I tried to understand what Allen felt. How could I? I feel what I feel, and he feels what he feels. Are our feelings similar, or completely different. Even if he told me or I told him what each of us feels, we still wouldn't really understand each other.I had been reared in Little Italy in the Bronx. I was the only Jew in the neighborhood and was subject to all of the cruelty -and kindness- that children are capable of. When I read William Golding's books, I have no trouble identifying with his childhood, although it was different from mine. But what I identify with is that feeling of being lost in an immense world in which things impinge on a confused, troubled little being -me. I cannot escape. I can only proceed inexorably along a continually branching road. I take each turn without knowing, or even being able to guess, where it leads. When I get to where the road leads, I am not surprised that I am there; it is the most natural thing in the world. If I had ended up elsewhere, that would also have seemed natural.
When I was in the throes of a self-psychoanalysis, I was working with Eric Berne's concept of Life Scripts. What I discovered about the things that motivated me would seem to an outsider to be so outlandish that I didn't tell anyone about them. While I knew my insights to be true, I couldn't explain them to anyone else, so I didn't try. One of these insights brought together a little girl who had befriended me when I was in the hostile environment of Little Italy (she was Catholic and Italian and said that "my name is Clementina, but everyone calls me Dorothy") with the movie version of The Wizard of Oz. These two disparate things combined to form the basis for one of the more important decisions in my life. When my world as a scientist fell apart, I decided to go to California to study Transactional Analysis and become a therapist. I was going to the Emerald City to search for the Wizard. Since Eric Berne was dead, I hoped that he had turned his wand over to one of his disciples. I soon learned that wizards are wizards and disciples are disciples. Laura was my Dorothy; my shiksa who would protect me from the Christians. I learned from this not to be surprised at the strangeness of what Berne called Life Scripts, and others call Fate. The fabric of one's life is woven with very flimsy threads.
I can feel Allen closing doors to the many confusing things that impinge on his consciousness, in order to create a safe and comfortable internal world in which he may live. It is the natural and inevitable insanity of adolescence. I went through it, and I grew up -but at what cost?
I had hoped to spare my children what I went through, but I am beginning to suspect that it is not possible; all must go through it. We must close the doors to our inner feelings in order to preserve our sanity -becoming insane in the process. Then, later, some of the doors that we have closed are forced open by circumstance. And in the end, perhaps, some wisdom and understanding. Will Allen grow up, or will he, as some have, remain locked up in his mind with most of the doors to perception closed.What the hell! He could become a successful madman, as are many successful people. Is that bad? To have wealth, adulation, wine, women and song. Could that possibly be bad: To live in a pretty bubble chamber? I think of that sanctimonious ass Conrad Hilton and wonder if that is where Allen is headed. He will go from a small business to a larger one; and so on until he is wealthy. As a wealthy man, people will listen respectfully and he will have the illusion that what he says is worthwhile -"God gave me all of this wealth because I am good and wise and wonderful". I want to puke. Would I feel this disgusted if it were I instead of him? Hardly; I would be the same kind of horses ass. No! No! No! I couldn't possibly travel that road -I think. The poor, unfortunate slob. He is doing all of this to gain the approval of his parents. Would I or Laura approve? We would not! Who would approve? The whole rest of the world.
I am an idiot! I am looking thirty years
ahead, and I can't even prognosticate what will happen tomorrow.
Women, sex? How could I understand what they meant to Allen. Was he where I was at seventeen? nineteen? twenty two? No, life was different for him and, certainly, he is not where I am now at sixty. At seventeen, I went to an all-male school. The bastards started admitting girls after I had left. Our female companionship came from the neighborhood girls who went to the neighborhood all-female school. These were good, respectable girls who, I was sure, had none of the nasty urges that I had. I respected them so we kissed and kissed and held one another and panted and panted and panted and kissed and panted. Then I went home, my testicles aching, and masturbated.
I'll never forget Evie. Dear shy, quiet, loving Evie. She had a crush on me, so when her parents weren't home, I lay on top of her on her living room couch and we kissed and panted etc. I still regret not having done to her what I now know I could have -everything! But I wouldn't violate an innocent girl; and since I didn't truly love her, I couldn't use love as an excuse. I felt guilty enough using her to get me excited, without the additional guilt of having debauched a virgin. Besides, I really had no idea how to go about the whole sex business. Strange, isn't it, that now, at sixty, I still regret not having done her wrong?
Betty, Anne and Gladys were a triumvirate, so wherever one was, so were the other two. My steady girl friend was Betty. Her best friend was Anne, who became my adopted sister(not real, of course). She found me attractive. Gladys and I would whirl round the room doing a Viennese waltz for most of an evening. We would talk on the phone for hours, or until her father wanted to use the phone. In fact, all of the girls I knew thought that I was a fairly attractive fellow. But I didn't think much of me. I knew that inside of me was a lecherous demon who wanted nothing more than to lay all of those nice respectable girls. I obeyed a moral code that said NO! One evening at a party, Betty, the love of my life, ended up in the bedroom with an older fellow (18 years old). After that she had little to do with me. The sophistication of older men had captivated her. I now suspect that he had played with her breasts. Ah, the opportunities missed. And I could have had them all, had I but known.
At nineteen I was a soldier. I lost my virginity to a fat whore in a whorehouse in Montreal. This was followed by a roll in the hay with a pick up in a sleazy room in that same city. It was interrupted by the landlady pounding on the door telling me to get that girl out of my room.
Six months later I was in England, banging a woman daily in LLandudno, Wales; then France screwing women lying down and standing up; then Germany where copulation without conversation wasn't considered as fraternization; which was forbidden by the Army.
Then the war ended, and we were stationed for a month outside of Salzburg. There I met Ellie. Dear passionate guiltless Ellie who did everything as if it was the most natural thing in the world. We tried almost everything and I came to the conclusion that all females wanted what males wanted. No more nice girls and bad girls -just women; lusting women.
By the time I was twenty two, I had traded
some of my puritanical morals for ethics. While I would screw
anyone I could, I drew the line at debauching virgins and, of
course, I was strictly heterosexual. Homosexuality wasn't in vogue
at that time, and I didn't even know the word bisexual -ah, taxonomy.
I still remember a lecture by Alfred Kinsey, which I attended
at Berkeley, in which he said "a young male will mount anything
that will stand still" -and he was right. But was he right
about Allen? Was Allen as lecherous as I was? I really didn't
know. I knew that he had the urges; but were they even more repressed
than mine? Could he feel, in his twenties, the way that I felt
at sixteen? In this age of sexual liberation -hardly!
I read this to Laura. "Well" I say,"what do think of it?"
"How does it make you feel?"
"Uncomfortable," she says.
"Well, it's so ugly."
"When dogs or cows do it, is it ugly?"
No answer. Next chapter
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