Just Merveilleux?

Life at № 42

Illuminated by Gas

About a year after I came out the dust had settled. All financial support from my family had ceased. Many harsh things were said- mostly by me. And at that precise moment I was presented with a case of and for an alternate reality. One where a near pathological machismo had never existed in our lives. Suddenly it was all a matter of my imagination. My life had been, as they’d always presented, one of idyll. And they all sat around a table and their heads bobbed up and down at this story, much more elegant than the one I’d been telling. That was it.

I wasn’t sure how to feel at first. To be honest I still don’t know now eighteeen years later. The more charming narrative has so much going for it; and it’s so much easier when things are black or white. After all, who wouldn’t want to be that boy they speak of? The luckiest boy in the world, my father would say. People can only dream of a life like yours. I wonder if he really believes that? Or is he so lost in the narrative himself that he’s blind to reality.

Mine was not one of those accidental births the result of an adolescent fumble. Nor was it one of those where parents desperately yearn to hold a baby. I was part of something bigger. A machine, a cycle. I was born and branded. Named after my grandfather, just as my father had been named after his. The right to a personal identity stripped from me there and then. It was March 23, 1978, Maundy Thursday. My birth was moved up by four days as to not interfere with the Easter Holiday.

The next day I was taken to the house at Slave Hill and handed to a woman named Dejanira. Amusingly enough that means man destroyer in Greek. Dinner was apparently a disaster. My grandparents were most unhappy about being related to each other and traded barbs at the table. My mother went to bed early. My father went out with his friends. And even Dejanira fell asleep; on a mattress at the foot of my crib. And by my crib I mean the one that had served my father before me.

My French grandmother says she could hear me crying later that night. And the crying continued, and no one woke up, no one got up. She lay in her bed and wondered if she should just let it happen. Let the child cry. Let it be his first lesson. Get it over with. Let his little heart break now. Let him realise this is how the world really works. You end up crying and alone in the dark. And she wanted desperately to get up, and her eyes filled with water; but she was frozen, staring at the stripes on the floor. Moonlight through the venetian blinds. The only time of day the house at Slave Hill revealed itself as the prison it was.

 

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45 comments on “Illuminated by Gas

  1. acflory
    July 18, 2017

    Bloody hell…if that’s what life as the 1% is like, I’m glad I’m only middle class. I know there’s a thing called ‘controlled crying’ in the parenting books but I’ve always believed it’s a cruel technique that I wouldn’t use on a dog much less a newborn. 😦
    -huge hugs-

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 18, 2017

      That’s just the first day 😀
      And there’s no such thing as cruelty. We’re too strong for that. We’re never victims.

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        July 18, 2017

        Yeah, right… 😦

        Liked by 2 people

      • Esme upon the Cloud
        July 20, 2017

        “I’ve always been accused of being extremely cold and detached in general, ever since I was little.” I can see this a little and I can see how mak might be called so, yet you both come across to me as incredibly warm, caring people.

        You’re sharp as a knife with your humour, and very careful as to who you show that softer side to in a way I think. I was drawn to you immediately, the first time I read you on RS’s blog. There was a good reason to have been there after all if I found you there, and, as is often the way with friendships and connections in life, she has drifted out of the picture, or was booted out to some extent, and I have you as friend on here whose company I enjoy immensely. Your upbringing may have been cruel and harsh in lots of ways, but your ‘self’ came out of it, despite it in fact, a fine, funny, thoughtful and kind man. I mean yes, you’re a terrible egoist, fancy yourself to death and try to steal Clouds regularly, but hey, no-ones perfect. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

        It would be fascinating to get us all together in real life in one room with lots of alcohol. Not that we’d need the alcohol, but that would make it more fun. You, I, Hariod, Mak, JZee, Bela, Meeka, Ark, Kj and the rest of the Cloudsters too. Perhaps we’d all sit silently being unable to speak at all and start typing furiously on our ipads/smartphones in order to communicate! I’d have to bring some sticky buns obviously.

        No matter how sad your words are, they are always so well written, and I’m glad you have Mike with you to love and be loved by.

        – Esme giving him a hug upon the Cloud

        Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu
      July 18, 2017

      I couldn’t say anything better than this, especially the dog part 🙂
      Pink, how you write this stories is so interesting. It’s almost like you are writing about someone else.
      How do you manage to almost detach yourself from stories about you?

      Liked by 4 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        I’m not sure how it happened. I’ve always been accused of being extremely cold and detached in general, ever since I was little.

        Liked by 2 people

      • makagutu
        July 18, 2017

        I have been accused of being cold but detached may be on the line too.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ruth
        July 18, 2017

        Could it be because you were left in a crib as a newborn to cry on your own? Bloody hell! That has been proven to cause detachment syndrome in babies. Some may call it self-soothing, all it really does is teach a baby to trust no one but themselves.

        Liked by 4 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        Then it worked! Success! 😀

        Liked by 3 people

      • Ruth
        July 18, 2017

        Jesus.H.Christ. A tragic success.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        I do trust Mike, and animals. But mostly myself. Interestingly I think my self-sufficiency (exhausting as it may have been, especially as a child) made me more attractive to people. Someone they felt they could count on.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. persedeplume
    July 18, 2017

    You stun me with your writing, Pink. You’ve got a real knack for it.

    I came out as an atheist first to a deeply religious family. That put the cat among the pigeons for good and all. So much later in life when I came out as gay we weren’t speaking anyway. A bit anti climactic really.

    Liked by 5 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 18, 2017

      Was it like a clean break from everyone, like from one day to the next?

      Like

      • persedeplume
        July 18, 2017

        Yes. It was one of those “you’re dead to me” moments we only see on off off Broadway.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        From everyone? So they perceived you as a threat to the survival of their unit.

        Like

      • persedeplume
        July 18, 2017

        Well, immediate family first, then extended family over the next few weeks. I think they felt the threat to their authority more than their survival, but I suppose it boils down to that in the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        Did you get over it right away?

        Like

      • persedeplume
        July 18, 2017

        No. I was busting up the china angry for many years. I felt I was taking a moral position they should have respected in not living a lie. I’ve outlived them all. Heh.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        I want to outlive mine too, but they simply refuse to die.

        Liked by 4 people

    • john zande
      July 18, 2017

      I agree. A wordsmith he is. Just don’t tell him. His ego is a kite already.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Steve Ruis
    July 18, 2017

    I do not remember much of my first ten years, let alone the first days. I assume to are putting together the remembrances of others to contrast with family fictions.

    Sometimes I feel guilty that I was brought up in a lovely family, an entirely normal dysfunction, but loving family. This seems to have been a rare occurrence. I can’t imagine being rejected by my family for any reason. (They all “have faith” and I do not and that is not a major problem.)

    Your story is so sad and Americans do not like or appreciate sadness and so dismiss a significant part of our humanity. I am still learning to appreciate it.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Steve Ruis
    July 18, 2017

    All family histories are “multi-fictions” of this order. Each persons experience is somewhat fictional and then others take those threads and weave … whole cloth, most of the time. While my families economic situation I would describe as “lower Middle Class (American)” I felt it to be rich and quite wonderful (at least in retrospect, I had my share of disappointments).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Linn
    July 18, 2017

    Thank you for sharing that. It’s difficult to imagine how someone can sit still listening to a baby crying and do nothing.
    I remember a documentary where they tested the response babies have to even short-term neglect. A mother was playing with her infant before she suddenly stopped showing emotions and responding (she just sat there staring at the child). The baby started screaming in fear until the mother started smiling again. The experiment only lasted a couple of minutes and yet the child’s fear was palpable. I remember having nightmares as a child about my parents becoming emotionless zombies. Children often prefer even anger over sheer indifference.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 18, 2017

      It’s difficult to imagine how we let people drown in the Mediterranean because they’re just a shade too dark to elicit empathy. Such are the ways of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Argus
        July 18, 2017

        They have my sympathy, as humans, as people. And right there it stops.

        But in so far as they are the (often unwitting?) tool being used as a weapon in a game of very very high stakes, I’d wrap them up with Return To Sender on the label and promptly send ’em back.

        Otherwise I’d meet them at sea and treat them as if they were armed invaders instead of unarmed: halt, or I fire.
        Boom! (You should’ve halted, dammit …)

        The flood of ‘refugees’ is a 4GW invasion, nothing less.

        But folks will wake up, too late. History is being reshaped right now whilst we watch and try to impress each other with our sanctimonious platitudes—much like a bemused mother bird watching the huge cuckoo chick nonchalantly tossing her eggs out of the nest she built.

        As much as I do prefer blue-eyed blondes to all others, colour doesn’t matter a damn but beliefs do. If ‘dark’ is a label for Islamic, then I am very very anti-dark.
        If ‘dark’ otherwise is simply to show me up as a racist, then I’m not—but I am (r) I am a ‘beliefest’. Very much so.

        Like

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        So is the presumption that anyone born into Muslim culture is condemned to religion forever?
        I believe there are statistics that show quite the opposite.

        Like

      • Argus
        July 18, 2017

        Certainly their ‘culture’ is intended to keep them Islamic (okay, enslaved to Allah) for ever. Born in, you are in. To try to opt out is literally a death sentence.

        I must admit that I didn’t read the Koran. For one, I don’t speak Arabic and anything other is merely faulty approximations. The other is that I cou;dn’t get past all the endless outright hypnotic propaganda — you just try saying (say) “Trump is God!” after every mention of the Word America, or life, or sex …

        So I fall at the first hurdle. True, there is goodness in the Koran (bits of) just as in the Bible, or Harry Potter books.

        But to try to leave Islam is not good, and to even speak ‘against’ it where it rules can be suicide.

        Like

      • The Pink Agendist
        July 18, 2017

        The same is true of Catholics.
        An interesting figure for you, the vast majority of French “Muslims” have very little to nothing to do with the religion. No visits to mosques, not even prayers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Argus
        July 18, 2017

        Then they should be honest and declare themselves—but coming out takes courage, no? And could be lethal, later …

        Like

      • Argus
        July 18, 2017

        I judge ’em not so much by what they say as by what they do. Brrrr.

        Like

      • Argus
        July 18, 2017

        Oops. I might have digressed.
        Certainly that is the theory, yes.

        As for your statistics … they give hope.

        Like

  6. Ruth
    July 18, 2017

    It’s strange how families do this. They all have narratives. Yet, each member has their own narrative, slightly different from the remembrance of all the others. I suppose it’s possible for multiple realities to be true at a given moment. Your father couldn’t imagine there being a down-side to your birthright because he apparently embraced it so his reality is/was completely different from your own.

    This is fabulous writing, btw.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      July 18, 2017

      Absolutely. He embraced his role with gusto. First born male, very good looking, never had to work. Mistresses left and right. He felt god-like by having children. Passing on his “gifts”.

      Like

  7. appletonavenue
    July 18, 2017

    I’ve been told I can be untrusting, cold and detached. Never before realized where those traits came from. Thanks for the insight. Now I can blame these quirks on my parents. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Bela Johnson
    July 18, 2017

    This is chilling, Pink. It’s a story I’ve heard a few times before, unfortunately. And some of us wonder if it might have been preferable to the life we were given. All human lives are fraught with suffering and desperation. I don’t know why anyone would wish to be anyone else. Extremely well written and it makes the reader want more of the story. 😘

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Arkenaten
    July 18, 2017

    Like everyone else, I could not imagine letting a child cry like that. When my two were tiny I was up like a shot if I heard the slighted noise. The cot was in an enclosed balcony of our ground floor flat where we also had a rocking chair. If the wife was too tired I would sometimes sit with them on my lap and fall asleep myself!

    And your prose is excellent.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. kjennings952
    July 18, 2017

    Your voice is powerful. It was from Day 1. What could be more threatening than “one of us” to challenge us?

    That experience also gave you courage and strength. Thank you for sharing it. Beautifully written.

    Liked by 2 people

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