April 29, 2010
posted & written by caroline picard
what follows is an excerpt from WOOF.,
An Episode of Childhood: Cash and Pappi and the Woods.
Cash had two siblings and five boy cousins and one girl cousin. The boy cousins: Aaron, Zeke, Matthew, Neil and Sammy. Neil and Sammy were brothers. Frieda was the only girl cousin.
Cash had one older sister, Nora, and one younger brother, James. When he was born, their mother asked Nora to come and watch so that Nora could learn about where babies came from. Nora watched Cash breaching between their mother’s legs, she watched his head tear out of her, she watched his body wriggle out into waiting, bloody hands, she watched her mother screaming, her father pale with a mask on his face. Nora watched the nurse spank her new baby brother and when he started to scream she passed out. She didn’t talk for days afterwards, she was so horrified. Neither Nora nor Cash watched the birth of James.
Nevertheless, when they brought James home Nora did not recognize him as her brother, because she did not seen him come out. She called her mother a faker.
The cousins only saw one another once a year, during the summers, when their parents rented a house in the Colorado mountains—rentals were cheaper that time of year and the whole family, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, gathered together to barbeque and take hikes and read.
For the children it was paradise. For older members of the family there was no end of beneath-the-surface stress.
Pappi, the grandfather, and Mormors his wife. They liked to play dominos. Mormors always made popcorn and she always burned the popcorn, but everyone still ate it and everyone still liked it, even though the house smelled like burnt popcorn for hours after. They also liked to drink, a cocktail before dinner and wine during, coffee afterwards.
Pappi often took the cousins on walks. Usually he just took the boys. Mormors would have made them sandwiches with bolonga and mustard. She always wrapped the sandwiches in wax paper and he always put them in his knapsack and they would set out over the He always encouraged them to pick up litter along the way, he turned litter into a game. They brought special trash bags and the children picked up bits and pieces of trash—old soda cans, candy bar wrappers, potato chip packages, anything and everything they found.
Every so often he took them to a special place, a few hours’ walk from the house, and the children followed Pappi into a clearing with a stump in the center and Pappi sat on the stump in the center and gave the children their sandwiches. (Nora came one time with Frieda, they dallied behind the others, picking flowers along the way they were especially excited, as they weren’t usually allowed to go with the boys and their grandfather).
When they finished eating, when they were full and eating handfuls of trail mix and laughing and telling their grandfather about what they studied in school and who was their favorite teacher and what their favorite movies were, then Pappi pulled the stump back.
Underneath the stump he had a package wrapped in plastic bags. He opened the bags and pulled out a stack of magazines. He passed the magazines around to show the children and everyone admired the naked ladies inside and Nora especially liked to look at the way the woman lay down in different positions with their hands on their private parts, spreading the skin back to show all of the folds of pink and grey skin.
When they got home Freida and Nora made pretend they were in magazines. They stole off to the room they shared and posed for one another like they’d seen how, admiring one another.
Everyone loved their grandfather very much.