/ Friends, Family /
Hilary and I met, sprang toward each other like electro-magnets. She showed me her necklace, pushed her tits in my face to do so: falsified I soon learned, because we were up the block to my house within that first hour, headed for bed, and seldom got out of bed for the next half dozen years. I loved her, but it was far more an addiction: an addiction we both, aided by her mother, strove to break. Her mother sent her off to Germany for the summer, again, to get her away from me. That was after we’d 99% lived together from 1961 to 1966. (These dates are not fine tuned but are accurate within a digit.) (Hilary was just landed from a plane to Germany when we met. Invited to breakfast by Hilary’s sister, Alison, Alison’s friend, sixteen year old classmate Judy and I, I knocked on Alison’s door, Hilary answered, I hadn’t known there was a Hilary, having met Alison and Judy only a couple of days earlier, Judy and I, buxom-buxom Judy, not coming up for air between that party and that breakfast, Hilary, ignoring Judy, still in the doorway, showed me her necklace. And then, as I say, Hilary and I didn’t come up for air for five years. I went in the door attached to Judy, came out the door attached to Hilary.
(That’s the real Hilary, not the necklace Hilary.)
(So funny: that first night when I met Judy, and Alison (and an apartment full of their sixteen year old peers from Stockbridge), Judy accompanying me up the block so I could demonstrate Wilhelm Furtwangler conducting Beethoven: Beethoven wafting down from the girls Claremont Avenue party: all Columbia housing. I had my hi-fi and a mattress on the floor. Judy and I were on the mattress, like good missionaries, a Beethoven symphony under the good Furtwangler’s command was demonstrating what Beethoven should sound like, and suddenly there was a chill blast on my back and a girl’s shoes, weighted by the girl, in the small of my back. Alan, whose pad I was camped in, had invited Alison to the pad: maybe to hear Furtwangler too: but he’d forgotten his keys, took Ali to the roof, they came down the fire escapt to the window right by my mattress, and Alan, each of us one year out of Columbia that year, gentleman often, bade Ali go first. She did: only to find her foot in the small of the writhing, threashing, ready to cum two-backed beast.)
So Hilary is saying goodbye to me, off to never see me again, subsidized to that end, and she asks me,
May I write to you?
With half a brain I would have said no. But I said, Of course.
Then Hilary, whom I yet observe these fifty-three years later had a non-pareille rear end (though it was her very Cockney calves that smote me deepest), wrote me a series of truly beautiful love letters!
When she came back, we said Hello, boy, did we say Hello.
I’ll try to express below what I loved about Hilary, apart from her rear and her legs, what further it was that I wanted from her, and how I went about negotiating for it, how Hilary’s mother, defeated, reversed her field and banked our wedding, but first I get to the story title: our honeymoon.
In the Army I had my first experience skiing. I went crazy. Hilary’s mother had just bought a cottage in the Catskills. It was a summer cottage, not winterized one bit, but Hilary and I began using it as a ski cottage. My first time and skis was me. The second time, and third, and fourth, was with Hilary. I was so crazy about skiing we visited mountains in four countries on two continents to be around mountains.
Unfortunately this 35mm slide was aged and faded before I was able to scan it. Lake Louise is in the background: or had been before it faded.
So: I’ll blunder on, may relocate some of these details in a future draft.
Hilary and I married in winter. I was in graduate school, I had no business doing anything without securing an income first, say I in hindsight, 2014, but every since college interrupted by childhood and highschool incomes, apart from my college business, very successful, I’ve never had an income: still haven’t. Revolutionaries may come from the rich, but it’s easier for us to come from the poor: not addicted to material good, not seduced by comfort.
I was frustrating by Catskills skiing: ice, bare patch, ice, bare patch. I’d heard that a resort way upstate NY, SnowRidge, by Buffalo, up by Canada, had lots of snow. We were married in the Unitarian Church, Park Avenue. The plan was to drive to the Catskills, camp at the cottage, and the next day press on for SnowRidge. But a series of things were wrong: Hilary’s father brought her to the wedding. They were late. They were drunk. I should have said, Sorry folks, take back your presents, we’ll have one drink together, then go home, Hilary and I to our separate previous homes. This marriage was abad idea, now it’s an abortion, must be annulled.
I didn’t. So I should have said and done something parallel once we got to the cottage and Hilary was sick. What else is new, Hilary was always sick, Hilary was sent to shrinks all her life, they never did any good that I could see (and I got to know one of those shrinks quite well). Hilary and I were sexually united the first hour we knew each other, were rejoined many additional times: except for our honeymoon!
|How do you get a Jewish girl to stop fucking?
Hilary wasn’t Jewish, me neither, she too was confirmed Presbyterian. Like most Presbyterians it didn’t seem to mean much to her. Ours was not a spiritual union. Sometimes, the good times, it was an intellectual union. Sometimes Hilary could be very smart. (Today you can call her Doctor Knatz: not that that was smart.)
Hilary was born in London. It’s her calf, not she, that’s Cockney. Her father, has a Nobel Prize named for him, was Scottish, her mother Austrian. So she comes from London and from Vienna.
We arrive at the first leg of our honeymoon, Tannersville NY, and Hilary claims to be crippled by colitis. What’s that? clogged colon? Hilary had that condition all her life, from way before I met her, but she never mentioned it till the night of our wedding day. So: for the first time ever, I pressured her to fuck. It wasn’t nice for either of us. By that time I was drunk too. In the morning we drove back to NY. Honeymoon Interruptus.
A zillion relevant details can be fit at any time: right now, onward toward honeymoon.
Did I lose myself in my work? I should have. I wish I had. Or, I should have realized: these morons are never going to understand what I say: and I’ll be forty before I ever once say what I mean as well as I should say it: it may be brilliant, it may be true, it may be genius, it may deserve all the prizes, but has it ever once, any part of it, become perfect? I should have annulled the marriage, I should have bailed out of NYU, I should have vowed to revise my intention to teach — that was my friend Phil’s seduction anyway, his fantasy, he got me to buy into it: he should have bailed out of Rutgers too, almost immediately: would any of them ever understand anything he said either? Like expecting the Temple to understand Jesus. Only the stupidest Jews really believe that their rabbis have anything to do with God.
I am daily smited so Americans don’t have to hear me tell the truth about our phony institutions: the state far more false than the church ever was.
So: we married. I’m wasting time, wasting money, wasting Hilary’s mother’s subsidy. Hilary has settled into marriage a bit, may have colitis but isn’t daily complaining about it, isn’t denying me easy access to her femaleness. February, March … She gets cabin fever. Hilary wants to be warm. She wants winter to be over, she wants spring to come. Hilary wants to go to Florida!
Into the VW bug we jump, cross the river: ah, New Jersey. Ahhgh! New Jersey! But then we’re in Delaware, etc.
In Virginia, hoping for some southern cooking, getting it if “southern cooking” means bad cooking, and are treated thanks to the TV to President Lyndon B. Johnson launch his Great Society onto a struggling, spitting, hate-filled Rebel public. Claimed one disgruntled diner,
That’s a fine day when a white man tells white men how to treat n-s!
And onward, south. We’re taking Rte 17, closer to the coast than I 95.
South, south, south. Days are passing. Driving past dusk, in North Carolina probably, something grabs our eye at the side of the road. “What was that?” Hilary wonders aloud. “I don’t know.” I back up the bug. Nothing, no animal, no person. “Oh, I see.” I pull the car up, get out, take a flashlight, come around to Hilary’s passenger side, the west side, facing south. “There.” I shine the light. “Ooo,” Hilary mutters in awe. To the right the road’s shoulder is black, the grass is dead, or in hibernation. Then, a step further, within an inch: the grass is green! Growing, bursting, thriving, burgeoning!
Ah. Hilary was happy, and so was I. She wanted to get warm. And there, proof, south! the earth iteself was warm, able to support life. Spring.
Spring, think of that word: spring.
It was in South Carolina that things got really interesting. We stopped at a motel. Saturday morning. Hilary, coming out of the shower, made fun of me, Paul, the great intellectual, watching the kiddie cartoons on TV. Sure, there’s some great stuff in the cartoons. Don’t listen to the priest, don’t listen to your parents. Don’t listen to Madison Avenue; do check out the cartoons occasionally.
I remember one bit: some creature, a polar bear, something, probably a regular on that show, has a German accent. Shares a pool with a great white shark. The shark jumps to the vertical, the bear and the shark are for the cartoon moment eye to eye. “Vat are you?” asks the bear, “a vise guy?”
A bit further in South Caroolina things got interesting. We’re on 17, luxuriating in the southern air, things swampy, approaching low country. There’s a guy ahead with his thumb out. “Wanna pick up some local color,” we ask each other? I stop. Hilary leans the seat forward, the guy climbs around her into the back. Whew, what BO! a mistake. Local color is what we wanted: here’s color alright, in more than one sense.
We’d hoped the guy would be going a few miles down the road. No, the guy was aiming for Miami! We didn’t expect to get to Miami ourselves, no time, no money. Oh, no. We’ll have to conspire some time alone to discuss how we’ll get rid of him. Neither Hilary nor I these days would have any problem being unlovely, but in 1966 we were shy: polite. Door mats.
It was interesting. Turns out: the guy had been sleeping in haylofts, barns, hitching for three weeks.
It turns out the guy was from the edge of Morningside Park, same as us: except we were from the best neighborhood; he was from the Harlem side of it, the chasm below Morningside Heights.
The guy said he had a cousin somewhere in Miami, hoped, without any appointment, to be welcome.
Now, how do we get rid of this guy before we choke on the stink? He’s probably wanted, by the cops; or, not wanted, at home.
There we are, tooling along in South Carolina We pass a car going north. In minutes a cop car attaches itself to our rear. I watch the speed limit, I’ve heard of southern speed traps all my life, the cop sticks right to our rear.
We come to a Leaving Caroville, Entering Linaville pair of signs. A patrol car is waiting at the boundary. I cross the boundary, the cop peals off and reverses direction, the new cop locks in on our behind.
We want to be rid of this guy, but we won’t put him out of the car and into the hands of the lynchers.
In Georgia I needed to pee, I was thirsty. Stopped at a gas and convenience store, real rickety rural: no pavement, Spanish moss, a disgustingly fat redneck blocking the door. I squeeze past him, find the john, Hilary has found some other way so she’s not groped by fatso. I was busy, I don’t remember what our passenger was doing at these moments. I’m sure he was desperate for a pee. I wonder if our bum had ever been in the south before. Hilary and I hadn’t: she a world traveller all her life, but not in the American south.
I pee. I buy a beer. I take a slug. I squeeze out past the fat redneck, he’s blocking even more of the door for my way out.
Since then I’ve notice aplenty how cultures protect themselves, the territory, their prejudices, their genocides, their gods, their taboos. I’ heard of the south, I’d read Mark Twain. But this was my first experience of it.
The also were trying to intimidate Hilary I caem to digest, but she didn’t have to swim through the folds of the guy’s fat the way I did: forcing him to be forceful if he was going to be forceful. I was showing myself what I’d sort of planned, for years, decades: I can be insanely brave when it comes to a specific issue
There I took care of the bladder, my thirst: then looked around, checked on Hilary. I didn’t want to fight for Hilary while I had to pee for pk. We piled back in the car, headed south.
We crossed from gray swamp Georgia into technicolor used-condominium sales Florida in daylight. Everything was dead on this side of the line, spring hadn’t followed all the way from North Carolina; everything was manicured, mown, fertilized, painted, like a motel, on the Florida side.
We suffered the guy’s continued presence through Jacksonville. At Saint Augustine I declared, “Oh, Hilary, here we are! Saint Augustine. That’s were we wanted to go!” Hilary yanked the seat forward with the door open, pushed the guy out. At this point we didn’t car if gangs of KKK were standing there with a rope, so long as it wasn’t for us. They could have their pickup trucks and their KKK signs on their bumpers and their shotgun racks behind their red neck in the cab: we’d protected this hitcher through South Carolina and through Georgia, Georgia being more aggressively ugly by far than Carolina.
Hilary and I pulled into the first motel we saw. We put on our bathing suits.
Hilary cavorted on the beach. That’s probably the happiest I’ve ever seen her. (I have a snapshot I should scan and mount.)
The Saint Augustinians were cowering on the boardwalk in overcoats. It was Florida to us; it was winter to them: gray blustery.
The sun came out part of the time. We visited a section with Spanish architecture. I’d seen such before, yawn. But I hadn’t! You can’t see it until you see it in this light: at this angle of light. We not at the equator, but we’re far further south than I’d ever been.
Sitting at dinner Hilary and I discussed our drive through Georgia with our poor stinking runaway scarecrow. I was astonished: in Georgia the guys weren’t in white sheets, with pointy heads and black eyeholes; but they did most of them drive pickups, have the guns racked behind their heads, have KKK bumper stickers. How come there were no snipers, picking them off? Simple, because they had picked the snipers off a century or two before!
No: simpler: there never had been such snipers, not more than one. In a world of scarce resources, or abundant resources than dwindle, especially when we shit in the pot we eat from, genocide, slavery, terror are real temptations. So, the racists will easily outnumber, out breed, the Christians. Oh: and notice: the genocides call themselves the Christians! Where mislabeling is the norm, expect murder, and to get away with murder.
What would one of those doofuses do with his white sheet and his shot gun and his lynch rope on Cathedral Parkway and Morningside Park, a block from where our waif had run? Simple: these rednecks wouldn’t go near black Harlem. Or: if they had, they would have gone armed, in numbers: there wouldn’t be any more black Harlem. No, No, pk: that’s so naive. Racists don’t want their viictim race dead, with a very few exceptions; the want them subdued, subjugated, docile, enslaved. Razz the n- from the cradle and you won’t have to lynch many of them later: they’ll cooperate hand your their neck for the rope, stand still while you take your pleasure.
Such stories run throughout K., long have. If I live to find time I’ll add more links than the thousands and thousands that are already here, you’ll easily see the kind of segregation I grew up in, without my schoolmates or our teachers having any idea of the true design of the town. In the south the shacks are in plain sight; in Rockville Centre the ghetto was so well hidden natives didn’t know where it was, didn’t even know there was one: the maids and nannies just magically appeared at the beginning of the work day. One token black would show up in the school: at least until he was sixteen, and could quit.
I’m embarrassed to reflect that in those days, 1960s, despite my racist experiences on Long Island, I still believed, as I had in the 1950s, that Yankees were morally superior to Rebs! Not any more I don’t.
That was my first trip to Florida. My next visit was 1982, initially a business trip; but, I thought of my Comet novel, got finessed into trying to write it, got excessed by my patron, and I crawled back to Florida, the car working sporadically, the tank three-quarters empty, and tried not to freeze to death while starving. The KKK bumper stickers have disappeared. But you’ll still see the pickup with the gun rack behind the head. Guys give you a glimpse of their rifle the way the secretary used to show her leg: selectively. Florida isn’t Georgia, never has been beyond a certain percent. Florida has its crackers but it also has developers in wholesale lots. Florida has a long-standing relationship with North Carolina as Carolina’s summer cottage, trysting place … dad’s week out. Outside of Atlanta Georgia never dreamed of Florida.
Anyway, I’ve lived here since 1983, full time since 1989. I know these people, even while they shun me. These people will take a pay check to stand next to a black in a sitcom, but basically Florida is not James Earl Jones with Harrison Ford as a lap dog. Rosewall paid a hundred or two dollars to the survivors of its mass lynching, the sheriff part of the crime, integral to it, these these people are basically the same racists they’ve always been. And I dance with them, sleep with some of them, have them for “friends” insofar as I have friends. My first dance partner was in her eighties but had a lot of energy. Hell, my girlfriend was in her nineties and had a lot of energy, Catherine. But Phyllis, noted that Obama was a candidate for the White House, suspicious of me even as she serviced me, said, “Are you gonna vote for that n-?”
See? It’s not quite as blatant here in 2014 as it had been in 1989, and never got this far south in 1966, but … the world is what it is.
Oh: and Hilary phoned me on my sixty-fifth birthday. I email her now and then. We’ve civil to each other, feed and water the small part of us that can still be friends.
Friends? We were never friends; but now we are, a little bit.
Should I add: Hilary left in 1974, declining to remain the sole supporter of the Free Learning Exchange. She left me the dishes, she left me her dog, she took our son. With bk her captive she wouldn’t have to discuss his schooling with me: can’t win an argument, ever? don’t have an argument, just impose your decision. Naturally the state backs the family destroyer, not the family: more power to the state.
Such top heavy species have no future, I fear, I believe, I hope.