by Marian Rosin
Well, that’s how I found myself here, married to your daddy. We didn’t have the kind of choices you have today. It was marry your boyfriend, marry Jesus and be a nun, or be an embarrassment to everyone – your family, your neighborhood, your church. Ila Mary Jeffries lived on my block when I was a child. She never married, lived with her parents her whole life, and I swear, I would see her walking the family dog and the dog looked embarrassed to be seen with her. We kids would snicker when she walked by. I swore to myself, I wasn’t going to let that happen to me. No way. Even if I had to marry the ugliest or meanest boy in town. I would be a Mrs. and walk a dog that could hold its tail up.
Now your daddy wasn’t the ugliest nor the meanest by a long shot. In a certain light, your daddy used to be all right handsome. He had a temper but not what we would call a black and blue temper. When your daddy gets mad it all goes inside him, you know. That’s how come he has all those scars on his palms, from digging his own nails into himself. I liked to kiss him, but then I liked to kiss most anyone. Louisa taught me how to kiss by tongue-kissing me, and I liked kissing her, too. We laugh about that every year when me and your daddy go to visit her and Charlie in Branford. Now she’s older and he won’t be so shocked, she likes to threaten Charlie that if he has a stroke or starts losing his bladder, she’ll go back to kissing me.
I wouldn’t tell you this if your grandparents were alive.
So when your daddy said, “Dorrie, it’d probably be okay if we got married, don’t you think?” I said yes. Like I said, your daddy looked all right much of the time, he was fine for kissing, he knew how to work, and I knew he’d never hit me or anyone who followed me. So I said yes, and the day of our wedding I walked right past Ila Mary Jeffries’ house and said out loud, “I will never be you.” I was ok. People might not like me, but they weren’t going to snicker at me. People weren’t going to say, “Nobody wanted her. Not even Jesus.”
So don’t you know, I married your daddy. And it was all right. Nothing bad happened, except that time he had a crying breakdown and had to go to the hospital for a month. When I told you kids he had appendicitis? I think he was just tired. Not from carrying things. You could be married to someone all the time in the world then and not know what they were thinking. It’s not like now. I know what complete strangers think now. Last week a woman came up to me in the supermarket and told me she was on her third diet ‘cause she was scared her boyfriend’d leave if she didn’t skinny up. And that she thought she liked to eat Boston cream pies to make up for her daddy leaving her when she was 10. Seems he was a scotch drinker who liked the ladies. Especially the ones he wasn’t married to. Said she was on some kind of brain pill to cheer her up. I said, “Well, maybe you just like the way those pies taste,” and got away. Everybody’s inside out now, that’s for sure. It’s like you can see people’s tags, you know: “My mama didn’t love me enough. Wash gentle.” or “Grandpa kicked my daddy and my daddy kicked me. May bleed.” Even my Louisa’s been Oprahized. Last time we was visiting, she told me that she was working on her “dysfunctional thought loops.” I told Charlie if he didn’t stick his tongue in her mouth quick, I would. I’d had a beer or two.
So being married to your daddy was ok. No complaints. But if I was a girl now, I don’t know. I think I’d join the Navy, or maybe see the world some other way. Maybe I’d join the Navy and even find that Ila Mary Jeffries was the ship’s captain or something! Or maybe I’d be a mapmaker in some far-off land and there she’d be, running a bar or something.
My ma went to help Mrs. Jeffries clean away Ila Mary’s room after Ila Mary died. I don’t even know what she died of. You didn’t tell people what from then, just that so and so had died. Everybody died of mystery. Ma said that Ila Mary’s room was full of National Geographics and drawings Ila Mary’d done of exotic animals, like zebras and lions, some animals they didn’t even know the names of. Ma said she wasn’t no animal art critic, but she thought the drawings were good. Ila Mary also had a big notebook full of different peoples around the world and their customs. She was a member of the National Geographic Society. So maybe she was married after all.
Anyway, I know you don’t like to talk about this, but if your daddy dies before me, I’m not planning on sticking around being a widow. For a month maybe, but after that, I’m taking a big trip. First place I’m going is Australia. They got kangaroos there.
Marian Rosin is an improviser, actress and writer, and lives in NYC.
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