Although girls are more often molested than boys, boys do worse after being molested than girls do. Not that girls are unaffected, not that molestation doesn’t deform a girl’s view of the world. But for boys, the damage appears more severe. And the long term is ugly: As many of us saw in the Academy Award Winning Movie, Spotlight, boys who grow up without coming to terms with their childhood abuse often struggle as men with addictions, anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide as well as the inability to develop or maintain relationships.
Does that mean women are able to take such goings on in our stride? No I don’t think so. But women are taught to submit from an early age, almost from the get-go. Molestation– the most extreme form of submission– is in a horrible way, just a lot more of the same old, same old. But for boys, who have been taught to be tough, to admit such goings on is utter shame and degradation. Real guys don’t get molested. Or something like that.
And that’s why I take my hat off to Judge Thomas Durkin who yesterday sentenced former House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, once one of the most powerful men in congress, to a mandatory jail sentence in connection with his financial misconduct. The statue of limitations had run out for sexual misconduct (a terrible thing in my opinion, sex crimes are like war crimes). However, good Judge Durkin, despite the protestations from the likes of Tom Delay (another sterling character) socked it to him for the financial misdeeds. And while we are on the subject, how did a humble Congressman from Illinois manage to come up with the 3.5 million (the sum of the payout and a lot of ziti) and more? The answer is simple: after leaving congress, Hastert became a lobbyist.
In the newspapers today, a pitiful looking Mr. Hastert sat in his wheelchair, with a sad sack expression on his face, one meant, obviously to illicit pity. Alongside him, was his wife. I wonder about her, as I wonder about Mrs. Cosby. What’s it like being married to and sharing a life with such a creep-o?
According to a politico I know in New York, Hastert even had a lounge chair set up in the locker room for his comfort. Or maybe just to rest between licentious acts. Molesting while wrestling is obviously very strenuous indeed. One can’t help but make the comparison to the late, lamentable, Jerry Sandusky. Locker rooms, cub scout dens, altar rooms, all are havens for these men who abuse boys.
If I ruled the world, I would send all child molesters (except for Humbert Humbert) to their own special little island where they’d never see the children who turned them on, but only ugly old farts like themselves.
Thank you Judge Thomas Durkin who concluded:
“This is a horrible case—a horrible set of circumstances, horrible for the defendant, horrible for the victims, horrible for our country. I hope to never see a case like this again. Court adjourned.”
I’ve been out of my mind for days. Or should I say in my mind. Nuts. Crazed. In shrink lingo: Harsh interjects. In my lingo: Up the wazoo. Everybody hates me. I look in the mirror: Horror show. The lamentable list goes on and on. To make matters worse: Outside, the Santa Ana’s seem to be raging just for me and my foul self-loathing state of mind. The air smells like fire. The other night when I woke up I thought drones were hovering over our house: That’s how the wind buzzed and whistled. Branches are down all over town. Red lights are broken. For gentle readers who do not live in California, there’s nothing quite like the winds that blow in from the East. The ones, I’m sorry to say happen way more often than they used to. It’s always Santa Ana season now. I wonder what Raymond Chandler would have to say on the subject.
But this has been worse than the usual Santa Ana disturbance. My writing often mildly sucks. This past week, it really sucks. I hate every single word I’ve written. Not much to hate because I’ve erased more than I’ve typed. Everything is forced. I’m too disturbed to cook. I’ve been living on take out and kombucha. My husband is no help whatsoever. He’s off on one of those pilot benders. Truly, there’s nothing worse than pilots for film editors and their families. He surfaced briefly yesterday and had suitcases—not bags—underneath his eyes. Henry was glad to see him. He yipped and leaped and brought him the rope to play tug-y. Henry’s easy. Me, I’m always pissed off at him when he goes off on these benders. It’s like being married to an alchy, but because money and networks not booze and bars are involved, everybody is supposed to say it’s ok. It’s just the way it is. It’s the biz. It comes with the territory. And it’s work.
What makes matters worse is I know I have no cause to complain because as Kafka said, “So long as you have food in your mouth you have solved all questions for the time being.” Indeed, thanks to pilot season and all its discontents, the wolf is not at the door. There’s even a.c. if the air is too fiery.
Why is it that blessings are in a way as hard–if not harder to bear—than true misfortune? When the vrai shit hits the fan some of us feel it is what we deserve and even if we didn’t, we knew it was coming. Certainly Kafka did.
Be careful what you kvetch about. Be careful what you say is awful because the powers who control awful-ness could suddenly remind you of how lucky you’ve been. And how truly horrific things could really be. I know that. I know that all too well.
Two people I love are ill. I’m not ill, no one in my immediate family and circle is ill. That in itself is something to rejoice. To raise the wineglass, to say as Jews are meant to this Friday night, dayenu. It would have been enough.
But I’m not having Passover this year as I usually do, because in a race between the pilot and the Passover dinner, the pilot is going to win.
And anyway, now, suddenly it’s over. The small merde is not hitting the fan; I’m no longer out of control and crazy. This morning I woke up and felt just fine… for no reason at all. It’s still hot as hell outside. The air is still full of fire. But that doesn’t seem to be so freaking central. After I walked Henry, I sat down at my computer and opened up the novel I’ve been working on and my main character who had not sung to me, not once in all these months, began to sing so to speak. I could hear him. I could actually hear his words and could read his mind. He seemed familiar. It wasn’t forced. Whatever he was doing felt just fine and what he would be doing. Dayenu.
When this happens in a yoga practice you call it flow. When it happens in a writing practice it’s also called flow.
What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours.
In honor of that, I watched the great Dinah Washington perform the song. Gotta say, I adore Utube. I watched it once, twice, three times! Since then, I’ve been singing it all day. And I hope I’ll be singing it tomorrow. Remember, no matter how bad it is, things could always get worse. Or they could get better too…
In a heart-wrenching article today in the Science Times section of the New York Times, Lisa Reswick writes about her banished brother, born with Down Syndrome and sent away by her physician father to become a ward of the state.
She and her siblings grew up knowing about the existence of her brother Jimmy, but no one was allowed to visit him. No one was allowed to speak of him. The author only met her brother at the end of his life, at his deathbed and then at his funeral.
It’s hard to think about the world advancing so much in empathy with the current likes of Trump, Cruz, and the extreme version of them: ISIS. Or just today, the state of Mississippi affirming business owners the right to discriminate against gay people based on religion. We do however live in more enlightened times in terms of our feelings about individuals with special needs like Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum to name but two. Not even the Donald would risk diss-ing a Down Syndrome person. At least I hope not.
But back in the Dark Ages of my childhood it was a different story.
The author of the article in the New York Times was haunted throughout life by the notion of a brother she did not know. A brother who was different than she was. A brother who did not belong and therefore a brother who was sent away. And of course the hidden message in all this is: if I can send him away, I can send you away. Better behave!
Though I have always had all my marbles (relatively) and my IQ is adequate, I too faced expulsion by my father to an institution: an orphanage.
Though I was never actually banished there, (could I have blocked it out like so many other things?). Nevertheless, some small persistent part of me still lives there in that orphanage to this day. To paraphrase Ferlinghetti, “The Buckner Orphanage of the Mind.”
I was born prematurely after my mother’s tubes were meant to be tied fourteen months after the birth of my brother, the longed for boy. And according to one account, an abortion attempt. I was in an incubator for a long time. I guess I was one of those miracle babies you read about on the front page of The National Enquirer: “Can’t Kill Her Now She Won’t Shut Up!”
But I was no miraculous thing, not to my own father who in a playful mood as he often was, told me I came from Buckner’s Orphanage in Dallas, Texas where we lived until I was five. And that’s where I would be going if he had anything to say about the matter. “I’ll know the reason why!” is one of his charming expressions that to this day, resides within me invoking terror when I think of it. And in fact, there was even, a car trip of some few miles to view the outside of the orphanage where presumably my place was secured. It was a large establishment with lots of out buildings. My adult mind would label it Dickensian, and indeed, the building and the institution date back to the Nineteenth Century. I just checked. Everything is on line, every childhood terror has a website! Buckner Orphanage lives on.
My overweight father literally exploded when I was very young, following some Luau where he ate too much suckling pig. I know, it sounds almost like a joke by Nabokov. But it’s true. One day he was there, shouting and reviling and the next day he was dead meat with an apple in his mouth. He was very very young to die, but there was nothing to be done for him. After he was gone, there were no more threats of sending me to Buckner Orphanage. And of course no possibility of changing the way it was between us. Could I have one day made him like me? I’ll never know.
To this day, pitiful though it is, I can truthfully say, I missed out by not being a Daddy’s Girl. Someone who was once called Princess, or Sweetie pie. Or whatever Daddy’s Girls are called.
Someone who would tell me I was pretty enough to win a contest and smart enough to go to med school. Not Buckner Orphanage where my doppelgänger lived. My doppelgänger who actually had been dropped off in the Chrysler by her father for sins too numerous to mention.
She still lives there at the orphanage, and like the children in fairy tales she has never grown old. She is three or four or five and she is as integral to who I am, as my arms, legs, eyes, shoulders, imagination or sense of the absurd.
The late Nobel Laureate Irme Ketesz wrote: “We suffered on account of our youth, as of a serious illness. Families I hate you!” He also said, “I read, that the concept of rule is invariably one of terror, and rule by terror invariably means rule by the father.”
The good part of having grown up at least metaphorically in Buckner Orphanage is Jane Eyre lived there. And so did Oliver Twist. When I grew up I found out Patrick Melrose also lived there as well as all sorts of other great and talented children.
Rule by terror be damned: I’m in very good company!