Blackout Baby

By
On the evening my parents retrieved their first-born son from jail, the night before my mom’s birthday, we all sat in front of our unnecessarily large television with our T.V. trays in front of us as we ate dinner.


Momma made cardone, an Italian vegetable only available at Christmas. She fried it on the stove in a small frying pan in our Noel-infused kitchen. I paired it with a small red puddle of ketchup for dipping against momma’s objections. I was defaming everything that was Italian, she said with an Italian mother’s rasp in her voice.

I paired it with a can of lukewarm Diet Coke.

I wore a pair of heavily worn pajama pants and a comfortably large T-shirt faded from age.

We laughed. We talked. We watched nothing in particular on television.

The magnitude of normalcy distressed me.

This wasn’t real.

It was all too ordinary, too mundane and too completely bland of an evening for what had just transpired.

And in our world, there’s nothing worse than being ordinary.

I just spent the morning behind bars instead of in a pew and my mom was lightly peppering her slightly battered cardone, attempting to season the celery-like vegetable like it was her primary concern in her world.

Normal families didn’t react this way.

But for once in my life, for the first time in what would be a long series of rejections of “our rules,” I was glad to be so unbelievably ordinary.

I was nestled around perfection on that family sofa, surrounded by the three most important people in my life as they sliced the cardone with the sides of their forks.

It was on that couch, with my hair still wet and shampoo-scented from the shower I had taken earlier to remove the tainted jail stink from my body, where I realized what and who I had missed in my life during my promiscuously paramount club queen reign.

Beauty pageant winners and club queens rarely have time for family. Because getting and giving back-alley b******* like handshakes at a conference eats a lot of spare time.

“It’s good to have you home,” my dad said to me with a turn of his head as he walked out of the family room before going to bed that evening.

I sat on the sofa, the wonderfully awful gray-beige-colored sofa slightly stained from simply being lived on, after my dad closed the white, window-paneled French doors to our living room to absorb what I missed so much as I sat in the unfamiliar, unwelcoming, frigidly unpleasant jail.

It was good to be home.

The jailbird beauty queen was glad to not be festering in jail anymore like a piece of societal leftover.

The honors student-turned-arrestee didn’t know whose hands his life was in now.

The glimmering, superficial club queen was starting to figure out what really mattered in life, as he lied enshrouded in his own baby-blue sheets stained white from his face-perfecting acne medication.

The only thing that would have made everything just a little bit better, he thought, was a nice, stiff Screwdriver or a body shot off a half-naked man.

Maybe then, just maybe, he could black out some of the mind-numbing pain that started to sink in internally that night, as he lied alone in his bed wondering what to do next.
Rewind.





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