Mother's Little Girl

Trashman observes a trailer-park family cursed by tragedy

There's a lovely little girl a few trailers down from me who has that guard up. That barrier of self-denial that is inevitably raised in kids when unnatural things occur. A self-defense mechanism used before all the misfires accumulate and things like alcohol and meth grab them by the throat and simulate self-reliance and strength. This 11-year-old named Lindsey with the lovely blond hair and sprightly bounce in her walk is everything not yet ruined by adulthood and circumstance.

Now she's too curious. But soon she'll discover obvious dissimilarities and start to compare exteriors: She'll want to be like the other girls who live in suburban neighborhoods and have new clothes, hairstyles and bracelets. The ones who can buy CDs and talk about boys. She'll want to be like the older girls she stares at in perfumed magazines who have healthy and smiling lips, and who are clean and happy and perfect.

Lindsey has a little sister named Tiffany who is five years younger. Not long ago, Lindsey and Tiffany's mother killed herself in some bizarre self-immolation when working at a self-serve gas station by dousing herself with gasoline and setting herself on fire. I heard the woman had been up on crystal for days. But before all that happened, she loved her daughters. I could tell. I would watch them hug and kiss and tell stories in front of their trailer. I watched for years as she pedaled them on her bicycle to the school or to the store, until Lindsey was big enough to walk. Tiffany would ride in the front basket and Lindsey on the child seat over the rear wheel. I watched on one Halloween when their mom took Polaroid pictures of them. Little Tiffany was dressed as a bee, and Lindsey was going as a prostitute.

Now they are living solely with their dad, who at 33 looks like he's 50. He knows nothing about girls; about their first boy, or how to dress them for school, or how to braid their hair. He drinks Jack like his dad did. He drives a pickup, owns a boat, and recently, he installed a satellite dish on top of their trailer. He works the occasional construction job. He's tough and mean. But on the day that his wife died, he stood at my open door shirtless, all muscles, with Tiffany in his arms and Lindsey by his side, and he started crying. I had never seen a man like this cry before, not even my old man. This was crazy.

Now I can see Lindsey change. I can just see her in the near future, in cut-off shorts and a Contempo shirt, wobbling in her first pair of platform shoes, starting to write "babe" and "Coolio" next to boys' pictures in her yearbook. I can see her becoming a white-trash Barbie with hormones, neglected teeth and no ambition. I can see her having babies because that's something she knew she'd be able to do, something she's supposed to do. Like her mother. Just like her mother.

Ronnie James Dio
Inferno: Last in Live
(Mayhem Records)

The second 40 of King Kobra in as many hours registered enough juice in my brain pan to put a little joy in an otherwise dour night wasted thus far by mistakenly trying to extol any virtue or necessity of a Ronnie James Dio double live set. Of course, even an idiot would know that to connect thought--drunk or not--to anything Ronnie James Dio is nothing short of an exercise in futility, although I did give it a good old sailor's try tonight on Bazim, the good Pakistani gentleman who mans the counter at my local 7-Eleven. He's seemingly there 24/7, and he sells me beer post cutoff time even on nights when I come in spewing forth frothy gibberish. Like tonight.

"There was this other guy . . . burp . . . in Black Sabbath before Dio, his name was Ozzy," I said to the nonunderstanding Bazim. "And Ozzy was an even bigger drunken wuss than Dio."

"Ah, yes," Bazim said from his stance behind the counter. He had a perpetual toothy grin set in dark skin. Eyes colored deep brown, on snow-white balls. I continued the libatious babble: "Bazim, you have no clue as to the mystical antics Sir Dio laid on a million white American suburban boys who had nothing better to do than to torture neighborhood cats in the name of Satan."

"Ah, yes," he said, smiling again and nodding quickly. He must think the West is full of lunatics completely out of their minds.

"And ya know what else, Bazim?"
"Ah, yes."
"That bald, early-Rainbow and late-Sabbath midget squealer sold a gazillion fuckin' copies of Holy Diver through mindless medieval meandering and . . . burp . . . trite heavy-metal devices which incorporated the hefty ego of a wimpy drummer called Carmine "Vinnie" Appice and the pseudo-metal-messiah guitar hysterics of a pussy named Vivian Campbell." I cracked another 40 in the fluorescent glow of the 2 a.m. convenience store. Bazim and I were the only two in there.

"And ya know what else, Bazim?"
"Ah, yes."
"Ronnie James Dio was important because . . . burp . . . the patented Spinal Tap pap that is/was Dio is . . . burp . . . was prophecy, not parody, because Dio predated everything from L.A. Guns' garish goth to King Diamond's Cooper show defraudery. . . . burp . . ."

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