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Preview — Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
The story of any courtship is one of ephemera, dead vehicles, outdated technology. Name cards, canoes, pagers. The roller rink, telegrams, mixtapes. Radio dedications. The drive-in. Hotmail dot com.
“Disintegration of the family unit!” my father shouted, apropos of nothing—I suspected he hadn’t really been listening—and then disappeared upstairs to fondle his guns and drink cream liqueurs in secret, which was his way of dealing with grief.
WHEN WE CAME HOME LATER, my father was wearing his most transparent pair of boxer shorts, to show us he was angry, and drinking Baileys Irish Cream liqueur out of a miniature crystal glass, to show us his heart was broken.
My mother understood the fundamental facts about me. She knew that I would always prefer to eat with a tiny spoon rather than a regular one, that I was an excellent Thing Finder because I was always looking down at the sidewalk, that I wanted to recite spells, live in a nutshell, play a gold harp.
There are some men who must strip straight down to their personality as soon as they walk through the door of their castle, and my father is one of them. I have almost no memories of him wearing pants,
Pretty much all art in this house is of Jesus reaching out with two fingers and trying to milk things—the air, the clouds, the Cross, a cripple who wants to get blessed but who instead is going to get milked, by Jesus.
A curious panting comes outside my door. It is my own ancestor crouched on all fours in the hallway, her hair gone mirror-colored at the crown, trying to guess whether I need to go to a restaurant or not. She believes if you don’t visit at least four restaurants a day, you die. “Mom, I’m working!” I call out. A long pause. “But do you need a hamburger,” she whispers.
“I just found out what a furry was. My friend told me and I was very surprised.” A wave of pleasure washes over me as I imagine this encounter: two young men, tall with theological purpose, discussing people who dress up as stuffed animals and scritch each other’s bellies at conventions. “Why on earth do you need to know about furries?” “Because people will confess to me about them. Someone will confess to me ‘I am a furry,’ and I need to know what that is.”
We are bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, and just bad enough to keep him in business.
How am I still held by the code of silence? Why do I feel it’s a betrayal to even write this down, these facts that float freely in the public domain? “Oh, a member of the media,” as if the collection, arrangement, and publication of the facts is the real crime.
I have listened to what people will let slip when they think you are part of their we. A we is so powerful. It is the most corrupt and formidable institution on earth.
“I can see right through you,” my father used to tell me when I was little, and the cringe of that feeling, of being transparent to God and everyone, was so strong that I swore off all forms of autobiography for a long time.
But how long can you outrun your subject, when your subject is your own life?
“Touch it!” she commands. “Touch it and tell me what that is!” I silently beg the fourth commandment to release me, just this once, from its power. Is this how God wants me to honor my mother—by touching half of a stranger’s baby on a hotel mattress?
Pubes aren’t contagious,” I told her. “Then why do we all have them?” she retorted.)
word. If Daisy’s voice was full of money, my mother’s voice is full of coupons for free appetizers.
The trees of the Midwest have not been sufficiently praised. There is a subtle, continuous movement among their leaves that looks like communication.
If someone mailed me a jar of grass that exhorted me to PURIFY AND CLEANSE, I would probably stuff a pair of my panties in there and mail it right back to them.