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Long Haired Disasters and
Riding Into Adulthood
Heather Neale

She wasn’t a monster, my mother.

The last time I saw my mother was fifteen years ago. She was waving goodbye to me from the front porch steps, her straw blonde hair in curlers, pink fuzzy slippers adorned with electric pink pom-poms, and a somehow loveable orange paisley mumu that accentuated her love handles. That was moving day, 1968.

After five long years of playing "money marionette" with her and my father (running away when I had some and snapping right back home when I didn’t,) I was leaving. Yup. This was it. For sure. No more relapses into adolescent angst like before. I’d hooked up with "long-haired Ted" as my father disapprovingly called him, and Ted had promised to love and keep me for all the days of my life. He picked me up in his turquoise '57 chevy, blue smoke marking the occasion. He had a groovy pleather jacket and a celtic tattoo: I was sold. Despite my undying certainty that Ted was my soul mate however, my mother had other ideas.

She wasn’t a monster, my mother. The abusive kind, or the drinker. She just had this slimy visceral way of imposing guilt on me. Guilt that seemed to slip into my thoughts unnoticed and poison the rest like some sort of gargantuan Amazonian tapeworm.

She used to stand barefoot and naked in the kitchen , eating peanut butter from a wooden spoon, and then turn to greet me, unsuspecting of the fact that this was not exactly normal behaviour. She would ask why I was ashamed of her. It hurt her, my embarrassment. The way I would turn to see who she was calling ‘sweetheart’ at school, or duck under the monstrosity that was her purse in the grocery store when we ran into kids from class. I even used to forge her name on my shitty report cards in order to avoid unnecessary contact between her and my school principal that would relate her back to me. No, she wasn’t a monster, just a bit of a freak.

Mom didn’t like Ted much. Not because of his long hair, his fancy car or his tattoo either. No, mainly because he chewed loudly. I invited him over for dinner once to humour my father, (he insisted boys ask him in person before taking his daughters out on dates) and apparently my mother could barely contain her annoyance level. It was all she could do not to rise from her seat at the table and smack his face with the wooden peanut butter spoon, in the hopes that he would stop.

That moving day in 1968 she warned me, "You’ll be back. Ted will take off and you will come crawling back here like always." She smiled as she said it which just pissed me off further.
I smiled back at her, though, despite myself.
I wouldn’t come back.
And I didn’t.
But neither did Longhaired Ted.

Two weeks after we hit the open road, Ted found Longhaired Susan and like something out of a bad country western ditty, hit the high road swingin, the breeze blowing kisses in their collectively long hair.
I, like melted margarine, plastered myself to the next loser I met, and ended up here. Curlers in my hair, eating peanut butter from the jar off a butter knife, I am a vision to behold after sunset.
Though I never physically returned to my mother’s house, I guess she was right. I returned in ways I never thought I would. The only upside is, paisley dresses are coming back into style.

© Heather Neale December 2002

See also Songbird

More Fiction in DREAMSCAPES

Previously by Heather on hackwriters
Chasing Rainbows

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