Friday, June 30, 2006

Where’s St. Francis of Assisi when you need him???????

What I fantasized life would be like with my dogs……..
Walking me with off leash
Obeying hand signals
Coming when I call
Getting along with all people and all dogs
Quietly by my side at all times.

The dogs I CHOSE (or deserved).
I LOVE each and every one of these dogs…so very different from each other.
Tony the German Sheperd
Reject from a guide dog foundation- “too tall”
Learned how to open the refrigerator so the fridge had to be bungi-corded

Libby the abused half terrier and half husky, one blue eye, one brown eye.
Was so abused, every time someone came to visit, she would squat and pee, usually on their shoes, if they made eye contact with her,
For some strange reason, she would eat wooden doors up to the door knob.
Using my bathroom was interesting for a while.

Ate an entire sofa- minus the metal frame
Takes pots and pans off the stove without spilling a thing. (Amazing)

Brings possums and skunks into the house.
When people come to visit, she jumps up and bites MY hand.

Abby the Cat (short for Abnormal)
My friend who gave me Woody and Penny gave me this pregnant
Didn’t know it at the time- at least I didn.t.
Had kittens in my house.
Libby the dog got too close to one of the kittens- I tried to separate
Libby the dog from Abby, mother of the kittens.
Abby grabbed my finger, bit THROUGH it.
I couldn’t get her little jaws to unclench my finger.
I was like a cartoon character swinging Abby around and around over my
head trying to get her loose.
Many bloodstains on the wall later, I had to be taken to the emergency
room. Not for a cat scan either……..
Anyone want a cat?

We’re NOT going to Disney World……..

We were always told we were too poor to take vacations-this family circus of dysfunctional beings. The truth was, the summers were reserved for “Prince Frankie”.
Prince Frankie you see, was a baseball star from the age of 7 until the age of 22.
Spring and summers were spent following Frankie around from baseball field to baseball field. We attended every single painful game. Night and day. Big Frank, my stepfather, seemed to be able to “be at work” for most of those games. I guess parking cars was a 24 hour deal. Lucky bastard.
My mother never missed a game. Work came second to paying homage to my brother and his baseball career. Funny, work was ALWAYS a priority when I graduated from 8th grade, or high school, or even for parent teacher meetings. Just as well.
My mother would sit in the stands, cigarette hanging from her mouth, her hair set in bobby pins (that was attractive) barking like a dog at the umpire, coaches or anyone else who deemed to give Frankie an unfair call when he pitched or when he was called out sliding into someone’s leg with his cleats. Yeh, fair play. I wonder who he learned that from. Sitting underneath the bleachers was my only retreat and safety net from her wrath, although she hardly knew I existed, let alone I was there.
Her orders were loud and clear to me -“Don’t get TOO lost, I don’t want to have to look for you when the game is over.” I bet she didn’t. And what is TOO lost? Should I have just gotten lost or a little lost?
“Be back at the car before we leave or else”, she would scream. Or else what? She would leave without me? She would give me one of those famous backhanders?
However she did decide to break tradition and take us on a one day vacation-
to New York. It was the first and last time. I was 7 and Frankie was 13.
Riding in the back seat of the car with Frankie was like being in prison with a cellmate who tormented you non stop. In the car you couldn’t escape from the poking, the punching, and the name calling. He had a new name for me this day- my baptized and legal name is Maria Meda Pafka. He changed it to Maria MEATA Ball. Nice.
My mother growled from the front seat of her 1954 Chevy Impala, and it still rings in my ears. “Don’t make me stop this car”! “You don’t know how lucky you kids are, I sacrifice everything for this family (I think not!) and all I ask is that you behave”. On and on and on. She was delusional.
We started walking along the streets of Manhattan, taking in all the vendors and sights. It was almost ok.
Until the monkey.
There was an organ grinder on a corner with a monkey sitting on his shoulder.
Cute monkey. The organ grinder was pumping out some little ditty of a song,
while the leashed monkey held out a tin cup for passers by to deposit money into.
Frankie began by taunting the monkey. He would tweak his fur and pinch him.
Frankie then grabbed the monkey’s tail and waved it in front of him. The monkey’s eyes bulged and opened wide. Frankie went on with his torture.
As Frankie turned around in my direction, the monkey jumped on Frankie’s head, and for a moment, Frankie just stood there, mistaking this for a sign of affection.
Not so. In an instant the monkey leaned over and bit my brother on the nose and then jumped back to his perch on the organ grinder’s shoulder.
Ahh, divine justice. That monkey was my hero. At that point my mother started screaming at the Organ grinder, “you’d better make that monkey behave or else.” Her threats were now interstate.
Frankie only had a little skin broken. I was hoping the monkey would bite off more than his nose.
After calming my brother down my mother decided we should go for lunch.
We went to a restaurant that was called “The Brass Rail.” It was supposed to be a big deal. Big time family restaurant in New York with revolving doors and of course, brass rails dividing the restaurant. Big whoop.
Except we never got in
As we were standing waiting to enter, one by one, for the revolving door,
I saw the huge V shaped revolving door coming towards me. For some reason I entered head first. Yeh. Head first. I got my head caught in the revolving door, with my rear sticking out, my brother kicking me and calling me stupid and my mother screaming at the top of her lungs, “we are NEVER going anywhere again”.
The manager came out with a crew of workmen, removed the steel partition that separated my head from the glass and we went home to New Haven in silence.
I didn’t get the sympathy Frankie got.
I guess the monkey wins.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Get the lead out....

I’ve got my pencils and paper strewn out on the Formica kitchen table, ready to start drawing or writing.
I’m 7. Frankie, my brother who is 6 years older than I am, is sitting across the table from me. My mother is sleeping in the next room after having worked the all night shift at the White Tower. Her threats to me and Frankie are loud and clear-“Wake me up, either one of you and you’ll get a backhander”. Don’t have to tell me twice. Been there. She has a perfect backhand. She should play fucking tennis.
Frankie is taunting me. Nothing new.
He starts by calling me “gums.” When I smile my gums show. He then singsongs into “Linda Leaky, Linda Leaky, Linda Leaky”. He finds the fact that I still wet my pants at the age of 7 very amusing and he has given me yet another name. No matter he’s partly to blame for this older age, you should be ashamed of yourself, pants wetting, but we won’t go into that here.
It’s all about Frankie.
Frankie you see is perfect.
Perfect hair, perfect teeth, and perfect freckles. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

As we got older he would refer to me as “his afterbirth”. Nice. What an ass.

With no more names to call at that point, he decides to start pushing my pencils and
paper off the kitchen table. My pleas of asking him to stop are even funnier to him than my looks or pants wetting. He then takes my pencils and starts breaking them in half.
I scream at him to give me back my pencils.
He looks at me with an evil grin, gets up, moves to my side of the table and says, “Want the pencil? Here’s the pencil.” With that he takes the # 2 Ticonderoga pencil and sticks the pencil in my forehead. I start to scream, sitting there with a pencil sticking out of my forehead.
My mother wakes up, sees me with the pencil protruding out of my forehead, yanks it out and gives me that perfect backhander she has promised and sends me to bed. Frankie is left unscathed.
I still have that piece of lead in my forehead. It’s a little blue tiny dot. Why no one has ever removed it, isn’t really a mystery to me. Why I haven’t removed it, is.

Take an aspirin and call me in the morning

There is absolutely nothing funny about sexual abuse.
It is repulsive.
I do however find the circumstances of one incident I had, to be completely astounding, in the most absurd way, thanks to a mother who never ever explained the “facts of life” to me and to a stepfather that was always asking me to go to the store and buy something for his headaches.
I grew up on the streets of downtown New Haven. In the summer I would mill around the streets of downtown New Haven by myself all day until my mother got off work at 4 PM. My mother was a waitress in a 24 hour restaurant called the White Tower. They were famous for twenty five cent hamburgers. The White Tower stood on a corner, attempting to look much like its name. It was a square white porcelain building with white goose neck lamps surrounding the outside top of the building. My mother was what you would call “working the counter” that day, different from “working the grill”. She had little or no time to talk to me, which wasn’t unusual. She never did talk to me.
But that’s another story for another day.
This particular day when she was working the counter, I stopped in to get a soda. She threw some money my way, said not to bother her, and told me to go to a movie for the afternoon.
I was 14. In those days, it was fairly safe, or I was told it was, to roam the city on my own. Yeh right.
Two doors down from the White Tower was the parking lot where my step father worked. Big Frank, we called him. He parked cars for a living. As I walked by the parking lot, Big Frank gave me a wave and a toothless smile. He had no teeth and was bald, but he was a fantastic guy. I entered the Crown Theatre which was right next to Big Frank’s parking lot. A double bill was playing that day- David & Lisa.
“The emotional story of a young man in a mental institution for teens who begins to understand his psychosis in the environment of others with mental and emotional problems. He finds intimacy with Lisa, a young woman suffering from schizophrenia.”
Yeh, that’s a good movie for a kid to see.
And Lord of the Flies-another G Rated Movie.
“A group of boys are marooned on an island after their plane crashes. With no adult survivors, they create their own "micro-society". Ralph is elected "chief", and he organizes shelter and fire. Jack, the head of the choir takes his boys hunting for food (wild pigs). A bitter rivalry develops between Jack and Ralph as both want to be in charge. The "hunters" become savage and primal, under Jack's rule, while Ralph tries to keep his group civilized. The growing hostility between them leads to a bloody and frightening climax”. Another good movie.
With my popcorn bucket in my lap, I watched the first movie- Lord of the Flies.
The second movie began- David and Lisa. As I watched this amazing black and white movie, David, played by the actor Keir Dullea, was screaming and ranting. David had an emotional problem that made him go berserk whenever anyone physically touched even with slightest breeze of a touch.
During this scene, I became somewhat aware of a man sitting behind me. No big deal. It was a movie theatre on a summer afternoon. Soon, the man moved and sat a few seats away from me. Once again, no big deal. I was too engrossed in the screaming on the screen and my popcorn to be distracted.
But then things changed. The next thing I know, this man is sitting next to me, grabbing my hand and putting it in his lap.
Hmm. Still no clue. Want to know what I thought??? For some bizarro reason, I thought this guy had a Bufferin bottle in his lap and wanted me to open it.
Yes, a Bufferin bottle. The kind of aspirin my step father sent me to the store to buy so many times for his so many headaches. A Bufferin bottle is what I thought, not a penis, a Bufferin bottle.
When I finally realized what the hell was going on I stood up, my popcorn went flying and I ran out of the theater crying, right smack dab into the Manager of the theatre, Oscar.
He asked me what was wrong and all I could say was that “this guy had something in his lap he made me touch”.
Believe it or not, it got worse. Oscar grabbed me by the hand, dragged me to the reel booth, had the movie stopped, had the house lights turned on and then ordered me to take him to where this guy was sitting.
I did as I was ordered. Oscar picks the guy up out of his seat, punches him in the face, his nose starts to bleed and he drags me and the Bufferin guy out to the street.
The police are called, my mother is notified and I am driven to the police station sitting in front seat of the Police Car like a criminal with Bufferin Guy in the back seat with the siren screaming. It gets even worse.
At the police station, my mother is screaming at ME,“what did YOU DO”, because she had to leave work. The Detectives are asking me questions with words like, erection, hard, discharge, semen, ejaculate……and on and on.
Yeh, I really like the movies. And thanks Mom, for protecting me and telling me things I should know and comforting me after this incident. And thanks Big Frank. I have never ever, nor will I purchase Bufferin. My head could be pounding like a drum. It would be less painful.
Oh yeh, Bufferin guy in the theatre? He was an exchange student studying at Yale and was deported.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Penny Pafka

This is my dog Penny. Penny's a piece of work. Penny reminds me of myself in many ways. She's funny, sometimes smart, and gets in her own way.
I found Penny on a rainy New Year's Day in a torn down, abandoned ghetto, called Father Panic Village in Bridgeport Ct.
Penny was going to be put to sleep. She was the runt of the litter and bizarre looking. Her owner was even more bizarre looking.
His name was "Ray" and he had 3 teeth, lived on a 3rd floor of an abandoned house and had a confederate flag hanging out his window.
Penny has a few problems. Actually she has a few
"social issues". For example. A friend of mine stopped by the house with her dog Max, a 12 year old pit bull. Now I have another dog named Woody who is quiet and gentle and gets along with all dogs. Not Penny. Max walked into the house very calmly and just stood there. Woody went over to him, sniffed his rear, and walked away. Penny stood by me, growling under her tongue, and somewhat mumbling to herself. As Max walked away, Penny ran over to him, bit him in the ass, and ran back behind me and shook. Yeh, good play Penny. Bite the ass of a dog that has jaws of death and hide behind me. Love this dog.