Clinton St. Quarterly Vol. 10 No. 2 Summer 1988

J A rtist Carl Chaplin just returned from a Cairo showing of his ART fA N U K O paintings of nuclear explosions over the world’s major cities. There he unveiled Spending Eternity in Cairo and scenes of firestorms over Moscow. Washington D.C., Tokyo and even his own home, Vancouver B.C. He also took along his most controversial canvas to date, on loan from the R.B. Torrie collection, Wishing on a Star in Fantasyland. Continued on Page 5 -■ £

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S T A F F Editor David Milholland Editor at Large Lenny Dee Associate Editors Jim Blashfield, Paul Loeb Editorial Assistant Lee Emmett Washington State Coordinator Judy Hines Bevis Art Director I David Milholland Designer Candace Bieneman Guest Designer A i Contributing Artists Peter Bagge, Carl Chaplin, C. T. Chew, Jessica Dodge, Michael ' Dougan, Barbara Sekerka, Vicki Shuck, Marly Stone, Steve Willis Contributing Photographers Carl Chaplin, C. T. Chew, Peter Rowlands, Marly Stone, Account Representatives—Oregon Rhonda Kennedy, Lisa Miller, Ellen Harmon Account Representative— Washington Philip Minehan Ad Production Rhonda Kennedy, Robert Williamson Typesetting Harrison Typesetting, Inc., Lee Emmett, Marmilmar, Arrow Typesetting, Qualitype Camerawork Craftsman Lithoplate, Inc. Cover Separations Portland Prep Center, Inc. Printing Tualatin-Yamhill Press Thanks Adelsheim Vineyards, Judy & Stew Albert, Robert Anderson, Linda Ballantine, Walt Curtis, Dru Duniway, Margaret Dunne, Dennis 8 Eichhorn, Molly Hershey, Hood River Brewing, Anne Hughes Coffee Room, Bob Jeniker, Craig Karp, John Laursen, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Deborah Levin, Peggy Lindquist, Zak Margolis, Theresa Marquez, Melissa Marsland, Doug Milholland, Kevin Mulligan, Larry Needham, Norman Solomon, Northwest Film & Video Center, Missy Stewart, Sandy Wallsmith, John Wanberg, The Clinton 500 Raquel—Sharon Doubiago Explore the politics of beauty. Meet The Fairest of the Fair—Raquel before fame str ikes . A worthy successor to Sharon’s award-winning “SON-II.” The Virgin Goddess and The Black Potatoes—Linda Craven I K. A reflection on the varieties of feminine experience. Trying to understand—why she is like she is—before we judge. ___ -feNDUKE A I IM American Lifestyles—Peter Bagge, Michael DougtfFi and Steve Willis | A half-cure for those summertime blues. Praise the Lord and duck for cover. A featurette from Seattle Star. Rituals of Curry and other Exotic Concoctions— Marilyn Stabtein SStHlHUBs. Life in the slow lane—learning the essence of simmer, mango lassis, ganja balls, dung fires and teeth- rattling sweets. Dear Ms. Lonelihearts— Jonathan Lowe A satire from surplus parts. Keeping up with Floyd Cramer, figuring out the wife and getting to Cuba Art Nuko and The Bunker—Arthur Dabney ’ (Not quite) enough firewood for a nuclear winter. Will we reach critical mass before the hour comes ‘round? : v ■ a S Fish From Your WindowJane Carlsen I ’m hooked. Her l ine ’s in the water. Where do we sink the memories? Trifling with the Juggernaut—Joe Sackett Our author deciphers his past and responds to his present—’’Nukes have been in my face since the day I was born." Spending Eternity in Egypt—Carl Chaplin On th e ro ad w ith Dr. A r t N u k o . . . where was the U.S. Ambassador? ----------------------------------------------------- 9 : The Clinton St. Quarterly is published in S j Oregon, Washington and National edi- I ! tions by CSO—A Project of Out of the 5 I Ashes Press. Oregon address: P.O. Box I i 3588 , Po rtland , OR 97208 —(503) I 222-6039. Washington address: 1520 j J Western Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101— ! j (206) 682-2404 . Unless otherw ise i j noted, all contents copyright 1988 ’ ’ Clinton St. Quarterly. r o w m i - . A - i J Artist Carl Chaplin just returned from a Cairo showing of his ART NUKO paintings of nuclear explosions over the world’s major cities. There he unveiled Spending Eternity in Cairo and scenes of firestorms over Moscow, Washington D.C., Tokyo and even his own home, Vancouver B.C. He also took along his most controversial canvas to date, on loan from the R.B. Torrie collection, Wishing on a Star in Fantasyland. Not long ago, the Disney folk complained, and asked Carl to destroy the remainder of the 14,000 postcards he’d been selling of the image. The “ Mickey Megamouse’’ painting was reproduced and Chaplin ’s work was written up in such Canadian mass circulation papers as The Province and The Globe and Mail. It’s rare that this issue, the literal potential for destruction of our planet, is so provocatively brought forth. Both news and mail travel very slowly between our neighbor nations. We learned of the ART NUKO series and controversy only late this spring. Our own fantasyland, Fortress America, could all too easily go up in a puff of smoke, right before our eyes. Watching the world on TV, i t ’s seductive to feel good because, in one of the great whitewashes in history, our Megaton president, succumbing to Nancy’s machinations and decades of world pressure for peace, is suddenly portrayed as a peacemaker for his summit treaty proposals. Only four years ago Reagan used the L.A. Summer Olympics to decry the “ Evil Empire” and buttress his fee l-good—’ ’America ’s Back” — election victory. We’ re now facing Round Three: a plebiscite pitting his designated successor, ex-CIA head Geo. Bush. vs. Gov. Dukakis and his Lone Star running mate Sen. Bentsen. Candidates such as Dr. Leonora Fulani, running a brave bu t l ig h t ly funded campa ign , should also be considered. Dukakis has much to recommend him. His clear, consistent position on Central America has included involvement in a suit to prevent Mass- achussetts Nat. Guard troops from being sent to “ train” in Honduras. His stand on South Africa is consistent with that of Jesse Jackson. Successful employment programs in his home state linked up the private sector with government to end a long-term recession there. He is what he’s being labeled: a liberal from a liberal state. Unfortunately, the Mass, recovery cannot be realistically separated from the state’s huge number of computer and software firms— Defense contractors that grew dramatically during the early Reagan military buildup. What’s still missing from the Dukakis campaign is a program for building past our nuclear arsenal to create a strong, economically viable nation which is not the world’s chief arms supplier and dreadnought. Unleashing the innovative energy of this nation for peace, with liberty and justice for all, has surely got to be the challenge of the end of the century. We should not imagine that a strictly liberal/radical slate can beat a Republican candidate bankrolled by big business. Neither should we endorse or elect busi- ness-as-usual candidates at this critical juncture for our nation. We need to share our hopes and concerns with these candidates, with our children and with one another. Artist Chaplin provides a fitting ending: “ . . . Free us this day from our daily apathy, but forgive not our dread. . . . Sharpen our satire with rage, for art is the power to tell the story that saves the world, forever and ever. Am en , a w om en , apeople.” Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1988 5

I By Sharon Doubiago Photo Illustrations by Marly Stone We move to Ramona the first of April, three weeks before my thirteenth birthday. On Friday night I stay with Sarah. Her twelfth birthday. Our1 last night together. I’m full of anguished love for her. I don’t want to move. She is so beautiful. Her long legs, her thick blonde hair, the depth of her being I fall into. She has pubic hair, the first person my age I know of, other than myself. In the sixth grade she was the smartest kid in the school. I was second smartest. In the seventh we entered enormous Rancho Los Amigos Junior High School and became lost from each other. This night, we come back together, renew the bonds of our souls. We vow to always know each other. We still do. On Monday afternoon my brother, sister and I are enrolled in the fourth, sixth and seventh grade classes of the Ramona schools. Los Amigos Junior High in the Los Angeles School District had three thousand kids, Ramona Junior High has one hundred. Do they wear lipstick here in the seventh grade? Will they get the wrong idea because I do? I don’t dare go without it now, I’m so plain. The principal, Mr. Nordahl, looks across his glasses from Bridgit to me and says,’’Good!” His eyes fall to my breasts, the same size as my mothers. They’ve been growing since I was nine. “You, my dear, will be our Miss Ramona when you are sixteen.” “And Bridgit, I see that you are the brain of the two.” He looks up from her records. She is eleven, two years younger than I, but only a year behind in school, because in the second grade her I.Q. registered 182. She doesn’t have breasts yet. “We can use you, too.” Then he focuses on my little brother. “ I see, Jason, that you have neither brains nor beauty.” He makes a funny sound with his tongue. “What’s a fellow gonna do with two older sisters like these.” We leave Jason in the fourth grade, the teacher looking like the witch who ate the little brother. “Can’t read? Jason, you could be with me for years.” Then the four of us follow the principal through the dust of the playground over the dry arroyo that separates the elementary school from the row of four classrooms that constitutes Ramona Junior High School. At the end of this day, on the bus ride home to Olive Hill, I will hear how last week a seventh grader raped a first grader in this arroyo. “ I hope Jason will be okay,” Mama frets. This annoys Daddy and the principal. I’m afraid, my body too large around us. Mr. Nordahl and our parents disappear into Mr. Silverman’s sixth grade class, leaving me and Bridgit in the open corridor looking out on the desert. We will learn later that Mr. Silverman is the smartest man in Ramona. Also the cruelest and most evil. His greatest disgust is dumb kids. He persecutes them. He’s Russian and that’s probably why he’s hated. Now I see that he may have been Jewish, but that immense reality was something I didn’t encounter until I was an adult so I can’t say for sure. “ In this school,” Bridgit suddenly announces, her voice echoing down the hall, “ I am not going to be smart. I am going to be average. From now on, I will get Cs.” I looked at my sister alarmed. I die in the humiliation, in the prison of my limitations. My mind seems capable of learning anything, but my ability to move myself into the world is so blocked. “ Why?" “ Because, ” she says very firmly. “ Boys don’t like smart girls.” Suddenly, Mr. Silverman appears at the door. The longest eyebrows I’ve ever seen. At least two inches, shining silver in the sunlight as if coated with Vaseline, like I use to thicken my eyelashes. They stick straight out from his forehead, shading deepset, gleaming, silver eyes. “Welcome, Bridgit.” He shakes her hand as if she’s a man. “ I see here from your records that you are a brilliant student. My class is most fortunate to have such a student come along at this time. Welcome to Ramona Sixth Grade.” And the door slams, taking my little sister, newly embarked on the road to averagedom, enveloped in the brilliant Mr. Silverman’s arms, with it. My sister and I usually have the same perceptions of the world but I don’t understand her declaration that boys don’t like smart girls. All my life I will think they only like perfect girls. The most beautiful, the smartest, the most graceful, the kindest. The principal and my parents leave me at the door of the seventh grade. So I walk in. All eyes turn. Three or four whistles crack the air, wolf whistles, cat calls, the boys out of their seats, leaping from their desks. Is she stacked! The teacher, Mrs. Williams, is meek, bored, uninterested, ill or something. I keep hearing an obscenity I’ve only heard hissed from Peeping Toms in LA, or read on the walls at the Paramount. Fuck. One boy, tallerthan me, is balanced on one hand, swinging around on the top of his desk, screeching whee-wh'ee-whee'. Another is on top of Mrs. Williams’s desk chanting Blondie! Blondie! Blondie! I stare at the linoleum in front of me while Mrs. Williams announces my name over the din. The white dark-stained thing lying at my feet is a used Kotex. She leads me to the desk next to the monkey boy, who is now moving an unpeeled banana back and forth in his mouth singing my favorite song, Yes, I ’m the Great Pretender. The girls stare at me, still and sullen. One growls as I walk by her. After I sit down a condom blown up like a balloon shoots across the room, hits me in the face, then lands on my desk, deflated, saliva, snot or something spilling out of it. Everyone roars with laughter. “ It’s a rubber,” the fat girl in front of me whispers. There's a motherly tone in her voice. She tells me not to worry. “ It’s just a joke.” When the bell rings for recess she says “Stick with me. I’ ll protect you.” In those last cruelest months of seventh grade, Judy is my only friend. Everyone in town says I will be Miss Ramona when I’m sixteen. “You’ re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen,” the grocer says the first time I shop in his store. Wherever I go someone says this. I want to hide. They want something from me. I would give it if I could, but when they look closely they see the truth. Then I’m just a big disappointment. Worse than that because I’ve aroused their hopes. “SmileV’ they beg. “You’ re too serious,” they complain. It’s hard. Nobody can see their own face. You can’t see yourself walking down the street Bridgit and I attend the Miss Ramona Beauty Pageant held in Ramona Theatre, which is owned by a man named Hugh Hefner. Everyone knows his name because he has just launched a new girly magazine, Playboy, from Ramona’s sister theatre in Escondido, eighteen miles down the mountain. Now he’s moved back to Chicago and the Ramona Theatre is in disrepair. The glamorous high school girls parade in bathing suits across the stage beneath the screen, which in the glaring spotlight is torn, has coke and beer stains. We eat popcorn and agree on the girl we think the most beautiful. But she doesn’t even place. The winner is Pat Dawson. In our few weeks in Ramona we already know about her. She’s the school whore. Judy explains, “Out-of-town judges don’t know reputations or real personalities.” It’s our first experience with a small-town scandal. All Pat’s term the whole town chokes and gags about the whore Miss Ramona. My mother, however, uses Pat as one of her examples in her on-going lectures about the great and secret power, the power of positive thinking. We are all in the car. Jason who has just failed fourth grade sitting between me and Bridgit, driving around the hills, exploring, as we always do on Sundays. Mama and Daddy are telling us again. “Jason could learn to read if he put his mind to it.” “Of course Pat’s not beautiful. Anyone can see that.” We all laugh with Daddy. “ But for that night, for the purpose of winning the Miss Ramona contest, she thought herself beautiful. And so she won.” 6 Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1988

The winners of all the small-town contests in San Diego County proceed to the big contest, the Miss Fairest of the Fair Contest at the Del Mar Fair. The winner of this contest then enters the Miss California Contest. Because I’m told that this contest is my destiny and that if I think myself beautiful enough, if I work hard enough for the next three years I will be Miss California and then Miss America and then Miss Universe, I follow the contests in the paper. I know it is true, as my mother says, all I need is to want it badly enough. It doesn’t matter that I’m really ugly. It is June, my first in Ramona, in the country. The temperature hovers in the mid-80s. Most days are overcast, breaths of steam rising off the giant boulders. I descend the path through the brush, down on the granite slabs that cover half the hill, down to Olive Road, the one olive tree shaking insecurely like a grey old man on a cane in the sunset. The smell of the brush and the granite is pungent, wild. As the sun goes down, the full moon rises. / hate Ramona. I long for asphalt, traffic lights, city kids. My parents took me from my birthplace; they took me from Sarah. They say over and over it was too dangerous. They were afraid of the Friday marijuana raids on the lockers at Los Amigos. They were afraid when Linda Allen had a baby at twelve. I keep trying to tell them it’s wilder in Ramona, the boys in my class are already alcoholics, they think only of sex. I can’t convince them. My parents think people in the country are innocent. The rocks, as I walk down in the twilight to get the evening paper, breathe and twist and discover me. When they do this I lose who I am, I lose my hatred of Ramona to a beauty that’s turned around from all I’m being told is beautiful. The smell of the land is stark like courage. I don’t want to be Miss Ramona. I want to be this road I’m walking now, this sudden drop from Olive, down past Giant’s Grave, the mound-shaped hill Mama always says she could make disappear if she had as much faith as a grain of mustard seed, if you have faith the mountain shall be removed, nothing shall be impossible, and then she’d have a view of town. Down around the tight snake loops curling the spilled granite, past Mrs. Henderson’s, a woman who lives alone in the grove of pepper trees. Everyone in town says I w i l l be Miss Ramona when I’m s ix teen . “Y ou ’re the most beau tifu l g irl I’ve ever seen .” Wherever I go someone says this. They w an t something from me. I wou ld g ive i t i f I could, bu t when they look c lose ly th ey see the tru th . Then I’m ju s t a big disappoin tmen t. Worse than tha t because I’ve aroused the ir hopes. Why are old women who live alone frightening? I’m bored. I know so much more than anyone wants me to know but there's nothing to do with my knowledge. The brush, not so thick as on the hill but more fierce, seems in need of me, a need which as I pass is less and less. At the paved crossroads, a mile from the house, I get the newspaper from the mailbox. MISS LA JOLLA WINS MISS FAIREST OF THE FAIR! Her photograph is in the left-hand corner of the front page of the San Diego Tribune. She is at the center of her royal court, a dark girl in a white ruffle gown. Her princesses surround her. Pat is not one of them. Her name is Raquel Tejada. She is seventeen and a senior at La Jolla High School. I start the climb back in the hot twilight. Venus, the one planet I know, is setting; the full moon, though it is still not dark, is rising behind my shoulder, behind Ramona, the granite woman lying as the mountain horizon who will rise again it is said, and with her, the Indians, whose land this is. Behind her, Mexico, always purple, when visible. And Raquel. Raquel Tejada. The Queen. I’ve been studying the photographs of beauty queens but they keep meshing into the same woman. This photograph is different. A white rose behind her ear, her long dark curly hair. I wonder who she really is. Is she like Pat? Or is she a real queen? The photograph pulls me like the brush pulls me. I’m thirteen, I’m awakening in the deepest part of myself to the world, what it wants, what it thinks, brush, soil, rocks, sky, people, society, stars. I’m trying to understand the politics of beauty, how it works, the steps: from here you must go there to be acclaimed the Fairest. The path is open to me if I want to take it, my mother's instructions in the power of positive thinking is a great advantage, but I’m in excruciating pain for my ugliness, my ugliness greater than my faith—ugly, ugly as an old witch. Sometimes I catch myself in the bathroom mirror and I am beautiful, like the body of Marilyn Monroe on the calendar that hung over Daddy’s workbench in the garage in Los Angeles. Sometimes I catch myself in the bathroom mirror, climbing out of the tub, and I am an ugly old woman, uglier than Snow White’s cruel step mother. At school I read The National Geographic. The Chinese bind women’s feet, the Ubangis stretch their lips, the West Africans stretch their necks, the Incas their earlobes. Some people make scars on their bodies to be beautiful, and tattoos, and some people think fat is beautiful. One day you wear a flannel shirt and they don’t see you. You can stand a long time in the grocery line before the grocer waits on you. The next day you walk in wearing the clothes you’ve bought from your first job, your new lipstick, or you can just laugh in your old flannel in such a way that he will be rude to the middle-aged man in front of you, or anyone, your mother, the school principal. It is so clearly a game, one all people in their choice of being ugly, beautiful or in between, must know. Then there’s my mother, so beautiful. She just is, herself, what she is; no exaggeration, no effort to exist outside herself. Is there real beauty, I keep wondering, apart from what we learn? Is there real ugliness? In the moonlight Raquel Tejada’s features are hardly visible. It’s not her beauty I’m fascinated by. There’s something in the photograph itself. When I get back to the house I study the picture in the dining room light. Daddy builds a redwood drive-in stand. He designs and constructs it himself. Everyone in Ramona says we’ re fools, we’ ll never succeed. But we have positive thinking, we open on a day in August, Ramona’s Heavenly Hamburgers. Nineteen cents. We’re an immediate success! The drive- in, on the south end of town within a grove of old eucalyptus trees, instantly becomes the teenage hangout, the tourist stop. Families drive up from San Diego on a Sunday to see the mountains, in fall the colors, in winter the snow, in spring the wild flowers. I don’t know why they come in summer, in the unbearable heat. But they do. The first day. I’m nervous, self-conscious. What if we are fools, no one comes by? The Pepsi man is installing the tanks. He keeps staring up from the floor at me. My father is sulking behind him, scraping down the mewgrill. I’m wearing my new white waitress uniform, my red- checkered apron. The Pepsi man tells me of his son. He’s 26, he’s already a regional manager for Pepsi in San Diego. "I think you’d be perfect for him. Would it be all right if I give him your phone number?” Daddy explodes. “She’s only thirteen years old, man!” It’s always like this. Working at the drive-in, I come in contact with all sorts of men, not just the junior high boys who make me so uncomfortable. Even when we are much older these particular boys make me nervous. They come to the window and sneer, “What’s so hot about her?" Iswim every day between seventh and eighth grades in the small public plunge in Ramona Park. When I climb out of the water to dive there is always a great uproar from the boys so I learn to stay in the water. Just as I did when I was five I pee right in it. Sometimes older guys building the house across the street stand outside the chain-link fence staring that strange way at me, calling for me to get out of the water. Walking down the hill after swimming all day, through the oleanders and eucalyptus they are hiding in the bushes with their pants down. Playing with their stiff penises, which so fascinate them. “ Hey, Blondie, look at this!” Once, inside the dark, damp ladies bathroom in the center of the park, a sweaty shirtless man grabs me. I get away and never go in that place again, no matter how badly I have to pee. I will feel his wet shoulders in my nightmares forever. Sometimes I enjoy the attention. I study myself in the mirror of the dressing room. I can see it is true, I have a beautiful body. Sometimes I want men to see it. It seems to make them happy. Sometimes, deep inside, my body is thrilled to be walking by them. My body makes me happy. Toward the end of summer Ramon is often in the pool. Our legs touch, then wrap around each others’ . We slip below the surface. We sink beneath their jeers, Are you blind, Blondie, can’t you see he’s Indian? He kisses me with his warm, wet tongue. There is nothing like the compulsion I feel toward him beneath the water. Only if I look at him in a certain way do I see he’s an Indian and then I love him even more. In him I know beauty no one has told me of. When you are told you are beautiful, you know that you are ugly. Women considered beautiful are always the most insecure. You are valued as an object but you know only too well the ways you are flesh and blood and mind and spirit, the ways you cannot satiate a lonely, materialistic world. My shoulders slump. Everyday Mama says, “ Hold your shoulders up, honey. What are you ashamed of? You have beautiful breasts.” Orlon sweaters and straight skirts are the fashionable clothes. To compensate for my bad posture, which I can’t seem to help, and to not disappoint those who seem to gain so much pleasure from my tits, I stick them out when I wear one, when they yell “ sweater girl." By the end of the day I’m exhausted, the strain on my diaphragm. I can’t breathe. So I wear something unrevealing for a week. “ Hold you shoulders up!" everyone yells. “You are 8 Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1988

I’ w m o r t k ry s i . n T g h t e o p u a n t d h e i r s s o ta p n e d n t t h o e m p e o i l f i t I i c w s a o n f t b t e o a t u a t k y e , h i t o , w m i y t m o th e r ’s in s t ru c t io n s in th e pow er of po s it iv e th in k in g is a g re a t adv an tag e , b u t I ’m in ex c ru c ia t in g p a in for my ug liness , my ug lin e ss g re a te r th a n my f a i th—ugly, ugly as an old w itch . ■ beautiful, can’t you see that?” But the opposite is always the truth. Ramon has to talk to me. “ It’s important.” We hide in the dusty arroyo where the seventh grader raped the first grader. I’mwearing my baby blue sweater I worked weeks at the drive-in for. “ It’s hard to tell you this,” he says, looking down the rocky cut where it goes under the road. “ Let’s go down there.” We can hear the cars rumble over us. I’m afraid of the rattlesnakes. But his hands are on my breasts, his penis against me. At first I resist. At night I pray to resist. I know this is wrong. But then the tide starts deep and back inside, wildly building waves that make life worth all the pain, that have to crash on the shore. Even so I don’t let Ramon enter me. He’s helping me to hook my bra when he says, “ It’s Eddie who says I have to tell you this. For your own good.” He sighs, then angrily grabs me by the shoulders. "Why, when you wear sweaters, do you stick your tits out so far? Don’t you know everyone laughs at you? The guys can’t stand you for it. They say you’ re cheap, teasing them.” I want to die, lie down in the gutter, let the rattlesnakes have me. I can’t even let Ramon know, my pride is so devastated, I have to hang onto something. The waves of shame, of public humiliation wash through me for months. I will never wear a sweater again. Though they are my best clothes, though they are the wonderful fashion. addy teaches me to drive. Swimming, learning to drive. I can’t get a license until I’m sixteen, but because they’ re always working at the drive-in they let me take the car home and back for errands. As long as I take the back roads. I love being in the car alone. Now the waves are of freedom, of exploration. I take two-wheel-rutted dirt paths off the back roads, back into the hills among the giant boulders, onto the reservations, into places of Ramona I never knew before, rock ‘n’ roll blaring from San Diego. I come to flash streams running right across the road. I plunge in and pull out the other side. When the water stops me, my parents’ Ford stuck midstream, I wade out and walk home all night in the dark. I’m afraid but too curious about the land, the canyons and valleys, the mountains and rocks and dams. The night. I feel the coyotes, the mountain lions, the jack rabbits watching me. I’m afraid of the oak trees because tarantulas nest under them. But then when I touch the gnarly trunk I know every person who has passed here through all time. Sometimes I know I am the first to place her foot on this rock. When I finally get home Daddy screams and screams. He grounds me for weeks. o graduate from eighth grade in California, to get into high school, every student must pass a history test with emphasis on the Constitution of the United States. I’m terrified of another public humiliation. For the whole year I study. I buy No- Doz pills and stay up nights studying under the blanket so my parents won’t see the light. My class is noted for its high number of intelligent students. At the end of the year, when the scores come back from the state, I’m told I passed. Everyone is raving about Neal Hopkins, one of the three boys in my class with genius I.Q.s, how high his score is, one of the highest in the state. His picture is in the El Sol. On the day of graduation, I see the scores. Mine is a half point beneath his. I was a close second. I don’t understand why no one said anything about it. My speech for graduation is called “ Freedom.” write my first stories in the eighth grade. I write science fiction. I write a story about a beauty contest called “ Universe,” an outer-space competition of creatures from all the galaxies, creatures of bizarre and spectacular shapes and sizes. I don’t call it Miss Universe, because in the universe such a competition would not be limited to one or even several genders and of course it wouldn’t be limited to the unmarried. It’s clear to me that these are provincial ideas of the little part of Earth I live on. Miss Earth this year is a deer. She competes with enormous star-shaped flower creatures, flaring mole shapes, a beast from Revelations, kings like strange fungi I’ve seen in the oak groves, glowing white. The winner is from Venus, a being shaped a little like an earthling, except for the green iridescent husk that robes its body and its noseless face. Everyone has an ugly nose. If you came from a world without noses you’d think we were deformed with our knotty protrusions. I write another story about the last couple on earth after the Bomb. They drive from town to town across the United States in the cars they find strewn everywhere. In their lifetime they will never run out of gas, which seems like heaven. But they worry about the future. Who will know how to make gasoline? Though there is no one to marry them, their obligation to have sexual intercourse is very clear. Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1988 9

Mama reads about an art class offered Saturday mornings in Ramona Park by a world- famous painter. Mr. Gavinsky, 83, showed at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. She encourages me to take the class because I keep a sketchbook and draw all the time. Drawing, I’ve discovered that all objects are animate. But it’s the pleasures of following the lines of the human body that I especially love. Mr. Gavinsky is crabby and his paintings are not interesting to me, muted landscapes of oranges and browns. To me the land is electric, fuchsia, indigo, silver. Still, I’m excited about learning something. But he ignores me, talks only to the middle-aged women who comprise the rest of the class. On the third Saturday he asks me if I don’t think I should drop the class. “A girl like you couldn’t possibly be interested in what I have to offer. Besides, you are distracting.” I leave quickly, walking towards town. Fighting the tears. Inside I’m screaming. How dare you think you know who I am! But anger is something a girl like me cannot show. As with so many feelings that give away the heart. The privacy. It’s all you have. ou are too beautiful for your age,” the president of the Board of Education says when I enter the essay-speech contest on democracy to win a trip to the United Nations in New York City. My grade on the essay on which our names are not printed is fifteen points higher than the fabulous retro clothing tons ot menswear collecfible costume jewelrg rhinestones old mexican silver vintage watches My Father's Place Restaurant & Lounge 523 S.E. Grand, Portland (503) 235-5494 10 Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1988

skinny undeveloped boy who wins. When Bridgit enters high school she tries out for cheerleader. Just as Mama has fretted, there’s no trace now of her former brilliance. “ Bridgit thought herself average and so now she really is average.” Our mother bemoans the power of thought. But Bridgit is very popular. She used her magnificent brain to achieve that, I figure. And her breasts are far from average. Suddenly they are much larger than mine, much, much larger. They call her Jayne Mansfield, Anita Ekberg. I’m sure they’re the results too of the power of her thought. As a little girl, big boobs, as she called them, were her greatest dream. She’d sneak Mama’s brassieres from the dresser draw- yer, fill the D cups with water balloons, put on Daddy’s white t-shirts and, for whole days parade around the neighborhood, jugging, it seems now, into her future body. It’s a surprise when she isn’t voted cheerleader. 46T f only she had s tru tted in her bath ing su it, she would JLhave won. We would have seen her tr ium phan tly thin, l ik e a model w ith a boy ’s body. B eau ty is an illusion . I f you w an t to be beau tifu l, you must become a great actress .” Late that summer we are secretly informed by the student-body president, a good friend of Bridgit’s, that in fact she was voted head cheerleader; she received more votes than any other girl. But Mrs. Deal, head of the English Department and the committee that counted the votes, put her foot down. “ I will not stand forthat girl to be out there bouncing up and down before all of Ramona, no siree.” I’ m fifteen. A glamorous couple has moved to town. Unlike other adults, they don’t have children, she’s on TV a lot: commercials for Johnson’s floor wax, Kellogg breakfast cereals, chocolates for losing weight. Liz Carter. She was Miss Chicago. She was fourth runner-up in the Miss America contest. She opens a charm school, Liz’SCharm School. I take my paycheck from the drive-in, sign up. I know only too well how uncharming I am. She instructs, “ You must learn to walk with your knees bent so that you glide, as if on roller skates. When I won the Miss Chicago crown the judges debated whether! had roller skates on beneath my gown. Before they crowned me they sent someone backstage to check me out.” She takes us to see the movies Picnic and The Man With a Golden Arm. Liz was best friends with Kim Novak before Hollywood discovered her. Liz says Kim is really a fat slob with black hair and pimples. Just look what she has managed to do for herself. The beauty business will be your best investment. Liz isn’t beautiful to me. She’s too old, as she herself always says. She’s twenty-six, a fading beauty, her life of glory gone. She talks incessantly of the war to stay beautiful and “ alive” for her husband, to keep him happy. All she can really do is to try and help us, to share what she learned when she too was young. Thirteen lessons, thirteen weeks. She teaches us how to sit, how to walk, how to wear clothes, how to put on make-up. Every week she urges me to cut my hair. “ I had hair as beautiful as yours, as thick. Only. . . ” her tone now suggests hers was superior. . . ” it was black. But long hair causes you to slump your shoulders, it makes you stick your head out in front of your body, to lead the way. It looks like your brain weighs too much.” She takes us to the Miss North Island Beauty Pageant sponsored by the U.S. Naval Station in San Diego. Terry, the first girl, leaps from the side curtains, struts out before the audience of hundreds, sailors and San Diego dignitaries, her chest and her smile expanded. She teases and flirts and winks at the judges, sashaying her high little ass beneath its ruffly skirt at them, juts her bottom lip, drops her eye lids, hands on her hips, for the boys in the front rows. She throws us all big-tongued kisses. The place comes down in a roar, the pandemonium of the seventh grade. None of the twenty other girls is able to match her exuberance, her strut, her blatant sexual-fun strut-tease. But now the bathing-suit competition. Terry is called out again, the obvious winner. There’s the roar, these guys love her. Again the seventh grade: they’re panting at the mouth, they’re close to jacking off collectively. But in her metallic green one-piece, Terry is timid. Now she doesn’t strut or prance, she hesitates, head bowed, the triumphant smile gone. She takes the obligatory turnarounds, then walks off the ramp, tripping slightly in her high heels. The roar of the boys, deafening when her name was called, is diminishing with each stringy step until there is only embarrassment in the hall. She is skinny, everything, legs, bottom, chest, arms, the bones protruding from the base of her chicken neck. “ If only she had strutted in her bathing suit,” Liz instructs, “ she would have won. We would have seen her triumphantly thin, like a model with a boy’s body. But she thought herself skin and bones. Beauty is an illusion. If you want to be beautiful, you must become a great actress.” The next year Liz’s husband Chuck, coming up the canyon from the beach at Del Mar, drives his convertible right off the five-hundred-foot drop into dry, boulder-filled Lake Hanson. Liz, in her grief, prepares to receive the insurance settlement. But then the insurance company declares his death a suicide. There weren’t any skid marks. Liz’s Charm School closes. The war to be beautiful, to keep her husband happy, is over. One day in my sophomore year, Cal Johnson from the Ramona Chamber of Commerce and Pilgrim Fellowship, the Christian teenage organization I used to belong to in order to get out of the house on Sunday nights to be with Ramon, drives up the hill to our house with the Miss Ramona application. He asks me about Ramon who’s been sent to the San Diego County reform school. “ I don’t know how he is. We broke up.” Mr. Johnson is delighted with this news. “ He was never good enough for you.” He helps me fill out the form. Weight: I lie; ten pounds less. Hobbies: I’ve quit drawing so lcan ’tsaythat.Talent: “ I always wanted to play the piano but we could never afford one.” Career plans: marriage. “You can’t say that. They want you to be domestic, but not that domestic.” Yeah, they want you to be a virgin forever. Maybe I’ ll write sex under hobbies. Color of eyes: Mama says they change to whatever I’m near. Measurements: 38-23-35.1 know my answer will make the judges excited and it’s not a lie. “Talent,” Cal says, “ is the most important thing next to looks. You have to have a lot of that. And personality.” I have neither. Everyone says “ you’re beautiful but you don’t have any personality.” Bridgit has the personality, the brains. “ But you’re head majorette. You can twirl the baton.” That’s true. I’m head majorette for the Ramona High School Band. But I’ve never had any lessons or teachers or even examples of what a majorette is, except for the Ha ob lw b a ie y s s : w I’v a e n t q e u d i t t o d r p a l w ay in t g h e s o p I ia c n a o n b ’t u s t a y w e th c a o t u . l T d a n le e n v t e : r “ I afford one.” Career plans: marriage. “You can ’t say that. They w an t you to be domestic, bu t not th a t domestic.” Maybe I’l l w r ite sex under hobbies. Measurements: 38-23-35.1 know my answer w i l l m ake the judges exc ited and i t ’s not a lie. Rose Bowl Parade every New Year’s Day on TV. This isn’t talent, just hard work. I figured the baton out, twirling the silver bar for hours all the summer before the tenth grade. I found twelve girls, taught them what I’d taught myself. I designed our uniforms, drove the forty miles to San Diego to buy the material, sewed every blue sequin on the thirteen white corduroy bodysuits. Now I haul the girls off almost every weekend to march in five-mile parades behind palominos in whose shit we strut, choreograph (a word I don’t yet know) every football and basketball halftime. My favorite is my Indian routine. We tie colored scarves to our ankles and light the ends of our batons with fire. The drums thump out the beat, we howl past the feathers in our braided hair. Against cold, dark night beneath the blinding lights of the Ramona Stadium during half-time in which the Ramona Devils are always winning, we are wild savages before the civilized crowd. “Well,” Cal says, “ baton seems to be your only talent. You better put it dowri.” The week after the Miss Ramona contest he enters me in, Cal Johnson disappears, leaving his family, the church, his insurance business. Everyone fears foul play or that he’s dead at the bottom of one of the steep canyons. We pray at church for him. In my prayers I never forget him. He was the most beloved and respected man in Ramona. But then two years later the police find him in the desert in Calexico, remarried and re-established in the insurance business and the church. All the forms of propriety, or perhaps it was insurance, didn’t reveal Cal’s true self either. The man I want to marry is a sailor at sea. Sergei. He’s a Russian from New York; he’s as tall as Ivan the Terrible on whom I am writing a paper when we meet. Six-feet five-inches. Nineteen. We’ve known each other only three weeks when he is shipped off for seven-months duty in the Pacific. I have the map above my bed. I follow him. Honolulu, Yokahama, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines. We write every day. I date a different guy at least every other day. Mostly they are sailors. I like them because they come from other states and contrary to their reputation, to mine for dating them, they are gentlemen, I don’t even have to kiss them. None of them is able to make me forget Sergei. For the Miss Ramona contest each girl is required to have an escort. Sergei arranges to have his best friend, Gino, drive up from Miramar Naval Air Station to escort me. The gesture is gallant but I wish I was with anyone else. A strapless, peach formal. Expensive. Layers and layers of net and taffeta over a rented hoop skirt. The gown was Bobbie Sue’s, my nineteen-year-old cousin recently killed in a car accident. When Gino, in his dress blues, walks into the long living room that opens onto the whole Valle de Ramona, I’m standing alone, watching the sun go down, waiting. He bows, “ I crown you Miss Ramona.” In the twilight, the color of my gown, I do feel beautiful, though tight, that terrible awkwardness when I feel social expectations mount. I can’t possibly fill the need, though I pray to. I love the world. I want to do something for it before I die. At the last minute I put on the mustard-seed necklace my mother gave me for Christmas. Faith. We drive down to the town in his '54 Ford hardtop convertible. He’s my boyfriend’s best friend. There can be no electricity between us. This year the pageant is held in the old Ramona Town Hall on Main Street. Old photographs line the walls. Main Street, 1889. Main Street, 1900. Nuevo, Ramona’s original name, written in white ink across the buckboard in front of the Pioneer Market, the first Miss Ramona in her gown of turkey feathers. Ramona is the turkey capital of the world. The hall is jumping. Television crews from San Diego’s three stations, one from Los Angeles, a hundred miles to the north. The three judges, two men and a woman, are escorted in with much pomp and applause. One of the men is a well-known TV personality for Channel 6. The current reigning Miss Ramona, Annie Alison, stands benevolently with everyone. Her mother, Miss Ramona, 1936, is wearing the antique gown of turkey feathers. She was the last queen required to wear it. The Los Coyotes Reservation band plays its savage mix of Catholicism, patriotism, school songs, San Diego back-country blues, swing of our parents, be-bop jazz of our older brothers and sisters, Mission Indian tribal stomp, Tijuana Mariachi, our very own rock ‘n’ roll. I hold onto my escort’s big arm, his Navy stripes. People move aside as we walk up the steps. But not their eyes. They stare as they never have before, as if this event finally gives them complete rights. I guess it does. We hover with the other girls in their formals, leaning on the arms of their escorts. The smell of Evening in Paris and aftershave. The lights of the hall spark from their eyes. They are more beautiful than I realized. They have their real boyfriends with them. It is awkward that Diane Smith is with the wildest, most terrifying Indian of the whole county, Lincoln Quintarra, thirty years old. “ Do you recognize the lady judge?” Jennifer asks me. Jennifer is the one I think should win. “ It’s Miss Fairest of the Fair from three years ago, Raquel Tejada. Remember her?” Raquel Tejada is moving among the dignitaries, the adults. She is very small. In her photos she always looks large. I remember the strange compulsion I felt toward Come use our tools and work space $3 per hour for: • repair stands • metric wrenches • brake tools • truing stands • • crank pullers • cone wrenches • alien wrenches • tire levers • • headset tools • pin spanners • rags • oil • grease • solvent tank • • and more Bicycle Repair Collective 4438 SE Belmont • Portland, OR -97215 233-0564 Hawthorne Auto Clinic,Inc Mechanical service and repair of import and domestic cars and light trucks FIAT and Peugeot specialists appointments 4307 S.E. Haw thorne . 1 1 1 ft Portland, Oregon 9721 5 Z J I L t I 1 Jr Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1988 11

the first picture I saw of her. I can’t really see that it’s the same person. “Can you believe? She just had a baby two weeks ago!” Jennifer says. “She sure got her figure back quick,” Susan says. “Yeah, but her boobs are still small,” Diane says. “ No bigger than mine.” Everyone laughs. “When did she get married?” I ask. I want to be married. I want to be an adult. I want a meaningful existence before I die. I want to sleep all night with the man I love. “Well,” Jennifer snickers. “Of course she had to. Her name is now Raquel Welch.” Raquel Welch is wearing a strapless full-length gown. Ice blue. She isn’t as pretty in real life as in her photos but she holds my attention. The other judge I recognize from the woman’s page of the Tribune, don Juan, a famous fixture in San Diego high society. I still don’t understand the concept “ society” except that where he goes, it is. He’s always being photographed with a celebrity family of blondes—mothers, daughters, cousins. He escorts them in parades many of which I’ve marched in, to charity balls and museum openings, down to the docks to meet important ships from across the seas, big Gabor lips across everything, the Captain, the sea, the newspaper, don Juan. Rt a h q e u e d l a r r e k a , l t l h y e i s e , a a r s th e . v S e h ry e o h n a e d s a n e b e a r b s, y M tw ex o i w ca e n e . k I s l a ov go e . Her second baby. She has milk. I’m sucked into her as into a cave, the hole so visible from the recent birth. Raquel makes her way across the crowded room. Don Juan rises from his seat. He wears a white Mexican tuxedo, a red cummerbund around his small waist, a sombrero with tassels around the brim. She is being introduced by the TV host, Mrs. Raquel Welch, nee our very own, our favorite ex-Miss Fairest of the Fair, Miss Raquel Tejada from La Jolla. Though the don has often announced his preference for blondes, and though she is an ex-queen, married, two times a mother, for this night he will be the gracious escort, like Gino is mine, for this damsel in distress. He removes his sombrero, a grandiose gesture, sweeps it behind his back as he bows, and, holding out his hand, into which she slides her small fingers, he bends, very deliberately, the upper lip lined in a pencil-thin moustache, and kisses them. The Indians finger the strings of their guitars. A little snare. God. What will I do if he does that to me? The contest begins. Lily, Susan, Jennifer, Ella, Mona. Jamie’s dream is to run her own business. “ I know I can do it,” she says, “ but it will be like climbing the tallest mountain in the world.” Diane says she’s going to be an airline stewardess if she can just make it to twenty-one. Everyone laughs. For the first time I realize Diane has personality. And now, for our only blonde in the contest. The spotlight blinds me. I can’t see anyone. But I’m smiling. I’m smiling till my face hurts, the bilateral sides of my face. People always complain that I don’t smile enough. I’m determined not to lose the contest for that old fault. They said the crash was so sudden my cousin Bobbie Sue still had a smile on her face though every bone behind it was broken. The host is so stupid I don’t know how to answer his questions. A TV camera zooms in. Under hobbies I finally wrote “ drawing." “Oh,” he jokes, his grin omnipotently large, the camera moving into my aching mouth. “ I bet you really mean drawing men.” The room roars and something rushes through my face. I guess so. Relax. Relax. The last thing Gino’said as he shoved me forward. “ Relax*.” Cal ordered. “ The Chamber is counting on you. We'll never win unless you relax.” Relax. Relax. The chant up and down, my strapless falling down. The smile on my face will kill me. I ’m in the second grade and my parents take me to an office on Sunset Boulevard. A Hollywood movie agent. He has seen me in two school plays, one in which I star as the diptheria germ and the other in which I ’m an old woman. As Di- ptheria I wear a bedsheet dyed with black spots to symbolize the lethal germs, I loom and hover evilly around the world. As Granny, my hair is brushed with cornstarch, turns silver. I rock, cackle, make witty, sarcastic remarks to all the young ones. I t ’s magic to step into another’s body. I love the stage, the audience watching. But ever since then I ’ve been cast in straight roles, always the pretty innocent girl, a role I can’t play. The dark-suited movie agent pulls on his cigar, leans way back in his swivel chair and demands, “All right. Let’s see how cute you are. ” Recite nursery rhymes. I don’t know any. Mirror, mirror on the wall. They bore me. The only verses I can recite are from the Bible. Who’s the Fairest of them All? Can’t you be cute and coy like you ’re suppose to be ? Like a seven year old. Like a sixteen year old. It ’s awful to disappoint him. And my parents. I don’t know how to be cute. I have no personality. When I try to be as they want I embarrass myself. Mama always blesses this day though. She says the nature of Hollywood is contrary to mine. From then on she applies herself very seriously to the task of making sure I don’t grow up to be a movie star. Letters from agents, the agents themselves come to the house, telephone, but she never lets them talk with me.-So why am I here now? When I leave the spotlight, my oldest name is hissed at me, Blondie, hey Blondie*. During the balloting we crowd together into the restroom to refresh our make-up, comb our hair, consult Liz. To rest my face from smiling. In the huddled group I lose myself a little. I feel like one of them, a part of the human flux, a feeling I love. Once I read that an artist’s collage of a thousand faces makes the most beautiful face anyone has ever Seen. But then suddenly this old sense fills me with alarm. Tonight I’m in competition with my friends. I’m to be the most visible. “Oooh! Just imagine! One of us will soon be Miss Ramona!” Diane squeals in the center of the swarm. A wave of embarrassment sweeps through us. Her lust to win, as with so many things about Diane, is undisguised. But light irradiates her large eyes. She’s beautiful. I never thought so before. She’s an F student and her reputation is horrible. Probably none of us is without sexual experience, but she makes no effort to hide hers. Somehow she’s related to Ramon, a cousin. Like his, her Mojave mother disappeared after her birth. The Mojaves are superstitious about half-breeds. The county is always taking her away from her white father, a local car mechanic who never got over his penchant for drunk reservation women. He disappears for days at a time into the local reservations and Diane runs from her newest foster home. That’s what she’s doing with Lincoln Quintarra. She runs to older men. I move out of the bathroom, into a dark corner behind the throng of people. The band is playing “Mood Indigo." Raquel Welch is standing in front of me. She’s just standing there in her ill-fitting blue gown, small and un- glamorous, thinking no one is looking at her. Light doesn’t spark off her as it does the girls in the contest, as I can see it coming off me. The nostrils of her thick nose flare with each breath. She really is, as everyone sneers, Mexican. I love the dark, the earth. She had a baby two weeks ago. Her second baby. She has milk. I’m sucked into her as into a cave, the hole so visible from the recent birth. Why are you wearing a dress that’s too large? Maybe you almost died. Bridgit comes through the crowd to take a picture of me. She recognizes Raquel and takes it of her instead. “ Raquel Tejada!” she emotes with the flashbulb and instantly the dark sullen figure becomes sparkling light. But too late for the photograph. And before world fame. Before plastic surgery, age and film make you large. Before silicon, before Italy, before the starry debut. Before the great actress. You stand in front of the old photographs of my hometown, a stage coach on dusty Main, the army with Kit Carson the day before the massacre, Nuevo printed in white ink above your head. I’m a white ghost behind you. Miss Ramona in her turkey feathers. Your hair is cropped, your head too small, you are too ROCKJAZZ-BLUES-SOUL PRINTING DESIGN CALLIGRAPHY 7740 SW CAPITOL HWY IN MULTNOMAH 246-1942 12 Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1988 POSTERS&COMICS Cafe & Delicatessen 404 S.W. 10th Portland CATERING SPECIALISTS and special occasions. THE MARTINOTTI FAMILY Italian Specialties Wine Bar • Cheeses • Sandwiches Desserts • Salads • Sundries Weddings, Anniversaries un bel glomo 224*9028 ARMAND-DIXIE FRANK-VINCE CECELIA-DIONE EDDIE