Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Occupy: Life at My House Sucks

SJ, WQ, proposed submission to Round 8 of NPR's Three Minute Fiction competition
Art by Don Tate from the book I Am My Grandpa's Enkelin (

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. Vandy sang as she walked:

"Are you tired of the tide? Are you tired of the tide? Roll in a rock pool. Come, let's hide. Do you know a raging wind? Do you know a seagull? Do you know a wreck?"* She answered. "Yes, I'm tired of the tide. Yes, I'm tired of the tide. I rolled in a rock pool as I tried to hide. And I met a raging wind. And I called a seagull. And I found the wreck upset."

The nanny tied her bandanna snugly to meet the baby's crying without losing her mind. A scarf might hold it in place. The swoosh of pureed carrots had seen her fall apart in days past. If she could just keep it together, she might make it to Friday night's preparation for the Halloween bash.

Debauchery ensued. But this time salt-free peas came hurtling in jellied clumps suitable for framing: It occurred to Vandy that if these splatters were aimed at a craft paper canvas, his parents would cherish it forever. But as it adhered to the refrigerator door without the aid of a magnet, every track of VanJones' creation had better be removed or she could forget being granted a day off.

Three days of legume-free debauchery would require time to recover, a respite to reconsolidate after a long weekend.

"Tower of Strength" (begins at Minute 10:00) by Rudimentary Peni

Vandy never wanted children of her own. Why bring innocent hearts into a world of hurt and patriarchal rules? Now here she was raising little Eichmann for an attorney and a real estate magnate, hotshots for The Man, IKE.

"I LIKE IKE," the ironic political sticker in the guest restroom read, above a defunct neon sign near overflowing towel bin. The real man in Vandy's life was Vanderhoff, who insisted everyone in his home go by Van-something or other.

Vandy aimed and managed to hit the side of Vanderhoff's van as it sat parked on a yellow patch of an expansive back lawn. It caked artistically like crackled glaze on the sunbaked side of her growing omelet protest piece.

Vanderhoff wouldn't notice. He was too busy depositing depositions and shortchanging Vandy, who frequently worked uncompensated overtime like visa-less Vanna and unassertive Vanessa. Apparently, neither Swedish nor Spanish have a polite phrase for "You owe me." Vanderhoff depended on that.

His library was impressive full of work by the Founding Fathers. A book by the seminal founder always irritated Vandy, who as a child was taught to revere Benjamin Franklin. He was wise for a patriarch, she thought, in noting that:

"The eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture."

She underlined it the quote, tore the page out of Vanderhoff's first edition -- placed the book on the table, rather than returning inconspicuously to the shelf, and finally, walked through the door. It was now yellowing in mute protest under the van's windshield wiper blade like a forlorn parking ticket that would never be paid.

But Halloween would make up for it with the most hideous costume imaginable: polyester argyle socks, patent leather shoes, roomy boxers, a starched white shirt, overly tight tie, loose slacks, or "trousers" as the salesman referred to them, adding: "Your father would love our fall color line -- tan, beige, burnt sienna, and of course the new khaki. May I show you?"

"This stuff is for a costume," Vandy gritted her teeth in a circular motion as her eyes followed.

It was like shopping in the gap between some banana republic and only with even less selection and a crisp perma-press feel that unsettled Vandy. Of course, it was all Hallow's Eve, a day of resplendent evil, of trampling vermin demonstrating for a living wage.

The courthouse towered over the Occupation. And Vandy's tent, distinctive by its bold feminist fist emerging from a circle and cross, languished in the shadow of her employer's arrogant claim to fame. Was he up there now, Vandy wondered as she honked her bike horn. Was he annoyed or distracted as she loudly led a chant, "The people united will never be defeated!" Or was he too busy seducing a clerk in chambers to notice the world below.

"This button down shirt will match the trousers fabulously," the sales clerk added, hoping to make another sale in spite of Vandy's well worn jeans and Hempenstock sandals. She had already spent beyond the limit she imagined Vanderhoff would trouble himself to question when the credit card bill came.

"Why don't you join us?" she asked the salesman as she pressed a protest flyer into his hand. "Oh, I'm not really a sales-clerk. I'm a law-clerk!"

"Oh, what did you have to do to get in, put out?" Vandy muttered under her breath. She was tired of the tide. She dialed her cell phone on autopilot. "Awk awk," she squawked. Her best friend would understand. She only had a chance to say that much.

VanDelilah, a fuming wreck, would be home soon. Vandy -- more vandal than VanDelilah-light -- had gotten her handle when the patriarch saw a similarity in them. He was unwilling to deviate from the family pattern of lumbering everyone with a Van' handle, and this encompassed servants. Although Vandy was difficult, he could not bear the thought that his son might develop odd traces of a cool Scandinavian or warm Spanish accent if former nannies were allowed to raise VanJones and teach him English.

"Occupy, occupy" was all Vandy could think. Occupy the Van.

(, Steven Macchia) covers #M17 and #OWS events in the future. Here an Occupy Wall Street medic has his head smashed into an NYU glass door by three angry NYPD officers for walking down the street. The glass breaks as they violently continue to arrest him.

*Tower of Strength
Lyrics by Rudimentary Peni
Tower of strength takes to the sea / Scours ocean via quay / Same old story, muscle bound and gory. / Brand new story, death without glory. / Infinite story so new, so hoary. Build a tower of strength and watch it weaken. / Construct high hopes as the brightest beacon. / Watch the seagulls eat the trash / You contemptuosly ditch. Do you know a seagull? / Do you know a wreck? / Are you tired of the tide? / Are you tired of the tide? / Roll in a rock pool, come let's hide. / Do you know a raging wind? / Do you know a seagull? / Do you know a wreck? / Do you know a raging wind? / Are you tired of the tide? / Are you tired of the tide? / Roll in a rock pool, come let's hide. / Tower of strength takes to the sea, oh, oh, oh.

() Men & Feminism (Bill Maher, Michael Moore, Sandra Bernhard) Part 1

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