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Glamour, Texas-Style
By Dawn DeKeyser

I was a dark and angry child because of this. I longed for a mother who was sharp, maybe Jewish, wild-eyed with intellectual rage. This mythical mother-goddess would hold salon evenings where Philip Roth would feel her up in the kitchen when no one was looking and Saul Bellow would fall asleep listening to Kerouac scat before shooting up. Joyce Carol Oates would bring brownies and they would all roll up their sleeves and talk
Derridian / post-modernism while I knelt by my mother, Gloria Steinem, as she absent-mindedly braided my hair. I wanted Emma Goldman or the wan and dispirited Joan Didion. I wanted Ayn Rand, a mother who'd teach me about Objectivism then slap me hard when I forgot to brush my teeth.

As these girlhood dreams raced through my head, Mom would say, "You're such a Capricorn. Lighten up!" She knew I was a fall, not a spring, that corals and mauves would bring out my complexion. Then she'd add that Gloria Steinem was no lady. Anyone who left the house without pantyhose and a bra was asking for it. "You know who's a lady? Lady Bird Johnson," she'd say with the intensity of a thousand trapped, anorgasmic, chain-smoking housewives. Women who married young and rashly, only to find themselves embittered by the ripe age of 32. It was with this confused, unspoken anger that she'd once again come at us with an eyelash curler.

My older sister did not protest but later in life she joined the Southern Baptists, moved to Tokyo, became a missionary and made it her life's work to tell the Japanese that Shintoism - the religion their very culture and country was founded on -- was wrong and that Christ could kick their gods' ass. All of their gods.

My younger sister hid behind coke-bottle glasses and a show cat named Honey. They traveled from Waco to Houston to Plano, and she would brush that calico to within an inch of its life, the two winning best of show year after year after kitty-cat-filled year. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and became an actress, choosing a catastrophic career, I think out of loyalty to our mom.

And me, I'm good. I've tried therapy (12 years, give or take three), and more therapy (Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Xanax) and things are okay (single working mother in El Segundo). I've been on a journey that's taken me from villas in Tuscany to VIP clubs in London, private jets and 60-foot yachts to the backlot at Warner Brothers. But those were just prize levels to a bigger dream that still eludes. There are similarities between my mother and me. She is terrible with money. I am terrible with men. We have trouble seeing the true worth of these things, so we hungrily consume, then scramble for more. I'm trying to change and these days I've even toned down that slutty look that worked so well for me as a ten year old.

So. Emma. Sometimes blonde, sometimes a redhead -- always unhinged and wickedly beautiful - would load us up and head off to her next party. We'd careen down the highway at 80 mph, no seatbelts, no airbags, just my sisters and I pinned down by a thick sediment of lady makeup and we'd sing to John Denver while gripping the arm rests of the Fairlane in fear for our lives, choking on the fumes of White Hawaiian perfume and cigarettes. There was never a pink Cadillac. Never a poodle.

My mother was often downright foolish. But holy shit, she was fun. And she was there for us, taking us along for the ride and that beats Tennyson any day. I am grateful for the adventures because the best ones always begin with a complete and utter lack of good judgment.

... I wonder if my ex-boyfriend feels like staying over tonight.

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