Princess Lucy

           “It’s a girl.” The doctor informed my father in the hospital waiting room on a wintery morning in 1963. (In those days, family members weren’t allowed in labor and delivery.) After three boys—Scott, Joseph and Peter—my father was thrilled to finally have his little girl.

           Later, when the nurse handed my father his bundle of joy, she said, “Congratulations. It’s a boy.”

           “We’ll see about that.” said Father, and then he pulled off my diaper.

           Yep. I have a vagina—making me the family “princess,” and, at the same time, a second class citizen in the LDS (Mormon) church.

           Two more brothers—Jeffery and Corey—were born after me and my role as “princess” became a necessary tool for survival. As with many Mormon families, my fight for attention began early in life. When no one in the neighborhood came to see Mother’s new addition to the family, she rectified the situation by taking me for a walk on the first sunny day in February. One step out the front door onto a thin layer of ice and down we toppled to the bottom of three concrete steps, granting me my first performance as “cry baby.” The neighbors came running. Mother was overjoyed.

            As with Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, I was born of goodly parents. Father was the absent-minded scientist and mother was the playful playwright—think Mary Poppins with a typewriter. Both were loving but nerdy. Neither had much time or inclination to parent us beyond the basic necessities. The Mormon way of raising obedient, drug-free, temple-worthy—virgin and non-critically thinking—children is to feed ‘em and send ‘em out the door to school, church, or sports.

By age nine, an emotional disconnect was fully in place, not just with my parents, but with my siblings as well. After school one day, I was watching Gilligan’s Island when Peter turned to me and said, “Pull my finger.”

           “No.” I said. “I don’t want to pull your finger. You’ll fart.”

           Peter farted anyway, even though I never pulled his finger, and then roared with laughter. My brothers and all of their buddies laughed too and then lifted their legs to poison one another with more toxic gas. I covered my nose and prayed for a sister‒a confidant who could share my disgust for ill-mannered boys. Maleness surrounded me, evidenced by toilet seats in upright positions and dried tacky urine on tiled bathroom floors. Even the dog, Dudley, was male and prone to dog farts. I complained to my parents but Father explained that flatus was a natural human function; which, he elaborated, “typically takes place eight to twenty times a day and is merely the expulsion of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane, the byproduct of bacterial fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract. The Nitrogen,” he qualified his statement, “however, is not produced in the body, but is a component of environmental air, which enters the body via swallowing.”

           It was important to him that I understand gas is not totally generated in the stomach or bowels as some persons erroneously believe. Father continued to pontificate, “It’s unnecessary to maintain excessive gas in the alimentary canal because it causes undue pain and therefore should be released whenever the need arises.” He punctuated his statement with a loud flatus emission and Mother smiled lovingly at him.

           Someday, I said to myself, “I’ll marry a handsome prince who’ll take me far, far, away.”

Advertisements

Captive Listener

After leaving an abusive marriage, my mother updated family members on my recovery in this way, “Lucy no longer looks around the room for permission to laugh.” I wasn’t even aware I’d been doing this until it was pointed out to me. For this reason, I chose to write this poem in third person.

Captive Listener
By Lucy Furr

When others laugh…

She sits quietly

Dousing joy

Unsmiling

Until laughter is approved

Her ears prick outward
straining to hear his crackle of euphoria blend with others in happy, symphonic unison.

Musicians tell her she has “no ear”

“Just mouth the words, don’t sing,” they say.

But they are wrong
Her hearing is fine-tuned
She hears subtleties
She hears his silence amidst thunderous cachinnation and, on cue, mimics ill-at-ease

Or, plucks his laughter from raucous seas and yokes her laugh to his.

On these rare moments…
her heart sings.

Daddy I Remember…

by Lucy Furr

Today with oxygen and walker tight in hand,

we shuffle past the window, ‘round the kitchen,

down the hall.

With loving hands I brace your weakened frame

so you won’t fall.

But, Daddy, I remember when

you ran with healthy lungs and legs, holding me on wobbly bike,

as I progressed from tiny trike.

Today I brush your teeth

and shave your sagging scruffy neck.

But, Daddy, I remember when

I’d snuggle close. You’d tease and hold me tight,

then tickle me with whiskers as squeals of fun met morning light.

Today I comb your grey, sparse, wiry hair.

But, Daddy, I remember when

I climbed on cushions piled high to reach your black and curly hair.

You’d lay back and close your eyes and let me try a few new fashions.

With warm water in a cup, pink curlers, ribbons, barrettes and bobby pins,

I’d build creative up-do’s; then hold a mirror for you to see and ask,

“Daddy, what do you think?”

With water dripping down your neck, you’d respond with complimentary words,

and I’d beam and blush so gullibly.

Today I yearn to talk with you of vicissitudes of life.

Once I thought I knew it all. Not so. There’s much for me to learn.

But talking is a strain.

You’d rather use that perfunctory wave of hand than form a word or two.

But, Daddy, I remember when

you’d reply to all my silly questions of what and how and why.

Brilliant explanations to the miracles of life.

Today, I tuck you into bed, not knowing if in the morn’ you’ll wake.

Because you hate the cold night chill, I pull covers up around your chin,

then gently kiss you on your cheek and say,

“I love you Daddy. I hope you know I do.”

You answer back with just one, simple, acknowledging word,

“Good.”

But, Daddy, I remember when

you’d shape your lips into that crooked grin and say…

“I love you too.”

Minchin-gasm

I’m not what people would call a groupie. I love film but when I recommend a favorite one to my friends or family and they ask me who starred in it, I can rarely remember the names of any  of the actors or actresses.

I listen to all kinds of music but can’t tell you the names of my favorite songs, the words to any songs, or who sings them.

But, suddenly, I’m embracing one comedian/musician with groupie-esque zeal: Tim Minchin. I deem him a genius equal to Einstein and Beethoven. His songs, his insights, his humor, his performances are utterly brilliant. He’s the only famous person that could, potentially, make me go weak in the knees if I ever got a chance to meet him in person.

I’m posting this link to my blog so I can find it easily when I want to enjoy a Minchin-gasm.

Enjoy.