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Cat fight…

March 25, 2010

Do you know how fine you are to me, Mary MacGregor???

And you to me…

— Rob Roy and Mary Helen MacGregor, to each other

There is violence against men,

perpetrated by men…

There is violence against women,

perpetrated by men…

And there is the insidious historical practice of violence against women,

by women…

It’s all over Hollywood…

But it also happens between real people…

And it can be as subtle as a look,

or a thought,

or a failure to act in good conscience…

I must carry some guilt,

because when I’d meet people from my own schooldays,

bringing their children to my classroom door,

for the first day of Kindergarten,

the first thing I’d ask when we got some time beside the house corner is,

Was I mean to you???

I never received an affirmative on that question,

but the feelings and self-doubt,

inside of me,

still ferment like cabbage in Medalta crockery…

I worked for a principal whom I protected from day one,

as if I were John Brown standing in a kilt beside a white horse…

One day all hell broke loose during lunch,

out near the parking lot,

in plain view of the horrified noon hour supervisors…

Some of my students were involved in playing out a scene,

from a much larger picture of the adult world,

and it was a giant cry for help…

The next day I was called down to the principal’s office,

because a parent couldn’t get no satisfaction,

until she had me on a meat hook…

I was told,

She wants blood…

And its yours…

You’re to just sit there and suck it up…

And as I sat there and swallowed a leader’s grave error,

I watched her vacate from responsibility…

Leaving her body behind,

like a ghost at the table…

And as the parent whose children I had carefully supported for six years,

fired finger pistols and threats,

I flew above it all with binocular vision,

knowing that this was either preparation for something bigger,

than what I could see at the time,

or a flash from the past…

Later my queen said to me,

I didn’t bring your colleague in as witness to support you…

because he’s going places and I didn’t want him taken down in the crossfire of this mess…

I said,

quietly,

I’m going places too,

only I’m going to them somewhere else…

They travel in packs of two or three…

I had an arch nemesis when I was growing up…

I’d mention her name because it is out of this world,

but she’s on Facebook…

There is a reason I have a strong distaste for Sandra Bullock movies…

Nothing against Sandra Bullock,

but she looks too much like the girl across the road,

and I don’t need any reminders…

I know my organs are processing the energy of jealousy/anger/rage/competition,

when this girl shows up in my dreams…

I wake up sweaty with the same feeling I had as a child,

watching her,

while she stood at the end of her driveway,

with a Giant Slurpee,

and all the other neighbourhood girls,

who were my friends…

Or the time when she had ponies at her birthday party,

and my sister and I were the only kids on the street not invited…

Or when she’d turn perfect cartwheels,

in the petals of the cherry blossom trees that covered her lawn…

I always wanted cherry trees but my mother said they made too much of a mess in the yard…

The apples on her tree were bigger,

and the branches were stronger for climbing…

I longed for the unconditional love of my own English Cocker Spaniel…

She had a Samoyed that snapped at my hands…

Her sister would often push my little sister in the ditch…

Just a small tap of the foot on the back of my sister’s tricycle…

But I couldn’t do anything in retaliation because I’d have to go to confession,

and her sister didn’t get enough oxygen at birth,

so she just didn’t know any better…

I knew that she knew better…

I tried to build bridges,

and let my guard down…

Things would be okay for a while,

and then she’d trip me up while I’d be putting on my shoes as I was leaving her house,

after an afternoon of Barbies and Black Beauty…

Adding lip,

so as I was left with no choice but to twine my fingers in her hair,

until she screamed bloody murder…

Her father bit his fingernails AND toenails,

and stank of rancid Brylcreem…

Her chain smoking mother sold Avon by the truckload,

had whiskers,

and yeast infections…

I always wished I could move somewhere else,

faraway…

Twenty-years on the same road can be hard time…

But now I know that if I did move somewhere else,

someone else would be there,

to offer the same lessons…

I’ve learned to be grateful for her finger on my triggers…

For showing me how I didn’t want to be,

and providing the contrast,

for what to look for in a good friend…

One of the many things I love about my flamenco classes is that it is full of women,

supporting the essence,

of each other’s growth…

And despite all of the insecurities and needs we each bring to the circle,

I believe it is the frequency held by the teacher,

and our will to be different,

for the good of the whole,

that powers this positive change…

Safe in the trees, you had tears on your face…

A few weeks ago in Bulerias por Fiesta class someone took me aside and said,

I notice that you ask all of the questions that we’re all thinking but can’t find the words for,

and you’re not afraid to say them…

How did you learn to do that???

I didn’t have an easy answer for her…

I just whispered something out of the corner of my mouth…

Something about needing to stay,

one step ahead,

of the enemy…

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