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ALMOST PARADISE

Little Girl and Crying Heart

By Marguerite Quantaine

During the 27 years we’ve lived in Florida, we haven’t made any in-the-life friends.
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It’s not that ‘our kind’ doesn’t exist in small towns here. (We do.) And it’s not that we’re ashamed. (We aren’t.)
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It’s that, excluding most metro areas, if you (a) want the police to respond to your call for help in a timely manner, and (b) you want to receive the finest healthcare when you’re injured, or sick, and (c) you want to keep your pets out of harms way, and (d) you want to keep your car from being vandalized, and (e) you want to live in an area where the neighborhood watch looks out for your home, and (f) you want the person working on your teeth to be gentle, and (h) you want to be able to make a living, and (i) you want to avoid having your license plate recorded when attending a Pride event — then you don’t risk outing others whom you think are kindred spirits by drawing attention to their personal lives, even in an effort to make friends.
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…and more

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by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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Every Woman Should Run For Public Office Once Or Twice

Votes for Women - Suffrage“There’s never been a colored, a Jew, a Democrat, a Yankee, a queer, or a woman as Mayor of this town and there never will be!”

I glanced up from my notes to study the odd little man in his Oshkosh overalls, Penny’s plaid shirt, knee-high Frye boots and Tom Mix hat.

His cohorts called him Red. I don’t know if he was christened that, or nicknamed for the color of his neck — but it certainly didn’t stem from embarrassment by him, or any of the men at that district Republican Committee meeting rewarding him with whistles and a rousing applause as I sat alone in the far, back corner of the small auditorium, recording the  forum as a favor to the (absent) president of our local Republican club.

And, all I could think was —  what luck!

No, not because I was a committee member and could object. I wasn’t.

But I was born in the small town that hosted the first Republican convention, “Here, under the oaks, July 6, 1854” where an obscure granite rock with a bruised bronze plague once sat on a tiny patch of treeless grass, three short blocks from where I spent my most misinformative years.

Back then, the rites of passage included adopting both the religion and political party affiliation of your parents. My parents were protestant and Republican. I’m neither, but during my juvenescence, I feigned being both.

The reality is, religion and politics have never been roadblocks for me. I tend to accept that we’re all going to believe what we need to believe in order to survive our slippery slope slide from here into hereafter.

However, the pretense of politics alarms me, and is the reason I encourage every woman to run for public office.

I have.

It’s easier than you think, and more satisfying than you dare imagine.

The Suffragette

After filling out the simple forms with the Americanized spelling of my last name and paying a nominal filing fee, I learned you aren’t required to raise money, put up signs, hand out cards, take out ads, stand on street corners in inclement weather inhaling exhaust while  waving to commuters — or even to serve if elected.

Which I did not do.

Instead, I entered the citywide race for Mayor because I could.

And, because the Mayor of our town is in charge of the police force that was alleged to have created computer software profiling every resident according to age, gender, race, religion, political affiliation, marital status and coded lifestyle.

I ran because the Mayor had the power to veto city council legislation.

I ran because the personal voting records of all residents, their addresses, and phone numbers are made available to campaign camps via their candidate.

I ran because it’s possible for local elected officials to access sensitive census information about their neighbors.

I ran because I’d be invited to all candidate gatherings, lunches, forums, debates, and media interviews with equal time to speak, followed by unlimited time to answer questions. Places where I could tell the people about the alleged profiling, the veto capability, the reality of records, and the potential for both discrimination and profiteering to the detriment of the electorate should the (professed private) census information be misused by unscrupulous officials with a personal agenda to advance.

But primarily, I ran because I was told:
“You cannot.”
“And yet, I can.”
“You can’t run as a Republican.”
“Unless I’m registered as a Republican. Then I can.”
“It’s a nonpartisan race, so no one will know.”
“Unless it’s leaked.”
“You won’t have the backing of the Republican Party.”

Aye, there’s the sub rosa.

… and more.

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THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
Her book, Imogene’s Eloise : Inspired by a true-love story
is available AMAZON, in paperback , and on Kindle.

“… crisp…clever…unique…saucy humor…delicious writing…fabulous…funny…historically accurate…genius debut… This will be a classic; buy it now.”
SHE Magazine Reviews IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true-love

IT’S ALL ABOUT HOW WE LOVE

 

IE.Cover

It’s all about how we love.

How we find and lose love. How we hide and expose love.
How we seek and defeat love. How we suffer and celebrate love.
How we record and remember love. How we inspire and discourage love.

How we resist and grant love. How we legalize and criminalize love.
How we categorize and codify love. How we respect and disdain love.
How we treat and mistreat love. How we fund and squander love.
How we laugh and cry over love. How we accept and reject love.

How we name and number love. How we facilitate and foil love.
How we sense and ignore love. How we affirm and deny love.

How we use and abuse love. How we buy and sell love.
How we settle for love. How we treasure love.
How we let love go.

From Chapter 1 to Chapter 72,
that’s all this novel is about:
the phenomena of love,
with 67 memorable LGBT characters,
Including you.

Because you are in this book,
as the person you were, are, or wish you’d been,
with people you know, knew, or wish you’d known,
all in the pursuit — and each
touched by the joy of
love.

~

IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true-love story
by Marguerite Quantaine
383 Pages
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37 Spectacular reviews
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INTIMACY MATTERS

A Reminder Of My Love

Intimacy, between those in love, is what you get to enjoy with one special person that you don’t share with anyone else on earth. It means, the partner you think of as ‘one in a million’ is actually 1 in 7.325 billion. It’s recognizing the state of ‘being in love’ as a blessing. It’s why falling in love feels destined.

If you truly want to grow old with the one person you love most, intimacy is sacrosanct. It’s not to be trampled on by others, or diluted through the disclosing of what makes you, as two, one.

Intimacy is being on the same wavelength. It’s how attentive you become when the other enters the room. It’s in how close you stand and sit. It’s in the tenderness of talk and the eagerness to listen. It’s accidentally-on-purpose brushing up against each, repeatedly, in the course of a day. It’s in the glances, the face making, the hand signals, the code spoken, the names given, the notes passed, the cards signed, the double intendre of places mentioned, music played, words whispered, initials added to wet cement, and carved in wood, and formed by toes in wet sand. It’s in hands held while falling asleep.

Intimacy is disguised as brooches, beads, bangles, bracelets and bands, accompanied by promises made, many of them etched in silver, or gold, and crowned with jewels.

And, as we age — especially those of us who are women without children — we begin to wonder, what’s to become of those tangibles?

No, not so much the house, or car, or investments requiring named beneficiaries early on — but the special gifts, the private collections, the photographs, the love letters, the anniversary and birthday cards, the journals, the trinkets, the lockbox keepsakes.

What’s to become of our rings?

Because these decisions, too, are intimacy matters, emblematic of what two people in love quietly cherished about each other.

…and more.

THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

Paperback & Kindle
Available on Amazon and in bookstores nationwide.

CLICK ON & THIS BOOK OPENS TO A FREE 3+ CHAPTER PREVIEW
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Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine 2015


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SIGNING OFF

Me, Minus 33 Years

Me, Minus 33 Years

My face popped up in the right hand corner of the screen as guest anchor, Peter Jennings, introduced the closing story on ABC World News Tonight one Friday in 1981. I’d authored an oversized, limited edition reference book under the Americanized spelling of my last name and it somehow engendered enough interest to garner a mention on national television.

I look back at it as pure luck now because, as any author (past or present) will confirm, writing a book can be exhilarating — but marketing it is exhausting.

Back then, individualized press releases were expected to be composed and printed to accompany personally written letters, each snail-mailed at considerable expense to those listed in Editor & Publisher Yearbook nationwide. Even for a book as minor as mine, the effort required to sell it seemed mammoth compared to the time it took to write. That made getting featured during prime time on ABC with Peter Jennings equal to an eagle feather in a yarmulke.

The follow-up was a headline and shout-out in the Sunday New York Times — not by a book reviewer, but by the much respected and often feared antiques and arts columnist, Rita Reif. I’d caught a wave, did some appearances, signings, a few more interviews, and a stint on PM New York, all culminating in a monthly column syndicated in a dozen trade publications for a couple years. It was a flattering, generally enjoyable, often tiresome experience that I was grateful ended after it contributed to resurrecting a fad that others were tooth-and-claw dedicated to treating as a full time endeavor.

Because, regardless of how glamorous it may sound or look, that’s what even miniscule fame and fleeting fortune boils down to; an eagerness and need to become the product by foregoing (and oft times, forgetting) the person.

I was never willing to put anything before my personal life.

I’m still not.

…and more

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SECRETS & TIES

New Jane & Me

Marion Deyo didn’t start out as my friend, or exactly finish up that way. And yet, twenty years after our final exchange, the ending to our story still astounds me.

It will you, too.

We met in 1966, when I was a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, desperately searching for a different dream. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy acting. I did. In fact, my audition instructor, the late great Jessica Tandy, said I had the natural talent to guarantee a bright future in the theater.

But I knew I didn’t have the personality for it — especially the New York City six-floor walkup, noisy neighbors, nasty bugs part. And, the menial labor between parts part. Or, the suck up and shut up part. The waiting for hours to audition with those who actually wanted to wait for hours to audition part. The desire for fame and fortune part. The tediousness of twiddling thumbs while slow learners remembered their lines part. The talk among actors about nothing but acting part. The throw momma under the bus to get the part part.

It’s why I applaud, but never become a fan of celebrities. I know how hard they worked to get to where they got. I know the bad choices they made. I know of their struggle to get by in the public eye. I know how self-destructive they become when disdaining fellow actors.

But I digress.

One Stouffer’s morning with hot buttered pecan roll and golden coffee in hand, an advertisment in The New York Times classifieds for a media clerk at a Fifth Avenue agency caught my eye. I didn’t know what the job entailed, but figured clerks keep records. Enough said.

Upon entering the office of the department head assigned to interview me, I zeroed in on her desktop nameplate: Marion Deyo.

The older woman (by 21 years) didn’t look up. She didn’t ask me to be seated. She didn’t make any attempt to put me at ease. She even forced me to introduce myself to the top of her bent down head, busily engaged in reading my job application.

“I’ve never heard of anyone with your last name,” she muttered.

“Oh yeah?” I snapped back. “Well I’ve never heard of anyone with your last name, either!” It was a pompous, knee-jerk reaction that I don’t know why I had since — then as now — I’ve yet to encounter a single person outside my immediate family who has my last name.

Suffice to say, the interview ended abruptly and I went on my Mary-quite-contrary way until a week later when I got an early bird phone call saying I was hired.

“How?” I asked. “And, why?”

“No one else applied for job,” replied the person who’d spend five minutes training me later that day.

Technically, Marion was my boss, but she never spoke to me, and made a point of ignoring me whenever we were in the same room, or passed each other in the hall.

Cue Ruth Ruffino (a fictitious name in this, otherwise, true story).

Ruth was a four-foot-eight gentile yenta with coal black hair to match her widow’s wear daily outfits. She had half-dollar size eyes, skin the color of Pattypan squash, and a passive-aggressive control freak personality that she conveyed through a chronically clogged nose. Ruth was just so transparent, so disingenuous, so cloying, so suffocating, so much the type of women I truly didn’t like a lot.

Nevertheless, Ruth was a popular little Miss nicey-nicey, chirpy-chirpy, brown-nosey to everyone, earning her favor by supplying our communal office of eight women with free donuts most mornings and coffee every afternoon.

The thing with women working shoulder-to-shoulder in one room is that their eyes are always peeled and ears cocked, providing the perfect stage and an instant audience for anyone enjoying fanfare, which Ruth invariably made whenever leaving me a box of candy, or personal note, or annoying tchotchke — then yelling from her desk, “Did you get the gift I left?”

Oh-h, I got it all right.

I just didn’t give it. I didn’t eat the donuts, or drink the coffee, or accept the gifts, or read the notes, or engage in conversation — even when she was hovering over me, talking at the top of her elastic sacs.

One day upon returning home from work I found flowers had been delivered, not by a florist, but by Ruth, personally, giving the bouquet and card to my landlord with her delivery instructions.

The next day, she crowed, “I was late to work yesterday morning because I rode all the way up town in order to deliver you flowers. Did you get them?”

“Yes,” I cawed back, “and assured the landlord the flowers were for him and I gave him your telephone number as you requested.”

Soon after, Marion summoned me into her office to tell me she was letting me go for causing too much trouble in her department.

To my chagrin and our surprise, I burst into tears, blubbering my side of the story from the minute Ruth laid eyes on me until my moment of breakdown before her.

Marion listened, stone-faced until I finished. Then she offered me a tissue and said she’d handle it — which she did. But she never said how, we never spoke of it again, and I wasn’t fired.

Hours later Ruth announced her engagement to a dweeby, much taller, older account executive who wore his suspendered pants up around his atrophied pecs; a bloke who’d been transferred to our Chicago office that very same day, taking Ruth to the windy city with him. The other communal room women shunned me afterwards.

Over the next six weeks I was assigned to a task no other employee (past or present) had been able to complete. I tackled it by initiating an unorthodox protocol, earning me a promotion and my own office.

Upon becoming Marion’s executive colleague, the walls came down. We sat together at department head meetings and lunched together regularly. She learned I was single and living in Manhattan. I learned she was single and living with her cousin on Long Island. The weekend she invited me out for a visit began a quintessential friendship lasting for years — right up until the day I discovered the two women weren’t cousins, but a couple.

I had an inkling, but I never completely understood why everything suddenly changed after that. Our daily routine ended abruptly. I ceased being invited to their home. Marion took another job at a different agency. Eventually, so would I.

Over time we continued to touch base, but seldom, until not at all.

I fell in love and my life took many dramatic turns. We ended up living in the same Long Island town as Marion and her partner. The company we launched and grew was in stark contrast to the enterprise they undertook. For fifteen years we rarely crossed paths. In 1990, we semiretired to Florida. They remained on Long Island.

Then in October of 1994 I had a premonition.

 

…and more

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IN DREAMS I WALK WITH YOU

Grandma Sutherland (1889-1961) I adored her.

Grandma Sutherland (1889-1961) I adored her.

Sometimes life is a sleepwalk in which we see everything clearly and deny it.

My walk began when I was 14, five weeks before the Fourth of July in 1961.

I had a recurring dream. It was dark and raining. I saw myself asleep on my grandma’s couch. Something stirred me. I got up and walked to the kitchen. There, lying curled up on the floor, was my grandma – my mom’s mom. I knelt down and reached for her hand. Only then would I realize my eyes were open and staring at the ceiling.

Every night, for five weeks, the same dream.

The morning after the first time, I told my sister, Sue. She said I was being dramatic. The second time I told my brother, Kit, who told my mother I was being weird. After that I went on dreaming — but never spoke of it again.

The weather forecasters warned of rain for the extended holiday weekend, but promised clear skies for fireworks.

I had a job selling 45s at the only record store in town. By closing time Saturday, I knew they’d been right about the rain. My brother forgot to pick me up, forcing me to walk the half-mile home in a dismal drizzle. I remember hoping my mom was working the vigil shift at a hospice home by then, unaware of my whereabouts. All I wanted was to crawl into bed and sleep through the holiday.

And I might have. But Mom and Kit were in the living room arguing over my grandmother when I sneaked in.

“I wouldn’t ask. But I must work,” she was saying. Frantic and sorrow straining her voice. “Go? Just for tonight?”

“Nothing doing,” said Kit. “I’ve got plans for early morning. Besides, David’s living with her. He’s the one who should be there, not me.”

“Your brother  won’t be there tonight and she’s not well,” Mom pleaded. “She needs you.” He ignored her. “Please?”

“I’ll go,” I said, disarming them. Without time for questions or concern, Mom gazed her gratitude and Kit drove me to where I’d never go again.

It wasn’t magnanimous of me. I idolized my grandma. Had circumstances demanded I live with her for good, I’d have gone as willingly. It’s not that I didn’t adore my mom. I did. But Mom loved six of us, equally. Grams loved me, especially.

My grandma was the scent of boiled coffee, fried doughnuts, and brown soap wrapped in the warmth of a summer day. A stern, determined woman who lived alone on an empty road, in a plain house, without television or telephone. Though her isolation required Mom’s visiting every day, she clung to her privacy and possessions as if they were gold. They weren’t – not even gold-tone.

By 11 the rain turned fierce, with roaring thunder swallowing the sky. I had to pound hard on her raised-paneled door before Grandma would let me in. She immediately demanded to know the whereabouts of my brothers.

“They couldn’t come,” I lied. “I came instead.”

“I don’t want you,” she said. “I want Kit. Where’s David? I want David.”

She sounded slurred, as if the storm had scrambled her senses.

“Well you got me, Grams,” I said. “So let’s get you to bed. I’ll sleep in the parlor on the couch.”

It took some fussing before she shuffled back to the bedroom. I sat with her in the dark a while, making certain she was settled before gently kissing her good night. Then I returned to the parlor and lay down damp, intent on sleeping fast.

When a silent streak of lightning crept by the window, I realized my eyes were open. There was no thunder. No rain. No noise. Only that bright white transient light marking the moment and where I was.

…and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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This freshly edited, updated essay was first published in 2003 in the St. Petersburg Times. Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine © 2003 & 2013.

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Do you have a memorable dream? Have any of your dreams come true?
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I’m all eyes and heart.

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DIVIDED WE (STILL) STAND

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Gays are scary people.

Not the gay next door who provides for his parents and carpools his nieces to day care. Or the fellow who fixes my car. Or the lady who cuts my hair.

It’s only the media-hyped homosexual that makes me cringe and withdraw. Those clusters of erotic exhibitionists captured on camera for our viewing displeasure. Scurrilous straights cause me discomfort. But vulgar gays make me ashamed.

Harvey Fierstein has expressed impatience with people like me. He once called us “leeches” sitting silent on the sidelines while proud gays pave the way to equal rights for the majority of us “slackers.”

I like Harvey a lot. I admire and respect him for his courage and integrity. I think he’s a superb actor and writer and a fine role model. He gives gays spirit.

But I don’t think he understands that most gays don’t want to be enslaved by the duplicities of straight society. We don’t want to clone our ethics, or edit our emotions, or conform our lives to any corrupted concept of happily ever after.

If I could sit down with Harvey Fierstein, I’d tell him I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same woman for 43 years. But we won’t wed, not even though we work to support those who choose to. Not even if the Supreme Court makes marriage rights a reality.

Because, for most of my generation, love is our legacy. Not marriage. We aren’t joined by dowry, arrangement, prestige, or necessity. We aren’t bound by license, law, or nuptial contract. We don’t stay together for the sake of religion, parents, children, social stigma, economics, or expediency.

We’re connected only by love. Since time began, it’s has been the code of our culture. And, since love is holy, what we have is sacred.

So, I’d assure Harvey that – even though the alleged “gay agenda” seeks to stir us into the debauchery of that marriage melting pot – wedlock isn’t the priority of our majority.

It isn’t even our dream. Our culture is just more valuable, valiant, imaginative, romantic and hopeful than that.

I’d tell Harvey we dream of the day when gay men, who have the highest rate of disposable income in America, stop wasting their resources on purchasing the promise of eternal youth and utilize it to create safe havens in the heartland instead.

We imagine gay doctors, nurses, therapists and health care officials joining forces to build medical centers. Gay lawyers combining talents to establish legal firms. Gay singers and comedians backing gay-owned-and-operated restaurants and nightclubs. Gay athletes creating gay health complexes. Gay financiers building banks. Gay actors starting theaters. Gay educators forming charter schools. Gay religious leaders developing denominations that embrace gay people by interpreting ancient text in the spirit of divine law.

Our desire is to cultivate our culture, not to abolish it.

To elevate, not to assimilate.

To create, not to copy.

To lead, not to follow.

To record our history, not to erase it.

I’d question Harvey as to the purpose of new laws, when the constitutional law of equality has not yet been upheld for all Americans – guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.

I’d wonder aloud why we continue to chase after a society that doesn’t rise to the talent and tenderness of our own.

…and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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This freshly edited, updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times nine years ago. (Copyright by Quantaine © 2004 • 2013)

Please select REPLY to share your thoughts on love, marriage, and equality here.

I’m all eyes and heart.

THE TELLTALE HEART

Publicly, Thomas Jefferson believed in the principles of freedom. But privately, he grappled over whether the worst white man was still better than the best black man.

Ultimately, Jefferson’s failure to champion equality left his own illegitimate child enslaved, opening the wound which has since defined – not the competency of his mind – but the capacity of his heart.

We are once again at a crossroads governing the use of fine print to qualify equality.

But this time, the Jeffersonian paradox challenges whether we, as a nation, believe the worst heterosexual is still better than the best homosexual.

Because all the worst heterosexuals can marry anywhere in America. But even the best homosexuals cannot.

As the high court strips away all righteous rhetoric and political posturing, it’s possible they’ll recognize a raw reality, i.e., even when heterosexuals commit the most heinous crimes (murder, rape, child molestation, spousal abuse, terrorism, treason, and crimes against humanity), their known deviant behaviors are ignored by American marriage laws.

However, even when homosexuals are model citizens, their single, aberrant activity is prepossessed.

The court must then question whether this speaks to the heart of who we truly are, regardless of what we profess ourselves to be.

On the one hand, we insist the purpose of marriage is a belief in the sanctity of family.

On the other, we ignore the fact that millions of felons sitting in high security prisons are predominately heterosexuals possessing marginal moral character at best.

Yet each has a right to marry.

In some sit the suspects and convicts held for complicity in the 9/11 and Boston marathon attacks. And even they have the legal right to marry in every state.

But Lily Tomlin doesn’t.

Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, David Berkowitz, the Menendez brothers, Theodore Kaczynski, James Eagan Holmes and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can.

But Ellen DeGeneres can’t.

The former, loathsome, dictator Saddam Hussein, terrorist leader Osama Bin Ladin, and even Chancellor Adolf Hitler could have.

But Kate Smith, an American icon of our anthem, God Bless America, could not.

If the court entertains the position that “sin” is the foundation on which law is defined, will it validate the proponent “hate the sin, not the sinner” premise?

Can it then ignore evidence that it isn’t “sin” being shunned, profiled, attacked, ridiculed, denied equal rights and murdered?

Only American citizens are.

Will the court ask why there are no marches planned, political wars being waged, or state constitutional amendments being drafted against the seven deadly sins? Will it demand to know why it’s only a singular, Bible referenced, declared abomination being targeted? And, if it’s determined the sin/sinner assertion is an inflamed edict, could it set precedence for other inflamed edicts as just-cause to alter constitutional law?

Should the court recognize the Ten Commandments governing the worship of other Gods, building graven images, working on the Sabbath, blasphemy, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness as written-in-stone, will it be compelled to admit that being gay is not?

…and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:

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by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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This freshly edited, updated essay was first published in 2004 to benefit L.I. Pride. Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine © 2004 & 2013.

What’s your stand the issue of equality? How will the Supreme Court decision on DOMA affect you, personally?

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I’m all eyes and heart.

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PAST, IMPERFECT, INTENSE

Me@7

My father taught me things. They weren’t always the right things, or the best things, but he taught me all things, well.

One winterkill night while driving home alone together, he taught me his truth about lying. I was 7, then.

My mom was working as a confidante and caregiver at a private cottage for forlorn cancer patients. Her curtailed quietus watch of 11 to 7 promised us six kids we wouldn’t awaken without her.

“I’ll always be here to tuck you in and be back before breakfast,” she assured. It was enough for them, but not for me.

“I’m riding along,” I reckoned.

“Maybe in the morning, if you’re up.”

“Then, too,” I determined, set as cement.

She gently pressed the nub of my nose, lighting me up in her eyes. “You’re my little lion,” she said. “You give me courage.”

My parents weren’t friends then, if ever. Lovers once, no doubt. He as dashing as she was beauteous. Each with ebony locks. His, glossed waves. Hers, coiled curls. His jaw, chiseled. Her cheeks, rubicund. His eyes, bruin black, set tangent to an arrowed nose. Hers, bairn blue, gracing a Gaelic bob. Both seeped sheen and sensuality. The two as one? An envied ornament hung among plebeians.

But that was all ephemeral, lost long before the happenstance of me.

Oh sure, photos find him masterful in monochrome. Meritorious. Certainly indubitable. And it can be quibbled he didn’t become deriding and distant until after he began colorizing her with kids.

Regardless, I never espied demonstrative signs of affection between them. Neither gentility, nor joy. She endured his disrespect as wifeliness, while zesting motherhood. He husbanded acrimoniously, fatherly only to his firstborn.

And so it was, of all the trips we made together with mom in tow or mind, I remember that worst one best.

“DammitallMaggie,” he one-worded her. “It’s nearly 11. Move it!”

“Don’t get your dander up,” she growled back while winking my way. The dishes, nearly done. The laundry, almost folded. The house in chaos but cleaned down the middle and after-a-fashion. My siblings accounted for, kissed and sleeping. “I’m ready when you are.”

It was the most they’d spoken to one another all day, remaining silent in their seats until he skidded to the stop where we left her – just in time.

I remember watching her maneuver the hard packed snow and patches of ice while edging her way up the embankment toward that halfway house of enduring desperation. And how my father peeled off, leaving her without help, headlights, or sentiment for her safety.

During the drive home I kept my face glued toward the passenger window, contented to imagine mom in the morning, and it being my nose pressed against the frosted pane, greeting her return to us.

My father spoke to the back of my head when he said, “People lie to you because they don’t respect you enough to tell the truth.”

I remained removed; brown eyes searching boundless skies.

“They’ll cloak their words in omission, feigning innocence, thinking you’re too stupid to recognize the lie.” He paused, letting it etch.

I counted stars.

“That’s what they’re saying though. That they think you’re stupid.”

I yearned for Jupiter and Mars.

“The more deliberate and petty the lie, the less value they make of you.”

I found Venus.

“You know you’re utterly worthless when someone lies to you for sport.” He reiterated and enunciated, “Utterly.”

…and more
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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This freshly edited, updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times five years ago. (Copyright by Quantaine © 2008 • 2013)

IMPERFECT CHILDHOOD? Lessons learned? Please select REPLY to share your thoughts.

I’m all eyes and heart.