Foto by tgw, "Moon Over Manhattan," New York City, Aug. 24th, 2010
Moonlight and Ewe Deer
Back when I was a kid the folklore my family's legends were built on said that if you slept in the direct moonlight by morning you'd be nuttier than any of grandma's rummy fruit cakes. Some of the really dumb and dumber in my family, the White Trash end, also believed that if you put a piece of string in a fruit jar full of water and sat it in the moonlight the string would turn into a snake. On the other hand, the other end of the balancing see-saw, the moonlight also stood for love and romance and getting laid. Albert Collins the great blues man said the moonlight made his love come on down. And Jimmy Reed sang about walkin' by the river "on a pale moonlighty night"--the time of decisive or indecisive love. I never heard whether or not fucking in the moonlight had any essential jujube effect connected with it since fucking as such was never discussed in my family. Oh, there were plenty of insinuating sex-teaching jokes gadded about during family reunions and within the cousin click. Imagine learning sex through jokes and juvenile curiosity and juvenile answers. The first time I tried it.... Can you imagine how unfucking real you looked the first time you tried to have sex? Men like puppies humping legs not knowing whether it was right or wrong--just lovin' the feel of urge to hump somethin'--humping naturally as nature intended us males to hump. Women like puppies squatting and peeing in excitement every five feet, warm in their vaginas instinctually knowing what that heat was and what one day it would be for. That "furnace-like heat" the old blues men sang about. Women of fire; men of wind? And Freud was put down for dwelling so long and over and over and repeatedly on one's sexual directions.
I remember clearly my first erections. They amused me more than they frightened me. Right then and there they became times of horribly tempting pleasure. An urge from within my solar plexus area to when it was hard and burning, its head so sensitive that to just glance-touch it was to send fiery signals up your spine to your brain hollering "what the hell am I for?; why am I so hard?; now what?" And my brain tried to answer: "Well, er-ah, I don't know what to tell you. Hell, I'm only 5-years-old. I mean, damn right you're hard and are tingling and making me tell this dumbass whose body we're a part of to at least grab you with one of his hands and give you a good shaking down...."
Oh I'd been taught about sex. When my mother bathed me and I got little nail-like hards on, she would tell me, sweetly, as only a mother knows how, that that little act was wrong. I thought it cute and poked it up out of the bath water at her face. "Look, mommy dearest, you've given birth to a real man...look at that thing, ma." Her advice. "Every time that thing gets like that put it between your legs and squeeze it until it turtle-like backs back into the way God intended it, in a perpetual shriveled state." "Like daddy's?" I curtly asked. (I probably didn't ask that. I don't think I was that witty yet). According to Christian Holy Book laws I never saw my father's penis nor would I have been given permission to look at it had I asked. I did, however, see my Uncle Herman's BIG penis. He was my dad's sister's husband. So, you see, one time out by my hometown's biggest lake during a summer family reunion, my Uncle Herman called me over to the side of the lake, whipped his long dong out, and taught me how to piss in the lake like a real man. We walked right up to the lapping little tongue waves of that gypsum-water lake and whizzed away. "Throw the stream out into the lake away from you. There's nothing worse than showing back up among the ladies with a big wet spot on the front of your pants." My wonder-of-the-world Uncle Herman. Six foot five. A Goliath. But as gentle as he was wise. A dairy farmer who due to his having allergies so bad--hay fever, hives, shingles, nervous shit-- sold his dairy and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he became a shipbuilder.
His home in Portland was up on a bluff over the Willamette River on Harvard Street, in a neighborhood where all the streets were named for Ivy League colleges. From that bluff you could look down on the shipyard where my uncle worked. The first morning after we had arrived in Portland from Texas the day before, at that little house on Harvard Street, my Uncle Herman and I had a pancake-eating contest.
The night before under a full moon, I remember it so clearly, it was maybe 4 in the morning, the room I was sleeping in started madly shaking. The bed hip-hopping. The walls rattling. The windows clattering. The floor waving. I'd never felt anything like it. I jumped out of bed and ran out in the hall. My cousin Anna Moines (that was her name; I never asked but assumed she was named after Des Moines, Iowa) was awake and headed for the kitchen. I was shaking and probably on the verge of tears. Anna Moines was in high school, many years older than I was. She wasn't pretty but she was cute. I remember the minute I saw she was wearing what we called baby-doll pajamas--a little thin top over a panties-like bottom--my thoughts turned from the fears of whatever the heck-fire was shaking the house into a full-fledged horniness for my cousin. "It was just a tremor, baby," she said, calming my fears and anxieties, "Wanna make a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich?"
I sat there eating a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich with a hard on unable to really take advantage of checking out my near-naked cousin due to my tremendous timidity. I did catch a glimpse of her breast one brief time when she got up and went to the fridge for some milk. But just as I was daring to take a long look at her as she was bending over looking in the fridge, the grown ups were up and rambling into the kitchen. "What the hell was that, I thought the Good Lord was coming back," my dad was excitedly jabbering when he came into the kitchen. "Just a tremor," my aunt said, "you'll see, we have several a day." "Go put your clothes on," my mother ordered me. I supposed we were up for good. Soon there were smells of coffee being brewed and breakfast cooking being prepped.
My aunt suggested she make pancakes. Oh boy. My attention then left the tremor, my half-naked cousin, and excitedly centered on pancakes. I loved pancakes. Even though I'd just finished a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich, the thought of getting to eat pancakes made me desirously hungry again. Even when my aunt told my cousin to put a robe on and I got a good look at her legs and some jiggling in her top, my little pecker wasn't hard; my thoughts were welded on the idea of eating pancakes.
Fear, sex, and hunger...all in one fastly unreeling tremoring morning under the long-lasting remains of a full moon.
It ended with me committing one of the 7 deadly sins, gluttony. My aunt just stayed at the stove flipping pancakes while my Uncle Herman and I contested to see who could down the most without upchucking so severely we'd end in a coma. My aunt was stacking 'em eight to the stack and I cleared that first hurdle fast and in good shape. The syrup was pure cane syrup from back home--there was even a side bucket of sorghum molasses from back home, too. The second eight went OK because I was still madly hungry for pancakes. Each stack had a pad of real cow butter between each layer and that buttery flavor combined with the thick wild sweet taste of that rich syrup all soaking into those buttermilk pancakes made my hunger crazy and with a gulping nature. My aunt served us our third stack of eight. My Uncle Herman was jawing away with my dad while he was nonchalantly tossing down another forkful of pancake dripping in syrup and oozing buttery juice out from around each cake's side. The third stack began to tell on me. About halfway through it I began to realize there was a possibility unless my Uncle caved in and coma-ed first, I would have to surrender. I could feel a hint of queasiness coming on in the pit of my stomach. My Uncle Herman finished his third stack of eight while I was still trying to get the first half of my third stack down. He got up and excused himself. He had to take a pee. All that coffee he was drinking, he thought.
I took advantage of his being off taking a piss by regaining some confidence and killing my third stack and telling my aunt I'd take my fourth stack now, please. "Wolfie, be careful, you know how sick at your stomach you get from all that syrup," my mother warned. "Old Herman's ten sizes bigger than you, son," my dad chirped. "I mean, he can out eat everybody in this room." "Oh, shut up, Larry, let the kid have some fun. Besides, I got enough pancake mix here to feed the U.S. Navy anchored out there in the Willamette." By then she'd filled my plate with my fourth stack o'eight just as my Uncle Herman came back from the bathroom. "Watcha' doin', kid, tryin' to get a jump on your poor old hungry uncle?" "I'm gonna beat you, Uncle Herman."
I tackled that fourth stack of eight. My aunt placed the fourth stack in front of her husband but he just sat there sipping on a fresh cup of coffee and telling my dad about the weather around Portland. Halfway through my fourth stack I knew I was beaten. But I couldn't stop. Yep, I was fiercely competitive as a budding teenager, especially in contests, whether of body or mind. So, sickness, death, misery, or what, I decided to whip Uncle Herman's ass good. I dove into my fourth stack with a mad passion. I finished it while Uncle Herman was still only about half finished with his stack. He was leisurely enjoying the contest. Four stacks of eight. Thirty-two pancakes. Before I could catch my breath, my aunt plated another eight and placed them in front of me. Surprisingly, Uncle Herman said he was ready for his fifth stack, too. I looked and his plate was wiped clean as a whistle.
I poured some syrup over my stack and with bewilderment I started in on it. Thirty-two pancakes inside me. Yes, I felt bloated. Damn right I did. Plus, dammit, I was taking long swigs of buttermilk to wash down my mouthfuls of pancakes and that thick milk only bloated me more. My stomach was pooching out solid round and tight. I took a big bite. It hung in my mouth. I tried to swallow it down but my swallower didn't seem to be working. I took a big swig of buttermilk and washed that bite down and it went down reluctantly slow. But when I put my fork into that stack for another huge bite, something failed me. Something inside me shut down, though it wasn't my stomach. My stomach was beginning to tease me with spurts of quease. My Uncle Herman was talking about how would we all like to go to Canon Beach later in the morning. My cousin Anna Moines got all excited. "Yeah, let's go. Can I take Beth? Please?" I tried again at that second bite. It, too, stuck in the back of my mouth. Again I washed it down with a slug of buttermilk. Suddenly, unbelievably, as if with the voice of an imp, my Uncle Herman said, "Honey, you got anymore of those delicious pancakes ready, I'm so hungry...." Holy Moley, Uncle Herman had suddenly just out of nowhere finished his fifth stack--40 pancakes--and I was still not even a third of the way finished with my fifth. "You better give up, son. I've seen Herman eat half a cow one time back when I thought I could eat more steak than the average Joe." "Or, remember that time out at the diary, Larry, when he ate a gallon of ice cream by himself and was askin' for more." They were all laughin' and jokin' while I was determined but struggling to finish my fifth stack.
The next thing I know, I was upchucking like a maniac, huge chunks of undigested pancake soggy with pure cane syrup and oozing with creamery creamy sizzling still butter in the downstairs bathroom. Back in bed, my aunt brought an ice pack and put it on my forehead and a hot water bottle, which she put on my pooching stomach.
My cousin Anna Moines stuck her head in the room. "Hey, my Texas cousin, you gonna chicken out going to Canon Beach with us? Chicken. Don't you wanna see me and my friend Beth in our bathing suits?" Oh God. As sick as the dog I was after eating 35 pancakes, that mention of getting to see her and her friend Beth in their bathing suits had a powerful healing effect on me.
And, by God, yes, I made it out to Canon Beach with the whole two-car load of us. And am I glad I did. What a revealing day it was. Canon Beach and the haystack rocks was full of little coves and inlets off the main beach, coves and inlets filled with driftwood and places to be safely hidden from the grown ups who were back out on the wide-open beach. And what a day. What a beautiful beach. The Pacific Ocean was booming in, breaking far out, and then gently rolling into the white sandy beach as pathetic as a almost-slaughtered lamb. And, yes, I not only got to see my cousin and her friend Beth, who I fell madly in love with, by the way, in their bathing suits, but I got to follow them off into one of those cosy inlets among some driftwood where we began playing a game of "Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine."
"Herr Doktor Freud, I experienced all the Pleasure Principles there were that day long ago on Canon Beach--my stomach was full of pancakes; my eyes were filled with for the first time sights they'd only guessed at before; my penis filling thick and long with the steady rushing of blood to its helmeted head--culminating in Beth breaking one of my cherries. Praise ye, Herr Doktor Freud."
All because of this damn full moon that greets me every morning this week when I wake up at 5 and look out my window. This big beauty of a moon that is carrying a star along with it--the morning star. And Venus was born naked in an oyster shell--and then sailed off to join the moon in an expected marriage. I'm moonstruck.
for The Daily Growler