Saturday, February 16, 2008

Memoirs (Character Perspective)

This was originally intended to be a serial. The last portion of it that was released was released on August 24th, 2006. The number of inside jokes in this is ridiculous, and the likelihood of anyone deciphering them without my help is about nil.

Bad idea all around, but it worked pretty well for the audience that this was intended for. You might laugh. If you absolutely
must know, the main character's name is Eve. No other explanations will be provided except in the case of bribes.

The genre of memoirs has lately been an unpopular one. There is one and only one reason for this: most people have boring memories, and it seems to be that those are the ones most likely to believe they have something to reminisce onto page. Some attempts have been made to remedy the tedium in memoirs. Unfortunately, the omnipresent sticks-in-the-mud are still omnipresent.

As a benefit to all of humanity, and to all English literature, I have decided that it is finally time to write my memoirs.

If you have lived in America for more than a few years, you have already heard of a few of my experiences. Now you will have a chance to finally hear the truth about my life, or as close to it as I can recall.

It seems so cliché to begin at the beginning, but it also seems cliché to begin at the ending, or even in the middle and flash back and forward until reaching a stunning climax that involves both the linear very first few minutes and the very last few minutes.

So, damn the clichés and batten the topsail, we're sailing from Spain to the Americas without being smart enough to realize that we're going to ground before hitting India.

I was born in 1899, February the 13th, on a Friday. It was a grim and mildly precipitous morning, though I can't recall it. They say that first impressions last a lifetime. If that's true in the strictest sense of the word, you can say that I had a very bad impression of this world.

According to my mother, the world had a rather bad first impression of me as well. I cried incessantly, shat and pissed in my nappies, and bit the nipples of any female who happened to come within twenty inches, and those of a few of the more well-endowed males. Unlike the world, however, I have made significant improvements on my character. I have given up incessant crying, and self-defecation and self-urination for good. I also can usually manage to detect and avoid male nipples before bitting.

Besides, this is about my memories, not about the world's memories of me.

While I can't remember the first year or so of my life, I do remember the third year quite vividly. My handle on the English language was at that point on par with most modern seventy year olds. Modern literacy is a joke.

It was during my third year that I discovered that certain sounds that I could emanate from my mouth produced drastic effects in my audience. My early career in comedy was cut short by the fact people find it funny when three-year-olds say onanism, but are much less amused by six-year-olds who do the same.

I am very fortunate that this was not the only benefit I obtained from learning the English language.

When you begin to learn the language in earnest, a world of discoveries is opened to you. For instance, I immediately learned what "hot" meant, and renewed my interest in not touching stoves ever. As a young female, of course, this was simply not acceptable in that era. From the age of eighteen months, it was required to learn cooking so as to be more subservient and pleasing to potential mates so as to avoid having a horrific marriage bereft of orgasms.

Fortunately, my mother was a progressive, and was not too concerned about the fact that her three year old daughter showed no interest in the stove. In many ways, though, my mother has been the cause of my emotional anguish. She paid me little attention as a child, and I suffered greatly for it. Even now, every word of this memoir I'm writing sounds manly! I blame that on my father, but it's only partly his fault. Sure, he shouldn't have been there, but if my mother had been, he wouldn't have needed to be there.

When I confronted my mother about her absent parenting, she claimed she was born in 1905, six years after I was born. She seems to earnestly believe this is a reasonable excuse.

So, anyway, my third year was filled with adventure, and stove avoidance.

In my third year, I also discovered morphine, laudanum, and opium. When I say discovered here, I do not mean that I was the first person to discover opiates, but merely that it was at this age that I became aware of them. The actual discoveries that I have made came several years later.

My early awareness of these opiates is my only excuse for why I was not able to conquer my first country as early as I would have liked. I spent several minutes every day using some combination of those three opiates, and drinking absinthe and sarsaparilla. Speaking of sarsaparilla, that's an excellent hangover remedy. Too bad your modern stores don't carry it.

In a way, I feel glad that I was distracted from conquest. I was not ready at that time to conquer countries. I could have done it, but it wouldn't have been the same. I wouldn't have appreciated it as much as I came to.

You may be wondering what might cause a three year-old-girl to be obsessed with conquering nations. Normally, I would ignore questions about it, but I suppose I need to tell you things you're interested in so that you will continue reading until at least the second chapter so that you will buy this book instead of clogging up the aisles in the bookstore. Those "this is not a library" signs are there for a reason, people. They want you to buy books.

So, on to my obsession, instead of theirs. Curiously enough, my hatred for stoves, love of conquering countries, and early addiction to opiates are all interconnected. Sophisticated people often like to believe that they are more complicated than simplistic folk. I am proud to be one of the few sophisticates to understand just how simplistic I am.

This is how it happened. I was in the kitchen trying to find some goodies, and perhaps get a few more good uses from the onanism joke when the connection between solid food and the stove was made. I saw my mother put various unappetizing things together in a pan, and mix them until they looked even less appetizing. Then she put them in the stove. At the time, I wondered why she hadn't thrown then away without the ritual of combining them so carefully. Nearby, my father "sat" reading a local paper.

I don't recall my father saying anything, but my mother felt that something specific was being left unsaid. "Don't be like that, Jeho. What's on your mind?" She turned and looked at him. He had the paper in his hand, but didn't seem to be actually reading it.

"Everything," he said. He shouldn't have said that. He knew how much it irritated her.

My mother said something under her breath that sounded like 'tassle.'

"I heard that," he said.

"You hear everything."

She returned to the stove and pulled out what appeared to be cake.

I had a very three-year-old style concept of 'what comes down must have gone up.' I decided that putting nonsense in the oven must cause wonderful things to come out. I pondered for a few minutes whether this was an inverse or direct relationship, and then carried my blanket to the stove.

My blanket was lucky that I didn't manage to get beyond the 'opening the stove' step before finding myself uncomfortably hot. My mother was brooding at my father, and I was trying to get out of the predicament I found myself in. I decided this was a good time to cry, and while I was crying and cooking, I realized that this had all been caused by a lack of authority on my part. If people had just been sensible enough to do whatever I told them to, I would not be in this position!

States were the largest group of people my three-year-old mind was aware of at the time. In those brief moments before my mother came running to help me, I thought about how much I would like to conquer the "great" "state" of Milwaukee. My concept of states was a little askew, but my heart was in the right place.

Finally, after an agonizing half-second, I was off the stove, and my mother was carrying me to the doctor. I was in a vicious mood, and declared in loud sub-linguistic ways how I would bring fear and terror to Milwaukee for the entire bumpy ride to the doctor.

While doctors in that era were not more ignorant than the ones in this era, they were ignorant in different ways. It was still believed that butter was a good way of dealing with burns. The pain and damage caused by the butter would have been unforgivable if not for the doctor's wise understanding that there is nothing wrong with the excessive use of opiates. It was in this way that I was introduced to a lifelong love of opiates.

The more attentive of you will be asking yourselves what my father was doing while I was getting carried to the doctor. Reading the newspaper and listening. I'm not precisely sure what he was listening to, but he sure did a lot of it. It was his stated opinion that someone who listened as much as he did didn't have to answer to anything. Even now, having discovered a great number of mind-altering substances, I have no idea what this was supposed to mean.

I do know there were a great many interesting articles in the newspaper that my dad often held, but rarely seemed to read. For instance, I read that two young engineers had built the first two stroke internal combustion driven tractor eighty miles away in Madison. I decided that this would be an excellent means of conquering Milwaukee since no one else had one yet. I was unamused to learn that they were moving their work to Iowa. Fortunately for Hart and Parr, the morphine was to take my mind off Milwaukee-conquering for several days.

I would like to tell you that both of my parents were very attentive to me for the next several days as I lazed around, high on morphine and oozing pus from my burns. I would like to tell you this because I am a liar, and that means I enjoy lying. Does it make me a liar if I lie about being a liar? Never mind.

It would be a slight stretch to say that they paid me no attention. My father paid me about as much attention as he ever did. He was listening, but he was always listening. That didn't mean he responded. At three years old, this did not make much of an impression on me because I had encountered few men, and fewer fathers. I didn't see anything particularly odd about a man sitting at the table all day and most of the night, pretending to read a newspaper.

My mother was slightly more attentive than normal for a few weeks. She changed my bandages, and gave me morphine. That was the only major alteration in her routine.

So, I spend nearly six months avoiding stoves, taking morphine, and stealing discarded newspapers from my father and reading them under cover of parental indifference.

It was, as you can imagine, the most boring part of my life. For that reason, I won't be boring you with the remainder of that period. You've been patient, you deserve to be rewarded or punished less. I'm going to assume 'punished less' just as a precaution.

The end to these toddling opiate idylls was not the outbreak of a war, or even the putting down of a Marxist rebellion. No, my happy moments ended in a quiet, unassuming way. The doctor that had prescribed the morphine to start with, came unannounced to check on my progress. It was an unexpected house call that I shall never forgive him for.

On a random morning when I was enjoying my morphine, the doctor arrived at the door. I had no reason to think poorly of doctors, especially not the one who had so benefited my leisure. So, to my four-year-old mind, it was just another one of those random occurrences that I wasn't knowledgeable enough to have predicted.

The doctor had my mother remove my top. This was a bit less amusing than I was prepared to deal with at the time, but I had mercy since he was the one who had helped with the burns in the first place. He noted the large and ugly line on my chest.

My mother asked him if the scar was likely to lighten and he said that it wasn't going to disappear. I was lucky that it had happened to me at such a young age because there was a good chance that it would blend in and not damage my looks as I grew up. Thinking back on this incident, I believe my doctor may have been a pervert.

At this point my mother asked if there was any benefit to continuing the morphine treatments.

The doctor seemed stunned. "You're still giving her the morphine?"

There was a heated, five-minute discussion between the two about what the doctor ought to have told my mother when he recommended the morphine.

Immediately, I was denied my favorite pastime, and immediately, I began thinking about conquering states. After months of reading the newspaper, I was well aware that Milwaukee was not a state, but a mere city! All of Wisconsin would soon be under my thumb. I just had to figure out how to pull it off.

I was fairly certain that my parents weren't going to pose much of an obstacle. They didn't notice what I did most of the time. They weren't aware that I was capable of sophisticated thought. The question remained, though. How does someone who is not even three feet tall conquer an entire state? For the first time in several days at least, I got out my dollies. It was time to strategize.

It seemed that I had few advantages against those already in power. A few of my disadvantages could be turned into advantages, certainly. No one expected a four-year-old-girl dictator. That meant that a lot of my work could be done in plain sight, but it also meant that I couldn't issue orders directly.

There was also the problem of the mechanized tractor. O! But if only the gods had deigned to keep Hart and Parr in the state just a little longer!

My stubborn streak showed even at that young age. I would not let the little matter of the tractor company being in Iowa deter me for long. Even if the tractor had to wait until I was ready to conquer a second territory, I was going to conquer Wisconsin, and I was going to make all the doctors suffer for their impudence.

But first, according to my mother, I was going to take a nap.

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