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.
my dad hated me because he hated the whole human race.
we lived in a big house high up on the hill.
it was empty. empty except for us, i mean.
we didn’t have any butlers or maids or servants.
although people thought we did (more on this later).
we didn’t have any cats or dogs or even a parrot or a goldfish.
curiously enough we had no rats or mice, either.
occasionally a fox or a wolf or a raccoon would dash past the house in the moonlight and the wolf might howl.
bats and crows flew around the house, but never came inside even though many of the windows were broken and we left them all open in the summer.
mom said it was because the house was haunted.
dad said it was because the house was cursed. (there was a difference.)
we didn’t have any mirrors. i never saw my own reflection until i went to school, except in puddles or when i washed my face and brushed my teeth in the morning and at night.
you say, no mirrors ah ha! don’t get ahead of yourself.
everything will be revealed. well, some things will be revealed.
if you are one of those people who care whether something is “true” as opposed to something which is “not true” maybe you better stop reading now.
i’m just saying. where was i?
i was a sensitive child. i already said that.
i didn’t even have a doll.
what i had was a box of matches. old wooden matches.
no, i never set anything on fire, i used to make up stories about the matches.
some of them were princesses and princes and monsters and wolves, others were the armies they fought each other with, or the servants who waited on them.
things went on in this way until i went to school. that’s when i found out i was rich.
i found out on the first day of school from regina molesworth.
regina molesworth was - and is - the most important person in my life.
way more important than myself.
she was the princess, the leader of the pack, the one everybody wanted to be - especially me.
i have spent my whole life loving her.
and i love her now more than ever.
anyway, it was the first day of school.
the first thing ms heartswell, the teacher, did was ask all us kids to stand up one at a time. and introduce ourselves - to tell our names and what we liked to do best in the world.
so when my turn came i got up and said, my name is cindy jane walker and i like to play with matches.
ms heartswell did not look at me too kindly as i made this admission, and although i hastened to explain she ever after looked on me as her least favorite pupil.
of course she loved regina, as did the whole human race, and no matter how mean regina was to anybody else - especially me - she always laughed because regina was her favorite and i soon learned like everybody else that if i ever tried to defend myself ms heartwell took regina’s side and called me a little liar.
so - on that first day lunch time came around.
i was wearing my only dress - a plain blue one made out of an old tablecloth with ketchup stains on it.
regina appeared in front of me with her gang - 80% of the class - in tow.
“cindy jane, huh! ” regina sneered, “what kind of name is that for the richest kid in town? what are you, trying to be a prole or something, and get down with the people? huh?”
and she knocked me down into a mud puddle which i just happened to be standing in front of.
i got up and tried to defend myself against the unfair allegation but regina and her pals were having none of it.
cooley was regina’s number one toady and would be for years. it is one of nature’s laws that number one toadies - whether they be male or female or in between, always only have a last name, never a first name.
cooley looked at me and asked, “if you ain’t rich, how come the town is named walkerville, hey?”
and regina knocked me down into the mud puddle again.
and i got up, and got up again and again over the years, as you will see.
and i loved regina forever and always will.
later, when i became a world famous courtesan and porn star, among other things. i would learn all too much about all the things humans call “love” and “sex” and “passion” but none of those things had anything to do with what i felt for regina then and forever.