It’s my way of describing what happened to many women in my generation. I don’t think I’m alone. There were a lot of us who wore Mary Janes and a lot of us who had silver button hooks and little white gloves when I was a child.
It’s my birthday and it’s hard to tell how many candles are on the cake but I think it’s six or possibly seven. My mother’s favorite President, John F. Kennedy is gone. She cried while she held my hand, standing in the sunken living room of this house in Pasadena.
The house was on a street called Euclid Avenue and it was built like a fort. A Spanish square with a central courtyard. There was an Olive tree, and a sea of bricks. The place had rush ceilings and I was happy there. This is what 1964 looked like to a child. At least where I was. My father was shooting surfing films in Hawaii and my little brother was two.
Angelica didn’t make that cake. In those days cakes came from bakeries and they had little pink roses piped all over the frosting, just like girls were wearing dresses and little patent leather shoes and sweaters that you threw around your shoulders for warmth.
I can tell you about my first Barbie. She was wearing a black slinky fishtail dress and she had a bubble hairdo. That dress. It’s something I feel comfortable with. The decadence of it, and the long black theatrical gloves with all the sparkles shimmering. She was out for the evening in that dress. In the way that everyone in my generation imagined there would be evenings, once.
The years between 1964 and 1974 would change everything for my generation, but in this picture time is frozen. There is the girl, and the cake, and the dress, and the shinybright little shoes and it’s Winter. I feel like I want to try and put my mother in context because it’s hard to understand the era just before mine. 1944 to 1964 would have been very big years for her too. I can’t remember a time I didn’t think of my mother as a feminist. She was working in fashion at that time, for I. Magnin, and then for boutiques in Westwood.
She was filled with secrets it would take me years to understand.
My grandparents lived in a big Craftsman house on Palmetto, and she told me she never had any freedom from them, or from her mother. All of my life I heard that. She would talk about her grandmother who she loved. The grandmother who had been at Seneca Falls and who had been a suffragette. She idolized her grandmother, perhaps the way I idolize mine. I’ve only thought of that recently, about the little gloves and hats, about the suits she wore and her perfume, about the way she was a flapper during the Gatsby era with my grandfather. My best friend was Terri, and she had West Side Story as an album. She had a pink ballet dress hanging in the hall closet at her house that shimmered in wafts of tulle and I wanted to dress up in that for the games we played dancing around the living room to all of those songs.
I want to write you about what happened to this girl, because it will be the story of so many other girls. The story of The Lost Girls of the Lost Generation of the Baby Boom proper, because that is who we were.
We were the girls that had Barbie’s Dreamhouse. We were the girls who were going to come of age after Roe vs. Wade passed, and we are the only girls that understand what happened to us.
If I’d been able to keep my father, things would have been different for me. Instead, like so many others I was a fatherless girl. I’m not sure I can tell you the extent of what that means except that Father’s Day ended when I was nine. After that, it became Grandfather’s Day instead. My grandfather was born in 1900, and so by 1967 he was 67. Way too old to be a Daddy. it’s not something I thought much about until I began to start telling you this.
Kubrick made “Lolita” in this era, and that is what I want to talk about. Not that anything like that happened to me, but that I lived in a time when men thought they were free to do anything, and so there are many things to unpack from the age of eight forward that began to happen, and I don’t want to leave any of it out.
The picture is shiny and far away, far enough away that I can look back at things and maybe saw something deep into my own generation, for all of us that danced in pink tulle at the end of a time when girls could be women in shoes that glistened with little sweaters tossed around their shoulders and grandfathers who opened doors for them, where their fathers weren’t. In a time that we all had the dolls with the shimmering fishtail skirts like mermaids because maybe that’s how we fancied ourselves.
There is a song in my head by The Beatles. This one.
It’s not that there are that many secrets, it’s just that no one has ever had the courage to write about them yet.
“F*cked” ~ by Valentine Bonnaire copyright 2013 all rights reserved – firstname.lastname@example.org