Friday, May 8, 2009

Book Report

What I know about Mommie Dearest

by Susannah Clay LastNameHereButReallyIsItSuchASecret, age 36

Growing up I read Mommie Dearest as if it were a bedtime story. Hans Christian Anderson sucked, Aesop was sooo predictable and I had yet to discover Judy Blume and the wonders of Forever (*sigh*). Joan Crawford was my type of gal even if I knew in 1984 that shoulder pads were a bad idea.

In the 7th grade we were allowed to do a book report on a book of our choosing which to a word nerd such as myself was akin to giving me clear skin and the ability to talk to boys while dancing to Stairway to Heaven, all 14 glorious minutes. I chose Mommie Dearest, of course, and in the summary section I wrote something like this:

It is about mothers. About daughters. About pain and love and more pain. And wire hangers. It is about cold cream and mothers who use cold cream, and beauty and the ugly truth. It is about mothers. It is about daughters...

I think I went like that for 200 words because the summary section requirement was 200 words and then right before class I read a friend's book report on Bridge to Terabithia and her summary was much more straight-foward. Bridge to Terabithia is the story of a boy named Jess who befriends his neighbor after loosing {sic} a race at school. And then this happened and then that, the end. I remember standing outside of Mrs. Hudson's English class mortified of not only my choice of books, but of my flowery Massengill-like summary. I took my pen and I scratched away at about mothers and about daughters until I wore a hole in the paper, and then up the side of the margin I scrawled something more linear about Joan Crawford that was in no way 200 words. I turned it in like that, holes and all, then I sat down at my desk and over the course of the 50 minute class I got my period all over my chair.
I was wearing lilac colored cropped pants and a matching lilac colored plaid shirt. I remember; it was rad. Halfway through class I could feel myself leaking but I did not know what to do. So I sat there. And sat some more. The bell rang. I did not stand up. Finally Mrs. Hudson had to tell me to leave and so I just got up and left my seat all bloody. Maybe I tied a sweatshirt around my waist, I don't know, I certainly don't think I had a sweatshirt that went with my lovely lilac ensemble. I don't really remember the rest, how I got through the day, who knew, how I even got home or if I ever did. For all I know I could still be there in the hallway of Red Hill Junior High with blood all over my lilac colored cropped pants. If so, let's hope I'm not still lining the inside of my lower eyelid with aqua liner.
But that's what I know about Mommie Dearest. And motherhood. It's about mothers. About daughters. It's about pain and love and blood and cold cream if you're lucky enough not to have oily prone skin. It's about looping up and around and always back to your mother, your grandmother, your daughter, yourself, a crazy stupid silly loop of blood and tissue and stories and more, always hopefully more. In italics. (What it's not about is being straightforward.) And this time I am not going to scratch it out. It's about. Forever.
p.s. I got a C on that book report.

Happy Mother's Day!




pillow mint said...

happy mother's day.
(have you seen this?)

Oh Brother! said...

Maybe I'm the first. Won't be the last. Who's to say? I will.

This post is one of my favorites.



P.S. Upon minor (very) reflection, maybe this really should yarb me out as a brother, but it's just damn fine writing.

Sarah Danielle: Jeune Marie said...

That exact same thing happened to a girl who sat in front of me in 4th grade - Margaret. Blood was dripping onto the floor and I was very naive and taped her on the shoulder... "Eww. Your bleeding!" I said and everyone turned and looked. I had no idea what I had done and I felt so horrible so I gave her my rain coat and told her to keep it. Then I had to explain to my mother on the car ride home why I needed a new raincoat and then she explained what a period was. I was probably more embarrassed than Margaret at that point.

Shannon said...

Happy Mother's Day, enjoy your weekend, wire hangers and all.

E Chuod said...

That's the exact kind of thing that would happen to me. Except I never actually completed the homework, and I'm a dude, so... you know.... none of that other thing.

Author said...

i wish i knew you better back then, i really do... mushroom hair and beautiful face and all.. we would have been great kindred jr high spirits! ~ a.b.

hej said...

Maybe a C on your book report but an A as a mother.

krista said...

you do know that you got a c because you crossed out the good summary and wrote the generic one, right?
well, at least i hope so, because otherwise your teacher was a douchebag.
oh, bloody hell.
(wak wak)
i hated puberty.

Maggie May said...

oh you poor girl. i had a whole white pants/red crotch stain thing, so i feel you.

s. said...

Thank heavens for girls' school with hunter green uniforms made of fabric so thick and dark I'd never even know if I bled three quarts into it.

Have you seen this National Geographic mtDNA kit that allows you to see where your great great great great great great great great grandmother (about 10,000 years ago) came from? It's made me feel even more in tune with my own maternal line, and with my own children.

Blues said...

really liked this post and how you tied it together. Happy Mother's Day.

kathleen said...

Why is it that we all read that book so young? Why is it that I get happy in an I-know-it's-fucked-up-but-I-don't-care way when I watch the movie? Why is it that Forever might still be the most erotic book I've ever read? We may never know the answers to these questions...

Same thing happened to me, but it was acid wash stretch jeans. They were so cool.

the sweet life with olives said...

I'm dying with laughter. Sympathy for hs and embarrassment for puberty on behalf of all hs girls of today and days gone by... what awkward times! hilarious post.

Jen said...

I have always loved Mommy Dearest! It's a strange childhood favorite, but I loved it all the same :)