“I didn’t know what that good life was going to be but I figured it would probably not include a kitchen where the food had expiration dates from three years earlier and when you opened the box moths flew out. . . .”
Tama Janowitz fans, rejoice! You’ve loved her books and her Letterman appearances; in the 1980s you bought Amaretto because of her. And the fabulous Ms. J’s memoir, Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction, is being published in August 2016 — yes, that soon! — and we are more excited than a Slave of New York who finds her very own rent-controlled classic six on the Upper East Side.
Tama has been a friend of Broad Street since our very first issue, in which we published her memoiristic essay “My Little Pony.” We offer it to you now as a taste of good things (and some painful revelations) to come.
MY LITTLE PONY
A memoir by Tama Janowitz.
I had a pony named Misty Belle.
It was fly season. I bought her a fly-mask and I sewed tassels on the tips of the ears. I did not know that she could twirl her ears. She could twirl them in the same direction and in opposite directions. I played music from a little player when I rode and when she started twirling her ears in time to the music the tassels swirled around.
When I got down the trail I was riding a Vegas stripper from the 1950s and I could not stop staring at the tassels going in time to the music. Maybe the tassels weren’t such a good idea.
A short time later she twirled her ears so hard the tassels flew off. I wasn’t a very good sewer. I wasn’t a good rider, either, but then Misty Belle was not a very good horse. She was more an idea of a horse or a non-working, preliminary prototype from an early meeting. . . .
* * *
When you are older and you put on weight it is there on you and you think, How did this extra weight get on me? This weight doesn’t go away. You can eat less and you can run on a treadmill but since the weight doesn’t go away it is easier just to give up. It is like another entity joined forces with you and since the other entity obviously won’t leave, you just have to learn to live with it. In my case my entity was a twenty-pounder.
That was something else I got compassion about. Now when I saw people who were overweight I didn’t think, the way I had when I was young, That person should lose weight; I just thought, Oh, they got joined up by another entity, too.
I couldn’t believe I was middle-aged. I was out of shape, I was overweight, and I couldn’t ride.
If you are middle-aged, people keep a wide berth from you in case they catch it. Men wince and bolt—in case you might be trying to make a pass at them, I guess. I hadn’t gotten much in the way of admiring glances when I was young but when I was young I had always somehow thought someday I would grow up and become a beautiful swan. There was no book about an ugly duckling that emerged as an ugly duck. . . .
* * *
Misty Belle walked around the perimeters of the tiny arena. There were things that looked like hooks and skewers sticking out from the wall every few feet. Then Erika told me to trot. As soon as the horse went a little faster I pitched forward and my legs curled up and I sat in a shriveled hump on top of the horse. “Don’t forget to breathe! “ said Erika. “Breathe.”
I was waking up at night. It was usually about three a.m. and I was too terrified to do anything much. I lay in bed, unable to sleep. I had a mother with dementia in a nursing home. My mother had been my best friend. I had no money, I had no friends, I was middle-aged, and I was living with my sixteen-year-old daughter in my mom’s house.
A sixteen-year-old is kind of like a horse. You could think it was sane but it might start to buck, bite, rear, or take down a fence. . . .
I kept taking lessons even though I was scared. I was scared of everything. . . .
Read the rest of “My Little Pony” by clicking now:
Photos come courtesy of http://jillabrams.blogspot.com.
Buy Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction at a bookstore near you–or online.