Archives for November 2013

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Tied His Impotence Around My Throat (Ragdoll Redeemed)

f4a45a02-38be-47dawn 2A full week elapsed before lovemaking ensued. Then, a once-a-week-on-Sunday-only-because-I’m-obliged-to pattern emerged. These Sunday morning, disenchanted attempts at lovemaking would eventually be the undoing of our marriage. His impotency was never a problem for me. My difficulty resided in his accusations and misguided solutions. Unable to complete the sexual act, Joey would become furious with me. His blaming words accumulated like small bricks stacking themselves against my mind, body, and heart, building a wall. I had to accept most of this in silence. Naïve and inexperienced, I didn’t know how to talk about the problem. I didn’t know that the problem could be his, or at least ours, and not just mine alone.

He once said to me, “Having sex with you is like taking candy from a baby.” I didn’t know what he meant by that, and was too intimidated to ask. I just shut down, gradually withdrawing deeper into myself. With barely a thread of self-esteem to hang onto in the first place, I was confused and bewildered: there was scarcely a me to be found. I did not understand what it was he wanted or what it was that I was doing wrong, since I was always willing to participate. His anger would start right in the middle of the sexual act, when all of a sudden he would push himself away from me. He spent the rest of the day ignoring me or being verbally abusive.

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A Virgin Sacrifice from Ragdoll Redeemed

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IT  WAS MAY 18, 1963 when Joey and I married, a few months after our first meeting. We were accompanied by my mother, blessings in tow, and our mutual friend, Tommy.

Joey wanted the wedding in a location where there would be no news coverage, so he decided on Winterhaven, California, a small agricultural town not far from Yuma, Arizona. None of the local media were notified, nor were most of our friends.

For reasons that were unclear to me, Joey had not even told his parents he was getting married. Now, as I reflect on Joey’s life up until we met, I realize it must have been difficult to have spent his young life in a fish bowl. Eventually, I would come to see that practically every move he made was in the news. “Joe DiMaggio Jr., son of the great baseball player, Joe DiMaggio, visits his father,” or “Young DiMaggio joins the Marines,” or, “is beside his father at Marilyn’s funeral.” My Joey was an intensely private person. He did everything he could to minimize attention to himself, and he avoided any negative attention that could reflect objectionably toward his father.

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A 1963 Documentary Titled MARILYN

marilynIn the spring of 1963, some six months after Marilyn’s death, Joey and I went to a movie simply called Marilyn. Having only dated for a couple of months, I still had a lot to learn about him. As soon as the movie started, there was a noticeable change in him. I could feel his entire body get smaller and smaller as he curled in on himself. I couldn’t understand what was happening. Dry, tortured sobs emoted from his small, imploded frame. We were always affectionate with each other, so I reached out to soothe him, but he only pulled further into himself. It became obvious to me that he wanted to be alone with her. He seemed to float out of his body trying to merge with her image on the screen. It was eerie, and I felt totally alone. He was in a different world—a world he was creating for himself. I didn’t know what to make of his behavior, much less what to do about it.

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In Love with a Fantasy

Joe_DiMaggio_1950INCREDIBLY, I WAS unaware of the fame surrounding my new boyfriend’s father, the famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio. A 1969 poll conducted to coincide with the centennial of professional baseball voted him the sport’s greatest living player. Songs by famous artists were written about him. One example was a song called “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio,” which was written by Alan Courtney and Ben Homer in 1941, and performed by the Les Brown Orchestra. The song was reportedly inspired by his fifty-six-game hitting streak, which led to him being given the nickname “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.” His name was also used in the song “Mrs. Robinson,” which was used in the movie The Graduate.

Nor did I  know of Joey’s relationship with his legendary step-mother, Marilyn Monroe, until I returned home after five days “on the lam,” so to speak.

I had called my mother from the bowling alley that fateful afternoon and told her I was not coming home, but not to worry: I was safe and would be staying with friends. I knew a lot of kids from school, and it was easy to find various friends to spend the remainder of the week with. Mother was angry, but evidently not worried, because she didn’t call the police the entire time I was away. That week, Joey and I became sweethearts. During those first twelve hours that Joey and I spent together, we shared many of our deepest thoughts and feelings with the ease of lifelong friends.

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The Prince Arrives

 

Joey alone

MY FIVE-MILE WALK to the bowling alley was filled with angry thoughts of my mother and worried thoughts for my grandmother, who had been sucking on her inhaler as I left. If and when I left home for good I would miss her so. Funny how I can remember exactly what I was wearing that day: aqua blue stretch pants with stirrups around the feet and a white, hooded sweater. My hair was pulled up in a twist. Deep in thought, I stared blankly at the empty bowling lanes amidst the mid-morning cleaning. I decided that no matter what happened, I was not going home again until my mother would at least hear me out. Pondering my current predicament in terms of food, shelter, and transportation, I was grateful that it was a Friday: I didn’t have to return to my afternoon babysitting job until Monday.

My troubled thoughts were interrupted as two young men sat down, one on either side of me. For a moment I was startled, until I realized one of them was my old high school friend, Tommy. Well over six feet tall, he was one of our best football players. Tommy and I talked a few minutes about some plans of his that did not turn out as expected. Formalities out of the way, I turned to the other young man and said, “Hi, what’s your name?”

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Desperate to Launch

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MY MOTHER  REMAINED under her blanket of depression, rarely leaving the living room couch. Her world revolved around television, food, pills, and juggling bills. She vigilantly divided our scarce money into little white envelopes.

Since my mother and grandmother had become recluses, I became their connection with the outside world. Mother had given up on men and any hope of ever getting a job. Memories of my father became her lover. Like a sunny day, I became an occasional diversion. Grandmother seemed content with her Bible, cigarettes, and television sports.

God, the New York Yankees, and wrestling matches with Gorgeous George  on the small black-and-white TV were everything my grandmother ever needed. There she’d be, elbows extended out over her large, oblong breasts as she rested them on her little, bony knees, her rosary beads hanging  from her left hand, cigarette  hanging  from her lips, right hand balled up into a fist, shaking it at the TV screen screaming “Kill him, kill him!” as Gorgeous  George would lift his opponent over his head and slam him onto the mat. Sometimes she got so excited that her false teeth fell out of her mouth right onto the floor, sending me and my brother into fits of laughter.