Betty Duffy

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's Raining Watermelons

In the history of symbolic dreams, this might top all:

I’d spent a lot of energy dressing up in a folksy ballet tutu with a laced up bodice like the costumes for Gisele, so that I could go to a festival. Once I had found the ankle binding footwear to complete my outfit, I went out to the playing fields where the festival took place. On the opposite side of the field lots of romantic men with ponytails, wearing blousy J Peterman shirts and black hose, were fencing with one another, and just as I made my way to them, it started to rain watermelons. I was running here and there catching big lusty fruits, though many of them splattered to my right and left. And the romantically hirsute fencing gents went about their games without paying any attention to me or my folksy tutu.

I love how the watermelons fall spontaneously in this dream, as though I do nothing to provoke them. Just when I’m ready to go out and do some damage, I’m attacked by symbols of fertility. I think this might be related to another dream I’ve had where I lose so much weight and become so sexy, I commit mortal sin just by stepping out of my house. Funny how in real life, not much changes whether you lose weight or not. Strange and exciting men don’t beat down the door, and what would I do with them if they did?

As I was falling asleep last night, I was bombarded with thoughts of my inadequacy as a mother. Do I really know my children or do I herd them around like sheep, feeding them, and occasionally reigning in the errant? I maintain their lives, without doing a whole lot to cultivate their personalities. My aunt is fond of saying that children are little savages that require civilization. On that note, I’ve always assumed that they are endowed with their personality at birth and that they just need tweaking. But among the things to feel most guilty about is that, while I LOVE them all deeply, I don’t always LIKE them. Is it just their immaturity, or my failure to mould their personalities?

My husband called home from work yesterday to quote a radio show with Dr. Dobson in which he said the goal of a family is to actually ENJOY spending time together—this because I’d complained earlier that I needed to get out of the house, away from it all for a bit. Pedge and I found tickets to a rock concert, but husband was not enthusiastic about my attending it. In fact, it would be expensive, and in his words, “immature” to go to a rock concert, which I know is tit for tat. When he was talking about going to the Casino with his high school buddy, Deano the Dodo, I dismissed it as the ill-conceived notion of a couple of children. It sounds like trouble; a recipe for bad behavior. Sort of like two women getting dolled up to go to a rock concert—dolled up for whom? And why? Romantic men with ponytails, no doubt, immersed in their own games. Pedge and I might cast a glance in their direction until we realize it’s starting to rain. It’s raining watermelons.

I opted not to go the concert, not out of fear I might cheat on my husband, but because it was more money than I could spend without a guilty conscience. We’ve just received the bill to put three kids in Catholic Schools. But that’s not what I told my husband. I told him I wasn’t going because he disapproved. And now safe from my defection he said, “Well I was just joking about that. You can go if you want.”

But I’m not going. Money, yes. And also this nagging cultural message that being on the playing field is fun, that being sexually desirable gives you power and makes you happy. But true sexual desirability requires a modicum of sexual availability, and that I do not have.

I hear the whisper of feminism: “Birth control could liberate you to enjoy the playing field. You wouldn’t have to worry about watermelon showers spoiling all your fun. Tired of the kids and the old ball and chain? Worn out? This little pill will allow you to quit staring up at the sky so you can open your eyes to all the exotic fruits blossoming on the ground around you.”

But I don’t want the exotic fruits. Every now and then it crosses my mind to take a bite of an heirloom apple here and there, discard the rest before I get to the core. But there’s no purpose in indiscriminate eating, and it would just make me fat. The pot of gold I’m looking for, the one that always eludes me, is that acquired taste for watermelon. It’s cumbersome to prepare and it only tastes good on the hottest of days, when I'm in the mood for it—but perhaps if I keep trying?


jenX said...

so good...great, great writing as always.

TheSeeker said...

I'd have never got so much out of what seems a whimsical dream...but wow, you pulled every bit of mystery out of it (in a good way). I love the way you think and analyze things.

Betty Duffy said...

Thanks Jen and Seeker.