes on to discuss the social construction of such topics as child abuse, madness and rocks. Briefly, he states that child abuse was invented in 1961 by a group of pediatricians in Denver (125). He argues that some conditions, such as anorexia, are of a modern origin and are not seen across other cultures (100124). He presents the concept that some rocks are more special than others and, therefore, have received more attention than they perhaps deserve. Hacking argues for the social signficance of dolomite, as opposed to other types of limestone (186-206). It is intuitive that the scientific community would object to the claims made by Social
who states, in part:
Constructionism. Hacking does include a quote from Nobel Laureate Physicist Steven Weinberg,
The objective nature of science has been denied by Andrew Ross and Bruno Latour and (as I understand them) the influential philosopher Richard Rorty and the late Thomas Kuhn, but it is taken for granted by most natural scientists. (88) Which brings us back to where we started. Plato and natural scientists believe that truth is something real that can be discovered and known. The sophists and social constructionists believe that truth is something constructed by humans in a social setting. In his new book, Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy (2004), Bruno Latour states that scientists and politicians need to come together. We must all come out of the Cave, by distinguishing Science from the practical works of science. This distinction allows us to draw another one, between the official philosophy of ecologism on the one hand and its burgeoning practice on the other. (225) Latour invokes Plato’s allegory of the cave in an attempt to unify two diverse groups. Personally, I think that both scientific realism and social constructionism have a place in the description of reality. I believe that 186,000 miles per second is the speed of light and I don’t care if this figure was arrived at by social means. Conversely, I believe that human interactions are not based upon an ultimate “truth” and that individual perceptions are ultimately more important in our day-today dealings with each other than is some overriding principle, although this statement brings up the concept of values. Plato seems to be saying that humans live in a society in which certain concepts such as “the good” or “truth” are valued, which certainly seems correct. The sophists, on the other hand, seem to be saying that values are unimportant and can be molded to fit the situation. I agree that
people live their lives based upon the values they have adopted as they attain maturity and I
disagree that it is acceptable to make decisions based upon the fashion of the moment, although this concept has little to do with general science. My intention in writing this paper was to offer an explanation for why Plato resorts to the allegory of the cave to explain one of the key concepts of his philosophy and to offer examples of the ways in which Platoâ€™s concepts continued to be relevant throughout history and are still relevant today. Although Platoâ€™s concepts have also been applied to Art, they resonate more firmly with me in the field of scientific discovery. I find it fascinating that concepts that were being discussed more than 2000 years ago continue to be hotly debated today. Specifically, does an ultimate truth exist, and if so, can it be discovered by humans? Or are humans the makers of their own reality? These are the big questions that I see in the writings of Plato. I think it was an excellent choice to frame these questions in the form of a story. The longevity of the story is amazing; 2000 years later it continues to be a part of liberal arts education and philosophers of the day refer to it as a cultural icon. Plato might not agree with me, but I think this speaks to the power of art. Art communicates across temporal and social boundaries in a manner that is
timeless and transcendent.
Works Cited Hacking, Ian. The Social Construction of What? Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1999. Print. Higgins, C. Francis. “Gorgias (483-375 B.C.E).” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. U of Louisiana, Lafayette. 2006. Web. 26 November 2008 <http://www.iep.utm.edu/g/gorgias.htm. Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1962. Print. Latour, Bruno and Steve Woolgar. Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1979. Print. Latour, Bruno. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2004. Print. Plato. Great Dialogues of Plato. Trans. W.H.D. Rouse. New York: Signet, 1956. Poster, Carol “Protagoras (c. 490 - c. 420 BCE).” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Florida State U. 2006. Web. 23 November 2008
Literature and Literary Traditions: Whose Feminism Is It? by Patricia Dixon
Louvier, Catherine: Archetype This . (2010)
In Literature and Literary Theory, there are many written and unwritten rules about women and feminism following in the pattern of ancient Greek literature. In the Western scope of literature, women are often portrayed as archetypal monsters to be feared. These include the devouring mother, the seductress, and the perennial virgin who must be pursued and captured, but who then morphs into one of these other forms. This is, primarily, because we have based all of our ideas about women on the literature
clearly, not only in the ancient writings of Euripides and Aristotle, but in the texts of their
of these self-same Greeks who saw women in two basic ways: doormats or monsters. We see this
contemporaries, both writers and historians of the day. As a result, the entire canon of traditional Western literature reflects these views of women first introduced by the ancient Greeks. Therefore, it is vital that we begin to see these archetypes of femininity for what they really are: male constructsâ€”written and conceived by men with no real knowledge of the feminine psyche and who, by their own admission, were afraid of women. The two main archetypes are the weak, victim and the fem-male, who under the guise of feminism utilizes violence as an answer to all of her problems. This personification of the weak victim can be seen clearly in the likes of nymphs and women from Hymen to Helen of Troy. These women, when they refuse to be used by men, are often turned into trees, birds, or other unintelligent creatures to spend their days in dumb misery for refusing either men or gods. The fem-male, by contrast, espouses a feminism which has no true basis in the feminine psyche. This fem-male, utilizes aggressive behaviors to achieve her desires. She has no scruples and is deemed worse than a male would be in similar circumstances. For example, Medea not only kills her children for revenge against her husband, Jason for his betrayal of her, but also his new bride and her father. Female thinking does not generally turn to acts of violence except as a last resort. Medeaâ€™s speech at the end of the play is generally viewed as feminist, but how can this be when she is a male construct and her voice reflects that of the man who conceived her? We must remember there are few feminine voices from this period and the main voice, Sappho, has been deemed unworthy of reflecting feminist ideas and values due to a charge of lesbianism. She has not been allowed to speak for the women of her period because she is, of
course, unnatural to prefer the company of other women to that of men.
So, how can this literature represent women when it has been developed by men and does not reflect the trueness of women’s voices, femininity, or feminism? It cannot. This invalidates the entire literary history of our planet concerning women because all of our literature carries the taint of the ancient Greeks. All of the past literature written by men and most of the past literature written by women is invalid because it has been inculcated with a belief system about femininity and feminism that is false. True feminism, which is here defined as the ability to accomplish personal and professional goals through the use of problem-solving, compromise, and empathy without resorting to aggression, especially against children and other women, utilizes insight, creativity, and social networking. These are the traits of women. It is said that if you put a woman in a tent for a month by the end of the first week she will have made it into a home—using whatever materials are available. It is a sad testament to our culture and our literary tradition that women themselves have been hoodwinked into thinking they have to fall into either of these categories: victim or victimizer. Or, that in order to be successful they must become aggressive, overbearing, and demanding to get any job done. Most women are naturals at social networking and interactions that leave men scratching their heads in confusion. These are the qualities of women that are the building blocks by which they thrive and exist in spite of oppression and other repressive conditions they must deal with on a daily basis. St. Augustine once said, “An unjust law is no law at all.” This means we have a duty, but an obligation to expose the unwritten laws of literature and, yes, society at large that have continued to base its rules and laws on the writings of men dead for thousands of years. Men,
of women, in general, and have fostered an imposed feminism on them and society. This
who by their own admission, feared women. These men have influenced our society’s viewpoint
feminism is nothing more than masked male violence thought up by these same myopic and misogynistic men. The literary history of our world is based upon these outdated, prejudicial ideas of women and it is time for new voices and new traditions to take their place. It is time for the true voice of women to be heard in our literatureâ€”voices untainted by thousands of years of
prejudice, misogyny, and limitations.
Bevill, Charley: Naked with Me. (2008)
Copyright 2010 University of Houston Houston-Clear Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. 283 Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu. Buxton@UHCL.edu
Cuttin’ the ‘Fro: The Disappearance of the Afro in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun by Camille Buxton In the play A Raisin in the Sun, author Lorraine Hansberry addresses topics such as family life, poverty, ambition, and covert racism. She also addresses a topic that has perplexed Western women of African descent for at least three centuries—hair. When compared to European hair, African hair, which is curlier, is often negatively described as ‘kinky’ or ‘nappy.’ In very recent history, radio personality Don Imus and his producer were both fired by NBC for referring to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “a bunch of nappy headed hos,” and promptly re-hired. As their comments did not receive immediate sanctions, it could be inferred that mainstream America found those comments to be accurate as well as appropriate descriptions of the African American women on the team. Perhaps the tendency of Black women in Europe and America to chemically straighten hair is a way of assimilating into the mainstream
Louvier, Catherine: Reconfiguring Venus (2010)
to avoid comments such as those, or perhaps it is simply a preference.
Hansberry addresses the issue of Black hair by cutting the subject off at the root, in a manner of speaking. One of the play’s characters, college student Beneatha Younger, cuts her straightened hair off leaving a natural afro in its place. Although cutting Beneatha’s hair has some significance to the play, the scene was removed from the original 1959 stage production. Robert Nemiroff, Hansberry’s now-deceased widower, writes that removing the scene from the original production was not planned, but the result of circumstances. When the hair of Diana Sands (who created the role) was cropped in this fashion…it was not contoured to suit her: her particular facial structure required a fuller Afro, of the sort she in fact adopted in later years. Result? Rather than vitiate the playwright’s point—the beauty of black hair—the scene was dropped. (6) This scene was not the only one referencing Black hair that was removed from the play. In Act I Scene 2, the following portion was omitted, excluding a reference to Black hair. Beneatha: My hair—what’s wrong with my hair? Asagai: Were you born with it like that? Beneatha: No…of course not. Asagai: How then? Beneatha: You know perfectly well how…as crinkly as yours…that’s how. Asagai: And is it ugly to you that way? Beneatha: Oh, no—not ugly…But it’s hard to manage when it’s well…raw. Asagai: And so to accommodate that—you mutilate it every week? (61-62)
following scene, Act II Scene 1, Beneatha reveals her newly cropped hair to her family. The
There were most likely other reasons for cutting the previous scene that references hair. In the
scene may have been before its time—a revolutionary attempt at resisting assimilation into the dominant culture. Despite Nemiroff’s claims to the contrary, the scene may have been beyond the comprehension of the audience. Until the 1960s and the onset of the Civil Rights Movement, which resulted the rise of racial pride among African Americans in particular, an afro or any other natural hairstyle may have been viewed negatively by the Caucasian portion of the population. Even among African Americans, a natural hairstyle was considered backward—a return to the days of slavery and cotton-picking—whereas a straightened hairstyle was deemed more progressive. There may be some historical proof for this claim. In her essay “When Black Hair Tangles with White Power,” Mariame Kaba, citing historian E. Franklin Frazier, observes that African Americans often rejected any symbols of blackness, such as unstraightened hair. These acts are cannot be considered an outright rejection of Self, but an act of assimilation into the dominant culture—an act of de-Othering. During the period of slavery in the U.S., slaves with lighter complexions and straighter hair—more Caucasian features—often fared better than their darker-complexioned counterparts. Lightcomplexioned slaves with straighter hair slept in the “Big House,” had far better clothing and food, were given educations, and were more likely to be freed than their darker-skinned, curlierhaired, more African counterparts in the fields (Kaba 105). However, Asagai, an African and untouched by the socio-cultural aftereffects of slavery, views African American women’s hair in its unnatural, straightened state as a sign of “assimilation” rather than of necessity (Hansberry 61). However, the goal of an African American woman in the 1940s to the early 1960s may have been to do just that. By removing the natural waves and curls from Black hair, perhaps African
American women were trying to transition into mainstream American society, which perceived
natural Black hair as foreign—perhaps even un-American. This form of assimilation may have been a necessity for African American women to attain mainstream American, social survival. Although this observation may not be familiar to non-Blacks, Western Black women are very conscious of their hair. In a posthumous letter to Madam C.J. Walker, her great-greatgranddaughter A’Lelia Bundles writes, hair still is a very emotional, even political, issue in our community, loaded with centuries of complicated psychological and sociological, well, kinks and tangles. It’s often volatile enough to provoke a fight, a lawsuit, or feelings of shame. (7) This topic’s political and emotional charge is the basis for the scene’s removal from the original production. There is no doubt that Hansberry wanted the topic of hair as assimilation or resistance addressed; however, the producers of the play were Caucasian American males. It is likely that they found the topic, not distasteful, but not as worthy of mention as other themes such as racism and poverty. If the producers perceived Black hair, as well as Black women with natural hair, as unattractive, unsightly, or un-American, they may have called for the scene’s removal. It is also important to note that this play was first produced in 1959. Therefore, the possibility exists that behind the scenes, regardless of Nemiroff’s claims, there may have been an unwillingness to force a political statement—particularly one with the potential to be perceived by mainstream Caucasian Americans as a non-issue—on a predominantly Caucasian audience. It is difficult to believe that Caucasian male producers in the 1950s could truly grasp the significance of natural versus straightened hair to a Western Black woman when it is an issue that Black women struggle with to this day. There is an emotional and psychological tug-of-war
issues of the negative effects of chemical straightening on the hair versus the reaction to natural
taking place in the mind of almost every Western Black woman as she prepares her hair. The
hair she is likely to incur in the workplace are always present. So what is the solution to this problem? Perhaps Madame C.J. Walker had the right idea when she made the following statement in an interview at the turn of the twentieth century: Let me correct the erroneous impression held by some that I claim to straighten hair. I want the great masses of my people to take a greater pride in their appearance and to give their hair proper attention. (6) Walker implies that Western Black women should focus their attention on looking and feeling good, rather than on assimilation or making a political statement. Ultimately, the social approval or disapproval of a Black woman’s choice of hairstyle is irrelevant. It was a shame, to say the least, that the scenes including the topic of Black hair were removed from the stage play as well as from the 1961 motion picture. In retrospect, omitting these scenes from both mediums diluted, if not completely obscured, the author’s intent. Hansberry did not write those scenes for them to be later omitted from the production. Rather, it is likely that Hansberry, like most Western Black women, struggled with the choice between chemical straightening and natural hair. The scene in the play is an acknowledgement of the questions raised about Black hair, giving voice to a topic that many Black women are uncomfortable discussing. Hansberry’s autobiography indicates that she is very similar to Beneatha. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that Hansberry did at times believe that straightening Black hair was a form of assimilation. By cutting her hair and deciding to follow Asagai to Africa as his wife, partner, and a doctor, Beneatha not only sheds the oppressive air of American society, but attempts to change the worldview of African American women.
this act not only explained where African American women had been for three hundred years
Therefore, the cutting of Beneatha’s hair was crucial to the play and the motion picture because
(fields, kitchens, ghettos), but gave insight into where they could go and the transformations they
could enact when they arrived.
Works Cited Bundles, A’Lelia. “Madame C.J. Walker: ‘Let Me Correct the Erroneous Impression that I Claim to Straighten Hair’.” Tenderheaded. Ed. Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson. New York: Pocket Books, 2001. 2-9. Print. Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books, 1988. Print. Kaba, Mariame. “When Black Hair Tangles with White Power.” Tenderheaded. Ed. Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson. New York: Pocket Books, 2001. 102-108. Print. Nemiroff, Robert. “Introduction.” A Raisin in the Sun. New York:
Vintage Books, 1988. 5-14. Print.
The Garage Sale: A Short, Sarcastic Masterpiece by Alicia Costello
Louvier, Catherine (2009).
I climbed in the passenger seat of our car with pretty much the sourest look on my face ever. My face curled up with anger and my eyes shut the light out. The longing for sleep overruled any proper etiquette drilled into me during the molding years.“Whoopee. Getting woken up early on a weekend to go look at other people’s crap.” Sarcasm, that killer of words, flowed out of me without effort. “You’ve really done it this time, Susan.” “Liz,” snapped my mother, “don’t call me Susan. Call me Mom. Get that? I’ve never seen such a disrespectful child in my life.” My eyes opened. “Yes, Suzie.” “And DON’T call me Suzie! It’s Susan…but it’s not; it’s Mom to you!”
were a character in a movie, I would be played by a twenty-seven year old.”
“Whatever, Susan. I’m not a child, Susan. I’m seventeen, for God’s sake. I’m a senior.If I
She ground her teeth. “Well, you still live under my roof and you’ll learn that going to garage sales is fun.” “Your level of ‘fun’ musta severely diminished with your old age, woman.” “Now, now, Elizabeth.” I never understood why she said that. Like that was supposed to subdue my distaste. I didn’t answer her back. Feeling as if she had won the argument, she started our Ford SUV and pulled oh-so-carefully out of the driveway. I settled into my seat, focusing on the deep blue vastness of the sky. I let it hypnotize me, surround my whole world. Susan’s typical babbling and the steady vroom of the car melted into one constant sound, and my eyes pleaded to close. I didn’t fight them. Darkness. So sleepy. So desperately wanted to get out of this stupid car and go back to bed. The constant vroom pulled me deeper and deeper away from the reality of the morning. My mind drifted back to before Susan woke me: a dream I’d been having. It seemed so real. I found myself in my old elementary school, standing in the doorway of my third grade classroom. All my classmates sat obediently coloring pictures of America. Mrs. Koch, my teacher, with her crazy blonde hair, sat at her desk, grading. I went to my desk—my third-grade self had left it empty—and took my seat. “Metal-Mouth” Tamra Johnson smiled at me, her braces shining. Her little hand held an extra blank picture. I took the assignment and I, too, began to color America. Life seemed so at peace. The car stopped, a door slammed, and I jerked awake again. Susan made me stand there while she stupidly fawned over dusty cobwebbed junk. The stuff looked like it hadn’t escaped an attic for thirty years—almost twice as old as me. Boxes of
picture frames never used, worn-out clothes; I looked at the cluttered masses of crap and then
back at our SUV—my ticket home, back to bed, and back into a dream world where yard sales existed only to find undiscovered Picassos and sell ‘em for record cash. “Do they have an art section?” Susan’s eyes brightened. Poor idiot, she thought I was having fun. “That’s the spirit! I think it’s over there,” she said, pointing to a corner of the garage blocked by a massive teenage boy. He hid himself on a fold-out chair in a dark spot of the garage, away from any main action of the yard sale. His sour visage hidden beneath dark hair and dark eyes, and his hairy crossed arms instinctively drew me back, like a bear guarding his cave. He stared. I diverted my eyes to convey non-threatening body language; if he wanted to assert dominance, I would freely comply. My eyes returned to the haphazard piles thrown on old tables, like the house threw up on the lawn. I looked back to him on several occasions. I recognized a small look of frustration beneath that anger. He wanted to go back to sleep as much as I did. His eyes drooped in the same exhaustion as mine, and he looked murderously sleep-deprived. I compared the statistics of actually finding a Picasso at a junk yard sale to the statistics of returning from that corner of the garage with one of my arms broken. Bear Boy didn’t look like he would play nice just because I was a girl. Susan noticed me still standing next to her. “Well, go over there and look at the art.” “On second thought, I’ll stay here.” Susan’s fingers strangled the table clock in her hands as she placed it on the table. “Liz, I swear to God, I didn’t bring you here so you could have a bad attitude.”
“Don’t be like that. Yar
“Then maybe you’ll learn for next time to leave me at home.”
d sales are so much fun,” she said, holding up a clear plastic bowl designed to look like crystal. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” I looked once again at the heaps of dust covering each ugly item. “See, Susan, we have to talk about your definition of things. I, for example, would not place that plastic bowl in the category of ‘treasure.’ This is America, woman. If you need something, you go to an overcrowded mall, and buy what you need at an overpriced store filled with incompetent salespeople.” “But this stuff is so cheap!” To my own surprise, my fist tightened a little with frustration. I quickly grabbed the ugliest item within reach—a telephone carved in the shape of a mallard duck. “Twenty-five cents for this is overcharging the consumer.” We stared each other down, each trying to win the argument by sheer will. The host of the garage sale waded over, squeezing in between two tables. Her hair was gritty, dry and forced into an ugly hue, which made it in no better shape than her fingernails. She wore cheap clothes and puffed on a cheap cigarette. She must have smoked for years because the nicotine had turned her skin a cheap yellow color. “Oh, the duck phone! A delightful item!” We continued to stare at each other with full concentration, even though Mama Bear blew puffs of smoke in our faces. “My father had it for years! Instead of ringing, it quacks!” She giggled as if it was the funniest thing she ever heard. Fed up, I turned my face towards her, not losing any seriousness. “Go. Away.” Her eyes widened and her mouth opened slightly, her cigarette nearly falling out of her
mouth. She walked away, smashing her foot into a weathered red wagon.
Susan’s livid face changed to disappointment. “Despise me all you want, but don’t be cruel to other people.” She quickly plucked an old fuchsia lamp with an egregious crack down the side from the table, and waved desperately at the woman. “We’ll take this lamp!” Mama Bear turned and, noticing the prospect of a few more dollars. She said, “That’ll be ten dollars.” What a rip-off. She barked in the direction of Bear Boy, “Matthew! Come over here and wrap this base in some paper so it doesn’t break.” Bear Boy rolled his eyes and reluctantly trudged over in our direction. His reaction to the sun resembled how I’d always imagined a vampire would respond. The huge dark circles under his eyes, probably from playing numerous hours of some online game, only increased the vampire suspicion. A bear vampire. A bear-pire! That would make an amazing movie. They could get Bruce Willis to play the small-town cop who tracks down the bear-pire. It could premiere in the summer and make tons of money! I spent the next few seconds dreaming what a big-budget action movie starring Bruce Willis chasing a bear-pire would be like. Of course, it would be called Search for the Bear-pire. Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I wondered what bear-pires would eat. Probably the blood of other bears or something. An excited gleaming in Susan’s eye brought me back to reality. I felt a little sick to my stomach, knowing what would exit her mouth next. She could never leave things alone. She always had to argue, to get her way, even just a little bit. “I’ll give you five dollars for it.” Mama Bear sighed, shifted her weight, and placed her elbows on a tall, dilapidated dresser serving as the cash counter. “Sorry, no haggling. Ten dollars.” She put her face in her
hands, yawned, and looked at Susan with an angry stare.
“I’ll give you six dollars.” God, the woman seemed to think she possessed some form of genius accounting mindset because she took an upper-level economics class in college. She studied Business before she lost her will entirely and dropped out three weeks into her junior year. “Ten dollars. Please stop wasting my time.” Mama Bear sank her yellow face deeper into her hands, desperately wanting to fall asleep at that moment. Susan pushed her hair back and straightened her posture. Acting like a business woman must have given her some kind of pathetic high. “Eight dollars. I’ll give you eight dollars for this lamp.” “Lady, I already said no haggling. It’s ten dollars. I’ll let you have it for ten.” Business failed to work. Susan tried the nice approach. “Look, Mrs…” The woman didn’t answer her, taking the last long drag of her cigarette instead. She threw it to the ground, and crushed it with a fat foot. “I’m Susan. So nice to meet you.” She held out her hand for the woman to shake. Mama Bear just stared at it and barked, “Are you going to buy the lamp or not, lady?” Susan put her hand back down. She gracefully ignored the rudeness and continued to address Mama Bear in her annoyingly soft high voice. “You know, this lamp isn’t really worth ten whole dollars. Look, there’s a crack here and it’s so old and the color isn’t fashionable anymore.” I wondered whether I should publically note that haggling only proved my point of garage sales overpricing used junk. I decided to keep my mouth shut, let Susan continue acting
“If you actually thought that, you wouldn’t have picked it up. Ten dollars. Pay up.”
out in her dream world, creating this ridiculous charade.
“I don’t know that I’m willing to pay more than eight for it.” “See my son here, lady?” She jabbed a fat thumb over at her son, who stood behind her, dumb and confused. “He’s got diabetes. He needs insulin. Just give us the extra two dollars so we can buy medicine.” “Oh, alright. Ten dollars.” Susan plucked a bill from her purse, defeated, her fingers grasping tightly on Hamilton’s face like she was trying to squeeze him to death. Bear Boy began to speak, but Mama Bear kicked him lightly in the shin behind the dresser. She retained her poisonous frown and tired face, and said insincerely, “Thank you. Have a nice day” as she wrapped her grubby hands around the ten dollar bill. As we walked back to the car, hideous lamp in hand, Susan deemed this as an appropriate time for a lesson in world culture. You know, Liz, haggling is a cultural staple of economics in India.” “You’ve never been to India.” Sliding into my seat, thankful to go home, I could swear I heard Bear Boy say to his mother “Mom, what’s diabetes?” We rode home in silence. I looked out the window, perfectly content to watch the business signs as they sped by, and my favorite game: counting the number of huge SUVs, driven haphazardly by women talking on their cell phones, and kids flailing about the back seats. Somewhere around Mom-On-A-Cell-Phone # 24, Susan tried feebly to start a conversation with “so how did your science project turn out?” “Stuff blew up.”
“Stuff was supposed to blow up.”
“Oh, no! Well, I will call your teacher and beg for you to have another chance.”
“Oh.” She drove without saying anything further. A few blocks later, she loudly exclaimed, “Oh my God! Another one!” From the left lane, she made an illegal right turn. I
rolled my eyes. Not again.
The Mailbox Dance by Marvin Jones Dirt sat in the doorway of the RV and watched as I raised my face from the ground. I grunted as I laid my head back down for a long moment before managing to roll over onto my back. Dirt probably considered encouraging me with a morning kiss, but knowing my mood might be sour, thought better of it. Dirt knew that it was best on such occasions to let me wallow in my misery till some of the stupor wore off and I could determine if the previous night's drunk was worth having spent the night face down on the ground. It was with considerable effort that I sat up and looked around with my head hanging low. I tried in vain to recall the events leading up to my present situation. My eyes searched the immediate vicinity for an-y remnants of a bottle that might happen to be lying around. Even an empty bottle sometimes told the story. After allowing my head to dangle for a few more minutes, I concluded that the night on the ground had been a fair price for a fairly decent drunk. Any drunk that I couldn't remember had to have been a good one. I scooted around on my butt so I could see the RV and Dirt sitting in the doorway. One of my eyebrows went up as I sighted Dirt and one of my hands went up to my face, where I felt some gravel and knocked a few bits of it off. I licked my lips a few times and finally got the inside of my mouth wet enough to speak. "A fine lot of help you are. Left me lyin' out here all night with nothin' to drink when I woke up." Dirt disappeared inside the RV for a minute and reappeared with a partially drunk bottle of whiskey. My dull eyes flickered at the sight of the bottle, but the flicker quickly faded when Dirt set the bottle down and stayed where she was. "That ain't no way to be. Bring that on over here. We can pick right up where we left off." Dirt yawned and sat down right where she was. Her eyes shifted from me to the bottle. "Hmph! If that ain't somethin'. I suppose you think that I'll somehow be a better man if I have to get up and come over there for a drink." I ran the fingers of my right hand through my
tilted back and quickly lowered it. My drifting gaze settled on Dirt for a second, then the bottle. Copyright 2010 University of Houston-Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu.
I leaned my head back and took a deep breath. I nearly lost my balance with my head
long, thick hair and propped myself up on my left arm. "Damn dog."
Inspired by the sight of it, I forced myself over onto my knees and then up to my feet. The twenty-foot distance to the porch looked a lot farther and fairly complex as I stood, swaying on legs stiffened by a cold night on the hard ground. Dirt barked from the doorway. "I don't need your help now," I said gruffly. "I've got the hard part done already. Get out of the way." Dirt moved herself and the bottle back out of the way. I leaned forward till my legs instinctively began to move to keep me upright. I staggered the distance, picking up speed as I went. Just as I got to the porch, I spun and plopped my rear end down on it, my top half spilling back into the doorway. "Ha!" I lay sprawled out for a minute. Dirt laid the bottle beside me and licked my face. "Don't start kissin' up now. You didn't even think I'd make it." I reached and got a firm grip on the bottle as I sat up. I licked my lips in anticipation while I unscrewed the top. Dirt watched intently as I raised the bottle and took a long pull off of it. Her deep eyes were peaceful, knowing. I shook my head and blew out between pursed lips. The amber liquid began to knock the chill out of my bones. "Dirt, you're a good dog and I like you a lot. But the very next time you stop short with that bottle, I'm goin' to trade you in on a dog I can trust, one that really appreciates me. I think I know just the dog, too." Dirt raised an ear and started breathing out of her mouth with her tongue hanging out. "This dog is bound to have character since he only has one hind leg. He probably-even has a really cool name like Tripod or Leaner." Dirt licked my face. "Don't even try that. My mind is already made up." Dirt barked, went inside the RV, returned with my wallet, and looked over at the faded black, '52 Ford pickup. "You traitor." I took another pull from the bottle and looked real serious at Dirt while letting the whiskey reach its mark. We looked at each other for a full two minutes.
was steady. Copyright 2010 University of Houston-Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu.
Dirt's ears suddenly perked up and she looked out across the treetops on the hill. Her gaze
"Somethin ain't right. You're too eager."
"You see somebody down by the creek? It could be those poachers." Even after years of drunkenness, my senses were fairly acute. I focused my attention in the same direction, but could sense nothing amiss. "I think you're imagininâ€™ things, but we'll go take a look just to make sure." Dirt picked up the bottle and jumped down off the porch. "I left the rifle in the shop. Come on." I took a few steps before realizing that Dirt was going the other direction up the driveway. "Hey! Are you suddenly hard of hearinâ€™ or what? You're goin' the wrong way." Dirt looked back at me, took several more steps up the driveway, and looked back again. "I knew you were up to no good. I'm in no position to argue. You've got the bottle, so I'll play along." The two pulls off the bottle had not been enough to get me feeling completely human again, and though my humor was fairly good most of the time, it was presently wearing thin. I turned and started up the driveway toward the truck some fifty feet away. "Like I don't have better things to do than humor you all day." I didn't and I knew it. "That three-legged dog is lookin1 better by the minute." I paused by the truck and pulled a pearl-handled, long-barrel revolver from behind the seat. I raised the gun and pointed it at Dirt, who was now a good fifty yards ahead. "Dirt! You bring that bottle back here right now!" Dirt stopped, turned, and looked at me. She made no move in my direction. "Bring me that bottle or I'm goin1 to shoot you!" Dirt didn't move. She stood, imperturbable. "That does it!" I fired the pistol. Dirt didn't even flinch as the bullet kicked up loose bits of limestone a foot to her right. "You ain't playin' fair. If you weren't holdin' that bottle in front of you as a shield, I'd shoot you dead this very instant! What are you tryin' to prove? What?" I raised my arms in a futile gesture. "Why on earth did I ever team up with a hard-headed dog such as you? What have I ever done to deserve treatment such as this?" I raised the pistol as Dirt turned to trot off with the bottle. I held my aim for a moment before lowering the gun. "Who am I foolin1?" I muttered.
we'd sure enough have us a duel!"
"You know damn well I wouldn't shoot an unarmed dog in the back! I wish you could use a gun,
I stuck the gun in the front of my jeans and followed Dirt the quarter-mile to the front gate. She jumped through the barbed wire fence and went on ahead out of sight around the curve. I stopped when I looked up and saw Dirt sitting in front of the mailbox, bottle of whiskey lying at her feet. "Hmph! Why didn't you just say the check had come? It sure seems longer than a month since the last time we did somethin' like this. Now, I'll have to get sober and clean up so we can go to town." Dirt came over and put her huge paws on my shoulders and began licking my face. "What I really had in mind was a shower. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Dirt. You've got far more character than any ol' three-legged dog could ever have." I shook the loose skin on her neck. "Why, I bet even a six-legged dog couldn't possess half as much character as you're sportinâ€™." Dirt licked with more vigor than before. Her deep, content eyes sparkled with smiles.
Louvier, Catherine (2010).
Fighting Dirty by Marvin Jones Natasha had on her boots, nothing more. She set a cup of coffee on the table by the bed and shook me gently. "Breakfast will be ready in about five minutes." She went back out. I sat up and got a bit of coffee in me before getting up to take a leak. I splashed some water on my face and looked in the mirror. "What have you gone and done now?" Breakfast was on the table when I got outside. There were scrambled eggs with cheese and garlic, hash browns, biscuits, gravy, butter, honey, Tabasco sauce and ketchup. Natasha refilled my cup as I sat down. She seemed very happy. She set the pot back on the grille then kissed me long and slow. "Are my boots bothering you?" "Maybe you should wear some socks or something with them."
see? They fell down. You need new socks." She took down her foot, sat across from me, and Copyright 2010 University of Houston-Clear Lake 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, (281) 283-7600. Contact Gorman@UHCL.edu or Buxton@UHCL.edu.
Natasha reached in a boot as she propped it up on my chair. She pulled up a sock. "I am,
Louvier, Catherine: Natashaâ€™s Boots
began shoveling food onto our plates. "What do you think about last night? Did I do all right? I haven't had sex with a guy in seven years. I was thirteen then. Do you find me pleasurable? I mean, I can learn." "Must we talk about last night?" I stuffed some eggs in my mouth. "Yes. We need to talk about it. I want to do things right. I need to know." I gave her a stern look and took a swallow of coffee. A big bite of hash browns went into my mouth. "Oh-h-h, I see. You don't want to talk. You would rather show me. Good, we'll get right back at it right after breakfast." "Natasha! I am nearly twenty years older than you. We made a mistake. Let's move on." "A mistake? No, it's no mistake." Natasha buttered a biscuit and handed it to me. I snatched it out of her hand. "Listen to what you're sayin'. You're talkin' like we're going to be a couple or somethin' doin' this all the time." "You don't like me?" Natasha hung her head to pout. "Yes! I like you. Look at me. I'm old and scruffy and unrefined." Natasha looked up at me. Little did I know that she was thoroughly enjoying herself. She squeezed some honey onto a buttered biscuit and took a bite. "You're a young, gorgeous woman. We don't match. Can't you see that?" "So you think I'm pretty enough for you?" "Yes! You're pretty enough. You're too pretty." "I don't see that there's a problem."
"You're a hard-headed female, you now that?"
"Are we arguing? If we are, we should continue after breakfast. It's not good to argue on an empty stomach." "What? Who told you some foolish nonsense like that?" "It's common knowledge." "Then how come I've never heard it before." "You're uncommon, that's all. This is great, our first fight. It shows that you really care about me." "Don't say another word, We will resolve this matter once and for all right after breakfast." "OK." Some honey and butter ran off her biscuit onto her left breast. She paid it no mind as she loaded the biscuit back up with more honey and more butter. She seemed oblivious to it when the right breast got the same treatment. In a couple of minutes, Natasha got up and got the coffee pot and put a hand on my shoulder as she reached across in front of me to pour some more. Her honey-butter glazed breasts were right in my face. "Is everything good?" "It's great." Why did she have to be so perfect? Little more was said for the remainder of the meal. I finally sat back in my chair and took a final sip of coffee. Natasha set the dishes on the ground for Dirt to lick clean. "Can we finish fighting now?" She halfway sat on the edge of the table in front of me The morning sun shone on her face, her beautiful blue bedroom eyes were bright and rich, her long blonde hair smooth and silky. I looked up into her eyes. "Nope."
"Oh goody," she said happily. "I win."
"Well, yeah. If you quit, I win." "You can't win a fight that never was. What we did was make a mistake. We're movin' on from here. That's the end of it. I'm the only one who wins on this property. Now, go put some clothes on." "No. I didn't make a mistake. What I did was very deliberate. I'm not putting anything on till we fight. Now, why do you think I'm such a big mistake?" She scooted back a little and put a foot on each side of my chair. "You're fighting dirty, Natasha." "I'll fight any way I want to. I'm fighting to win." "Be sensible about this." "Ok, you're saying I'm a mistake and I don't have good sense. Next you'll probably say I'm childish and immature." "I never said you don't have good sense." "You said it. And it'll probably all boil down to my being a lesbian. Maybe because of that I can't think straight and I need you to make a rational decision about this for me. I'm right, aren't I?" "No! I didn't say any of that stuff." "You implied it by saying I wasn't fit to argue with!" "I never said that!" "Yes you did, when you told me we were moving on. Then you said I was ugly! And you talk about fighting dirty. That hurt me!" Natasha was near tears.
"I never said anything like that!"
"Yes you did! Go put some clothes on, cover those skinny, knock-kneed legs. It hurts my eyes to look at you. You're unfit and disgusting. Cover yourself." Natasha sobbed. "How could you be so cruel?" Tears flowed from her eyes. "No! Natasha, no! I didn't mean anything like that. You're the prettiest woman I've ever seen." "Liar! You probably think I'm not even fit to bear your children!" "I don't think that." "Yes you do!" "I don't!" "Prove it!" Natasha snatched my boxers down as she locked her mouth on mine and swiped the table clean as I was pulled down on top of her. "OK, you win." Natasha was breathing hard. "I believe you." I had been completely caught up in her. The reality of the situation began to seep into my brain. "I win?" "Yes, I know when I'm beat. I'm sorry I ever doubted you." She kissed me long and slow.â€? "If I won, why are we like this? And why do I feel like you won?" "Do you want to fight some more?" "Yes." I started to get up but Natasha held me down. "We can fight right here." "People can't fight lyin' down."
"It's common knowledge."
"Where did you hear some rubbish like that?"
"If it's so common, how come I never heard of it?" "You're uncommon!" "You're not going to call me a knock-kneed, skinny legged, stupid, ugly girl again, are you?" "I never called you that in the first place." "Then why are we fighting? Can't you just win gracefully?" "If I had won, we wouldn't be like this right now. This is what I was tryin' to prevent." "This is what you wanted." "No, it isn't!" I got up and pulled Natasha to her feet. "That's what you said." "I said no such thing. You've got the worst hearing of anybody I ever met." "Oh no. You're not blaming all of this on me. You knew what you were doing. Just because you're smarter than me. You hurt my feelings so I'd fall right back into your arms the minute you opened them up. Then when I do, it's all my fault. You fight dirty." "I fight dirty?" "Yes! If you want me to be submissive all the time, just tell me." "That's not what I want!" "Yes it is!" "It is not!" "It is!" "It is not!"
"Then take this!" Natasha wrapped her mouth around mine and shoved me back onto the
--------------------------------------"OK, you win again. I believe you. I'll beat you next time. What do you want to fight about now?" "I think I missed somethin'. Let's go back to our first fight." "No, you beat me fair and square. You don't have to rub my face in it." "I don't intend to." "What then?" "Somethin' you said about bearin' children." "No, I thought you thought that about me, but you proved me wrong. You do think I'm fit to bear your children, so I'm going to prove you right by doing it. You won and I'm backing you
up on it. I'm not a sore loser."
Kayak Journal – Dylan by Stuart Brooks May 19, 2008 So Dylan, my 20-year-old son, read this journal and decided he wanted to come with me on a paddling trip. Rather than starting at one park, paddling upstream then turning around, we decided to leave my truck at the take-out spot and leave his car at the put-in spot, which meant that we would be paddling downstream all the way. I thought this would make for easier paddling. We went on Saturday, the 17th, but I thought that motorboat traffic would be light because we left early, about noon, and because weather conditions were not optimal. We had several days last week of rain and cooler weather. Saturday was supposed to be sunny and warm, but turned out to be overcast, cool and drizzly. I thought the weather would hold off other boaters. We put in at Countryside Park, which has creek-side access, but no boat ramp. I dropped my boat in the water and sat on the creek bank, carefully easing into the boat. Dylan stepped into his boat like he was walking down stairs and we were off.
After about 500 feet, he asked, “So where are all these birds you’ve been talking about?” All of a sudden, a medium sized black bird lifted off from a branch on the far side of the creek and shot past us. “What was that?” he asked. I said I thought it was a cormorant because of the coloring and the retractable neck, but as we caught up to it, it began to look more and more like a small heron. I looked it up on the internet yesterday and I think it was a grimacing green heron, which is a ridiculous name for a creature. Supposedly, the markings around the bill make it look as if it is grimacing. The grimacing green heron kept pace with us for 30 or 45 minutes, flying ahead and then diving for fish. I had a lot of fun watching it. In fact, it stayed with us until we came to the houses.
Even though it was a dark and stormy day, it was still amazing. Right where we put in was a tree full of honeysuckle; the air was filled with sweetness. The banks of the creek were filled with honeysuckle flowers and these orange things that looked like trumpets. As we paddled away from the park, we could hear the crowds at the midget soccer league games cheering. I felt like a part of something and yet separate unto myself at the same time. Dylan had said in the car that he’d never paddled a kayak before, but he took to it rather quickly. As we rounded the first bend and Countryside fell out of view he said “This is fun. Why doesn’t everybody do this?” He was full of childlike exuberance, paddling from one side of the creek to the other and spinning round and round in the middle of the creek. “That’s a bit disorienting”, he said after his first spin, but by the second or third time he seemed to look forward to it. I worried that he would run out of energy and we would be stuck somewhere between parks.
We rounded a bend and came upon a for sale sign which was planted in a lovely yard. This was the first sign of civilization we had come upon, other than the plastic bags and styrofoam washed up on the edge of the creek. I had not noticed this jetsam of humanity in any of my previous paddles, but Dylan was very offended by it. “I guess that stuff really will last for a million years,” he said. He was also troubled by the house immediately downstream of the one with the for sale sign. Its deck was mildewed and scummy. It had the rundown look of something once prized but now forgotten. Dylan felt the need to explain why a house in such a spectacular location with such unusual architecture—it was a sort of beach house with a large veranda-like room on the ground floor topped by another veranda-like room with a domed roof and another dome for the bedrooms connected by the deck- could fall into such disrepair. “Maybe old people live there,” he said. It was at this point that my shoulders, which had been steadily complaining, really started to burn. I was ready to be at Challenger Park, so when we came to an island in the creek, which afforded us the choice of whether to go left or right, I thought that we were coming to a place I had been before. It was also at this point that we saw the day’s first motor boat. An older couple came zooming around the corner of the island and turned toward us. They immediately cut the throttle as soon as they saw us and putted by. We waved and smiled; they waved and smiled. I watched Dylan carefully, but he had no trouble with the wake as their boat passed. We paddled on and saw several more houses, including a large house with a second story deck on which sat a middle-aged woman in a fuchsia tank-top. She paid no attention to us as Dylan said that her sprinkler system was wasting water. She was the third person we saw that day. I was very disappointed to come to the end of the island in the creek and find that we were not approaching Challenger Park, but were in fact somewhere that I had never been before. I was getting very tired and distracted by my son’s paddle habits. He would zoom from bank to bank, spin around in circles, come flying up next to me and stop, fall back and then take off again. He got very interested in a pair of cardinals way up in the trees on the north bank and chased them for 15 or 20 minutes. Several times he got right in front of me, paddled ahead and then stopped. In creek at least 75 feet wide, we must have run into each other at least 5 times, to the point where I started pushing his boat with my paddle. I even whacked him in the head with it—my paddle not my boat. I was trying to paddle while he was parked on my right side. I didn’t lift the paddle high enough on the backswing and rapped him behind the ear. “I’m gonna’ tell Mom!”
At this point, we heard another boat coming up behind us. I was sort of in the middle of the creek and Dylan was off to my right and behind. He started freaking out, what are we going to do, what’s going to happen, etc... It was a ski boat driven by younger people who didn’t look too happy to see us, but did slow down and kicked up only a small wake after they passed by. I was being very conscientious about not spinning around after being rocked by the wakes. I don’t
It was about this time that we saw what can only be described as the avian version of majestic. We rounded a bend and saw a pure white great heron standing in a marsh next to the creek. As we approached, it took off and flew down the creek, but returned and roosted up high on the branch of a dead tree. Dylan said it looked like it the tree branch was made just for the bird to stand on it. The great white also followed us for quite a ways, picking up two compatriots, so that at times we were being paced by three of the most amazing birds I have ever seen.
know why; Dylan was spinning around like a top with a big grin on his face. We probably went for about 10 minutes before we saw another boat coming toward us, really fast. They were pulling a wakeboarder who actually knew what she was doing. We saw her jump the wake right before the boat driver, probably her dad, saw us and cut back a bit on the throttle. The skier took this as an opportunity to cut back across the wake as her dad veered around me so that both the boat and the skier passed me by a very small margin. Dylan asked me later if the ski rope actually went over my head. I thought I was going to be OK. I made it through the boat wake all right without spinning, but then another wake that I wasn’t expecting came along and got me and pitched me into the creek. Turns out the creek is not actually three feet deep in that spot, but is more than six feet deep. I couldn’t touch the bottom. Here I was exhausted, no idea where I was, and out of my boat. And I had been worrying about Dylan! I swam over to the bank and attempted to get back in my boat from there. I stood on a tree branch and flopped into my boat. I ended up on my stomach facing the bow. When I attempted to roll over, I rolled right back into the creek. Dylan found all of this very funny. Finally, I got back out into the deep water, grabbed the edge of my boat and surged up on top of it. I swung around and got my butt near the seat with my heels in the footpads. I pushed back with my legs and got myself back into the position in which I started. Dylan said it was not very graceful, but effective.
As we were passing the new high school, I thought I heard a hisssssing sound. I looked around but didn’t see anything. A few minutes later, Dylan looked over at my boat, he was just inches away on my right again, and said “Why are you bubbling?” I was starting to get very concerned. So you can imagine my excitement when the three great whites swooped by and alighted on the four posts that mark the end of Challenger Park. I was somewhat chastened by the fact that the posts marked the farthest spot I had previously been able to paddle upstream, but really thrilled by the prospect of making it to our goal before my boat totally deflated. We docked without incident, except for the part where Dylan ran into me two or three more times, and climbed out of our boats with our dignity intact. Dylan made it to the top of the ramp and stopped. I told him that the truck was directly in front of him and to go ahead. He said, “I’m trying to figure out how to walk.”
We continued on our way. By now I was really ready to be at Challenger Park. We passed by a park on the south bank, with slides and swings. I really wished we had put in there instead of at Countryside. We came across what looked like the lights of a football field, which I can only assume was the new high school. This was disheartening. I thought that the new high school was a LONG way from Challenger Park. About this time, the old couple we first saw came by. I noticed that they had fishing rods with them. They were boat smiling and looked happy. Overcast weather is supposed to make for good fishing so maybe they caught something. I was glad to see that they were having a good time. Not long after that, the wakeboarders came by. This time I could see that the dad was driving, the mom was spotting and the daughter was skiing. Even though they had dumped me out of my boat, I waved at all of them, including the girl. They all waved back. Dylan later told me it was fun that a hot girl waved at him while she was skiing. After they passed us, with the skier on the far side of the creek this time, the girl jumped the wake again. This time she tried a front flip but wiped out. As she came up out of the water we could hear her shouting “That was awesome!”
We loaded the boats in my truck and drove back to Countryside. On the way, we saw a yellowcrested night heron in the bar ditch next to Challenger Park Road. I pointed it out to Dylan, who said, “Yep, that’s where you usually see those.” When we got back to his car he said, “So, do you want to go again?”