Category Archives: drama

The Sidewalk.

If you passed Laurie Garrett, on the sidewalk, would you look twice?

She’s not tall. Her hair is a warm, curly brown. Her features are small and even and, when she smiles, she’s pretty. Carrying a bit of excess weight around the midsection, common among women of her age who spend most of their time indoors or outside in their own yard, in terms of type she’d qualify as a pleasant looking matron – perhaps given to knitting or reading, possibly employed part time as a cashier in a craft store.

Laurie Garrett isn’t a cashier in a craft store.

In 1996, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for her series of works published in Newsday, chronicling the Ebola virus outbreak in Zaire. Laurie Garrett wrote “The Coming Plague”, predicting the viral scourges we’ve endured since the publication of its first edition in 1994. During the coronavirus pandemic she has been sought out, to both remind of her visionary predictions and foresee outcomes, across all media.

Day was, people did fit into type. On or about the 1950s, you could tell most everything about anyone, just by looking at them. A woman in a pillbox hat and a box knit suit, carrying a pocketbook in her gloved hands, walking on a downtown sidewalk in a pair of pointed pumps was probably a housewife out shopping. If she were unmarried, and respected, she would not be walking alone – shopping or not. Not downtown.

By way of contrast, a man in a fedora and brown single breasted suit, narrow tie, white shirt, and dark Oxfords walking on the same sidewalk would be on his way back to work after lunch at a downtown cafe restaurant. He’d likely own his business, perhaps as a merchant or insurance salesman, and keep regular hours from about 8 am til 5pm. He could be single, or married, but that status would matter little to his perceived image.

Point is, unless you were either of these characters, you’d likely not spend any time on that sidewalk.

If a man, you’d be at the shop, in overalls, grease on your forearms, sleeves rolled to the elbow, oil on your hands, shoes drip stained from it, standing at your station running your semi-automatic until the horn blew for lunch. After 3 or 4pm, you might be seen heading up a side street to the bus stop, tin lunchbox in hand or, if you earned enough, driving home in your Buick sedan.

A woman, working in the same shop, would be there part time. Hair wrapped to cover pincurls, flat shoes, shirtwaist cotton dress, homemade apron, hands slathered with Pro-Tec to make washing the oil off easier at home, she’d be working because there wasn’t enough money coming in from her husband – or, her father, if she lived at home.

These would be they whom you would have been. There would have been nobody else – because you would have been white. If you had not been white, you would never have been on that sidewalk or in that shop. Your absence would have been its own type.

Now, Laurie Garrett can stay at home and write and publish her wisened, warning prophecies, then make dinner in the small kitchen, spend her evenings doing whatever she pleases, and take her interviews for a fee.

Society has evolved. Type is becoming self-deleting. Now, any character can be summoned, at any given, arbitrary moment, to fulfill any fancy, or not. A perfectly presented person, dressed as a man but wishing he were a woman, could walk the sidewalk of the day, return to his or her dwelling, take a poison, and be done, and not a single expectation would be realized.

And, Laurie Garrett might have already written the story.

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© 10/23/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing permitted by posting the blog link, exclusively; no reproduction by copying in whole or part, including translation, permitted without written permission of the author. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The American Girl.

This is my story. I was, from birth, an American girl. Only in America can a girl tell such a story, and only here will her story be acceptably distinct from the next.

Initially published in the 1950’s, “AMERICAN GIRL” was a magazine intended to help lead the nubile female through adolescence – her self image soundly indoctrinated and properly refined. But, that was the 1950’s. I was born too soon.

Raised by a strict subculture, its roots in sectarian Fundamentalism, I was never a subscriber to “AMERICAN GIRL” or any magazine intended solely for female teens. And, that is only the beginning.

Though born in 1957, post – 911 profiling in the United States and abroad was no news to me. I had effectively known it my entire life. Rather than systemic racism or any of its tangents (prejudice, bias), what I knew was that the way I looked consistently misled nearly everyone.

As a child, all I needed do was enter a room to be visually assessed. At maternal family gatherings, I didn’t look like any of the other cousins. While bearing inherently many of their traits – talkativeness, musical aptitude, a bit of clamoring – I would never have been named as among them by most outsiders unless one looked past the obvious.

The obvious was that my skin was a degree of brown. In those days, the term was “olive”. Neither the warm tones of the American southwest nor the African cafe au lait, it was a cooler hue given to darkening quickly under the sun’s rays and sallowing in winter.

The reason for my immediately distinct appearance was, at that time, simple; my mother’s side populated the extended gatherings, and hers was a mix of paternal Anglo-Saxon and maternal Danish/German. My father not having been raised by either parents or relations, his Napolitan/Sicilian people were never represented in my sphere. We visited them once, when I was five.

When I was just a toddler, mum would braid my long, nearly black hair. Having already borne a brilliant male child and birthed another soon after me, she might have argued too busy to dote upon her daughter with the expected buttons and bows; rather, corduroy overalls and sunsuits were the order of my apparel, mixing into the boys laundry with practical propriety given one, single exception: Sunday dress. Here, Mum’s premiere dressmaking skill shone, every even seam topstitched with rick-rack, every smock uniformly tooled, each elastic, cap sleeve unbearably scratchy with only occasional, stiffly starched lace. Perhaps for this reason alone I would grow to dread going to Meeting, what for the sheer lack of physical comfort being costumed afforded.

Once grown, I would carry a structure of frame and face that distinguished me from all who knew me well. But, those who did might have missed its significance.

Our northwestern Pennsylvania community having been founded first by Irish port fishermen and, a bit later, German machinists, its ultimately large Italian population would take claim on the city’s west side; however, my father having hailed from Boston, none of the Italians on that side of town resembled him or, more importantly, called him family. They were mostly Sicilian or Calabrese, hair black, faces round, skin not as dark, many with blue eyes. To every Italian who lived either there or on our east side, dad was “swarthy” – bearing the aquiline nose and angular jawline less familiar to their ilk.

I would inherit these features. Interestingly, Mum’s father’s nose was also regally aquiline – but, his parents being from the Cornwall coast of England, their heritage was Roman influenced. None the matter; strangers increasingly thought me a pure Italian, even first generation Rome, and nearly every one of them was sure I had been raised Catholic on the west side.

Nobody ever saw the W.A.S.P, though the revelation would sting many with surprise. My behavior never fit the image I bore. Only expressing the occasional Italianate gesticulation, my Puritanical, closed off social limits left many scratching their heads. I carried a Bible. I shunned dances, and parties, and anything likely to tempt the average teen. Mine was a life of Godly fear, and compliance was the order of my carriage.

Of natural course, college education at a nearby New York institution offered me welcome respite; there, blending remarkably well with those from “the city” or “the island” I no longer appeared odd, resembling many. And, higher learning on one of the country’s most liberal, secular campuses meant that none were judged by appearance alone. I flexed my stunted wings, learning far more than the arts and sciences, and grew to both relish and celebrate every aspect of my heretofore anomalous self.

In my case, childhood may have been one of mistaken identity; in adulthood, I now proudly represent the culmination of nature and nurture informed by as random a set of features as the melting pot will bear.

And, for that, no magazine is required.

Who is the American Girl? Allow me to introduce you. Properly.

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© 8/25/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole or by translation, permitted without written permission of the author. Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Ninth Stage.

An essay by Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

NarcissismChart

 

© 9 Stages of Grieving the Narcissist, from Dr. Ramani, Licensed Clinical Psychologist 7/2/2020.

She shifted in her seat, squinting a bit as if to bring the second generation photo of a photo into focus. This nine point list was a treasure; she had to put it someplace where it could not be lost to the ether.

That Master Class with Dr. Ramani on Narcissism in Romantic Relationships was a gift. Where else could she have obtained a point by point reminder to assist in identifying the rush of emotion [ euphoric recall ] that was impossible on the late afternoon of a hot summer day alone? How else could she be gently comforted by the suggestion that meaning could be found in suffering  [ point nine ] , when suffering was a nagging Catch-22 otherwise? (Never let him see you suffer; it just adds to his Narcissistic Supply – and, emboldens the new conquest likely small and stupid enough not to fit into your pajamas.)

She’d sat out on the stoop again, earlier, in spite of what she now knew to be UVA rays, forking down her spinach sweet potato salad, wondering how many times he’d be missing her desserts and dinner companionship, all the groceries she’d stocked for their shelter in place. [ Anger and rumination, point two.]

There’d be no bartering for the return of goods and services, this time. The reach in freezer he’d crowed about providing, the only object too heavy for her to set out for convenience retrieval was replacement for the one he’d refused to bring up from the cellar and just clean. Laziness was never justification for grandiose gift giving, not on her turf, after all the throw rugs and sheet sets she’d brought him following total kitchen clean up. [ Point three – or, four? ]

Gaslighting [ five ] no longer overwhelmed her. That was its own relief. Persistent denial was its own evidence, no matter how irrelevant; he’d run out of tactics that weren’t predictable.

But, the late afternoon sun was a tough competitor. Right up there with the first moments upon awakening, feet twitching, the struggle to name the upcoming day’s purpose. Five days of reading out there on the stoop had rendered her Vitamin D within acceptable limits, finally and, with it [ point six ] a lift to only residual Depression.

The future wasn’t revealing any of its secrets, this evening. Fear [ point seven ] would remain in her back pocket, burning a hole where she’d otherwise have kept peace and contentment; but, she resolved, he was never to know. No more Narcissistic Supply, last chance to gloat from his position kneeling behind the latest willing agreeable.  Important to carry no regret when walking away.

Point eight was the hardest to accept. [ Acceptance ]. The narcissist was never to change. Too many AA meetings, its companion Al Anon, over one lifetime; too many recovery success stories on audio, playing in the car en route to northern destinations, entirely too much goddamned hope. No return to the inns or the B&Bs, no forever claim on Room 1, Rogue’s Harbor. Worse – no replacing the time spent there with productive, self affirming activities. Hope may have made no one ashamed. Perfect love still waited to cast out fear. The Narcissist, defying no odds, was destined to live forever.

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*With profound gratitude to Dr. Ramani, licensed clinical psychologist, and her 9 Stages of Grieving the Narcissist©.

© 7/7/2020   Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of Dr. Ramani, and this author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including translating or transcribing, permitted without written permission of  the authors. Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com