Saturday, August 14, 2010

I need your inner Simon Cowell

This drama stuff can be fun. For this week’s exercise I thought I would delve into why Katie would do such a thing. I hope you make it to the end.

(Ending of last weeks High Drama/Blogfest)

“Honey, this guy didn’t learn his lesson. He met you at sixteen. You’re in high school. He’s twenty-three. He shouldn’t even be near a school.”
“He doesn’t molest little kids, mom!”
“No, he molests big kids!”
“I love him and I’m going to help him! I don’t care what you say.” Katie got up and opened the door. “He’s good to me!”
“But he’s not good for you!”
“Why do you want to be this way? Look… There’s more... I’ll just tell you the rest, later.” The door slams shut.


I met Katie when she was 8 years old. I, being the husband who slept through my wife being told her teenage daughter was in love with a sex offender. I got the news the next morning.
“I swear, Jay, I thought I was going to kill them both, but I was so freaked out, I felt relieved she wasn’t pregnant. Can you believe that? I was relieved?”
“I know what you mean Honey. Thank God. She’s only screwing the felon.”
I was glad I slept. When this idiot, in all his wisdom, told the mother of his girlfriend he made her little girl wait to lose her virginity to a rapist out of nobility, I think I would have hit him. Not for me, for my wife and every person who has ever seen the innocence in a little girl’s smile.
That night no one could have convinced Katie he was the wrong man and that her life was on no simple path. I could have told her not to do this and that loving a guy who has to inform the community when he moves into the neighborhood isn’t worthwhile, or that people will look at her strangely and think she is completely out of her freaking mind, but she would have said, “You’re not my father.” She lived with her “real dad” to attend High School with her friends and she wasn’t about to let him in on the secret. He still doesn’t know “the rest,” that we found out later. I’ll get to that. Her father, I’m convinced would have hurt that man.
No, Katie was well on her way to her style of thinking when I got there. Weird isn’t it?
At 8 she was the typical little girl, a few inches taller, brighter then most, good in school and had the cute little girl antics that would win your heart. She would twirl like others with her arms extended wide, singing, hair flowing outward, but what caught my attention, was that she would spin so fast, out of control and fall down hard on purpose. Like a crazed ice skater, she would spin and laugh always faster than the others until she couldn’t stand. She would then stop. Looking like an intoxicated child. She’d go four or five steps in one direction, then back, and finally fall, sometimes on the pavement scraping her knees or elbows, or slamming into the side of a car, anything close. She didn’t care about being hurt. She seemed to get off on it. When the dizziness wore off, she’d get up and do it again, wildly laughing, smiling and always till she couldn’t control herself. Again, and again, she threw caution in the wind. My thought? “That girl ain’t right.”
I noticed she had an appetite for more with everything she did, and needed more and more to feel whole, so much so that when she and her slightly older brother, Kent, was still living with their mother, I had an idea.
“Watch this buddy. You wanna mess with your sister?”
“Yea. What are you going to do?”
“I notice you sister doesn’t like being left out, and if she thinks we have something and she doesn’t, she’ll want it. I bet I can get her out here just by shaking the silverware.”
“No you can’t.”
“I think I can. Where is she?”
Kent snuck around the corner, went down the hall and came back with a grin. “She’s in her room,” he whispered.
“Is the door open?”
“Yea, but she ain’t gonna do it.”
“I bet she does.”
I grabbed the silverware draw and gave it a shake, real hard. The clinks and clanks of the metal reached the room. Kent and I waited, Kent covering his mouth trying to be silent.
About five seconds later, Katie came around the corner, smiling, her shoulders swaying from side to side, “Whatcha ya’ll doing?”
We cracked up. It was hilarious. She was so innocent sashaying through the kitchen. She knew something was going down and she wanted whatever it was.
As time went on I moved in with Becky, Kent and Katie. We would have breakfast in bed on weekends and we would jump around on the bed, bonding. I mentioned to Becky that Katie didn’t understand that I wasn’t her father and she was hugging and jumping on top of me, playing like any young girl, but I started to feel uncomfortable. I’ve seen what can happen if a boyfriend is accused of inappropriate behavior. A few days later Becky mentioned it to her.
“Look Honey. When you’re playing and wrestling with Jay you’re going to have to put some shorts on. You’re not going to be able to play in a nightgown. OK?
Katie, confused looked at her mother and said, “But mom, he doesn’t have to worry. I’m just a little girl.”
“I know you are honey, but you’re getting older and this is what we’ll have to do from now on, OK.”
“OK, Mom.” She understood what Becky meant.
I eventually married Becky and she mentioned that of her three kids, the oldest daughter being married and out the house, Katie, now ten, never seemed to be satisfied, always wanting more of something or things weren’t just so, weren’t correct, the right size, color, weren’t exactly what she asked for, or fell short of what she expected. I thought this was odd. Not having kids of my own I didn’t know any better and that some children are this way. “She just didn’t understand the world yet,” was my thinking. “She’ll grow out it.”
One afternoon sitting at the dinning room table with Katie, she was complaining about something, I don't remember, when I thought of telling her the story about how to look at life. There was a glass of iced tea on the table and it was half full so off I go about how to look at all things relevant.
“Katie, do see that glass of tea and that it’s filled half way up?”
“Yea, I see it.”
“Do you think that glass is half empty or half full?”
“I don’t know.”
“No. What do you think? Would you say that glass is half empty or would you think of it as being full?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, here is how you should look at things.”
I’m now on a roll. I have her attention and I’m laying it down thick. I tell her everyone in life has to look at the bright side, find the good in all situations; there is a silver lining behind every cloud and if you can think of life this way, you’ll have disappointments but only a few and the world will be a much happier place. Hell, I impressed myself.
When I finished my spiel I said triumphantly, “So Katie, do you understand what I’m saying, about how to look at things? Is that glass half empty or half full?”
She looked at me, then the glass, and thought for a moment. She shook her head and said, with a you are one stupid ass smirk, “I don’t even like tea anyway.”
That spoke volumes.
I watched her grow older from afar. She stayed with her father one summer at 13, because Becky wouldn’t let her go on the Internet and talk to a boy 19 years old. That fall she moved in, along with Kent, to attend High School with their friends. We spoke to them often and had them on weekends and although she had the discipline to attended school and make good grades, we heard how, “Kent, was a Prince, and I have to do house work, and I don’t have good make-up. I don’t have anything I need and everybody hates me.”
One weekend we were picking up the kids and Becky mentioned that when Katie gets in the car it’s the same every week. I said, “I bet you by the time we turn the corner she will complain about three things.”
“You’re on,” she said and the two wonder kids jumped in the backseat.
“Hello, my lovely children, how was your week?”
Kent sums up his in one word, “Fine.”
Katie, disgusted, said “Dad wouldn’t let me go Samantha’s.” Becky and I looked at one another and the corners of our mouths turned up.
I said to the back of the car, “What about band? How’s that going?"
“The band director doesn’t know anything. He hates us. He has us playing stuff from the Wizard of Oz. That’s so lame.”
Becky shakes her head from side to side and I hold up two fingers.
We’re almost to the corner and it looks like I’m going to lose the bet so I stop at the stop sign but a car isn’t coming. I know Becky will think I’m trying to stall, so I take one last shot. As I turn the corner I say, “Maybe you should have played the Wizards of Waverly Place.”
“Oh God, Kent watches that show. Dad won’t get me a TV for my room.”
In time I understood what Becky meant. Nothing ever seemed good enough. We even imagined her going to friend’s houses and saying, “I’d love to eat with you. My mother doesn’t give me food.” “Oh, I have to wear these clothes. My parents bought me garbage bags.” Or, “Yea. We went to see Brittany Spears. We had back stage passes but it sucked, she didn’t let me sing.”
Katie had everything she needed but not everything she wanted, poor, unloved, Katie. Deep down I knew, one day she would meet a son-of-a bitch who would tell her exactly what she wanted to hear and on the table her glass would be half empty… with iced tea.

(Thanks for your time, Simon.)


  1. This has some really great voice in it. I found myself involved all the way to the end. I liked this part better than the version from the last time. The first person gives it a nice touch and makes the character seem whole instead of just written on paper.

  2. Welcome to life with a teenage girl. Thank god mine is now 20!

  3. Great voice, and I loved that last line. Well done!

  4. I felt like I was sitting in the room with the narrator. Great slice-of-life authenticity to this piece. The last line was a gem!