rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Mom Standard Time

My mom was in one of her nostalgic moods again this evening, rambling on with semi-coherent tales of her youth, bits and pieces of the story all scattered hither and yon. She's never had much of an inner editor, and thus is the queen of digression, recursion, and just plain maundering. This gives her stories an oddly avant-garde quality, rather like one of those books somebody (was it Burroughs?) used to put together by cutting and pasting. I suspect that a lifetime of listening to her talk (and trying to make some sort of temporal sense of it), as well as some hereditary quirks in the workings of my brain which predispose me to the same sort of rambling, has influenced my style of writing and my compulsive desire to edit on the fly-- which works out with but infrequent success, alas.

But I digress. Tonight, she let loose a tale (or fragments thereof, at least), I'd never heard before, about one of her cousins who became gravid at thirteen (and this was in the 1930s, when such things were supposedly unheard of in respectable middle-class neighborhoods) and was subsequently incarcerated by her father in a Los Angeles orphanage-cum-home for wayward girls operated by an order of Catholic nuns. The cousin escaped, as it turns out. The sisters would take the girls on outings to a nearby city park, and one day, as the group of girls was returning to the home, my mom's cousin gradually fell to the back of the pack and, when the sister bringing up the rear passed through the entrance gate of the orphanage grounds, the cousin dodged past her and ran down the block where, as chance would have it, a touring car loaded with sailors on leave appeared just as she turned the corner of the intersection. The sailors were happy to let her in the car, and hid her on the floor as they drove off, the sister who had been in pursuit having reached the corner only to see the sidewalk empty, her prey vanished.

The cousin ended up marrying one of the sailors some time later (I know, it begins to sound like bad fiction, but this was California, after all, and what is life in California but the manifestation in reality of all the cliches, both sentimental and horrifying, of a dismal popular culture) and never returned to the girls home. Presumably, she was reconciled with the family despite her disgrace, as, in the past, I've heard other mentions of this same cousin, who had eventually settled into a rather ordinary life.

But it's odd that my mother, who has always striven for utter respectability (and who, as one of her friends once said of her, wouldn't say "shit" if her mouth was full of it) should, on occasion, let slip dark family secrets of this sort (this is not the first such revelation.) I guess it's another result of her lack of an inner editor, accompanied by her compulsive desire to ramble about the past. Over my life, I've endured long hours (which probably add up to months) of trying to puzzle out the bits and pieces which she spews while in such moods. At least I get some entertainment out of it now and then. My only complaint is that she takes such a long time to get to no point. And I think maybe I just did the same thing. Oh, well.

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