“I wuz Pried ‘n prejudiced” by Jane Austin-Healy (Bedtime story version)

     Need to do this quickly, since Tanya finally fell asleep, the little angel.
She’s my phantom daughter who gurgles up from the chilly depths of the Hudson from time to time. Never calls beforehand from her cell. (We had no cells in ”68, I’m sometimes re-amazed to re-alize that. How we even communicated is anyone’s guess.)

    Anyway, she appears on the bed, fading up into Reality like a precocious ghost-ette who’s had enough of hiding behind the curtains saying ‘Boo’ in her little 7-year-old voice.
After the usual hugs, sobs, and of course ‘Fries with that’, it’s nap-time.
“Read me a story, daddy.” she always starts, halfway before completing the half-hour chore of ensconcing her lithe little body in the fuzzy pink foot-pajamas I keep in her box on the dresser. Yes, she has her own blanket too. And it must be arranged just so, for this little pea-princess, as if we’re doing a photo-shoot for Victoria’s ‘Little’ Secrets.
I said ‘quickly’? Scratch that, I guess. But after needing longer to read this story to the little punkette than Ms. Jane probably needed to write it, I feel both winded and long-winded. Here we go.



I had barely gotten out the title before cutey-pie had her way with the Author:
“Probably a blond. Probably from Texas?”
I toyed with ignoring that, but previous experience reminded me that to by-pass a question from my  ‘audience’ would bring on a vitual Tarantella of ‘I’m jumping on the bed/ Just jumping on the bed, Daddy!’ until either the issue was addressed or an hour  of ‘hyper’ finally diluted the toxins in her young blood-stream. I went with the easier path, sue me.
“Yes, dearie, she did grow up in Texas, so, like duh, of course she was blond.”
“Dyed blond” Tanya felt a need to clarify.
“But after she married Mister Healy, she moved to the UK, where she wrote most of her best work.”
“He of the motor-trade?”
Did I mention the child hasn’t missed a beat since her awesome start as a Young Zygote?
“Yes, sports cars. But their marriage foundered in the turbulent waters of the late 60s.” I broke the news to my daughter, glancing at the two of us a second in the bathroom-door mirror, and then thinking better of it.
“She moved to New York in the wake of the break-up.” I continued, aware that at the present pace we might be doing this for like, 4evah.
“The Big City! If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere..” Tanya started to sing. A bad omen for a guy with a bus to catch at 6 the next morning.
“No, darling, Corning, NY.” I interrupted my miniature Sinatra. And it worked. Kinda. Mid-chorus, she pulled the blanket over her face, not before making a face usually seen in autopsy photographs:
“OMG! Bell jars!”
I had intended to get to that part, but perhaps a bit more.. um… delicately.
“Yeah, Tanya-le, That’s where they found her. Inside a jar.”
“Sealed from the inside?” She wanted the details.
“Yup.”
“She had a screwdriver?”
“It didn’t say that.”
“Philips?”
“Tanya, who cares? The point is, she was very sad.”
“Like you were when I was born?”
Long Pause. What have I done, dear god, to merit both quality-time with a month-old aborted foetus, and, a Ghost-of-Christmas-Past visit from the Deep? And a ghost-ess so indescribably full of charms that I’d gladly live in chains for decades just to drive her to hockey practice even once.
“Yes kinda like that.” I fuzzed the question.
“So someone calls the Fire Department?” she moved the plot forward.
I breathed a silent sigh.
“Yup. 911.”
“Cool. They got all kinds of sexy power tools.”
Tanya, warm and happy, dark eyes large enough for a medium-weight  tiger, pink in pink pajamas from Woolworth’s (and not ‘on sale’), under a pink blanket I’d rescued from the attic when my Mother died. and me never having had any doubts as to her gender-preference.
“Yup, Jaws-O-Life. You like that kinda thing?” I asked, neutrally, like we’d learned, stomping for McGovern in ’68.
“Awesome!” was all she said. I had a vision of her leading a band of bottom-dwelling Hudson Amazonian cadavers to construct, from derelict auto parts, an invincible machine-age automaton, which, guided by tossed-out Panasonic boom-boxes, wreaks holy retribution on Jersey mortals who thought that Planned Parenthood had offered a final solution. By super-human effort, I submerged the nightmare.
“So they pried and they pried, and they blew her house down?” Tanya wanted to know how it all ended.
“Yeah, beautiful, they left the Jaws in the GMC. And used Dollar General cheap Chinese-steel pry-bars to break the seal. She was breathing, but barely, when they opened the Bell Jar.”
“Holy Plath! You had me on pins and needles there for a second!” Tanya almost shouted, nearly waking my wife down in the salon. Prosaic to a fault, she has never believed my ‘fairy tales’, and that’s OK with me.
“So what’s ‘Predjudiced, Daddy?” Tanya asked. As simple a question as one could imagine, but with no equally short answer:
“It’s like, when people don’t like schvartes, even before they meet them.” I tried, as a first approximation.
” And that includes octaroons and mulattoes?” Tanya wanted to know the techie-facts on the subject.
“Yeah, I guess. Miss Jane had no objections, in principle, to being saved from her  depressive angst by ‘her own kind‘, but by a Mister Darkie?! No way, Jose.”
“‘Darcy,’ I believe it says in the original.” Tanya pointed out, but exhibiting at least some signs of impending slumber.
“Well, the fellow in the picture in the Finger Lake Times, Heroes save local scribbler sure looked more like an Obama than some washed-up Romney.” I told her, hope against hope that politics would bore the goddess to sleep. It worked wonders.
“So she was pried and predjudiced? Nice story, Daddy. I love you…. in spite of everything.”
“Leila tov, matoki.” (‘good night, sweetheart’) I kissed her face.

Now I just need to try to fall asleep myself.

For OBL, an inspiration always.

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21 thoughts on ““I wuz Pried ‘n prejudiced” by Jane Austin-Healy (Bedtime story version)

  1. chromepoet

    This is another one of the “I want to comment.” but all I have to say is good job. Every taunting reference I start to re-refer leads me to a place that breaks the thread you’ve so carefully wound through the branches. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

    Reply
  2. jsolberg

    @chromepoet – If only chanting “the best of times. It was the worst of times.” a couple times would put her to sleep, I’d go with that and then have more time for the pink socks I’m knitting her. At least she doesn’t outgrow them.

    Reply
  3. ItsWhatEyeKnow

    I told my sister-in-law yesterday that when I clean my house it’s as if I have attention deficit disorder (ADD – if such a condition is really a “condition” and not just a normal aspect of humanNESS which is the conclusion I lean toward).  She agreed that she feels the same way about her own domestic endeavors.  But we concluded by patting ourselves on our backs for always getting it all done in the end.  Your post reminds me of that conversation – lot’s of side trips, but a great vacation spot in the end.

    Reply
  4. jsolberg

    @ItsWhatEyeKnow – I talk to myself out loud and find it helps. Haven’t yet started to recount fractured British fiction, but like you said, if it works it works. This post actually goes with your recent posts, if you caught that, but it’s subtle.

    Reply
  5. Lakakalo

    Solberg, you tower above the competing beasts like a giraffe in a circus parade, except for the 40 foot whooping crane. I…er… wish I had more to add… but that about sums it up. 😀

    Reply
  6. dirtbubble

    This is a most magnificent work. Let’s see. I wrote “most,” then “magnificent” with the help of spell check. I have to confess that the beginning of the Plath novel has defeated me every time. But I do love her poems. I suppose I will also probably read Austen one day as well, but I followed along having seen several of the movies by accident.

    Reply
  7. jsolberg

    @dirtbubble – So nice to see you read it. A debt here to your own style of Memory, at the least. And on purpose no great need to have the texts I refer committed to memory. Even Tanya here willingly suspends disbelief for the joy of being read to. ‘Cried when I wrote this song’: If it was good enough for Donald Fagen on ‘Deacon Blue’. I’m cool wid it also.

    Reply
  8. jsolberg

    @dirtbubble – A wise and truly helpful comment; applies to the both of us, as you know. I knew as much, watching the -Add Comments- mock me. Sometimes the only easy reaction is ‘shit happens, dude, get over it!’ to break the sombre mood. Thanks for being you, guy.

    Reply
  9. dsullivan

    Very entertaining as well as informative. We learn a great deal about the life and times of a great Texan, Jane Austen-Healy, romance writer and sports car producer.

    Reply
  10. jsolberg

    @ZSA_MD – Thanks so much, Zakiah. Once I positioned the dear little brat in an acceptably sleep-ready posture, the rest wrote itself. She does have a worrisome fascination with power tools though. Probably would have gone into neurosurgery, done well, but needed always to be restrained with the bone-saw, ha.

    Reply
  11. jsolberg

    twoberry left this Comment, which was eaten by the bowels of server@xanga:I was impressed with how facilely you handled all of the interruptions — leading me to suggest, as an alternate title — “Interruptus Go-See-Us at Ghost.Daddy.com”I take a risque in making such a comment, I know. I meant it to be complementary as well as complimentary.To which I reply: ‘It was difficult as the night went on to be sure who was the vision and who, the responsible adult. luckily, most of her questions allowed a simple answer, and the over-arching Question? a goodnight kiss and all is forgiven, amen.

    Reply

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