all right, that is enough about ancestors - for now.
we might come back to them later, because the subject interests me.
if it doesn’t interest you, i am sorry.
there i go again, writing like somebody is actually going to read this.
anyway, back to describing things “one at a time”.
on the first day of school, regina had delivered me a clear message.
i was a clown.
a clown to her and her group, who for practical purposes were the center of the universe.
i don't mean a scary “funny” clown with a big green nose like they probably don’t even have in the circuses any more.
are there even circuses any more?
anyway, i use the term “clown” as used in a book that is not as well known as it should be and that i heartily recommend (can you recommend anything unheartily?) -archetypes and their applications by maria pomfret-fludd.
ms pomfret-fludd’s theory is that all human brains are the same and perceive their fellow humans in seven basic archetypes, which she names knights, companions, dragons, damsels, clowns, martyrs, and demons.
the categories apply within individual brains, so that a given person can be a clown to one person and a demon to others. in fact, the categories would not apply if everyone agreed.
only a handful of mostly famous people belong to the first four categories.
most people are clowns, martyrs, or demons - to other people.
from page 89 of ms pomfret-fludd’s book:
ted, tad, and tod are triplets. they dress alike, usually in red or blue blazers with peppermint striped shirts and green or orange bow ties.
they work from their childhood home - which they now share only with each other after their mother’s death and their older sister’s marriage - as telemarketers.
on saturdays they go on a picnic together, and on sundays they go to the mall.
each of them has conceived a secret passion for a person employed at one of the shops at the mall.
ted is enamored of rose, a young single mother of two children who works as a hostess at ruby tuesday’s. he records his romantic dreams of rose in a secret diary he keeps regularly.
tad is desperately in love with roger, a college basketball player who works part time at the army and navy store. tad writes poems about roger which he does not show to anybody.
and tod has a hopeless passion for mickey, the assistant manager at dunkin donuts. tod has obtained the address of mickey’s apartment and writes him two or three anonymous letters a week in which he outlines his fantasies in explicit form.
it might seem to some people that there are similarities between ted, tad, and tod.
but to others, especially most educated people in the modern world, they are creatures from three different universes.
ted is a geek - a legitimate figure of fun and contempt for even the most compassionate and enlightened.
tad is a gay man - the cynosure of all enlightened human sympathy.
and tod is a stalker - a loathsome creature for whom no fate who could be too gruesome or too richly deserved.
ted is a clown, tad is a martyr, and tod is a demon.
clowns are the people we feel good about ourselves for laughing at and feeling superior to.
martyrs are the people we feel good about ourselves for sympathizing with.
and demons are the people we feel good about ourselves for hating and fearing.
anyway, i have found ms pomfret-fluid’s categories kind of useful, except that i would add one sub-category. sad clowns - clowns that are not worth laughing at. that is, most of the human race.
from day one at school, i was a clown to regina and her coterie.
and a sad clown to everybody else, including the teachers.
i was not a martyr to anybody, and it would be many years before i would be a demon to anybody.
my first day at school was my first day of clowndom.
not that i had any concept of such a thing - or any concept of anything.
except regina. and her overwhelming reginaness, that i wanted to be absorbed into like one steamy little white bubble in the big marshmallow of regina.
but i think, checking over my notes, that i have already gone on about my feelings for regina sufficiently for now, and do not have anything to add until developments develop.
so, back to one thing at a time.
i already told you how cooley, or maybe some other of regina’s loyal subjects, had knocked me down into the mud puddle.
because i was the richest kid in town, even though i really was no such thing.
when i got up i made my next mistake - trying to defend myself.
fool that i was, i thought they had knocked me down for the reason they gave - that i was the richest kid in town - not realizing that they had done it for one of the only two reasons anybody does anything - because they are forced to or because they wanted to.
and nobody was forcing them to.
naturally, when i got home that afternoon, the first thing my mom saw was my muddy dress.
she was not pleased.
“what, you think we can afford to buy you a new dress every day - or send one to the cleaners - because you decide you like to play in the mud?”
i explained it was not my fault, that “some kids” - naturally, i would not name or blame my beloved regina - had knocked me into the mud.
“they must have had a reason. you must have done something to provoke them.”
“i did not! but they thought i was the richest kid in town.”
“that’s no reason to knock somebody into a mud puddle. people respect wealth, unless they are morons or communists. you must have done something else, something you’re not telling.”
“i didn’t! they just thought i was rich!”
“they must be communists. next time just tell them you are not rich, that you’re a communist too.”
she went back to reading her book about jacqueline onassis.
i went into the kitchen and made myself a peanut butter sandwich.
i came back with my sandwich and asked if i could turn on the television.
“i’ll keep it low,” i promised.
“no, i have a headache.” she looked at my sandwich. “how can you eat it like that, without any jelly or marshmallow? bleaah! you have no taste, no class. no wonder nobody likes you.”
i didn’t bother to tell her that there wasn’t any jelly or marshmallow.
some people are more interested in them than others.
dad was kind of interested, interested enough to talk about them sometimes.
so i got kind of interested.
but what interested me was not the recent ancestors, the walkers who founded walkerville and all that.
it was how many ancestors i had, how many the average person has, and how i compared to the average person.
i was just curious.
i went to the library but i didn’t find much to help me out.
so i tried to figure it out myself.
the math is easy but not helpful.
everybody has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, etc.
lets say four generations per century - average age of parents 25 - that is about 80 generations back to the time of christ.
that is 2 to the 80th power, which is about 1.2 septillion - 1,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
but there were only about 300,000,000 people at the time of christ.
the books i got from the library mostly went in one of two directions - pointing out that being “directly descended” from jesus christ or mary magdalen or whoever did not amount to much. or pointing out that there are really no “races” and that racism was wrong.
in one book the author mentioned on almost every page that racism was bad. i already knew racism was bad - can we move on please?
one thing i noticed - this is just in the books i read - there seemed to be no terminology to describe what i was interested in.
call yourself g0. your parents are g1, your grandparents g2… thirty generations back is g30, 200 generations back is g200… and so forth.
every g has units of descent - g1 has 2 units, g2 four units etc. when you get back to 80 generations, you don’t have 1.2 septillion individual ancestors but you have 1.2 septillion units of ancestry. call the percentage of units in any g pgx. so if jesus christ was one of your ancestors in g80 his pg80 (percentage of units of ancestry in g80) might be 1 in 1.2 septillion (very unlikely if you are descended from him at all) - or it would be something much higher.
back to “units of ancestry” as opposed to numbers of ancestors . everybody has a father and a mother - each would have a pg1 of 50 percent. if they are not brother and sister then you have four grandparents who each have a pg2 pf 25 percent. suppose your mother and father were half-siblings - had the same father but separate mothers. you would have three grandparents but still have four “units of ancestry" - the one grandfather would have a pg2 of 50 and the two grandmothers a pg2 of 25 each.
go back ten generations - to g10 - you have 1,024 units of ancestry but it is unlikely that you actually
have 1024 different ancestors in that generation. you might have about 400 (?) but their pg10 would vary widely. some would actually have a pg10 of 1/1024 - .097. others would be much higher.
my question is - as you go further back, how high might any individual’s gpx be? in theory it could be very high - suppose 1500 years ago, one man and one woman establish themselves in a little valley and they multiply through 50 generations, with no outsiders entering the valley. inhabitants of the valley today would have 2 ancestors in g50 with pg50 each. an unlikely scenario. but how high might one individual’s gpx - in relation to yourself - be, 60 or 80 or 100 generations be?
one recurring idea in the books and articles i read - “if a person lived 2000 years ago, either they have no descendants or virtually everybody on the planet is probably descended from them”. this makes sense, but does not take into account the way the percentage of ancestry would vary.
note that i am only talking about descent itself - not genes or acquired characteristics or “race”. these things can be subject to considerable uncertainty, but it is a fact that you have ancestors. of course in practice it quickly becomes impossible to actually determine who they were.
dear reader (if any) i am sorry f i am boring you - or not making any sense. i just find this stuff interesting.
here is something else to consider and then i am done.
every person has direct male ancestors and direct female ancestors going back into the “mists of time”… this is a fact, even if you can never ascertain the details. call these direct ancestors f1, f2, f3… and m1,m2, m3… your father is f1, your paternal grandfather is f2, your mother is m1, her mother is m2…
somewhere in the world , probably around the time of plato or king david, your f100 existed… and somewhere else, probably quite some distance away was your m100 or maybe your m95 or m105… go back even further and your f2000 and your m2000 were walking the earth. somewhere.
you do not know who they were, but they really existed. maybe robin hood or king arthur never existed, but they did.
and even further back than that, climbing a tree or cracking clams at the waters edge…
all right, that gives you some idea of what my mom was like.
now for my dad.
that sounds like he is just something to get out of the way and move on, doesn’t it?
i can’t help that, i am going to take one thing at a time in my sincere effort to tell my story.
“one at a time is good fishing, doctor.” i heard that on an old black and white movie i saw on tv at around four o’clock in the morning and it stuck in my brain.
i never remembered anything else about the movie, but years later i discovered it was “the black sleep” with basil rathbone and bela lugosi, if you are interested. basil rathbone is the mad scientist and he says the line.
back to dad.
i wouldn’t say people wanted to get him out of the way, when he was around, but they didn’t pay much attention to him either.
like i said, we were “walkers” and we lived in walkerville, but that was not something i ever thought of much until i went to school, and regina and her crew started pointing it out to me.
but even then it was not that big a deal, because they thought i was rich and i was not, so i put it away in the same part of my brain.
william hadley martin walker founded the town of walkerville in 1823.
isn’t that interesting?
no, i never thought so either.
william married petunia carson and they had fourteen children, twelve of whom lived past childhood.
that was a lot of walkers. pretty soon there were walkers everywhere.
“they own this town.” i wonder if anybody ever actually said that except in a movie or a tv show.
and then after some time there were not so many walkers any more.
that is the way it goes.
there used to be a lot of “ancient egyptians”. and then after a while there were no more “ancient egyptians.”
there used to be a lot of “ancient romans”. and then after a while there were no more “ancient romans.”
the same with the walkers.
nobody really cares. and why should they?
nothing ever changes.
there are people like mom - spending their whole lives wanting to be someone else.
there are people like regina molesworth - who light up the world. the people that people like mom want to be.
there are people like cooley - who get admitted to the circle of regina molesworth’s brilliance and serve them faithfully.
there are people like me, who stand outside the circle with trembling lashes and softly beating hearts.
and there are people like dad, who just sit around and wait to get life over with.
i was trying to think of one word to describe dad and i came up with “ineffectual”.
then i thought about it.
it is not much of a word.
is anybody really “effectual”? even the regina molesworths?
have you ever heard someone described as “effectual’?
like, “she’s a very effectual person. we all can’t wait for her effects”?
so it seems unfair to single out poor dad as “ineffectual’, if you get my drift.
if i come up with a better word i will get back to you.
it seems kind of harsh to describe anybody with just one word anyway, don’t you think?
all right. let’s not get too philosophical here - not yet anyway.
back to day to day existence.
we were so poor we only had one television - in america!
mom watched what she wanted to watch. it was just nature’s way. she was the strongest of the three of us (for a while, the four of us - i will get to that later).
so if dad or i didn’t want to watch what mom wanted to watch - while we were digesting our hamburger patties or hot dogs or tuna casseroles or western omelets - we had no choice but to amuse ourselves, by staring into space or playing solitaire (dad) or playing with matches (me) or as a last resort reading books.
the books we had were dad’s - mystery novels mostly by erle stanley gardner or agatha christie or john dickson carr.
i should not be too hard on these books, as they formed my mimd. (especially john dickson carr).
in looking over my notes i see i wrote that dad “hated” me because he “hated the whole human race”.
i think now maybe that is a bit extreme - it is hard to say he hated anything or anybody because he hardly existed.
sometimes after mom went to bed - either to sleep or to read one of her books about audrey hepburn or grace kelly - dad and i would sit and watch the tv.
never saying anything. we watched what i wanted - remember we didn’t have cable so the choices were limited - because he absolutely did not care what he watched.
my great regret is that we didn’t have more snacks. we could hardly afford one bag of wise potato chips for a whole week!
sometimes i would try to make popcorn but i was not very good at it.
so we would watch the talk shows and if we - or i - stayed up later i would watch old black and white movies.
and these movies, along with playing with matches and reading john dickson carr novels and wishing regina molesworth liked me, formed my mind.
that is enough for now. i see i did not actually say much about dad.
my dad was involved in local politics. he thought it “behooved” him as a walker to take part in politics in walkerville, even though we did not have any money left.
“behoove” was a word i learned as a child but did not know that nobody used any more.
anyway, dad would say something like “that bill wilson is a skunk. he is the lowest specimen of humanity that ever walked the earth. he is totally, unspeakably vile. if you shake his hand you better check your fingers after you are done to see if you still have them all.”
and mom would think about it and say “but he’s such a fine-looking man”.
or dad would say, “ mary roberts is just a wonderful human being. always has a smile on her face, always willing to help others out. the world would be a better place if everyone in it was like mary roberts.”
and mom would sort of squint her eyes and say, “but she’s not very attractive” .
that was the way it was - men were “fine-looking” or not, women were “attractive” or not.
mom spent much of her existence reading books - especially picture books - about famous, beautiful people, especially famous beautiful women.
she liked reading about their “tragic” lives (any of these people’s lives were “tragic” if they grew old or did not live forever). she could get somewhat emotional about these sad states of affairs, especially if she had a drink or two.
marilyn monroe, jacqueline kennedy, and audrey hepburn were her special favorites. marlon brando and gary cooper among the menfolk.
for the rest of the human race, she never expressed much interest.
although she was a forrester (another old family swirling the drain) and had married a walker and was not totally not a snob and cared a little about such things, good looks trumped “good family”.
she would go to woolworth’s (where she did most of her shopping, sad to say) and come back and regale dad and me with something like -
“there’s a new girl at the cosmetics counter who is absolutely stunning! really gorgeous.” and she would look kind of sad and wistful and say “i just hope the poor child escapes from walkerville and gets the life she deserves”.
she never said anything like that about me! (sob, sniffle, whimper. )
so, after my first couple of days at school, since i knew they were both up on such things, we were sitting down to a fine dinner of hamburger patties, wise potato chips, and creamed corn, and i asked if they knew anything about the molesworths.
they were both kind of surprised that i would ask such a question. i don’t mean they dropped their forks or spilled their food on themselves, but they looked at me kind of funny. ( i never asked questions or talked much at dinner.)
“chub molesworth is not a bad fellow,” dad finally answered. “a good family, not the oldest or the newest. does his part in the community, you can’t say he doesn’t.”
“why do they call him ‘ chub’ ? “ i asked. “is he fat?”
“oh no, no - ‘chub’ is a time-honored nickname among the better class of people, like ’skip’ or ‘chip’ or ‘buster’.”
“oh.” i didn’t really care if regina’s dad was fat or thin, i had just said it to be saying something. (typical human conversation).
but now i had gotten mom’s attention, and she squinted her eyes at me in that way she had, and she asked, “why do you want to know?”
“ohh - there’s a girl in my class named molesworth. i thought it was kind of a funny name, and i was just curious.”
“does this girl have a name?” mom asked. “a first name.”
“regina. i see.” mom was looking at me like she was seeing me for the first time. “and what is regina like?”
“she’s just a kid.”
“is she attractive? does she dress nicely?”
“i guess so. she’s just a kid.” how i wished i hadn’t opened my stupid mouth!
“but is she attractive? do the other children crowd around her - like moths around a flame?”
“she’s -“ in a flash of inspiration i said - “she is six years old, like the rest of us.”
dad laughed and said “good answer,” but mom was not so amused.
“a little too good an answer, maybe. kind of a smarty pants answer.” mom took a sip of her pepsi-cola.
“oh for god’s sake, mona. you complain that the child doesn’t speak up, and she finally says something , and you grill her like she’s nixon and you are sam ervin.”
mom sighed. “but i suppose it’s a good sign. if it gets her interested in her smartening up her own appearance for a change.”
“her appearance?” dad laughed. “like she said, she is only six years old.”
“you are never too young to start looking your best.”
maybe some people might even get their regina molesworth to like them.
or pretend they like them.
it took me a long time to figure out what regina molesworth really is.
she is life itself.
and life is time.
and time never stops for anybody.
no matter how often you tell it how much you love it.
all right, that is enough philosophy.
oh yes, i am a philosopher.
why, you ask, did i become a philosopher?
for the same reason anybody becomes a philosopher.
because i had a lot of time on my hands.
you say “time on your hands” but what you mean is time on your brain.
i had a lot of time on my hands/brain.
even after i started going to school, even though i had to do homework.
one thing about my mom and dad, they never pestered me about my homework.
or cared about how i did in school.
or even if i went to school. though it did not occur to me until many years later that i could have gotten away with not even going to school. oh well.
but anyway i did go to school.
and there i saw regina molesworth.
and my whole life was changed.
actually not changed - revealed.
before i went to school i did not know the basic fact of life.
that it is war.
war every minute of every day.
even though i made up stories about knights and princesses and castles and battles i thought of them as faraway things.
and did not suspect the warlike reality of everyday everything.
before i saw regina i was always just myself.
it never occurred to me that i could be anybody but myself.
who else was i going to be?
my mom? my dad?
the teenage boy with the ducktail haircut who delivered pizza or hoagies to us when mom didn’t feel like cooking? (which was most of the time.)
the polite teenage boy with the crew cut who delivered groceries sometimes?
the animals i saw in the moonlight?
the princesses and such in those stories i made up playing with matches? it never crossed my mind that i could actually be them - they were just make believe.
this writing my story is easy but there is one thing i find that i did not suspect...
it is hard to write like one thing just happened after another.
when different things always happened all at once.
i haven’t explained about my playing with matches.
or what my mom was like and what she did all day.
and what my dad was like and what he did all day.
and i can only describe what they did.
who knows what they were thinking?
so maybe i will try to describe all these things before i get to regina and how she became the story of my life.
of course describing regina in some ways will not be so hard since she became so famous and so many people already know so much about her.
or think they do.
although my regina is different from theirs.
even though i achieved a little bit of fame myself - nothing like regina’s of course - nobody was ever really interested in me - “for myself”, if i may coin a phrase - so i do not think there is any me but me, if you get my drift.
nobody was ever motivated to imagine a different me.