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Archive for November, 2011

A few days ago, I read a news report that Sharon Stone had been signed to play Linda Lovelace’s mother in an up coming biopic to be called, “Lovelace.”

Linda Lovelace (originally Linda Boreman) was my first wife’s younger sister, so I obviously knew her mother well. Sharon Stone is not who I would have chosen to play her. On the basis of physical appearance, personality and hair style, the Kathy Bates of “Misery” would be more appropriate.

Linda’s mom, following the all too frequent and normal indiscretions of a teenager of the time, found herself unmarried, with a child and, it being the 1940s, with little hope of finding a husband as she was during those dark days considered “damaged goods.” However, as luck, pluck or whatever would have it, she found someone who did marry her, and had two additional children, my ex-wife Jeanne and Linda. As was not unusual during those times and in that social strata, Linda’s mom then became a religious fanatic and often beat her daughters for exhibiting the slightest evidence of sexuality, all to no avail with any of the three sisters.

Linda’s dad was a tall man, a gentle giant, 6’7″ or so and looked a little like Liam Nielsen with a weak chin. I liked him a lot. He was a kind, humorous inoffensive man. My mom referred to him as the most ineffectual man she had ever met. That is saying something given my Mom’s long marriage to my father who, love him as I did, nevertheless topped my list for that particular classification.

Linda’s dad drank a lot. In fact he drank rather steadily and as far as I can recall was drunk more often that he was sober, a sweet, funny, black out kind of drunk.

He also had a bad back, a disk problem of some sort in his lower back. One afternoon we came into the house and found him on his knees on the floor with his face pressed into the sofa. At first we thought he was drunk, having found him like this several times before. We usually just left him alone like that to sleep it off. It was only when we heard a groan and a muffled cry for help that we realized that he had thrown out his back and we quickly called for an ambulance.

Linda’s dad was a NY City police patrolman. He joined the force for the sole purpose of putting in his 20 years or so and retire to live in Florida. His career was notable for his never having received a promotion or a commendation. Its other highlights were that he never took a bribe, never unholstered his gun and never issued a ticket of any kind. As a result, his superiors regularly assigned him to the worst beats and saddled him with the worst shifts (e.g., 3 AM to 11 AM) imaginable where he continued to steadfastly refuse to notice any crimes committed in his vicinity whatsoever.

Perhaps it was his incorruptibility or his stoic refusal to notice the criminality around him that prompted the station captain, once a month, to choose him to drive him around to the businesses within his precinct to collect that months graft payments.

Linda herself was, for the most part, a friendly, attractive, empty-headed teenager, the kind that used to be called a valley girl here in California.

When she was about 16 years old, her father retired and promptly moved the family which now consisted only of himself, his wife and Linda, to Florida, the older two girls having married and were busy raising families of their own. They settled on a town called Opa-Laka in a home he had purchased years ago in preparation for retirement. Opa-laka originally was basically a retirement community for NYCPD patrolmen but over the years has degenerated into one of the Miami areas worst slums.

Within a few months Linda was thrown out of the home by her parents and returned to NY to live with her sister and me, our two babies, Jason and Jennifer, and our neurotic dog in our large home in Yorktown Heights on the uppermost reaches of Westchester County.

I remember that time fondly, especially because it was during her stay that Linda gave me my first toke of Marijuana, for which I will always be grateful to her.

Linda was also affectionate. Every evening as her sister and I lay in bed, before retiring into he own bedroom, she would come in to give us a goodnight Kiss and hug, wearing see through bikini pajamas. (I wonder if that will make it into the movie.)

Another notable thing about Linda was that she was utterly unable to answer a question without including a large dose of fantasy. Although she did this at times to deceive, she also did it when deception was not an issue. For example, if you came upon her eating a bowl of ice cream and you asked her if she was enjoying it, she would launch into an often quick-witted response denying she was eating ice cream at all.

Another thing about her was that she was a clever, enterprising and successful shopper, amassing closets full of the latest fashions and accessories, all without paying a cent for them.

At that time I was a trial lawyer in NYC of some local repute having accumulated one of the longest consecutive string or victories in jury trials in NY up until that time. It was not that I was a particularly good lawyer, I was not, I couldn’t recognize a rule of evidence if it punched me in my nose. But it seemed my particular brand of opinionated, didactic certainty made juries believe I knew what I was talking about and that I actually believed whatever crap I was saying. My goal in life at the time was to become like one of the great trial lawyers of the past and die of cirrhosis of the liver before I was 40.

I was a lousy husband, often uncommunicative, angry and during trial entirely preoccupied. I was also a black out drunk. After each victory I would eat a big meal, drink until I blacked out and disappear for days at a time, eventually waking up, still dressed in my three-piece black pin striped Brooks Brothers suit, Homburg hat and grey leather gloves in places like the men’s room in Grand Central Station lying on the floor in my own vomit.

On News Year’s Day morning, when Jennifer was about 9 months old, I was awakened by the screams of my wife coming from the nursery. “My baby, my baby, something has happened to my baby,” she screamed over and over. I rushed into the baby’s room. Jennifer was dead, a crib death I was later told.

She was splotched all purple and red where the blood had pooled. Her body stiff and cold as I hopelessly tried to blow life into that tiny body, until the ambulance arrived and the emergency crew pulled me away and out of the bedroom.

About two weeks after the funeral, my wife left me taking the other child, Jason with her. Three months later, my life having collapsed around me, I left for Europe with Jason.

I was a traditional sort of person at that time in my life, Catholic, Republican, ruthless and often drunk. As such, I believed that a child should be with his mother. Unfortunately after discovering the child with cigarette burns over most of his body, a judge awarded me custody.

I resumed my legal career working for an American law firm in Rome, practicing international tax and corporate law, areas I know nothing about and was awful at.

Jason lived in a small mountain village with my great-aunt. He thrived there. When he walked through the town people would call out to him and wave as though he was a celebrity.

When I decided to return to the US, I took him with me. I regret that decision more than almost any other decision in my life. I was not a competent father, nevertheless I removed him from a stable environment where an entire village loved him and resettled him into a life where he was often alone or left with an almost virtual stranger while I strove to save the coast or otherwise engage in whatever self-indulgence appealed to me at the time.

I have never been able to shake the guilt I feel at his current unhappiness. What is worse, I seem to be able to deal with it only by ignoring it.

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There may have been movement or sounds somewhere in the world but none that penetrated into my awareness as I sat there and stared into the wavering blackness into which she disappeared.

After what was probably only a minute or two, but seemed hours long to me, Gun Girl (as I renamed her) emerged from the building without the 45. She was smiling, accompanied by a slab bodied young Thai man. They walked about half way across the gravel parking lot, turned towards one another and weied.

A wei is the Thai version of the western hand shake except it also does duty as a sign of respect. One places one’s palms together like beginning a prayer and bows to the other person.The height of the placement of the hands before the face and the depth of the bow signifying the degree or respect being awarded.

The weis’ completed Gun Girl continued alone across the remainder of the parking lot, opened the driver’s side door, got in and without saying a word and started the engine.

At almost the same moment, the rear doors opened and the back seat boys piled in, each taking the exact same position they were to maintain for the entire trip. I could never determine if this was habit or had some complex social significance. I would have assumed, if it had been mere habit Mata Hari who sat in the middle would eventually object.

In absolute silence Gun Girl immediately drove out of the parking lot, gravel crunching beneath the wheels, and back onto the road.

After we had gone a short way and bursting with curiosity, I turned to her and asked, “Is the restaurant owned by your family?”

“Yes, that was my sister’s son. You met him once. He owns the place and works there during the day. At night he works as a policeman”

“Oh, then that must have been his gun?”

“No, its mine. I just thought it was best that I leave it with him for the time being. Sometimes when you drive through the city the police may stop you and confiscate it or…”

I could not make out what else she was saying as she lowered her voice below that that these old ears could discern. At least I now knew that we would be going into or through a city of some sort.

We continued through the forest and the roads got a little better. The subdivisions disappeared, replaced by a few isolated hamlets with Thai style wooden buildings on stilts. In my current state, I could only be reminded of Pan Tae, that village of murder and mayhem in the south of the country, that I lived family lived in for a few months. Buy that is another story.

Eventually we came to a main highway heading in the general direction of Bangkok.

“You might as well rest,” she said. “It is going to take about four hours before we get where we are going.”

“Oh where is that”.

She mentioned the name of a place I did not recognize, adding in response to my blank look, “I really cannot describe in English where it is located”.

About one hour later we stopped for lunch at a small town adjacent to the highway. Having eaten a large breakfast, I was not especially hungry and just ordered an espresso. I noticed they had a small espresso machine like those little ones designed for home. Unfortunately what they brought me tasted like they used instant coffee in the contraption.

The others ordered the ubiquitous Thai soup. The soup is a broth of some kind in which one requests various separate ingredients added, usually noodles, vegetables and meat, chicken or fish. Sometimes fairly tasteless small balls of something or other are included. The diner then adds to taste sugar and whatever sauces he wishes from the options in jars provided on the table. The specialty of the house appeared to be a yellowish sauce that looked a lot like marmalade. I did not try it.

When we all had finished, I was expecting to be presented with the bill. To my surprise, Gun Girl paid for the meal. A little further on we stopped to gas up the car. I assumed that this time I would be asked for gas money. But no, Gun Girl paid again.

I was becoming more and more happy.

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