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44 royalty So this young couple, overweight and seriously tattooed, comes into the café, and each of them is actually wearing a baby in one of those tummy-papoose things, and they have two enormous dogs designed to kill elk and wolves, not sit under the table at a coffee shop, and as I watch them smile at their babies which are now screaming bloody murder while the great slobbering mastiffs begin earnestly licking their own privates, something terrible happens to me: it’s like The Manchurian Candidate, when Lawrence Harvey suddenly realizes the reason he’s been acting so strangely is because he’s been brainwashed by Soviet agents: I’m radiating intense, patrician condescension at a superciliously high level, I’m sneering with white-gloved, blue-blooded, private-schooled disapproval, and just as my head is about to explode, I realize it is actually my mother who is controlling me from beyond the grave, from the throne of her icy imperious contempt for what she’d call white trash, because she came from a miserable little farm in Illinois, and was poorer than the kids in the grubby miserable town who ridiculed her faded, hand-me-down dresses, and her crooked teeth, and her worn out shoes 45 with cardboard plugging the holes in the soles, which in turn made her own mother crazy with guilt and shame and helpless inadequacy, causing her to make my mother believe she was better than those people, descended from finer, vaguely aristocratic stuff, which was the same story my mother told my sisters and me as she raised us, after the divorce, on food stamps and hamburger helper. And now the vaguely aristocratic gene is flaring up in me, and from a vast distance— the sagging front porch of a tarpaper shack in Illinois with an outhouse in the back and a broken-down truck in the yard— I stare at this couple and disapprove. ...


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MARC Record
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