As I drove up the Taconic State Parkway to Mom’s for Christmas eve, I was beyond nervous. It was like I was returning to the scene of a crime.
Traditionally, when I visited Mom on the Holidays, I would go in and out of the refrigerator and pick at whatever was inside. I could always find Breyer’s Light and Lively Butter Pecan Ice Milk. Why my mother ate this I have no idea, but when I arrived almost immediately, I would pick and pick and pick at this hideous frozen delight.
Obviously, my picking was a way to stave off the bad feelings that had always been under my skin. This time, those feelings, were above ground, hanging out on my shoulder like a dead rat or hiding like a leech on my neck, ready to scream BLOODY MURDER at any second.
DAMN, I was so scared. My secret could be revealed. That I am like my father, her x-husband. The man who checked himself into St. Vincent’s Psychiatric Hospital in Harrison, NY in the late 1960’s where he received SHOCK THERAPY.
“I’m BACK!! HERE’S HENRY!”
My father was dead, yet I felt like I was that crazy man returning to his family. The crazy guy who couldn’t control his feelings. The Crazy-Oh-So-Loving-After-He-Was-Oh-So-Bad father returning to the fold.
I parked my Green Honda Civic in front. I couldn’t park in the driveway. What if I got blocked in? What if I couldn’t escape? What if my feelings took over and they all saw how fucked up and scared I was….
I needed an escape route.
As I walked down the cement walkway to the front door to Mom’s Christmas Paradise, my head started to twitch side to side.
STOP IT! STOP IT! NOT NOW.
I rang the doorbell.
My eyes filled with ALMOST TEARS.
The door opened. Mom. She looked good.
The whole crew was there - my step-father Paul, my brother Mike, my sister Marge, my sister Cathy and Paul’s very strange son Paul with his wife.
It was party time.
I stepped in greeted everyone. All was fine.
DON’T STAY LONG, KEN. IT IS NOT SAFE! DON’T LINGER!
The Christmas Eve table was set. Paper plates with plastic utensils, macaroni salad, sweet gerkins, mustard, Miracle whip, buns and cold cuts.
Where the hell are the SEVEN FISHES? My mother, God love her, just doesn’t know from food.
I walked to the refrigerator and opened the freezer and pulled out the Breyer’s Butter Pecan. Here we go!
So i socialized. It was so nice to see everyone. I love them all dearly… but underneath it all, in me, there was this little voice, maybe Baby Ken, I am not sure, but he/she/it kept repeating from some dark corner of my mind
“YOU BETTER GET OUT OF HERE! Don’t linger. They’ll know!”
What will they know? THAT I AM GOING CRAZY? That I can’t control my body at times, and that SOME KID PART OF ME TALKS TO ME ALL THE TIME?
Or was it something else that they might find out? Something else many many many years ago that I had to keep a secret, and if I didn’t something something something so bad so heinous so so so horrific would have happened to me and to maybe everyone that I loved….
I sat with Step-Father Paul on the couch. An old 1950’s war movie was playing on the TV. Paul wasn’t much of a talker, a brave and wonderful man, but not much of a talker, and at the time, neither was I, so I just stared at the TV pretending to be interested.
Potato chips and dip.
EAT IT KEN. NOW! YOU WILL FEEL BETTER.
My Brother Mike came over. We chatted. He kinda half knew what was going on with me, but not really but I could tell he was concerned. He is an awesome man. I am blessed to have him as a brother. I told him I was fine. Good. All good.
GET OUT OF HERE! NOW! GET OUT!
SOMEONE IS COMING and it is NOT ST. NICK!
Mom sat next to Mike and started complaining about her camera which wasn’t working right. Mike tried to help.
I got up and went to the refrigerator. I needed more BUTTER PECAN. BREYER’s BUTTER PECAN ICE MILK - LOW IN FAT, HIGH IN SUGAR. The sugar will save me.
Time for dinner, or cold cuts, or Christmas Eve snack or whatever you want to call it. I sat down with a Ginger ale. My sister Margie asked me how I was doing?
“I am fine. All good. Just good.”
Get some cold cuts now and shove them down your throat, Ken. Eat. Eat. STUFF IT DOWN.
I started to move funny. My hands were filled with energy. I was unsettled.
BUT DON’T LET THEM SEE. NO, DON’T LET THEM SEE!
YOU ARE NOT A CRAZY MAN!
Bad Entemanns Chocolate Cake for desert.
I had three pieces.
I just kept picking.
Go Go Go Go Go GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
GO GO GO!!!
“MOM, I gotta go. Here’s a present for you. Nothing new, but I think you will like it."
“Oh my Macy’s card. Thank you. HOW DID YOU KNOW?” she said with a wink.
THE FEELING was coming upon me. That scared little boy feeling. That "I don’t have any control here" feeling.
Oh shit I have to get out now!!!!
“Ok it was great seeing you all. Love you. Merry Christmas!”
I closed the front door behind me and ran to my car. I zigged up the path. It was up. It was happening.
The FEELING was upon….me.
I quickly climbed into my Green Honda Civic and my body started to fling itself about the car like I was on a enclosed trampoline. As I bounced around, my head shook violently from side to side. It was insane. Nuts. Crazy. What was going on in me!
HELP ME PLEASE MOMMY HELP ME PLEASE MOMMY MOMMY PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE!
The bouncing subsided. I sat there in the freezing cold car stunned, weeping softly.
All I wanted for Christmas was my life back…