AN OUTGROWN BED
Dreamed 1990/10/14 by Chris Wayan
Dedicated to Tori Amos for her song "Crucify"
Sick--mostly stress and exhaustion. Lie around and read The Body has its Reasons by Therese Bertherat. Despite all my recent bodywork, I'm still tight, fight any relaxation--not afraid of my own feelings but afraid OTHERS'll attack me if I let feelings show! Of course that's no surprise, since I WAS attacked a lot in school--and my worst injuries were when I got jumped with no warning. Also, my mom was a pacifist who disapproved of my defending myself.
So fight or not, defend myself or not, and SOMEONE always made me pay for it--either my classmates or my mom. Double bind!
I'm a high school girl living in a Catholic boarding school run by a small, pure, strict order you won't have heard of. I'm a devout Christian proud of my high standards.
Or I was. Until one day, I commit a sin. At least the nuns call it that.
I steal a forbidden fashion magazine from one of the Sisters. If it's not wicked for them to read, I see no reason it should be for me.
It's called Vogue.
I hide in my tiny cubicle--scarcely a bedroom--and open that banned magazine.
I come upon a color photograph that makes my heart pound. It shows a woman longing on a blanket in sunset light, naked, her mons veneris glowing in the fiery light, her labia as red as Monica's lips when she puts on her forbidden lipstick. Cunt! There, I said it! No more Latin! Cunt.
And I want to kiss it. I never cared about boys. They said I'd grow out of that.
They didn't say what I'd grow into.
I still wish I could be accepted here, but I need to face facts. This school isn't right for me any more. I have longings they'll never accept. I don't intend to let them try beating it all out of me.
Plus, my bed's too small--only five feet. It fit me once, but not any more. Five foot three and growing! The Sisters haven't seemed to notice, and I'm afraid to bring it to their attention. We've studied Greek mythology; I know how guests were trimmed down to fit the Procrustean Bed. I'm surrounded by pro Christians, I mean Procrusteans.
And I'm still growing.
IN THE MORNING
It may seem extreme for the dream to compare me--raised secular, indeed a third-generation agnostic--to a devout, queer, guilty Catholic kid.
But in fact the analogy's pretty close. My parents were leftist idealists. My strictly pacifist upbringing was (in its way) harsh as the meanest nuns...
"Serve the people, like Christ! Give till it hurts!"
Oh, and if they string you up for it, accept your crucifixion. You probably deserve it. For some ancestral sin or other. Radical guilt is even stronger (for it's more messianic; there's no God to save the world, only us secular saints) than Jewish or Catholic guilt. Which are admirably polished, professional guilt trips. But leftist guilt? Industrial-strength!
Aches and pains, huh? No wonder. A Procrustean bed all right. Forget your own desires! Trim yourself to fit the needs of the suffering world. Be Buddha, be Jesus.
And guilt for what, exactly? Desires that were never sins at all; not even rare or kinky.
As the dream so elegantly puns it, they're "totally in Vogue."
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