Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Madeleina

By now you all know I love my kids. I recognize them for their faults and good traits and think they have more of the latter than the former. And each have their own fantastic abilities: Italo has the genuine gift of a brilliant athlete and the take charge personality of a leader who leads by example, rather than force. Marco, when he wants to do something--as being pushed makes him as stubborn as a mule--has more stick-to-it-iveness than anyone I know.
And then there is Madeleina and her uncanny word sense. Just something that has amazed me several times. The first occurred while she was early in second grade. She'd had a friend, a boy, at whose house she played several times during first grade. He'd been here as well. But early on in second grade he stopped including her. In anything. He didn't eat lunch at her table in school, he wouldn't play with her at recess or after school; didn't invote her to his house and wouldn't even answer her calls to come here.
She said it didn't matter but I knew it broke her heart: she learned what abandoned meant.
Well, Madeleina has always gone outside when she's angry or sad and she just starts singing. Just makes up songs. I don't get to hear many, even now, but one day while she was thinking of this kid, I think, she was wandering around the front yard just singing her head off. And the lines that stuck me were:
"I don't know why you treat me like a disaster;
You treat me like I was a tornado,
You treat me like I was a car wreck,
I don't know why you treat me like a disaster."
I was nearly paralyzed by that. In all my life, in all my reading, in all my suffering my own being occasionally abandoned, I'd never heard, read or thought anything that explained that emotion so clearly, so succinctly, so perfectly. "I'm hurt; I feel empty without you" and so forth are miles away from what Madeleina had hit on: When people leave you they don't just leave, they get as far away as they can. Just like when a tornado is coming, or when there is a car wreck. We don't want anything at all--except from a voyeur's joy--to do with a disaster. We want to be as far away as possible.
And Madeleina, well, she just hit the nail on the freaking head with that one.
She did it again in a story she wrote last week. She'll be in trouble because she wrote it for school, and it's a hard boiled short story set in the 1950s about a gangster who is breaking up with his girl, a whore, who had sex with a couple of dozen
men while he was out of town for a week. The woman threatens to expose a secret of his, that he'd killed his best friend in a drunken barfight years ago, and the man then strangles her. Fortunately, while he left her for dead she actually survived, and then the man, reliving that bar fight and unable to live with remembering it, drives off a bridge to a watery death.
Not a perfect story but pretty damned good.
But what made it special was her use of language. From the man's point of view, she wrote that the woman was known as Ms. Elegant because even though she wore dresses so short they left nothing to the imagination, they always looked as though "they'd been cut from evening gowns with the bottoms of the gowns tossed away."
She--again, from the man's point of view--described the woman as having "breasts so large they should have had their own zip code."
And she described the woman's legs as "so long they looked like they could wrap themselves around you so fast they'd knock the breath right out of a man."
She may have gotten some of that stuff subliminally, but with several moves between 1995 and 2002 I got rid of all my Mickey Spillane's and other pot boilers, so she didn't read that stuff here. She might have gotten something from movies she's seen.
Still, those are amazing images for a 12 year old.
I am a wonderful writer, but I am also a jealous one. I've never come up with stuff like that, so perfect, so pictorial.
And I'm also very very proud of her.

1 comment:

Gritter said...

The ol' apple and the tree thing, huh?