Read Slut Lullabies Online

Authors: Gina Frangello

Tags: #chicago, #chick lit, #erotica, #gina frangello, #my sisters continent, #other voices, #sex, #slut lullabies, #the nervous breakdown, #womens literature

Slut Lullabies

Slut Lullabies

Gina Frangello

ginafrangello.com

emergencypress.com

Published by Emergency Press

Distributed by Publishers Group West

This book is available in print at all major book retailers.

Copyright © 2010 by Gina Frangello

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

eISBN 978-0-9830226-6-4

Contents

Slut Lullabies

How to Marry A WASP

What You See

Secret Tomas

Trilby in Brasil

Waves

The Marie Antoinette School of Economics

Attila the There

Saving Crystal

Stalking God

Slut Lullabies

I found out my mother was a slut from my best friend, at a bar with my secret Greek boyfriend who was possibly a homosexual and his uptight brother who pretended to know nothing of our affair. I was high on myself that evening. It was a buzz I got rarely, the way somebody who hardly ever drinks gets plowed after one sip. At eighteen, I had progressed from being a girl who never attracted much attention, to a woman who never attracted much attention—so this kind of evening, featuring me as the heroine of an illicit liaison, flanked by single, sexless friends who suspected but could not confirm my “other life,” made me feel like a tingly imposter with all eyes upon me.

I was dancing, I remember that. My best friend, Sera, and my lover, Alex, were dancing with me—not with each other, or alone, but each trying to be my partner. Sera was fiercely jealous of Alex, not because she was either attracted to him or because she didn't like him, but simply because he claimed my attention, and she was not accustomed to having to compete. She was used to being the flower around which all the bees buzzed; used to feeling magnanimous for allowing me to be the Queen Bee fed of her charm, wit, and loyalties on a priority basis, while others had to work hard. Alex's older brother, George, was hot for Sera, but this was of little consequence since he was a prematurely balding, stoop-spined twenty-two-year-old, who worked at their father's dry cleaners fifty hours per week, lived above the store, and had skin the color of flour-coated dough. If you yelled to him, “Hey, dude, where'd you put the beer?” he would reply in a Spock-like voice, “I believe it is in the vehicle.” He was weird, and while marginally sexy in a dark, mortician kind of way, definitely not Sera's type.

Sera and I were fond of bars. Though I was not prone to getting drunk on my own sexual power (even the phrase seems absurd), I was quite known for getting inebriated on just about anything else. We'd had fake IDs since age sixteen, but we'd started drinking when we were twelve, stealing from my mother's bottles and picking up an extra pack of Benson & Hedges when she sent us to the store to buy hers. We were not “fast girls”—Sera was a virgin, and Alex was my first lover—but like many young women who came of age in the mid-1980s, we were heavily into partying, dancing, dressing to the nines even to sit around at McDonald's or study hall, and doing “everything but” with guys we picked up at parties, since dating per se (the way Sera's mother described it at least) did not much exist among our crowd. You made out once, and then you either automatically became boyfriend-girlfriend (which did not necessarily involve dates), or you carefully ignored each other for the remainder of your teenaged life.

“I'll stop the world and melt with you,” Sera sang, shimmying her shoulders on the dance floor. Alex had told me once that he could tell she'd be good in bed because of the way she moved her shoulders when she danced. She was uninhibited, he said; he could tell. Since I was the first girl he'd ever slept with, I was unsure what made him such the connoisseur, but felt both oddly proud of Sera and flattered that he might be trying to make me jealous. “There's nothing you and I won't do!” She pointed at me and threw her arm around me—this song was laden with significance for us as it had played constantly in the discos during our senior trip to the Bahamas a few months prior. But my time in the Bahamas had been spent stealing away from my friends to sneak to Alex's room—he had even sprung for a single so we could be alone—and that Sera didn't know it made me feel treasonous to both of them, no longer giddy with my wriggling, sex-kitten abandon. So I stiffened, drew my arm away.

I don't remember the name of the bar. There were so many in those days. I don't remember what Sera and I were talking about, or how talking was even possible in the midst of her singing and competing with Alex for my dancing attentions (funny since I was not a very good dancer; inhibited, I guess you could say), but somehow we got from point A to point B. Point A being that Sera suspected I was “totally in love with” Alex—something in her tone made me bristle as if wrongly accused—and point B being that she did not want to see me make the same mistakes my mother had. “I don't want to see you turn into your mother,” was what she said, by which I thought she meant
divorced
. I figured she did not want me to marry Alex because she feared he would divorce me due to his family's disapproval. Though I'd never discussed this worry with Sera, I assumed that, as usual, she had read my mind. “Oh, we're just fooling around,” I laughed, trying to sound worldly and laissez-faire to put her off. But Sera's pointed face puckered like I was something she had bitten into that had gone bad. “Emily,” she said, somber amid the music, “that's exactly what I mean.”

My mother was popular. She had me when she was twenty, so when I was ten years old and she was thirty, she still had girlfriends—all single or divorced—who came over and smoked Benson & Hedges at our kitchen table, wearing silk blouses that revealed tan décolletage. They had bouncy, feathered hair like Charlie's Angels, long fingernails, numerous shiny gold chains, and sometimes three rings on one finger. My mother got us a discount on our rent from Tony Guidubaldi, our middle-aged, married landlord, who also had a plumbing business and more money than most of the men in the neighborhood, even the mobsters. She knew all the bartenders; she never had to pay for drinks, her friends teased. I was proud of my mother. My father had been a heroin addict and car thief. I had a dim memory of watching him shoot up, but my mother said he never did that in front of me and that I must be imagining it based on something I saw in a movie. Mom kicked him out when I was three, and she heard he went to jail shortly afterward. Neither of us ever saw him again. My mother was like the women on the popular 1970s sitcoms:
Rhoda, Alice, One Day At A Time
. Divorced, independent, spunky. She made Sera's parents, who were only a decade older than Mom, seem about a hundred years old.

Mom was initially upset about Sera, who, when we first met at ten, was bookish and fat. While we spent most of our time in my bedroom playing elaborate imaginary games that involved things like Charlie's Angels living behind my wall and Marie Osmond secretly being my mother, Mom surveyed with anxiety out the picture window of our ground-floor apartment all the cool girls of the neighborhood, smoking their Newports and wearing their Italian jackets with red stars around their last names, emblazoned on the back. These girls, some only a couple years older than I, looked like mini versions of my mother's friends, and Mom ached for me to be one of them so I could have a good life. She encouraged me to dump Sera, saying I would look fat and nerdy by association (though I was a stick and didn't read much), but it was no use. I loved Sera with an intensity to which both my mother and I were unaccustomed—with the intensity Sera would later inspire in all our high school friends once she was no longer fat or buck-toothed or frizzy-haired, although still bookish, which had somehow become acceptable and even made her look a little like a rebel.

Sera's family had bookshelves with
The Brothers Karamazov
and
House of Mirth
shoved alongside photo books of Paris with titillating titles like
Love on the Left Bank.
Mom kept her Jackie Collins and Harold Robbins novels in a messy pile on her dresser and lent them to her friends when she was finished and never asked for them back. Sera's parents were fat and unpopular, too, but nicer to kids than any of the popular people I knew. They ate ice cream: there were always eight kinds in the house. Mom never had anything in our fridge except her unsweetened sun tea, which guests weren't allowed to touch. When Sera slept over, her parents didn't understand to feed her before she came (it must have been inconceivable to her father, the cook, that his
bella figlia mia
, Serafina, would not be greeted at the door with a meatball or a cannoli), so we had to order pizza, if Mom could afford it that week.

Mom stopped going out when she got breast cancer my sophomore year. And although by then she had come to like Sera well enough, remarking constantly on how thin and cute she had become (as though she had not seen her in four years, instead of almost every day), once she got sick she began disliking Sera for a different reason. Now Sera was
too
popular—dragging me to parties every weekend, when Mom could see full well, judging by the fact that the phone rarely rang for me unless it was Sera, that I was invited by virtue of our friendship and not on my own merit. Having a daughter in high social demand loses a significant amount of cachet when you are dropping weight and in pain and have lost one of your breasts. When you are sick, you want your children to be hopeless nerds who have nothing better to do than sit at home with you. Mom was jealous, though when I told Sera's mother that in passing, she winced like I'd smacked myself in the face and said, “Mothers shouldn't be jealous of their children's lives,” as though Mom wasn't ill and deserving of any special consideration. As though she'd been wanting to say something like that for a long time—even when Mom had firm, perky boobs. After that, I didn't like Sera's parents as well anymore.

My mother assumed Alex was my boyfriend because he took me to fancy places for dinner, like Oprah Winfrey's new restaurant, The Eccentric, and I never had to bring any money. No variation of my “we're just friends” speech could convince her. I'd been working at Alex's family's cleaners since January, and several times Mom had come in and run into his parents. Each time my heart throbbed with horror that she might insinuate something about “our lovesick kids,” accompanied by a lewd wink or some other horrible sign. Then Alex's father would fire me, and I wasn't entirely certain that if I didn't see Alex at work every day, our relationship would long survive. (Albeit we were both beginning classes at UIC in less than a month, but all Alex's Greek friends would be there, too, opting to stay close to their clan. I obsessed: what excuse would we make to even
associate
?) But each time Mom dropped by, she was quiet, almost unrecognizably demure. I'd taken my job to supplement her losses when she started taking so much time off work. Maybe she felt shamed, like Alex's parents were giving her charity. Mom was on disability now; I made more money at the cleaners than she did off her checks.

I fell in love with Alex right away. I'd noticed him even before, in the halls at school, but he hung out with the Greek people speaking Greek, and didn't listen to the Violent Femmes or wear black vintage clothing or swallow speed between classes and drink beer out of McDonald's Coke cups. The Greeks were as foreign to us as the Amish—though once I knew them, I realized they only listened to dance music instead of alternative, wore shiny, tight clothing Sera's crowd considered tacky, and drank mixed drinks at sponsored Greek dances without needing fake IDs. Alex had no qualms about his Americanized Italian girl-employee hanging around his Greek friends, but we had to hide our romance in case they told his father. We never held hands in public or made out by our lockers like some couples. To compensate for the lack of visible drama, I wrote him long, moony letters in class declaring my undying devotion and calling us “star-crossed lovers the world aims to keep apart.” When he visited Greece after graduation, I sent him a bottle of Chicago rain, and later, my dishwater-brown ponytail wrapped in a blue ribbon when I got my hair bobbed to surprise him. Alex acted pleased by my new hairdo, but George said the ponytail was creepy like
Fatal Attraction
and had scared his aunts, who apparently had no qualms about opening their seventeen-year-old nephew's mail.

This had been going on for six months.

You may be wondering what kind of a person Sera was, that she would tell me, her best friend, that my cancer-ridden mother was a slut. You may be assuming that she said it in anger, out of jealousy that she did not have a boyfriend, that she was still a virgin, that I was leaving her behind. And on some level, I guess all of these deductions would be true. But on a more primal level, Sera's motivation had little to do with guys or even teen-chick competition. She purposely upset me so that she could comfort me. She did it because that was what she knew how to do—was what she
did
—and, in retrospect, was why so many people loved her. She was the one who would point out that your boyfriend was probably cheating on you, and then take your phone calls four times a night and listen to you cry without ever tiring of your idiocy. She would play matchmaker between stocky, desperate girls and their hot, football-player crushes, and when things went wrong and the girls got burned, Sera would pick up the pieces. Sera would disguise her voice and call your mother pretending to be a proper adult for whose child you babysat, in an earnest attempt to enable you to go out on Saturday night, and then when the plot was ultimately foiled, she would scheme with you about how to break out of your house and concur that your mother was a bitch prison warden. She would get you high and then nurse you through a bad trip. Sera was everybody's mother, but a Mephistopheles of a mother, honing in on and somehow catering to your darker side and secret fears or desires.

Other books

Sticks & Scones by Diane Mott Davidson
Abiogenesis by Kaitlyn O'Connor
Soul Hostage by Littorno, Jeffrey
In Bed With the Badge by Marie Ferrarella
Skin Deep by Marissa Doyle
Whispers on the Ice by Moynihan, Elizabeth
Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck
Beside a Narrow Stream by Faith Martin
Rivers of Gold by Adam Dunn


readsbookonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2021