Seafood Pasta

I finally remembered the last meal I shared with my father.  That shit wasn’t easy to remember.  It was ten years ago and I buried it because it, like my father himself, was hurtful and repulsive.  My hypnotherapist and I had to do some serious excavating.

But we found it.

My father loved seafood, especially bouillabaisse.  Odd, for an inlander–nobody else in my family will eat a bite of fish or anything from the water–but his palate was comparatively cultivated.

I could not cook bouillabaisse, but I knew how to cook a seafood pasta dish.  The ingredients cost me $40 at a time when I was about to move across the continent and had less than a hundred bucks in my checking account.

I spent it because I wanted to make our meal together special.  Because I was going Away.

My father was furious with me for leaving him.  You know why: I was his meal ticket.

He pushed the plate aside and said that it was inedible, even though I’d cooked it just fine and it was the exact same dish he’d eaten with relish on previous occasions.  This is something about Franz Adler: he would find a way to insult every gift or kind gesture or sacrifice you made to him…it was never enough or there was always something wrong.

I told The Collector this memory, after I uncovered it.

“We will do it again.  Do you have any clothing from that period of your life?”

I considered.  “I have the same suit I wore to defend my thesis.  It was my best suit, my very best clothes.”

“Does it still fit you?”

“It does.”  It’s a size 4.  The pants are flare-leg, so it’s out of fashion now, but it really is a great suit.  Navy blue with pinstripes, English-style, satin lined, little pockets everywhere, excellent tailoring. It cost $600 at Macy’s in Union Square, San Francisco. I wore it with a nice translucent blouse with French cuffs and cufflinks.  I looked (and felt) like a boss.

“Wear it to dinner,” the Collector said. “I’ll call for you at 8 (pm).”

I took my best suit out of its plastic container and put it on, and then I sat on my bed and cried, thinking of how much time has gone by and how I never expected to be this way and what happened to me….?

I gathered myself up and refreshed my makeup so it didn’t look like I’d been crying and then walked out to the kitchen (adjacent to the dining room).

He had a pot boiling pasta and a steamer-skillet on the stove.  Delicious cooking smells in the air.  He was making mussels, clams, and prawns.

“Have a seat at the table, Margo! Dinner is almost ready. We are going to have a feast to celebrate your accomplishment.  I am so proud that you are going to get your doctorate.”

I sat down at the table, telling myself It’s okay it’s okay it’s just a game this is just a fantasy game

Then I started to cry.  Right there.  In my suit, at the table.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Don’t Play Priest With My Little Pony (II)

(Continued from Part I)

The priest–let’s call him “Father John”–is the only priest I’ve ever met in my life whom I wouldn’t want to hit in the face with a brick.  Only the most conservative Tridantine Mass Catholics hated him.  He was generally adored by the community, and even the Irish nuns, who were considerably more conservative (and less educated) thought of him as some Ultimate Authority.  Because isn’t that what a priest is…?

Father John was an Irish-American from back East…let’s say, Boston. He was a functioning alcoholic and a chain-smoker.  Blue-eyed, stocky, tall, always red-faced, hair probably strawberry blond in his youth.  He had three spaniel dogs he loved, and took them into our classes and hung photos of them on his office wall.  It was well known (though never formally acknowledged) that he had a decades-long relationship with his housekeeper (he had a private residence, unlike the nuns).  I walked in on them, whilst running errands, watching TV together or dining at the table together several times.  Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion, then or now.  People need love and he was a grown man with needs that must be met.  I just hope he kept paying her for her cleaning services and didn’t take her for granted–and he was such a good guy, I’m sure he did, and more.  Her kid from a previous relationship got into the school on a “scholarship.”  I think that’s great.  If he can’t marry her or publicly acknowledge her, at least he can support her and give her kid free education, right?

Father John was a total Vatican II guy and sympathetic to Liberation Theology.  He read lots of books and TIME magazine before TIME became the lowbrow piece of shit that it is today.  He was educated.  Compared to the nuns he supervised, this man was a tenured prof at MIT.

He was the only priest in town who would give my mother confession and the Eucharist.  Technically, it’s forbidden, because she is divorced, and also had unapproved marriages with non-Catholics. The Church was very, very hard on divorce when I was a young child (and before that).  But if you can’t confess and get the Eucharist, you can’t get into heaven (let that sink in for a moment).  If a priest doesn’t give it to you, you go to hell.  Another reason why I hate these assholes.

Father John would take her confession and give her penance and say it was up to God to judge her when the time came.

Father John also fired (“transferred”) a priest who was arrested for aggressively protesting outside of a clinic that provided abortions. The Church was batshit-insane over the abortion issue when I was growing up.  The priest was arrested, after several protests, for putting his hands on a woman walking in.  He spent the night in jail. It was on the news. The Catholic zealots thought he was a hero.  Father John gave him his walking papers at once and forbade the nuns to discuss abortion with us.  Being a head priest of a parish, he was BIG AUTHORITY DAD, so the nuns did whatever he said.

I had my first Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) with him when I was in 2nd grade.  He could not have been more gentle.  He had his white collar and black priest clothes on, and photos of the Pope and his spaniels all over the wall, and he was smoking, as always.   He sat behind his desk, far away, and even though I was nervous, he didn’t terrorize me at all.

The nuns had trained us to do this Sacrament for months.  I knew the words: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession. I accuse myself of the following sins.”

“Go on, when you are ready,” he said.

I confessed to saying swear words (not a sin unless you say the Lord’s name in vain), being mean to my little brother when we fought over a toy, and being angry and resentful at my mother.  I also confessed that I “stole food” from my father’s pantry.  He jealously guarded the food and I was not allowed to eat without his permission.   It was Alberto Beef Jerky from a can.

“You took food from the pantry? Did you take it at night? Were you hungry?”  He sat up straight, cigarette forgotten.

“I’m not allowed to steal food.  It is the family food, and not mine,” I said.

He started smoking again.  I think he was ruminating on it.

Then, it was time for the Act of Contrition.

I said, “Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because they offend thee, my Lord, who art all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the occasions of sin.”

He blessed me and gave me ‘ABSOLUTION” for my petty child’s “sins.”  So now I was pure again, and could take my first communion.

He gave me a candy bar before I left.  He had a big bag, like the type you buy for Halloween, full of mixed candy.  He told me to take one I liked.

I left feeling very happy.  It was not as scary as I’d feared it to be.

Father John called someone (who, I do not know) about my father, and a shrink started visiting the school to see me.  His name was Dr. Arthur (I don’t mind telling you his name, because it’s a common and and he HAS to be dead now–he was about a million years old when I knew him).

One of the only times a man’s stood up for me in my life.  Even my mother didn’t do it.

Well, the smoking and boozing eventually started to take their toll.  He had to have heart surgery, like a triple bypass.  Then he kicked the proverbial bucket.  Everyone was sad.  Huge funeral.

His replacement was a complete piece of shit who plagued the parish–and my Mother–for 15 years.  Check this out: he was a widower with grown children who joined the Clergy in late middle age.  So, he had a family.

He would not give divorced people absolution.  He said it was against the rules.

I don’t give a FUCK about the rules, but, if you’re a believer–like my mother–this is incredibly stigmatizing. And the hypocrisy!  I guess GOD wants people to be alone and loveless all their lives.   When my mother told me that he rejected her, I blew up: “Since when has the Church ever been a friend to women?  We have no authority and they used to burn us.  If you insist, check out another parish.  Or, even better, the Unitarians”–the only church I could sit through without feeling my IQ drop 5 points every minute I was there.

He also treated the congregation like they were morons or little children.  He did condescending shit like bring in a huge toy paper butterfly emerging from a cocoon to go up to heaven, and when he lectured about Noah and the Ark, he’d play storm music on a boombox.  Nice sound effects, bro.

I know most people are not exactly geniuses (saying that as the chick who almost burned her apartment down), but common people–illiterate people–have understood the concept of an afterlife for several thousand years, at least.  And Catholics don’t need a paper butterfly to grasp Resurrection. If you want to explain something really pointless and moronic to the “flock,” priest, try explaining the Trinity.

Anyway, I’m getting totally off point.

The point is: what happened when I was playing priest with My Little Pony.

Father John was sitting at his desk, huffing down his 100th Marlboro Lite cigarette of the day.   This was before computers, so he had a shitload of paper files on his desk and a word processor (remember that blast from the past?).

“Tell him what you did!” the nun ordered, and shoved me forward.

“I pretended I was a priest with my horse dolls,” I said, looking at the floor.

“You may leave me to speak with this child alone, Sister Philip (she’s dead too, reader).  I thank you for your concern,” he said.

She left.

He asked to see my toy ponies, so I took them out of my rucksack and handed them to him.  He lined them up and pretended to make them run.

“You know, when I was a boy, I wanted to be a jockey.  I grew too big and heavy, through.  You have to be small to be a jockey.

Do you want to be a priest?”

“No.  I was just pretending.”

“Women do a lot of good in the Church.  It’s a bit like social work. There is work in the Church for all types of people.  Not all nuns are like Sister Philip.  She worked in the Magdalene Laundries. Do you know what that means?”

“No.”  I was too young to know.

He picked up one of my My Little Ponies, a pink one, and said, “This is the cutest one.  What’s her name?”

“Sparkle,” I said.

He bent over his desk and said, “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Please don’t tell my parents,” I said.

“What could I possibly tell them?”  He gathered up my toys and handed them back to me.  “If you are summoned to the vocation, you’re summoned.  If she asks, tell Sister Philip that I taught you your lesson.  That’s the truth.  It’s not a lie.”

I put the Ponies back in my bag.

“Be careful of what you say out loud, my dear.  The teachers here do not come from our culture.  I didn’t become a priest to punish people.  God decides that in the end; I try to help, but I can’t tell if anyone is true of heart.  But do remember: there are two types of people in the world…the type that eat their humble pie, and the type who go to hell.  When you sin–and we are all sinners–eat your pie.  But you did nothing wrong here.”

Then he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out the candy bag, and offered me a treat.

What a good man.

Don’t Play Priest with My Little Pony (1)

(Content note: this one might offend practicing Catholics and people that find atheism objectionable.  It’s not a rant, but I do talk about these issues here, and if you don’t wanna read about it, don’t read about it.)

This is one for Memory Lane.

Readers will know that I am an atheist.  I was reared Roman Catholic (by my mother, at least), but I stopped believing in the religion quite naturally once I reached the age of reason at about 12 years old.  It was not a violent rejection on my part, or due to anything traumatic.  I simply realized that what was being taught in my religion classes was not jiving with what was being taught in my other classes, and that a lot of things I was reading in the Bible were historically inaccurate and impossible.  I’m not an angry atheist.  I realize a lot of people get something out of religion. I don’t get it, but, hey, I know I’m the outlier here.

(I stopped believing in God…but I never stopped believing in the Church.  The Church is a political institution, and I understand politics very well.  The Church is completely real, even if the theology is fictive.  And if you don’t think that most of the Cardinals in Vatican City don’t think exactly the same way, you’re wrong.  It’s like that old gladiator movie with Kirk Douglas–the scene when Gracchus buys a bird (pigeon or dove) to sacrifice to the Gods, and Caesar says “I thought you had reservations about the Gods.”  Gracchus replied, “Privately I believe in none of them–neither do you.  Publicly, I believe in them all.“)

It’s all about power and control.  That’s the definition of politics: deciding who gets what, and how much.

Which brings us to the point, the little story we find on this walk down Memory Lane.

I attended Catholic school as a young child, and before I reached the age of reason I believed practically everything a teacher told to me, of course.  My teachers were Irish nuns.  Actual IRISH NUNS, half of whom still wore the veil…and the habit, on special occasions.  Most of them had masculine names they took when they took their vows.

Most of my experiences with them were positive.  Most of them honestly loved children, and I can understand, because they could never have children of their own.  However, their education was, shall we say, rather medieval.  For example, my 8th-grade teacher, who was the principal of the school, told us that there were four (4) elements in the world.  This is right out of Aristotle, people.  And I love me some Aristotle, but I’d just been taking a science class and was learning the Table of Elements. It occurred to me that this shit she was saying didn’t jive with reality (no fault on Aristotle).  I think I was 12.  What really galls me is that my mother was trying to give me “the best” education she could, and spent practically all of her discretionary income to send her children to Catholic School…she really sacrificed.  So that her daughter could be taught medieval Catholic “science.”  Thank God I had a brain in my head and a father who had critical thinking skills and a little book-learnin’ , awful as he was.

Catholics are the “intellectuals” of Christendom.  Let that sink in for a while.  Think about it.

Anyway, when I was a little kid, I still believed.  Why wouldn’t I…? Well, I sometimes carried toys in my backpack, and when I was in 2nd grade, I was a big fan of My Little Pony toys/dolls.

My Little Pony

 

Whoever thought this toy up was a genius. I loved these things, waaaay more than Barbie or dolls.  My Dad would only give me “intellectual” toys, like puzzles and crafts and brain-teasers, but my Mom would buy me kid toys, so at Christmas and on my birthday I’d get a My Little Pony.

I had four or five of them, and brought them to school one day just because I felt like it.  I was in 2nd grade…maybe 3rd, can’t recall.

During recess, I went to a secluded shady area by the church and took them out of my bag and played pretend with them.  I lined them all up in a row.

For some reason, I played pretend that I was the priest and we were in Mass.  By that age, I knew the entire Mass by heart (I still know it by heart).

I was pretending to consecrate the Eucharist (always the most–and only–fascinating part of the regular Mass for me), saying all the priest’s words, when a nun walked up behind me and grabbed me by the shoulder.

She’d heard what I was saying, and she was fucking furious.

I was a little kid playing with dolls, emulating behavior I saw (the Mass) at least three times a week.  That was all. I didn’t even have unleavened bread or a cracker in my hand.  It was all imaginary.

She shook me hard and said, “How dare you!  That is only for priests!”  She looked shocked, appalled, as if I’d done something morally unspeakable.  It was an actual affront to her.

Now that I’m older and have perspective, I see possible motivations for her rage (this is all speculative; can’t read her mind): what I did threatened her because it was against the very strictly hierarchical Church.  And, perhaps on a subconscious level, it reminded her that nuns/women will never have the power of priests. Nuns serve in the trenches of the Church–the charities, the elementary schools, hospices in the 3rd world, as unofficial social workers to convicts on death row.  They have zero authority in the Church, even if she’s an Abbess or a Ph.D.  No privileges, el zilcho, and they give up more than the average priest in some hole of a parish.  When I went to Catholic school, girls couldn’t even serve on the Alter except to ring a bell to remind the congregation to get off their knees (I held that mighty privilege twice).  Only boys could be alter boys.  When the Pope said girls could serve as alter girls, it was such a huge deal that all classes were interrupted for it as the school principle made a very solemn, yet joyous, announcement.  It was that big of a deal.  Girl-children allowed on the Alter to help the priest, and be near the tabernacle when it was open, wow wow wow, what a leap forward in the liberation of women!

It’s misogynistic bigotry, pure and simple.  There is no purpose than to impose authority and power on the more vulnerable.

Anyway, back to our story, nun is furious and actually put her hands on me.  She grabbed me by the arm and marched me straight to the priest’s office in the church.

She knocked and he admitted us.

She marched me right up to his desk (he was smoking, as usual, and seemed to be working on paperwork, as usual) and hissed at me: “Tell him what you did!”

 

TO BE CONTINUED

P.S.:  At least it has a happy ending

Such Was My Recklessness

When I decided to seek help about my drinking problem, I went to the campus counseling center and started meetings with a counselor there.   I didn’t see her for more than a few months, because I made the mistake of confiding to her that I was working weekends at my first dungeon (what can I say?  My secret job, and its attendant issues, seemed germane to my drinking), and that revelation had an immediate chilling effect on our relationship.  To my complete surprise, she judged me about it, in a very harsh and unprofessional (to my mind) fashion, and thereafter I felt her disapproval and suspicion in our conversations.  I felt uncomfortable with her (or, more accurately, I was acutely aware of her discomfort with me), and eventually decided to stop our sessions.

Which was fine.  I was no longer getting the full benefit of her expertise, and I wasn’t impressed with what perspective I was getting.  I felt that she was making a lot of assumptions about my personality and motivations that were not just unflattering but downright wrong.  For example, she told me that I was working at the dungeon because I wanted attention and validation from men.

She did give me one insight into my character that had previously eluded me and that I never would have come up with on my own, however.  I’ve never forgotten it.

I was talking about my drinking, and I said that the reckless drinking was really out of character for me, because in most other aspects of my life I was cautious, thoughtful, and risk-adverse.  Really!  I’m the opposite of impulsive.  I don’t act quickly or rashly.  I’m the sort of person who always wears a helmet, buckles up, drives the speed limit at all times, and doesn’t eat food that’s been left at room temperature for more than an hour.  I don’t often try new things, or make a trip to a new place, be it across town or out of the country, without detailed travel instructions or an itinerary.

“Margo,” she said, dead serious, looking at me over the tops of her glasses, “you are absolutely not risk-adverse.  At all.

I was incredulous: had I really done reckless things?  Moi?  Madame, surely you jest!

But after careful contemplation, I must admit that the record will show that I have taken risks, and put myself in situations, that were not just unnecessary, but dangerous and even potentially fatal.  I even mentioned it in the copy of one of my proSub ads–I cribbed a quote from de Sade, in which he asserted, as reason for his libertinism and depravity, that a man’s humanity is incomplete until he has had every experience.

And so I have pursued every experience.  My adult life has been characterized by the deliberate and relentless exploration of my sadomasochism, a journey of personal discovery that I ultimately prioritized in my life.  It is a serious business to me, and I approached it with the earnestness of a devoted scholar.  To see how far down the rabbit hole goes.

Because isn’t that what it all boils down to, really?  Isn’t that what I was doing there, in all those dangerous places, with all those (potentially or overtly) dangerous people?  Isn’t that what I was doing when I went back, when I stayed, when I went deeper and still yet deeper?  Over and over again?  I started prodomming when I was desperate, vulnerable, and very isolated–it really was survival sex work–but why that, among the handful of desperate options (why did I perceive it as an option at all?)?   I did it for the (potentially) fast money and because the flexibility of the job fit my grad-student needs and lifestyle, but really, really, I did it because I was fascinated and I wanted to know, to explore that part of myself.   My clients were my teachers.  Even when I did not want them to be.   My lovers were also my teachers, including the dangerous one with the scalpel whom I loved best, and who cut my heart for five years.

I pursued every experience.  I sought them out online, on Fetlife, on Craigslist, in the dark corners of the internet, and I put up ads so that they could find me.  I took trains to meet strangers in parts of the country I’d never been to before.  I took airplanes.   I went to their houses, their dorm rooms and brownstones and walkup apartments, and a million hotel rooms in cities on three continents.   I got into their cars and climbed aboard their boats.  And they came to me, both in my home and in the fantastical rooms of the Studio and the other dungeons in which I worked.   They have needs and compulsions, too.

I gave a man the key to my house so that he could enter at the time of his choosing and take me God knows where, with God knows who.  I rode on the back of motorcycles drunk.  My boyfriend gave me drugs and I let him without knowing what they were or what they would do to me.   I let people lock me in cages, closets, hoods, and, (nearly) a barn.  I let them bind me with rope and suspend me from ceilings.  I let them put metal police restraints on me, cover me with a blanket, and take me for a car ride.  I let him throttle me with his hands, his leather belt, the terrycloth belt of a bathrobe.  I let strangers beat me with everything you could imagine, sometimes for money and sometimes for free.  I let a psychopath come to my house and put me in traction.  Such was my recklessness in pursuit of myself.

Such was my recklessness.

I still haven’t had every experience.  My humanity remains incomplete. I have come to understand that the rabbit hole is bottomless.   The obsessions cannot be quenched or exhausted.   Like a dying star, they change, grow, and expand outward, incinerating and enveloping you in their orbit.

If there is no end to it, do I stop?

What else is there?

About Franz Adler, and What He Required

I have largely avoided writing about my father, Franz Adler, either on this blog or in the writing I keep for myself.  I’ve shared the occasional story about him, and from these even a casual reader can derive an idea of his character and personality.  The stories speak for themselves,but beyond anecdotes I have never tried to address him as a subject in his own right.

I avoid writing about him because contemplation is painful, even at this late date, and because it is a type of pain that feels unwise to share with strangers, but even these reasons are secondary: the real reason I don’t write about him is because I simply don’t know how.  It feels like trying to describe a cataclysmic natural disaster, decades after it happened, to people who were on the other side of the world.  How do you describe the tornado that destroyed your home?  “A big black wind storm blew it down while we cowered in the cellar?”  Even this metaphoric device is poor: he was not an awesome and unprecedented act of the Almighty, but a garden-variety addict and a sociopath, whose modest claim to evil in this life is that he alienated and exploited everyone unfortunate enough to be in his orbit.  Thankfully, he was too dysfunctional and undisciplined to achieve a significant sphere of influence in life, which limited his destructive potential.   The wheels started to come off when he was about the age I am now, and he became increasingly incapable of pursuing average adult life interests (job, family, gratifying hobbies, the basics).  He also seemed to grow increasingly unwilling to make the effort necessary to pass himself off as anything other than what he really is.   If he’d managed to hold his shit together until his middle age, he could have had made another family to terrorize and another job and colleagues to steal from.  Franz Adler only lasted one, maybe one-and-a-half rounds of adulthood before he started to succumb to his genetic destiny.  He started to take the path of least resistance when he was fairly young in his life, mid 30s.  He stopped fighting himself, if, indeed, that is what he’d been doing up until that point, and  had allowed him to achieve his previous successes.

I was about twelve years old when he started to devolve significantly–he was getting worse before that, and making some very reckless decisions with his life, but he still had most of his shit together: job with benefits, academic ambitions, part-time custody of his child (me), Peace Corps and Army buddies, toys that he liked to buy–you know, basic normal adult shit.  He was an addict by then, but he functioned.

Twelve when he “got sick,” as he called it later in life.  There are probably several reasons why Franz Adler decided to drop out of life.  Perhaps I’ll speculate on them in a later post.  But, for whatever reason, he decided that he was not going to do anything that he did not feel like doing.  Ever again.   Pay the IRS?  Register the car?  Resist the urge to torch your neighbor’s car for playing his obnoxious Mexican music too loudly?  Go grocery shopping for the kid?   What?

It took him about four years to lose everything.  Some of that time was actually pretty peaceful for me, because he was off in other parts of the country, bleeding the last of his relatives and family friends dry.  I think he might have also had legal or court problems–it would explain some absences, the very nomadic lifestyle, and the reason why people he’d been close enough to call on for help, or stay in their houses, turned their backs on him utterly and completely.  I think he was stealing or embezzling from them and then running for it.

What did he do with the monies from his 401k, the house, his property, whatever he borrowed or stole?  He gambled it.  It was gone.  He certainly didn’t give it back to any of people he got it from.

By the time I was sixteen, he was almost out of resources, both human and monetary.  He was almost trapped, and he got very, very ugly.   You do not want to see a person like him when he is cornered.  Unfortunately, I had front row tickets, because I was his last and final hostage.

If I had been just a few years younger, I think that I could have escaped some of it, because I would have been too young to be of practical use to him, other than to use me as a bargaining chip to exploit my mother or get some sort of government benefits.  What use is a 10-year-old?  On the other hand, if I was younger, I think that he might have murdered me when he had me in his possession.  I think he would have stabbed me to death or killed me with carbon monoxide while I slept (I think that he almost did that, anyway, actually).  He would have done that to hurt my mother.

But, I was 16.

Old enough to drive.  Old enough to work.

And, incredibly, he still had legal custody of me.

Children are basically little slaves.  They have almost no legal rights.  They are disenfranchised.  They have more rights than animals, but not many.  Most people don’t know this.

What is the use of a slave?  Why did anyone want to have one, in the bad old days of most of human history?

You take away their autonomy, and you steal the value of their labor.

Now ask yourself: if you were in Franz Adler’s situation, what would you do with Margo?

You probably can’t think of anything, because you’re a halfway decent human being with morals.  If you were unemployed, and your life was in a bad spot right now, kinda chaotic, you’d probably leave your teenager with her mother until you got your shit figured out.   Or maybe, since you’re a junkie, you’d ask your teenager for money, or use her to sign up for welfare benefits, or something.   Tell her to steal money out of her Mom’s purse, maybe?  What else is there?

Still can’t think of anything…?

Now imagine that you have no morals and very little fear of consequences.  You are under a  tremendous amount of financial stress, which is as close as you get to experiencing fear.  There are no limitations on your behavior, self-imposed or otherwise.  You just spent four years burning your life down.  You are full of hatred.  You have no house, no job, no relatives to take you in, and no plans for the future.  Shit’s looking pretty fucking bleak.

What you do have is legal custodianship of a 16-year-old girl.  She is terrified of you, and for you, but she is your property and she will do whatever you say in the end.  Her health and well-being play no part in your decision-making process, nor do her personal preferences or opinions.  If anything, your attitude is: she owes you.

She still loves you, so you won’t have to twist her arm too hard.

These are the circumstances of my life at that time.   In many ways it was worse than being held by him when I was a young child.  When I was a child, all he could demand of me were the things that a child has to give: obedience, love, loyalty, admiration, my imagination, fear.

When I was older, he required more from me.

(7) On Drunk Driving

     In AA and the group therapy for recovering addicts I go to once a week, I meet a lot of people with DUI/DWI (in New York, it wasn’t nearly as common because most New Yorkers don’t have cars).  Some of them have two DUIs, and now they have to breath into a breathalizer in order to start their cars once they finally get their license reinstated after a year’s suspension.  And some of these incorrigible recalcitrant assholes have three DUIs and spent nine months in jail, and now they’re either on foot or having their long-suffering relatives drive them around.  

        Yeah, I’m not there to judge the other junkies.  Yeah, I shouldn’t “take someone else’s inventory,” as they say in the rooms.  I know, I know, I know. 

       I’m going to do it anyway: If you drive drunk, you are an asshole.  And 3-time losers need to somehow be kept off the road until they sober up and keep their shit together for a long time, like 5 years.  

           Unfortunately, I can’t think of any solutions.  Incarceration is the only way the State can prevent a person who wants to drive from driving.  Unless you want to start chopping off hands or punishing their family members, which isn’t going to fly under American jurisprudence.   

           Honestly: what can be done?   The penalties for drunk driving are already severe.  The only way to make them more draconian would be increased jail time.   Jail is a very expensive way to deal with a stupid alcoholic. But what are the lives of the more than 10,000 people who die in alcohol-impaired driving crashes worth?  A trained insurance agent can quantify the value of an individual.  The suffering caused by a person’s maiming or untimely death is considerably harder to measure (although the courts try).  

         I was arrested for driving drunk.  Actually, it was Minor in Possession, because I was only 20 at the time, and my blood alcohol level was below the legal limit, but under state law, the penalties were the same.  I drove a few hours out of town to watch some illegal boxing matches, had five or six drinks, and then started to drive back.  I was pulled over in the middle of nowhere by a Highway Patrolman.  For a busted tail-light!  He arrested me and I spent the night in jail.  I wish I could post a picture of the jail and the town (if you can call it a town)–you’d die.  It was an awful experience.   When I posted bail the next day, I asked the bondsman why it was so fucking expensive, given that I had no prior offenses.  

              “The judge doesn’t think it’s a minor offense.  That’s why.  He knows that by the time a person actually gets caught driving drunk, they’ve probably done it twenty, thirty, forty times,” said the bondsman.  

             And he was right. 

             It wasn’t the first time I drove drunk.  I’d done it probably 10 or 12 times.  That’s the truth.  

             It was, however, the last time I drove drunk.  90-day suspension, jumping through hoops for the court, $500 in fines, the cost of the lawyer…getting my car out of impound…paying for the tow truck…I’d say that mistake cost me about $2500.  Plus all of the humiliation and inconvenience, of course.  

           What really convinced me to never drink and get behind the wheel, though, was the Victim Impact Awareness Panel I had to attend as part of my sentencing.  Five or six people stood in front of the room and told us what drunk drivers had cost them.   One was the mother of a teenaged boy who’d just been accepted to Notre Dame.  He was killed by a drunk driver with two prior convictions.  Another speaker was a guy who drove drunk and suffered massive brain damage from the impact when he wrapped his car around a telephone pole.  He was in a motorized wheelchair and couldn’t speak clearly.  

             I leaked tears through the whole thing, which is unusual for me, and that was it: I instituted a 1-drink policy.  I never had more than one and drove afterward.  I got a ride, or took cabs, or walked.  I was done.  It was not acceptable to me to risk bringing that pain and grief into other people’s lives. 

           Drunk driving is almost never an accident.  Habitual offenders display deep selfishness and callous disregard.  I feel very strongly about this.  

           I don’t know what else to say.  This essay is not very good.  I wrote it because I have to write and post something before midnight, and I was thinking about all the drunk drivers in AA on my way home.

Christmas Clown

      When I was a little girl, my father gave me a clown doll for Christmas.

       This is interesting, because my father seldom gave me toys and he certainly never gave me dolls.  He gave me gifts for my birthday and Christmas, but they were almost invariably practical: a new pair of shoes, books I needed to read, a winter coat.  The closest thing to a toy he ever gave me was a huge set of tin soldiers so that I could re-create Civil War battle strategies following diagrams in his military science books.  Oh, an a chemistry set (the chemistry set was fun).  

        So, the clown doll was atypical.  

        I don’t remember how old I was, but this was before he was terminated at work for being hostile and contemptuous, so I was probably about nine.  He said that someone from work had brought in the clown doll to give it away, because his kid didn’t like it anymore, and it was still like new.

        It was hideous, it was ghastly, and I hated it on sight the second I saw it sitting underneath the Christmas tree in a drift of dry brown pine needles, which had fallen off because my father could never be bothered to water the poor thing.  

         The clown was a fabric doll with a firm, squat, barrel-shaped torso.  Its arms were very long and skinny, like fat pencils, and it had white gloves on its hands and pointy-toed elf shoes on its feet.  It wore a vest with red buttons on its chest, pinned with a silk carnation.  The head was oblong-shaped and it had a mane of red yarn hair that stuck out from underneath a conical dunce-cap-looking hat, and it had a long pointed nose and a huge-mouthed bloody-red smile and shiny metallic black buttons for eyes.  Held upright, it was almost as tall as my chest, and it cast hideous shadows on the wall.  

        I became intimately familiar with the clown’s shadows because my father parked that ugly motherfucker in a wooden chair directly opposite the headboard of my bed, and at night, whenever a car drove by, the light from its headlamps would stream through the blinds and throw the doll’s shadow on the wall.  The shadows would change and move depending on the direction the car was travelling and the color and quality of its headlights.

        At first, I merely disliked the doll and found that its appearance ugly, but, at time wore on and my imagination began to work, I came to fear it.  It looked like it was moving at night, when the cars drove past.  When I came back from school, it looked like it had changed positions.  A few times, when it was new and I could still bring myself to touch it, I threw it into my closet and covered it with a towel, but Dad always took it out and put it back in the chair.

        It got to the point at night where I would get ready for bed, turn off the light, and then launch myself into bed and cover my head with the blankets so that I wouldn’t have to look at it.  

       I’d never been afraid of dolls before, and I was fast approaching an age where imaginary things would cease to terrify me.  Prior to the clown, my only make-believe terror was boa constrictors–I’d seen a Nature special about them and how they could eat entire antelope in one sitting, which I found morbidly fascinating, and I had been afraid one would somehow get into the house and swallow me up.

      Anyway, after a month or two I started avoiding my room, even in the daytime, and keeping the door shut from the hideous clown.  

      I told my brother about the clown one day, who went and tattled to our mother, who then called my father on the phone to complain about the clown doll. 

      “But she never said anything about it to me!” he protested.  As if I would complain about anything under his roof to his face, ever. 

       Dad took the clown back to work.  Some other unlucky kid got it next.  It was a perfectly good toy and there was no reason for it to go to waste, he said.  
      

A Thousand and One Pieces of Margo: The Best & Favorites, Cont’d

       This is the continuation of the previous post…

       Hunters, written a year ago in a fit of melancholy and homesickness.  

       Political Theater: Tales from a Submissive Intern  When I was a very young woman, I won (through merit) an internship with the office of a well-known politician, a homely and ill-tempered fellow who loves power and intimidation.  My experience here–my emotional reaction and sexual response to the politician’s cruelty–is interesting, because it augers what I will gravitate toward in later adulthood. 

      Boots as Inspiration, About my weird attraction to boots.  I really like this blog post: part memoir, part theory, a few very well-written lines, and some provocative art.  It’s a nice little Margo-capsule.  I also like it because most of the stuff I’ve read about boot fetishism on the internet comes from the  the gay male demographic.  Het sub males write a little, too.  I don’t find much from women. 

     A Map of the Pain   NSFW.  Not pornographic but careful where you view it!  Written in 2011 almost immediately after the Surgeon visited me in my apartment and we had a pretty intense sex/corporal session.  I was newly sober, about 80 days clean, for the first time since I started drinking alcoholically.  I was high off the sex and the beating and the meeting.  I remember taking the photos very well.   Good times.  
   
   No Rest for the Wicked  Penniless and desperately seeking to replace a stolen jar of salsa, I contact a random sad old white guy on Craigslist and ride my bike across town to sell him my worn-out ballet flats.  My first home-town outcall session.  Everything about this story is completely ridiculous.   

        Mind-Fucking  It’s not a popular post, but I like it.  It’s…contemplative.  

        Failing the Geography Exam  Meet Franz Alder: the secret to my academic success, and why I ate two Antabuse this evening.

        The Adler Family Menorah   My German Catholic mother buys a hugeass honkin silver Menorah at a garage sale.  It now dominates the dining-room table.  

         The Surgeon at War  My Ex has a decades-long, mysterious, highly personal vendetta against another physician.  He’s sued the guy several times, humiliated his proteges at conferences, had my seduce the guy in a bar….it goes on and on.   Successfully headhunting one of his enemy’s staff was the Coup of 2012.  I had great sex for months.  

A Thousand Pieces of Margo: The Best & Personal Favorites

       This will be the 679 post published on this blog.  I have 321 in the drafts folder which are redacted, unfinished, axed, or otherwise unpublished, for one reason or another.  

        A thousand posts, in all.  

        At this time, these are my favorite posts, either because I think they contain some of my best writing, or because I just like them.   New readers without the inclination to dig through three years of posts for the good stuff will find a decent sample of my work below.

          In (mostly) chronological order, but in no particular order of favorite: 

          The SkyMall Catalog is Decadent and Depraved.   Exactly one reader, John, has had the good taste to enjoy my send-up of the Skymall catalog.  I have no idea why other people don’t find Skymall as weird as I do.

         Love Letter  I identify primarily as a submissive masochist, but I do have an authentic sadistic streak.  This is what I feel like when I go there.  It’s very personal–I wrote it for my only personal sub, No. 29.  My analyst loved this one.  She kept it for herself.   

        The Surgeon Takes Control  The summer of 2012 was a difficult one for me.  My landlord refused to renew my lease unless I could come up with 3 months’ rent in advance.  Business at the Studio was dead, my tutoring jobs were out for summer, and I didn’t know yet how to hustle independently.  In sheer desperation, completely terrified, I went and got a job at a strip club.  My first night there, I broke down…and called the Surgeon for financial help.  I’d left him months ago and rebuffed his attempts at reconciliation.  His reaction to my call was…interesting.  Very intense blog post.  I’m sweating just remembering it. 

        Signed, Sealed & Delivered  The Surgeon delivers the cash and saves my ass.  An entire summer of sleepless nights and crushing anxiety, and the man made the problem disappear as casually as if he ate a corn chip.  Of course, the money came with strings.  

       CollarMe Hell: Dudes Love Their Wheels  I loved the CollarMe Hell series.  I wish I could have continued it, but I just couldn’t bear to be on CollarMe anymore.  I think that CollarMe is the worst place on the internet.   

        Good Girls Get Gifts  Probably the first strong piece of writing on this blog.  My boyfriend buys me a gift from Bloomingdale’s.  Boy, does this one take me back.  The Surgeon’s a freak, but we had chemistry. 

           Black Market Cipro   Your humble correspondent gets a UTI and voyages deep into the Bronx to buy black market antibiotics.  Pharmacist blogger DrugMonkey helps me through this one.  

          Why Doesn’t He Have a Girlfriend?  Written the morning the Mathematician told me that he was married.  I don’t like to re-read it, but I’ve received lots of personal comments about it.

           An Open Letter to the Mathematician   Rawest piece of writing on the blog.  I don’t re-read this one, either.

         April Fool 1 and April Fool 2   I know it’s cruel, but this was fucking hilarious.  Mistress C and I play an April Fool’s joke on her douchebag ex-boyfriend, Alec.  

          Covered in Ants: What Could Go Wrong?   One of the most memorable session requests of my career.  Must be read to be believed. 

          Dining in Copenhagen  Meeting my favorite client, Fortinbras, the King of Denmark.  I was very attracted to this guy, and came very close to becoming infatuated with him.  Completely my type, impressed the hell out of me, stomped the disco boogie all over my Daddy issues.  Fortunately, bitter experience, my analyst, and a few concerned readers saved me from making the same mistake a third time (fourth time, if you count the Attorney): I kept my wits about me, and he became stayed a very enjoyed and well-respected clients. 

          Scenes from My Drunkalogue: In the Eye of the Beholder  A very tight piece of writing.  One of the best on the blog in terms of style, I believe.  Going through with a session I really do not want to take. 

        The Blowjob Wars  Everything you wanted to know about Miss Margo and blowjobs. 

       Beluga Eats a Dog Turd   Another memorable session.  Well-written and received a ton of comments (well, for this unread blog).  
           
       There are another ten best….I’ll post them in the next installment!

          

How to Clean a Bathtub

      Things in this household run on time.  If my mother was a man and went into the Army, I would have been the daughter of a drill sergeant.  

       Like her predecessor, Henri Fayol, she believes there is one best way of doing things.  Cleaning the bathtub, for instance.

       The bathtubs and sinks in the house have to be replaced about every seven years.  

        Because of the way they are cleaned.

        This is the way that it goes:

        After you bathe, you dry yourself off in the shower so that you don’t track water everywhere.

          Then you take the squeegee thing and squeegee the moisture off of the inside of the shower doors and the tiles.  Moisture creates mildew.

              Then you take the soap out of the dish and put it back in its cardboard container, to be placed outside of the shower beside the towel rack.  If the soap is left in water, it will leave gummy soap deposits in the soap dish.

          Get the special soap rag.  Clean the soap dish with the rag.  Rag goes back under the sink.

          Fetch the bleach.  Spray down the inside of the bathtub with bleach solution.  Let it sit for a minute.  

          (Be sure to crack the window first, too.  The fumes get a little intense.) 

          Turn on the hot water and scrub the bathtub with the brush.  Then rinse all the bleach out.

           Return bleach and brush under the sink.

           Check.  Make sure there is no hair in bathtub.

           Put toiletries back in place.  Put the cap back on the safety razor.  

           Wipe the chrome with a soft cloth so that it is shiny and there are no water spots.  Put the cloth away.

             Hang up the bath mat.  Must be hung lengthwise and it must be perfectly even.

             Hang up bath towel.  Ditto.

             Now you can leave the bathroom.  Leave the door open so that the mirror unfogs and you can use it to apply your makeup or put in your contact lenses or whatever.  You can’t use a towel to wipe off the fog because it leaves streaks. 

              This is done every time you take a shower.  You have to ration your time correctly, because it must be done, even if you’re in a hurry to leave the house.

              The good news is, once you get the system down, you can execute this chore in about five minutes.  

              The bad news is: it’s….well, do I really need to tell you why it’s bad…?

           I one bad memory about this from my childhood.   I think I was about eleven, and my brother was eight (he remembers this one too, by the way).

            Bathtime was after dinner, before bed.  Sometimes he’d go first, sometimes I would.  Anyway, we took our baths and went to our rooms and everything was normal until I heard Mom shouting at us to come to the bathroom.

            Someone had left a wet towel on the floor, and she wanted to know who had left it.

          She was pissed.  I remember her standing there and pointing at it, like a cop pointing at a murder weapon and telling the accused that he might as well confess. 

          Well, I wasn’t taking the blame for that one.  Nope.  No siree.

         My brother denied it also. 

          Mom told us that we could just wait there in the bathroom until someone took the blame and then hung up the towel. 

          Oh boy.  

           We both settled down to wait.  She went to take her bath and get ready for bed.  

          My brother and I bickered back and forth a little over whose fault it was.  I continued to insist it was not mine, but here it is, The Awful Truth: I was lying.  I was the one who left the towel.  I’d just forgotten it…but I sure as hell wasn’t going to admit it.  Not when I’d get into trouble.

          This is also The Awful Truth: I was older and stronger, and I knew he’d break first. 

         And he did.  It probably took an hour and a half, judging from the sounds on the television. 

          He started crying and said that he did it, and then Mom let him hang up the towel and go to bed. 

          Many years later, I was drinking at my brother’s house, and I told him that I knew he wasn’t the one who left the towel.

          “Oh, I know,” he said.  “Believe me, I know.”

          I apologized.  He accepted. 

         I told my shrink about that one.  She thought that my mother overreacted.  It was just a towel, she said.

        The bathtubs are replaced because all that bleach destroys the enamel.   Privately, I think this is sort of funny.  We had to destroy the bathtub in order to clean it!