Wednesday, November 07, 2007

wilbur larch knows how to cheat fate

i dig john irving. from chap10 of The Cider House Rules:

“When an orphan is depressed,” wrote Wilbur Larch, “he is attracted to telling lies. A lie is at least a vigorous enterprise, it keeps you on your toes by making you suddenly responsible for what happens because of it. You must be alert to lie, and stay alert to keep your lie a secret. Orphans are not the masters of their fates; they are the last to believe you if you tell them that other people are also not in charge of theirs."

“When you lie, it makes you feel in charge of your life. Telling lies is very seductive to orphans. I know,” Dr. Larch wrote. “I know because I tell them, too. I love to lie. When you lie, you feel as if you have cheated fate – your own, and everybody else's.”

betsy wasn't an orphan, as far as i knew, but boy could she pitch some whoppers. after captain kirk ran away on halloween, betsy made up a story about one of teddy's burnout friends, a party around a bonfire, a nosy neighbor with a german shepherd on a leash that broke, and Animal Control; and she sold the lie to her mother. i guess she couldn't tell the truth because she thought she would get in trouble for taking captain kirk out trick-or-treating with us. betsy's mother was real weird about that guinea pig. when betsy would get home from school her mother would be in the living room rocking chair watching General Hospital with captain kirk in her lap, stroking him and rocking back & forth.

she won't GIVE him to me – betsy would complain – nan gave him to ME for MY birthday and if i ask for him back she yells at me and tells me i should be worrying about my grades and not a guinea pig. i can do my homework AND talk to captain kirk. he's MINE. and she's a BITCH. i would watch wide-eyed as she fought back the tears and frustration.

then she started bringing captain kirk to my place and to her sessions and swim meets and even school that one time. she got away with it because her dad stuck up for her. mr billings was great. he looked like one of the hardy boys, not shawn cassidy, the other one. we got along great. he called me “bean” and always cheered for me at swim meets even when i came in last. i wanted a dad like mr billings. once when i went to get betsy he was arguing with betsy's mother because betsy had taken captain kirk with her to her session.

- let her have him, sylvie. my mother gave him to her for a reason. do you want to go against doctor's orders?
- oh, and i can't have my own reasons? is that what you're saying? that i don't need my own tactile whatever-he-called-it? i should just play along like everything is fine, that's what you want isn't it.
his voice rumbled low and from the hallway it was hard to make out.
- just what are you saying, sylvie.
in the long silence i could hear the metronome creak of the rocking chair.
- oh this is all your fault. all your fault. your fault.
- you've had a hard day, syl. i'll make you a cup of tea.
when he rounded the corner and saw me his face brightened.
- hey, bean - he smiled and ruffled my hair - betsy's not home yet, but you can help me grade calculus exams while you wait. i wrinkled my nose. - no? okay. how about we make some tea for mrs billings. she had a hard day and she's tired.

i didn't see what was so hard about sitting in the apartment all day watching television with a guinea pig, but sometimes grownups didn't make very much sense. i felt weird about being in that apartment with mrs billings rocking her way into port charles, so i went back home and waited for betsy and captain kirk but they never came.


fatmammycat said...

Eeep. Uncomfortable grown up stuff is never pleasant for children. Even the air feels different when you stumble upon rowing grown ups, regardless of whether the row was one second or two hours before.
Have you read Widow for one Year? I love that book.

finn said...

i did enjoy Widow. i don't stop in the middle of traffic intersections anymore.

john irving's novels are like dickens' don't you think? they require signif commitment and faith to get through the first 20pgs (A Prayer for Owen Meany may have been the 1 exception), but once you make that commitment you're in big colorful world you never want to leave.

christ i'm fucking tired. i woke up at 1:30 with betsy in my head and she would not shut up.

fatmammycat said...

Oh gotcha, but worth it. I love books that suck you in. I read Notes on a Scandal a while back and was totally transfixed and I read a book in one sitting the day before yesterday ( it's been so long since I've done that) called Julius Winsome. You'd love it. It's about a man who lives alone in a cabin in the woods with nothing but his beloved dog Hobbes and thousands of books for company. Terrific stuff.


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