STEPFORD

Few visages of children appear as though destiny is inscribed upon them. We’d all like to believe life is an open book shaped by the choices we make. Still, she had one of those faces: pale, putty-colored, cow-eyed. Her placid gaze was cool, arms hanging alongside slightly bulging sides like sausages. She was pleasant enough in company and thankfully in retrospect, I was never unkind. Still, there was never a compulsion to engage her in conversation for I could never imagine what, if anything, might spring forth from this Sphynx-like apparition.

Girls like her rolled through childhood, surprised if not dismayed by puberty, shocked into adolescence. Their first sexual affair was startling for the sheer animality of it. Outright enjoyment of the body for its own sake might never be theirs, yet they went on accepting what was given or coerced or even forced. Much like the spoon that fed them while young, direction was derived not from the substance and satisfaction of the meal itself so much as the conveyance that brought it to them. The kind of assertiveness necessary to procure or prevent or refine the quality of such things did not occur naturally if at all. And yet I wondered if young women like her discovered more acceptance of life on its own terms than did I, early on.

I often pondered while gazing at her, silent as stone alongside two animated little friends, how life would deliver what she needed. Likely she would cruise through school only to remain in that small community for life, with the same people she’d always known for better or worse. Likely she would see nothing like the vastness and wonder of this wide world, save what television projected onto the blank slate of imagination. Would that, along with babes strung on either ample hip, really prove satisfactory? And who was I to dispute another’s lifestyle?

What images lilted through her childhood fantasies, what future did she envision? Did she delude herself with fairytales, or would the coarse hand of another social pariah be all she might know or experiences of love? I shuddered to think what her home life consisted of, what freedoms she was afforded and at what cost.

Fifty years later arriving upon a similar scene, I am instantly transported back to that small clutch of girlfriends. Another appears on the horizon and yet more assume their place like miniature Stepford wives. If only I knew the fate of the first I once noticed, there might be comfort supplanting this icy grip of uneasiness. Still unsure, I cycle onward into the brilliance of the day.

 

11 comments on “STEPFORD”

  1. I sometimes think that my generation was bred and raised on fantasies. Real life is not a Doris Day movie!

    • Seriously! My mom was a fantasy factory, for sure. Life was supposed to be just like in the movies. And it took me years to forgive life for not giving me that kind of false existence. Now of course I realize without the adversity I wouldn’t be who I am today, so I am most grateful.

      On a peculiar note, I once had breakfast with Doris Day and her then-husband Terry Melcher. We grew up amidst all sorts of Hollywood types in our neighborhood (which didn’t help my mom’s perceptions one bit), and a young friend’s dad was a producer who took us downtown to attend the Teen Fair. And before he turned us loose, we ‘had’ to have breakfast with these boring people. Now I look back on that with fondness – but then! So impatient!!

  2. Nice post Bela. Very well thought post that set me thinking and reflecting. Thanks and regards.

  3. To me this is a very intense and disturbing post, Bela. Somehow it leads to doubts surfacing about how I maybe living in the GAP and not really aligned to my true self owing to societal pretenses which I need to keep up……
    Loved reading it nonetheless.

    Shakti

  4. Shakti, it’s so interesting to get the feedback I’ve gotten so far from this post – here and on Facebook as well. I’m always surprised what certain posts bring up for people – here I am simply telling a story from my perspective – in this case, seeing this little group of girls on a bike ride and experiencing this haunting kind of memory – then hearing how that same little story affects others, particularly men (as I’ve written it, in my mind, strictly from a female’s perspective).

    It’s also interesting how social pretenses jump out for you. I guess we are all subject to them, to some extent – or society would indeed be anarchistic. As for myself, I’ve always been a bit of an odd duck in the barnyard – I never did seem to fit in anywhere, but then again, I seem to be able to pull off fitting in everywhere – though I doubt people ‘take’ to me the way they do my husband, for example – a very amilable, likeable, mellow sort of guy. I’ve been told I seem aloof (surprising, to me) – though I do know I’m always observing (perhaps the writer in me), but not necessarily judging. And others might well pick up on this and feel a bit under the microscope.

    Thanks for your valuable feedback, as always. Wishing you joy in your day!

  5. I never feel as kind about these girls, i want to grab their shoulders and scream WAKE UP into their faces.. Come On. Don’t just stand there.. waiting for a life to come along! but maybe they are just shy and i should be kinder. I should be kinder.. morning bela! c

    • Morning, sweetie. Well, I can’t blame you for feeling that way. But I wonder if it’s shyness or simply that they’re shut down in some essential way. What this post is exploring, in my own convoluted way … xoxo

  6. This post made me think to a great extent, just like it did to everyone else who read it. As always thoughtful words from you Bela.


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