Mineo

Doxology

Too vividly, I remember the night that Shaw pulled me through his old-fashioned bedroom door frame by the V-neck of my shirt and told me to, "Come and listen to some lyrics." It struck me, then, how honest his voice sounded. It was truly beautiful that he wanted me to listen to the words of the songs rather than the songs themselves. And since the words he said had entered my heart in such a pure and truthful way, I did everything I could to understand every word sung. I didn't just want to hear it this time - I wanted to jump into the lyricist's childhood memories and pick out what was metaphor and what was sarcasm. I assumed Shaw already knew all the songs we listened to by heart. From his bed, I looked down at him lying on the floor, his face sculpted in what could've been a dream-like state if not for the distrusting and cynical arching of the eyebrows. I wanted to tell him sternly: "Just because you know it by heart, doesn't mean you have to take it to heart. Please don't let this melodic reality get to you."

He told me that too many people asked him if Shaw was his birth-name. When he said that, I was quick to tell him that it was none of my business, and furthermore, I didn't care, what his given name was. He'd laughed and said it didn't annoy him in that sense. It was just that everybody who asked were people who knew his mother and if they really knew her, shouldn't they know who he was named after? Shouldn't they know his mother's idea of a hero?

The same night that Shaw and I listened to lyrics together, he had his way with me. At first I was astounded that he wanted me to put out for the first time in his own bed while his mother cooked dinner downstairs. But I enjoyed it so much that when it ended and I laid next to him silently, all I could think about was how much I wanted to be known as the slut when I finally got to high school - how I wanted to do this all the time and with every guy. I wondered what Shaw was thinking about, but didn't have the courage to sit up and look at the shape of his eyebrows.

When his mother called, "The food is ready!" I started to slowly put my clothes back on. As I did so, I told Shaw that he reminded me of Sal Mineo. He said, "Thank you…but I don't know who he is." That struck me as odd. Here was a boy a few months older than me and he didn't even know about gay 50s icons yet? It all boiled down to my next thoughts: 'The world's a strange place and his family gives him a thin reality.'

Marta got married when she was seventeen. She wasn't pregnant like everyone thought, just in love. The man she married was eighteen and was called Zachary Shaw. Marta didn't take his last name because she considered herself a feminist and that was a very un-feminist thing to do. She was independent and nobody's property. But after awhile, she wouldn't have minded if she was his property. She adored him more and more as time went on.

Though pregnancy was not the reason for Marta's wedding, she and Zachary did produce three children together later. Marta was never sure if she liked that - rather, when she thought about it she became uneasy. She had three kids by the time she was twenty-four and all they really did was distract her from life and loves. But it was on her twenty-fifth birthday that the string of events began that changed her life forever. She caught Zachary cheating, her infant died of mysterious causes while under the care of the teenaged babysitter, and she packed her things and left Zachary and her two remaining children in the house she'd lived in for seven years. She wasn't insisting that he keep the kids to punish him, she was doing it because she was in love with him, and looked up to him so much. And anyways, they had his last name, not hers. She forgot those children's faces the day she left. That is, she could never recall later what those two (or three?) products of a failed marriage looked like. To her they were just miscarriages - just blood on the bathroom floor. They'd never existed at all.

At school the day after I was up in Shaw's bedroom, I saw two high-shoolers beat Shaw in the street - punch him so much that his clothes were stained red and he begged for mercy. And I walked right past without so much as a bat of my eye. It would be years before I could apologize.