We’re on a boat on the way from Chicago to Northern Michigan. A Wedding party. Back of the boat, the father of the bride talking to one of his other daughters.
Bernice: So why do you think I’m so crazy?
Father: You’re not so crazy, just a bit eccentric, it comes with a high IQ!
Bernice: Three suicide attempts, constant depression, or maybe not constant. Bi-polar. Sears Tower today, subway to Somerville tomorrow....
Bernice: You know, right next to Boston.
Father: I should know, I’m the one who took you there when you were a kid. I’m just suprised you remember.
Bernice: I should have stayed a kid, or died when I was a kid, come back as a kid, a kid forever, that’s when you have it good, no state mental disability, everything paid for, food, rent, bed, clothes, love....
Father: Your mother loved you too...
Bernice: But what about touching. Is touching incest? Sitting on someone’s lap, a goodnight kiss. For her touching is sin, evil....
Father:If you yourself aren’t touched when you’re a kid, you never touch anyone later. You always become what you were treated like. And your mother’s mother was all involved with movies and her hair, crocheting, drinking coffee, sitting in her room looking out the window at the birds on the roof across the alley, not evil but as cold as frozen lamb chops....her husband, you mother’s father, had left her for another woman, and....
Bernice (Laughing): Frozen lamb chops?
Father: Patagonia in July.
Bernice: Why July?
Father: Reversed seasons.
Bernice: Where’s Patagonia?
Father (Changing subject): So how are your teeth?
Bernice: Baaaaaad. I’d like them all pulled out, but I’m on mental disability.
Father: But you have insurance?
Bernice: That’s not the point. Dentists hate non-workers. Everyone who works hates non-workers, a lot of people down at the clinic have died, and maybe they had dental problems....
Father: Everyone dies.
Bernice: But they don’t need help.
Father: Ergo, dentists kill their non-working patients with valid insurance because they’re not working.....
Bernice: A lot of people at the clinic died. The staff hates the “inmates.” No I don’t want to call them that...the patients...but they aren’t really patients either because they never get cured, in order to be a patient you have to have a chance at getting cured...”inmates” is a good word. We committed the crime of craziness, and the staff goes around and tells the preachers in the churches, the people who work in the stores, everyone knows me...and all that meat in the grocery stores, who knows where that comes from...mad cow disease, what about mad people disease, that’s why I stopped eating meat, who knows what’s in the supermarket hamburger, and how can I eat a cow, I wouldn’t want a cow to eat me...but the biggest problem is the conspiracy at the hospital, everyone against me, wanting to see me dead, all that medicine they give me, do they really think I think it’s medicine? So many crazies dead....dead....dead...can’t you just see my grave, no name on the tombstone, they could work that out....(The father gets up. Ça sufit!)...where are you going? You can’t see the bride, it levels a curse at her....”
“That’s the groom.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. At least you’re here today for the wedding....”
“Well, I won’t be at the wedding itself. If I go there there’ll be a curse on the whole marriage, something terrible will happen to one or both of them, and/or their children...”
She’s ready to go on and on, turn it into an epic poem on divine curses and abominations, but he gently stops her mouth with his hand.
“To hell with you too.”
“It means simply ENOUGH! Enjoy. If you’re going to stay here, simply enjoy.”
Up he goes, starts walking to the front of the ship, for a moment thinking what could go wrong, collision with another ship, a leak, a sudden wave, storm, then Bernice’s whole childhood running like a speeded-up film through his mind, her super-brain Mrs. Footnote Santiago de Chile mother, always going for another degree, another job, another concert, book, French film, treating the children as if childbirth were for peasants not for the likes of aristocratic college prof her, and he himself always in church, furious when they got rid of the Latin mass, as if he wanted to be back in the fourteen or fifteenth centuries when all was pure, death to the Albigensians/Cathars and their negation of Glory Be to God for Dappled (G.M.Hopkins) things, and him just as intellectuloid as his wife, Mr. Library Stacks, the more (Assyrians, Sumerians, Mayas, Mochicas, Atacameños) obscre the better, never touch kids, yourself, anything....the only time you can touch is in the marriage-bed to make kids, not to mention his Irish anger, God in His heaven and a crack in the face on earth....poor first kids, it had taken him so long to learn how to just be, blossom, bee-blossom, buzz, hum....thanks to wives two and three...up to the front of the boat.
Alex in her wedding gown, peut-être a little, not exactly overweight, but, let’s say well-breakfasted (and lunched, dinnered, snacked), in her glistening white wedding gown, crown of pearls, radiant here, now, fulfilled, waiting for more and more fulfillment, painter, cartoonist, photographer, you name it she can verisimilitude it, and Mr. Ray Bookbug, research librarian, then Ray’s father, Tom and his mother Jean Anne, his brothers, sisters, cousins, just half an hour from Mackinaw Island and the wedding.
“Je suis tres content,” his wife, Manon, from Provence, aging very sumptuously, like a black-winged pheasant, “I’m very happy.”
“Moi aussi, / Me too,” what else was there but the divine question-mark-as-to-how-it-all-happened, magic of the waves and gulls, les collines/ the hills, the deer and the foxes, pheasants, wild turkeys, clouds, the solstices and equinoxes, the furnace of the sun, snow, rain, drizzle, dry, cornfields and front teeth, old and new friends, new generations, gran-, grand-, grand- whatevers, all melting back into the earth in millions of years, in the meantime anything but mean time, glory be to the Whatever-Out-There NOW, NOW (his wife to him more and française winsome, as delectable as parsley and Cabernet Sauvignon) NOW.....
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