A Bridge Over Troubled Water

Writing-AdviceOne of my teaching themes for you writers is to help you write what’s meaningful to you, and to make your work meaningful to the reader. I invite you to first write for yourself, with some consciousness around what you want to get out of writing any given piece.

A writing prompt that I give my writers (and you, now) is to first make a list of pivotal moments (flashbacks, scenes, or memories). This list can be related to a project; a theme or subject you are writing on. If you are writing fiction, your pivotal moments can become helpful in writing scenes.

So to begin: Make a list of pivotal moments in your life. Then take the list and choose one pivotal moment to elaborate upon. Write whatever you can about this scene or incident in your life. Describe details about the people and place. Then, set it aside for a bit. Come back to it and, in a separate piece, write out the meaning of this pivotal moment for you. What significance does this pivotal moment have for you now or/and then? Be opinionated and honest. What awareness, shifts in consciousness, emotional insights did you experience as your wrote it?

Write about that.

Then, set this aside. Come back later and bring the two pieces together into a story, scene, narrative, or essay. Have most of your piece be about what happened—the main story and its theme—but weave in the meaning of the piece through the descriptions themselves, revealing any insights and meaning you want. You can include some reveals by showing us your thoughts now or then, but just be careful not to “soap box.”

Remember to focus on writing the truth of the story and let go of having to recall or reveal all the facts of it. All memory is fictitious because we all remember our own version of events that have transpired. This is your version. Your story; your truth. Don’t lie, (unless it’s fiction). But pull on the thread of truth rather than allowing yourself to be pulled by the snag of facts.

I wrote this piece (below) for myself to see what might come up for me in the writing of it. This pivotal moment has not been a burden or a secret, yet I never shared this story with anyone, till now, where I am sharing it with you. When I wrote this piece for myself I found more of Her Beauty and Power. I decided to share the story to affirm what I know to be the True-true: our Bodies, our Vaginas are powerful: Beautiful She Creatures. And, in this time of tension and darkness (racism, sexism, fear, hostility toward differences, white male supremacy), I thought it timely.


What Really Killed Her

I knew he would kill Her.

In 1971, I was sixteen. I carried my youthful body like a Girl Scout badge that I hadn’t truly earned. Carol King’s song “I Feel the Earth Move” competed with the Osmonds’ song “One Bad Apple,” for third place on the radio charts. (“One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, Girl.”) That was the year my mother told me that I would look sexy in a potato sack. I bought my first record player and played James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” till I moved on to Aretha Franklin’s “Bridge over Troubled Water.” This too was the year of Richie Haven’s version of “Here Comes the Sun.”

Aretha and Carol know Her. James and Richie are friends of Hers.

Not knowing Her then was my greatest danger. Had I known Her and Her True-true strength I would have told someone what he did; what he attempted to do.

She was and is our bridge over troubled water. She and She alone.

Dick* was thirty-something, married to a cousin of mine. He was sleek and dark-haired with small eyes and nose—as if each morning someone put him together like a Ken doll on an assembly line. He greased his hair back, which made it unnaturally shiny. Light made streaks of gold in his strands. He walked into the room like a wannabe alpha male, or a dog trainer. To him She was either going to wet the floor or earn a treat. The treat of course was his Johnson, his baloney pony, meat popsicle, cervix crusader, womb raider, Jurassic pork, Baloney baton, slit-eyed demon, Ho wrecker, pecker, and lately I’ve heard him referred to as Just-in-beaver.

My favorite is baloney pony, sounds funny when you say it out loud. Go ahead.

So many names for one’s Johnson. When I finally got into therapy in my mid-thirties my therapist asked me when I had first seen my father’s penis. I guess we are not likely to go through our childhood without such an encounter. Encounters that, my therapist said, are memorable. I have an image of going into my parents’ bedroom where his Johnson stuck out of the sheets as he slept. I’m pretty sure I dreamt this, which doesn’t make it any less troublesome, at least to me. Besides, in therapy and life, dreams sometimes matter more.

The wannabe alpha male, dog trainer with his shiny hair, came to a summer family gathering where there was the usual flow of cocktails and white food. I couldn’t wait to finish the meal to go meet up with friends at a nearby lake for a swim. Back then I walked and biked everywhere, often times up to thirty miles a day just to get around. But he offered to drive me. His eyes gave me that, “I know you’re special” look. He’s attracted to me, I thought. He can’t help himself. You can’t help who you love, I thought. “Go Away Little Girl” played in my head.

When you’re near me like this

You’re much too hard to resist

So go away little girl

Before I beg you to stay . . .

No one else at the family gathering noticed shit or said anything when this grease ball wanted to drive me, dressed in my two-piece bathing suit, to my friend’s house. Those silent partners drank their Manhattans and Tequila Sunrises. His wife favored the Sidecar. My mother liked vodka, and over the years went from orange juice and vodka, famously called a Screw Driver, to vodka martinis.

The smell of booze carried out into the car.

I went for the back seat.

“Hey, sit in the front seat or I’ll feel like your taxi driver,” he said.

So off we went in some version of a station wagon with me in the front passenger seat. His radio played the Neil Diamond song: “I Am . . . I Said.”

“I am” . . . I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair

“I am” . . . I cried
“I am” . . . said I
And I am lost and I can’t
Even say why.
Leavin’ me lonely still . . .

He turned it up a bit and lightly bobbed his shiny head up and down while lipping the words.

Did you ever read about a frog

Who dreamed of bein’ a king
And then became one
Well, except for the names
And a few other changes
If you talk about me
The story is the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And . . .

I imagined, as many young women do (then and now), that he purposely used this song to send a personal message to me, to let me know he too was lonely. As houses whirled by us, She wished I had taken my bike.

He pulled up in front of a house that I claimed was my friend’s house (which was actually three doors down). Dog trainer spoke about how beautiful I was. How he couldn’t hide his attraction to me and could he kiss me?

Young Girl meets up with Dreamed of bein’ a king.

His words were like his hair, greased back with slight shades of faux gold streaks.

I let him kiss me. In part to get out of the car, in part, I bought the con. He so desperately wanted to kiss me . . . he had thought about it for months, he said.

She warned me that getting me to feel responsible for his pain was part of the con.

“Okay,” I said with hand on the locked door. Locked for my protection, of course. Young women go flying out of moving or parked cars all the time.

“Later,” he said. Greasy smile. The pop of the door unlocking made me wonder, What really just happened?

“Part of the con,” She whispered.

I opened the door and got out. I never told anyone that he had come onto me.

“Come onto me?”

He tried to rape me.

He wanted to invade my vagina with his slit-eyed demon. His cervix crusader. His whatever.

I rarely encountered him after that. He slithered about at one of my father’s office parties. He continued to torment his wife till she went bat-shit crazy and died. He verbally beat Her down till She became a she-thing who had daylong cocktail hours. Made her beg for table scraps while he kicked her under the table, until, She forgot who She was. She ended up with early dementia and died in an old folks’ home the year she turned sixty-five. She looked like she was in her late eighties and hadn’t seen the sun for decades.

He killed her.

When we forget Her we lose Her. Our Honey Pot, Our Snatch, Our Pussy, Our Pink Canoe, Pink Taco, Flower, Banjingo, Our Hoo-Hee, Hoo-hoo. My favorite is Honey Pot. But Hoo-hoo said out loud makes me laugh. Try it.

He’s still out there, him and his Johnson.

I will say that I was kissed by too many more like him. Con men. She-trophy hunters. Alpha wannabes. It was my veterinarian who warned me about alpha wannabe’s when he spoke about my Jack Russell terrier: “He thinks he is the alpha male at all times. We call them the alpha-wannabes. They are impossible to train unless you consistently remind him you are the True Alpha.”

True Love has also kissed me. Maybe the Kiss was just in my dreams. Doesn’t matter. That Kiss, Her Visits to my dreams, my days and nights are my bridge, my bridge over troubled water.

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.



Here’s Roberta Flack singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k49yMJE8jyg

And Here’s Aretha Franklin singing (2015) “You Make Me Feel”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diwF1-xJwZM

*Not his real name. All else, is the real-real.

 The heart of a Woman, JTJ, 2017

The heart of a Woman, JTJ, 2017

Photo by Lydia Bear Ishmael, Women's March, 2017

Photo by Lydia Bear Ishmael, Women’s March, 2017

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