“troubador@mulholland” ( a chapter from my feminist novel / memoir “whitegirrrl” ) short fiction, short story …

Your mom’s friends meet there in groups — and so you know them, but, what you didn’t realise is that when Henri invited you up for a lemonade he had something else in mind even though he was a family friend and had known you since childhood.

He’s French, so that must explain it, you think, as he reaches his foot over to yours.

“I have to go now, ” you say. “Thank you for the lemonade.”

You learn not to be alone with them at this age.

Fifteen.

It’s safe with your best friend, so the two of you test out adventures.

It’s not safe for you alone at the beach, being a girl like you are.

You find this out the summer you turn fourteen and a boy swims up to you trying to act friendly — but friendly wasn’t what he had in mind as he tries to get closer. You are not ready for the summer of fourteen. Your mother takes you to see “Summer of ’42” as if this will explain things. It isn’t something you’ll be discussing out loud.

You watch the movie and you watch what happens to the girls. This is how you begin to understand what is going to be in store for you.

The two of you are trying on make up, and looks, and she paints her fingernails because her mom taught her but yours says, “no.”

“You aren’t old enough for that and besides it looks cheap.”

All you want to do is match the other girls at school and your mom doesn’t understand.

You learn how to roll up your skirts at the waistband so they won’t tease you. So you can fit with the pack.

Janice has you draw a picture of what is going on inside your heads. She traces your heads in profile and the class does self-portraits. Yours is full of Tolkein’s runes. His secret language you decoded on your own. And little flowers. Years later you can see the influences.

The scent of the shampoo comes back, in pure green notes.

And the shoes you wore:

You contemplate these now, curiously, and you remember that night when you were on Mulholland.

You remember how desperate you were to be just like your friends and it didn’t work out.

He was 31.

He snuck you into Bingenheimer’s. It was the hippest club in town.

You must have looked 21 in that costume. Layers and layers of ornament on top of your leotards.

They were a protective base.

He said, “Let’s make some Irish coffees.”

And then he swept you to the top of Hollywood looking over the city on Mulholland Drive.

On the twisty roads leading down your stomach betrayed you, didn’t it?

It did.

It was one of the worst things that had ever happened because there you were trying to be so grown up and you weren’t, you really weren’t, and you ended up throwing up just everything about that evening when something might have happened, but no…

* * *

“troubador@mulholland” — copyright 2009 by Valentine Bonnaire — all rights reserved.

*author’s note:

These are musical influences of the time…

I tried to find Bette Midler’s first big album because I used to listen to her doing “Skylark,” all the time. My best friend introduced me to Hicks and Armatrading. She had the albums. I asked my mother and uncle to take me to the Troubador in LA and I saw Dan Hicks and his group there. They were really something. Summer of ’42 and Friends were the only two movies I saw in that era that dealt with teenagers on the cusp. They are both in the Internet Movie Database. Movies were sort of all we had in those days…

Maybe Campion’s “Bright Star” is going to be like that for a new generation of girls.

* somehow i lost the first part of this piece?

It was about being at the beach with my best friend and how we wore periwinkle necklaces — we used to collect the shells ourselves — Puka shells were all the rage in those years — anyway, so — this is a cautionary tale?

For teens!

ps:  I was looking at a piece over at Feministing the other day on the fact that there seem to be few resources for girls who want to be feminists?

Hmmm….

How strange, that in 2009 there are fewer resources for girls than in the 70’s.

Feminism in 2009: How do we save the teenagers?


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