Style for the Infantile

I’ve been thinking about layettes. For those of you who have never thought about layettes, I’ll describe them for you. A layette is the first fashion wardrobe given to a newborn child. It is usually a blanket, pillow case, booties, sweater, panties and assorted accessories. If handmade, the layette is crochet or knitted.

Boy babies are given blue layettes, and girl babies are clothed in pink. Sometimes, the infant is given a yellow layette. Yellow – why yellow? That is because the layette was purchased prior to the birth of the child, and prior to in utero sexing.

There has not been a change in layette fashion for a thousand years! It is now time for a change. I suggest the opening of a “Layette Boutique”
.
The fashions for layettes will be regal. A parent can buy yard of rich, black mink to wrap the baby. Hand-crafted, calf skin booties and jewelry of all sorts; gold earrings, precious stone necklaces, pearl head-bands. No more washed out blue or faded pink. The maternity doors of Bellevue Hospital open and a little prince or princess is presented to the world.

Another issue comes to mind, and that is the contrasting styles of death and dying as opposed to birth and living. Funerals are led by police motorcycles, follow by flower cars and shininy black limousines. Mourners are dressed in their finery. Who comes out of the hospital with a newborn? The father goes to the hospital and pays for his wife and child. The wife is weak, and woozy. She hasn’t been out of the hospital for days – her head is spinning. Father doesn’t know how, or who to hold first.

They drive home, alone, no fanfare – no public acclaim. When they arrive at home there is frequently a family gathering, but rather subdued – no grandeur, no cops, no politicians, no theatrics.
Why not blow the horns, ring the sirens, shoot the pistols. A child is born. A child wrapped in silk – magnificent Tahitian silk. Joy to the world. A child is born. Whose got the pampers?

Copyrights, 1980 Tom Golden.

Help! There’s a Murderer in My House

“I can’t stand you anymore,” my mother cried out. “I won’t stand for it.” Her eyes were full of tears.
“But you said I could go outside.” I pleaded.
“Stop it, stop it now!” she screamed. “Stop it or your father…” She was interrupted by the sound of the tea kettle. She ran into the kitchen.
What about my father? I had heard the threat before, many times. “Ouch, damn it, god-damn it.” she hollered.
I reached over for my jacket, just as my mother came back into the room. “That’s it! You’re really going to get it. You’re in for it now. Wait until your father comes home.”
I stopped listening to her threats, put my jacket down and went into my room. As I closed my door, I could still hear her ramblings of helplessness. “He’s gonna get it good. When his father hears…”
My mind was preoccupied with thoughts of my father. I was trying to recall his features, which proved to be difficult despite his having left home just five hours ago. My father, Sam, age thirty, almost five foot, eight inches tall, Caucasian, Jewish, and HOMICIDAL!
Could my father murder someone? Not just anyone – his own son!
The idea of my father being capable of murder was incredible, but my feelings of apprehension were undeniable.
My father’s daily behavior was the essence of non-violence. He was mild-mannered, almost meek. He spent most of time working, eating, and sleeping. I couldn’t recall being hit by my father, nor did I recall him sitting my brothers or sister.
At his assaultive best, he was heard to mumble – “You’d better listen to your mother”, or “Cut it out.”
Why was I so apprehensive? I could almost understand, “Beware, the Ides of March”, but what did “Wait till your father comes home” foretell?
Perhaps my fears of bodily injury were related to his muscles. I remember him carrying the washing machine on his back up two flights of stairs to our apartment. God, I was amazed! He put a large canvas belt around the machine and tied the belt around his chest.
With one heave, he had the machine off the lobby floor. When he reached our apartment, he wasn’t even sweating or puffing.
Now I remember, I remember him saying, “Don’t push me” or “You’d better watch out.” Some references to not making him mad, or “I’m warning you.” I recall him saying phrases that suggested pain, if not doom. With my mother threatening his punitive potential, and my father hinting at some sort of limits to his endurance I was left only with my fantasies. There were no hard facts to draw upon. I might get slapped, punched, kicked, choked, or KILLED.
The murderer in the house, was in my head – was I alone?
Did other children harbor similar fears of patricide?

Safety Box 617

The bank clerk she could not find the safety box sign in card that would allow me to sign in to Safety Box 617. She searched several times through the hundreds of cards, and still could not find my signature card.

“I know it is there,” I said. “ I have accessed the box just last month.”
“I don’t know what has happened, but I can’t find it”, she said.
I was certain that the card was there, and with some hesitancy, I requested that another bank person search the file. The clerk agreed.

Within minutes the bank manager arrived, and began another search. On his first attempt, he found the card. It was in the G file, but stuck to another card. I signed the card, and the officer allowed me entrance to the vault. He removed, Box 617, and brought me into the private viewing room, and he left the room.

The box was full of jewelry – some real, and other costume jewelry. The box was Suzanne’s history. The box was Suzanne’s stuff. I intended to collect the jewelry and send the pieces to my daughter Tania.

I had previously packed some pieces in small storage bags, and others of more value I wrapped in tissue paper. Earrings, pins, broaches, and rings were all packaged separately. As I unwrapped the real jewelry, I found a multiple stranded pearl necklace, with a gold clasp. I knew that piece. Suzanne had worn that necklace so many times. She wore the necklace when she was wearing a dress or gown that was quite revealing. The pearls rested on her chest, and she looked so lovely. Among the jewelry was another very long string of pearls, but not as ornate as the multiple stranded set of pearls with the gold clasp.

As I looked at the necklaces, and the bags of jewelry, I became overwhelmed with emotion. Tears in my eyes. My hands trembled. I touched the pieces, and brought the necklaces close to my face, and to my nose. Could I smell Suzanne? I thought I remembered her smell. I did remember her smell, and I could only think of Suzanne. Her skin, smell, smile – mostly her smile. I took some of the tissue to wipe my eyes. Box 617 held Suzanne – her person, and not my memories of her – but her. Many thoughts of our life together. Each one just fleetingly, and not complete, but each one joyful – so joyful. I was missing her, but the jewelry kept her in the room.

I had brought a cloth sack to use to take the jewelry back home with me. I placed the jewelry in the sack, and checked the box to be certain that nothing was left in the box. Prior to leaving the private room, I contacted the bank clerk to complete the visit. Upon leaving the vaulted room, the clerk would check the box for any content, and search the room in case something was left on the table, or floor. Everything check out, and I left the vault and signed out on the identity card.

When I arrived back at my apartment, I took all the jewelry out of the sack. As I searched thru the contents, I did not see the multiple stranded pearl necklace with the gold catch. I searched again, and several more times. Where was the necklace? I was becoming quite anxious, and I could not understand what had happened. I know I placed the necklace in the sack. I know the clerk and I searched Box 617, and the private room. We both were satisfied that nothing was left in the room. Where was the necklace? I actually panicked. I went to my car, and searched the car. Perhaps the necklace had fallen out of the sack. The car was clean. I know I saw the necklace – I held the necklace – I smelled the necklace.

I called the bank, and requested that the clerk who had checked me out to search the room again. Perhaps someone had been in the room after I left. The clerk told me that I was the last person to use the room, and that she would check the room. I should stay on the phone. Within minutes the clerk informed me that there was nothing in the room. I must say that I did think that perhaps the clerk or someone in the bank found the necklace, and had stolen it. The necklace was there – it was clearly there – in my hands.

My despair was all consuming. I left my apartment, and went back to the bank. At the bank, I spoke to the clerk who did the search. She suggested that we both check the room. We did. It was empty. I apologized for the need to search. I stood in the bank for several moments. I could not leave. Perhaps just one hour ago, I had the necklace in my hand in this bank. I know I held the necklace in the private room. How could I have lost the necklace? How could I have misplaced the necklace from the bank to my apartment? Nothing made any sense.

Standing in the lobby of the bank, I saw in one office the bank manager was seated at his desk. I needed to speak with someone about my plight. I needed to speak with someone about my loss, although I could not accept that I might have lost the necklace. I knocked on his door, and he asked me in. He immediately recognized that we had met at the vault. He asked me of my concern. I told him of the entire sequence of events, from the moment I entered the bank to search Box 617, and the lost necklace. In telling him, I did lose some control, and started to cry. He was silent at first, but then he asked me to tell about the necklace, and about Suzanne.

And I did. I told him about our chance meeting in 1963 in Toronto, Canada. I talked about France, family, the farm, animals, gardens, and Suzanne, and Suzanne. He listened and hardly spoke. I rambled on, but always where was that necklace. I told him of how that Box 617 awakened a lifetime of memories, and feelings. As I searched thru Box 617, I was once again with Suzanne. It was so strange, emotionally consuming, and yet so meaningful. I think that the jewelry and its placement on her body, her hands, and her ears all generated her presence.

At one point, the gentlemen, whose name I have forgotten, said that perhaps – just perhaps the necklace was not there. He suggested that perhaps I thought it was there, and it had to be there among her jewels, but in fact it was not. He said that my need for it to be there, and my memory of the necklace was all there was, and not the actual piece of jewelry. As he spoke, I was not upset, nor doubting his notion. In fact, I could believe that I was so emotionally involved in those moments in the private room, that I could have imagined the presence of the necklace. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I never did have the necklace in my hands. Perhaps I did not smell her skin. I had been with him for at least thirty minutes, and I thanked him for his time and concern.

I told him that what I felt in that room, and my search in Box 617, was a moment shared by many persons who search through other safety boxes. Other persons who are also reminded of their loved ones. Other persons who relive their soulful moments with departed loved ones. He suggested that was likely the case, and that I was fortunate to have had such joyful memories. I thanked him for the time and left the bank.

Upon my return to my apartment, I immediately telephoned my daughter  and asked her if she remembered the necklace. She said that she did, and she asked what had happened. I told her of the mornings search, and the loss. I asked her if I had ever given her the necklace, or did Suzanne give it to her. She remembered that during her college years, a pearl necklace was given to her, and that she could not find it. Tania believed that perhaps a roommate had stolen it, but nothing was ever done with that possibility. She did not believe it was that necklace, but another set of pearl strands. There was nothing more to say about that possibility.

I am writing this piece because Box 617 has become such a striking moment in my life and how the things of our past can prompt feelings that are never forgotten. Perhaps I did not see, nor hold the strands of pearls with the gold clasp. What I did see, and hold was Suzanne – her smile, her smell and a life of such excitement and love.

Tom Golden, March, 2015.

 

A Parent Interview

On Thursday, October 5th, during her daily White House news briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered that during the investigation of the massacre at Las Vegas, the FBI, ATM, local authorities, and family members of persons killed or wounded would be included and interviewed as part of the process of investigation. Sarah’s inclusion of family members concerns this writer, and resulted in the following interview.

FBI Agent: Mrs. Pierce, I understand that your daughter was killed at the concert.
Mrs. Alice Pierce: Yes, she was killed. She was only 19 years old. My only child.
FBI Agent: I am so sorry. Can you tell me how you feel at this time.
Mrs. Alice Pierce: Terrible, just terrible.
FBI Agent: Yes, I understand.  I truly understand how you must feel. Can you offer any suggestions about the investigation.
Mrs. Alice Pierce: What do you mean?
FBI Agent: Well, the FBI, and other authorities need your help in the investigation.
Mrs. Alice Pierce: My help? How can I help?
FBI Agent:  Well, do you have any ideas that could help in the investigation?
Mrs. Alice Pierce: Sir, my daughter is dead. My daughter is dead. What do you want from me?
FBI Agent: We think that you and other families may be able to help in the investigation.
Mrs. Alice Pierce: Please, I can’t speak anymore. Please forgive me.
FBI Agent: I understand, but maybe you have some thoughts that could help the investigation.
Mrs. Alice Pierce: I am very sorry, but somehow you haven’t heard me.
FBI Agent: What do you mean, Mrs. Pierce? Can you help in any way?
Mrs. Alice Pierce: Sir, my daughter is dead. Have you no feelings?
FBI Agent: I do, but we think that relatives of the dead can help in the investigation.
Mrs. Pierce: Please, I must go.
FBI Agent: You mean you won’t help. We need your assistance. The FBI, and police can’t do it alone.
Mrs. Alice Pierce: Please.
FBI Agent: So you won’t help – not at all.
Mr. Frank Pierce: Mister – Fuck off!!

Drowning in Lentil Soup

If my brother is in my Mother’s stomach, then where does the lentil soup go? My Mother had just finished her bowl of hot soup, and I was staring at her swollen stomach. With each spoonful of soup she ate, I winced, thinking of my baby brother swimming for dear life in that cauldron called her stomach.

I knew her stomach was really big, but was it big enough to hold a baby and all that hot soup?

I should never have asked her where I came from. She told me that I grew in her stomach. For a little child, the imagery is full of danger. How do you breath in there? How do you eat? Most of all, how do you get out.

Getting out of the stomach may be the most incomprehensible event. Did the doctor just cut open the stomach, reach in and take the baby out? Even if a Mother chanced identifying the vagina as the exit, there was no way a child could reconcile toilet function with the birth of a baby. Phooey! Gross!

We are still left with the dual functioning stomach – food storage and baby brooder. Fortunately, most children do not ask about the food function. If they did, Mother’s would be required to recognize the possible existence of a womb or uterus, or perhaps, a “special place”  just below the belly button. Once another compartment is identified, the confusion can be eliminated. Without some attempt at clarifying the mysteries of birth, a child must wish for their Mother to starve for nine months.

“I hope mommy doesn’t drink a lot today, or my baby will drown.” That night my Mother called me into her room. I came over to her bed, and she pointed to where the baby was kicking her side. Thank God. The baby survived the lentil soup.

Sometimes when I felt the “leg” kick, I was certain that the baby was fighting for life. If the “leg” kick was at the top of the swollen stomach, that meant the baby’s head was at the bottom – right in the middle of lunch!

By the way, how did my Mother know it was a leg and not an arm, or elbow? How could she tell? She couldn’t! It was an educated guess. It may not have been a guess at all, but rather a Mother’s need to answer the unanswerable queries of a child who would believe anything a Mother said.

Pregnancies and birth are unique and memorable events for all except little children. For the young child the magic is gone, because Mothers can account for everything. It is in the accounting that the magic dies and the terror and fear are born.

Sex Education Begins At Home – Good Luck!

Against his better judgment, but with the urging of his wife Adele, Sam agrees to speak with his son, Tom, about sex. Sam, a man of 45 years, has been avoiding such a discussion for the past two years. His wife, Adele, has pleaded with Sam to have a ‘man to man’ talk with their son about “the birds and the bees.” Tom just celebrated his 14th birthday. Adele has been anxious about Tom’s increasing romantic interests in their neighbor’s 16 year old daughter, Samantha. “It’s just puppy love”, has been Sam’s response, but Adele has been insistent about the need for homebound sex education.

Sunday morning’s bagels, lox and cream cheese have been devoured by all, and Sam asks Tom to join him on the patio. At the furthest end of the patio, out of earshot, Sam arranges two lounge chairs. Tom follows his Dad, and they sit side by side. Actually the chairs are touching, allowing for even a whispered communication. Sam clears his throat, takes a deep breath, and begins…

Sam: Tom I think that it is time for us to talk.

Tom: About what Dad?

Sam: What do you mean about what?

Tom: About what, Dad?

Sam: Something very important.

Tom: O.K.

Sam: Keep it down Tom. Stop shouting.

Tom: Shouting? I’m not shouting.

Sam: O.K. that’s better.  Just keep it down.

Tom: Dad is something the matter?

Sam: No, not at all. I just want to talk with you.

Tom: (concerned) Is Mom alright?

Sam: Mom is fine – she’s perfect. I mean she’s okay. This isn’t about your Mother.

Tom: Great. (relieved)You really got me scared Dad.

Sam: I’m sorry Tom I didn’t mean to scare you.

Tom: Dad…

Sam: (startled)What?

Tom: Oh nothing, but I was gonna meet Peter and Mark downtown.

Sam: Oh good. Well I guess we can talk tomorrow. It’s not a big deal.

Tom: No Dad. I’ll give them a call. I’ll see them later.

Sam: Oh fine, that’s fine. Well I guess we can talk today.

Tom: Yeh. I kinda like this Dad.

Sam: (Incredulous) You do?

Tom:  Yeh. Well what is this about Dad?

Sam: Well your Mom, well your Mom and I think that it is important for us to discuss things about men and women and things like that.

Tom: (excited) Yeh sounds good!

Sam: (vexed) What do you mean, sounds good?

Tom: You know Dad, sex and things like that…(giggles)

Sam: It’s not all sex. Everything is not about sex Tom.

Tom: I know that Dad. In health class we talked about pregnancy, babys and things like that.

Sam: Oh you do?

Tom: Yeh. We learned about STD’s and marriage and family.

Sam: STD’s. What’s that?

Tom: Sexually transmitted diseases, Dad.

Sam: Oh yeh, sure. That’s good.  I’m glad you learned about them.

Tom: Yeh, so am I.

Sam: That information will come in handy someday.

Tom: That’s for sure.

Sam: (abrupt) What do you mean by that?

Tom: Nothin. Say Dad, I better get going.

Sam: But I want to tell you…On second thought we can talk tomorrow. See you later, son.

Later on the same evening, Sam and Adele are in bed.

Adele: Sam, how did it go?

Sam: What?

Adele: How did the talk go with Tom?

Sam: Fine – just fine.

Adele: Great. I feel much better. I was so worried. I know it wasn’t easy for you.

Sam: No problem – no problem.

Ten minutes later. Sam is attempting to go to sleep, while Adele is reading. Her side of the bed it lit by a small bedside lamp.

Adele: Sam.

Sam: Uh.

Adele: Are you awake?

Sam: Sort of.

Adele: Sam, I was wondering what Tom had to say.

Sam: About what?

Adele: You know. Did he have any questions?

Sam: Adele, can’t we talk about this tomorrow? I’m really beat.

Adele: Sure we can honey. I was just curious. You know how I am.

Sam: Yes.

Adele: Was he comfortable talking to you Sam?

Sam: (annoyed) Adele, I’m really tired. Can’t we just go to sleep?

Adele: (insistent) Just tell me what he said!

Sam: (angry) Adele I’m serious. I’m exhausted!

Adele: I know. I’ m sorry, but I am so concerned. You know how kids are nowadays, and with Samantha next door. Sam, you understand don’t you?

Sam: Adele, I’m almost asleep. Goodnight.

Adele: Goodnight, Honey, Goodnight.

Next morning. Breakfast table. Seated are Tom, Sam and Adele

Adele: Tom would you like more pancakes?

Tom: No thanks Mom. I’ve got to get going.

Adele: Dad tells me that you and he had a great conversation yesterday.

Tom: Yeh.

Adele: I guess you must have felt a little funny.

Sam: (annoyed) Adele, enough.

Tom: No, Mom. I felt fine.

Adele: I mean wasn’t it a little….

 

Sam: (interrupts)Adele, Tom has to get going. He’s going to be late for class.

Adele: I was just interested in how you both felt. I mean it isn’t everyday that a father and son speak about personal things and…

Sam: (shouts) that’s it. Tom get going. Have a nice day.

Adele: Sam, what’s got into you?

Sam: Nothing. Well honey. I’ve got to go. See you later. (gets up and gives

Adele a kiss on the cheek).

Evening. Tom’s bedroom. Sam is outside the bedroom door. He knocks on the door.

Sam: Tom are you busy?

Tom: No Dad. Come on in.

Sam: How was your day?

Tom:  Good Dad.

Sam: Great. You know yesterday I wanted to talk with you about relationships between guys and girls.

Tom: I know Dad.

Sam: What do you mean, you know?

Tom: Sex. You wanted to talk about sex – right?

Sam: Well not exactly. Actually you’re right. Let’s talk about it. Your Mother thinks it’s important to discuss sex with you. Okay?

Tom: Sure Dad. It’s okay.

Sam: Okay. Tell me what you know, and if you have any questions ask me.

Tom: I really don’t have any questions. I mean I feel kinda funny talking about this with you.

Sam: Relax. We’re both men. If we can’t talk about these things who can you talk to?

Tom: Mark, and Peter.

Sam: Oh yeh. I understand, but they’re your age. Perhaps they don’t have all the information.

Tom: Well maybe you’re right.

Sam: So go ahead. Tell me what you have on your mind.

Tom: Well Dad, it’s not exactly a question, but can I get a subscription to Playboy?

Sam: (stunned) What?

Tom: I’d like to get Playboy, or maybe Penthouse.

Sam; Are you serious? I can’t believe you. Just forget it!

Tom: (hurt) Forget it Dad. I knew I shouldn’t ask you. Just forget it.

Sam: Why? Why do you need them?

Tom: Well every time I read them…

Sam: (aghast) You read them? Where? Where did you get them?

Tom: Peter’s dad has Penthouse. I read them at Peter’s house.

Sam: His dad has Penthouse? He lets you read them?

Tom: No, his dad doesn’t know.

Sam: Tom you are much too young – much too young.

Tom: But Dad, when I look at the girls, it’s easier to masturbate.

Sam: (shocked, stunned) What the hell! Just watch yourself Tom. Take it easy.

Tom: Now you’re mad. I knew I should have just shut up. Dad I better get to sleep.

Sam: I’m not mad. I’m just surprised.

Tom: Didn’t you ever read Playboy? Did you?

Sam: What difference does that make? I’m your father. I can’t believe that Peter’s father lets him read Penthouse.

Tom: I told you Dad. His father doesn’t know. Peter sneaks it out of his dad’s bedroom. Peter thinks his dad is really horny.

Sam: Tom, that’s enough. I don’t need to know about Peter’s dad.

Tom: Dad. How old were you the first time you masturbated?

Sam: (stunned, bleary eyed) What did you say?

Tom: I was wondering when you first jacked-off?

Sam: Tom, just watch your mouth.

Tom: I’m sorry Dad, but I was just curious. Being a guy, Dad, I just thought I could ask you that.

Sam: Well you took me by surprise. I mean I’m supposed to answer your questions, but…

Tom: I understand Dad. I apologize.

Sam: Tom, I’m sorry I jumped on you.

Tom: Say Dad, did you ever use condoms?

Sam :(shouts)  Shut the fuck up. Just shut your fuckin mouth.

Tom: But Dad…

Sam: You want to know about jacking-off, or condoms or whatever, just ask Mark, or Peter, or maybe Peter’s Dad. Not me!

Tom: I’m really sorry Dad, but you said we should talk about sex.

Sam: Right. But not about my sex!

Late that same night. Sam and Adele are in bed.

Adele: Sam, why were you shouting in Tom’s room?

Sam: Oh, nothing much. We just got into some heavy talk.

Adele: Like what?

Sam: Good night, Adele.

Adele: Sam, please don’t shut me out. This is important.

Sam; Adele, just forget it.

Adele: Sam, I am your wife. I can help.

Sam: Help, help with what. I don’t need your help Adele. Just go to sleep.

Adele: Why are you so upset?

Sam:  Why, I’ll tell you why. Your son – your son asked me about jacking-off.

Adele: What? What did you say?

Sam: Tom wanted to know how old I was when I first masturbated.

Adele: He did?

Sam: Yes he did. And did I ever use condoms.

Adele: I hope you told him that you did.

Sam: Listen Adele, if you want to talk to your son about your sexual acts, techniques, and equipment, go right ahead. I’m not!

Adele: Alright, calm down. Enough. Just relax.

Sam: O.K. Good night.

Adele: Good night Sam.

Several minutes later

Adele: Sam, are you up?

Sam: Barely.

Adele: Sam.

Sam: What?

Adele: How old were you when you first masturbated?

Fin……………………………