Thursday, June 16, 2005


The dashing young man in the bowtie and chaps was a dashing madman with mercury in his veins--a haberdasher of the perennial sort. He kept a collection of hats, all personally made for his collection of Strawberry Shortcake figurines that he displayed on his shelf above the couch where his mother died. They say she died of misery. They say she died of dysentery. They say she died in denial about a crime the dashing young madman may or may not have committed. A crime of passion. A crime against nature. A crime that knocks the bile to the back of the throats of the neighbors and close acquaintances of this dashing madman's mother. A mother who never learned to knit or sew or cook anything that wasn't mashed potatoes. A mother who learned her habits from House and Garden Magazine and Mademoiselle and Good Housekeeping and Popular Mechanics. They told her how to be a proper woman, a paragon of womanliness, a woman who never pats on the head or compliments or cajoles but minds her manners and never spits and always says maybe at the ends of sentences, maybe. Maybe too when the dashing madman floods the house by plugging the drains and letting the well run its cold waters through the halls, then he wishes for those mother-made mashed potatoes, a recipe gleaned from the pages of Popular Mechanics. And before he drowns himself by handcuffing himself to the hot water heater in the basement, he unsuccessfully tries to canoe on the fast river running down the stairs from the kitchen and bathroom. Those were the rooms that remind him most of mother and the rooms he was least welcome in.

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