The Pleasures of Fear
By Judith Ortiz Cofer
We played a hiding game,
the son of my mother's friend and I,
until he chased me into the toolshed
and bolted the door from outside. It was there,
in the secret, moist dark, the child's game changed
to adventure. As I listened through the splintered wood
to his ragged breath, his weight pressing down
on the thin wood, making it groan, waiting
while I stood on the other side, I was
caught in time, thrilled and afraid by his power,
by his power to strike, and mine to yield.
I crouched close to the ground
inhaling the sour-sweet potpourri of rancid oil,
rotting wood, old leather, and rust. I could have died
right then and there, of anticipation,
and become one with the molecules
in the laden air. I was deliciously afraid of all
the invisible creeping, crawling dangers inhabiting
the luscious ground where I squatted to pee,
allowing impulse and need to fully overtake me,
inviting all the demons that reside in dark damp
hiding places into my most secret self.
Not since then has pleasure and fear in the dark
been so finely tuned in my mind, except perhaps
in moments of passion when all we know
is surrendered to the demands of skin and blood.
Then the pizzicato of the predictable afternoon shower
on that half remembered island, rain every day at four,
and her piercing voice, growing nearer,
the cutting slash of light. She had caught the boy
peeking through a crack at me doing what?
She did not want to know.
I was sent straight to the bath, as if
the delectable stink of danger I had discovered
could ever be washed off with plain soap and water.
It has been a week of enforced Star Trek nostalgia, as every media outlet on the planet seems to be doing some sort of retrospective on the show. Some of these I write up for TrekToday, some I save for my own amusement and some seem to be exactly the same material recycled...has JMS been passing on anonymous notes for people to crib from? I finally got to that Auberjonois interview that I had put off and put off because it's a freakin' hour and a half, and I cannot write two other articles plus a writeup of a freakin' hour and half audio interview in one day if I want to have any semblance of a life (read: if there are carpools to be driven, etc.) but it ended up being a great pleasure to listen to him talk about babysitting for Alan J. Lerner's kids and starring with Katharine Hepburn in Coco. He is just so cool.
This week's Smallville had some parts I liked very much and some parts that required shouting at the screen, trying to talk the characters out of the inevitable. I am not one of those who has ever been nostalgic for high school from the moment I graduated, so episodes about nostalgia upon graduation from high school rarely move me in any significant way; the closest I ever came to caring was while Joey Potter was giving the commencement address on Dawson's Creek and that was only because Eva Cassidy's version of "Fields of Gold" was playing in the background, referring directly back to the one time before it was played that season during one of those golden evening scenes where the creek is winding like a river of possibility in front of the characters though you already know there's a definite end to their story because the show is so obviously written from the point of view not of teenagers but of adults looking back. But I digress.
Okay, any time Lex and Lionel are tied up together and being tortured by Mistress Genevieve, who is pushing all her son's Oedipal buttons in the bargain, I am going to be paying gleeful attention. I wonder whether Lex believed that Lionel would let him be killed, maimed or blinded; I never did, not for a second, and Genevieve was smart enough not to either, not over the stone when as Lionel rightly pointed out Evil French Witch Lana is more likely to use it to kill Genevieve than anything else. I loved watching Lex work himself up into what was ostensibly a protective froth over Lana, only to have Jason point out to him that it's really Claaaaaark he's obsessed with and using Lana to avoid looking too closely (or at least that's how Jason perceives it; I don't think Lex lies to himself nearly as much as Jason thinks). But why would Lionel shoot Jason to shut him up on that particular point? Lex was smart enough to know that Lionel didn't shoot Jason for protection but to shut him up, but what exactly did Lionel think was about to be divulged? All the possible answers make me squee, as Lionel and Lex playing Henry and Indiana Jones makes me squee.
Too bad Jason's was one of the cheapest TV "deaths" in history -- the minute he started backing up we were all saying, "He's going over that cliff into the water, no one will ever find a body, and sooner or later we'll get a guest appearance depending on Jensen Ackles' schedule next year." He needed to look dead so Genevieve can go on a vengeance rampage, but more importantly so Lana can go into mourning and have yet another excuse not to date Clark! At the end, when Chloe was asking her if she didn't want to get out of Smallville, we were all talking to the TV again, begging her not to put the viewers through another season of Clark&Lanaohmygodmakeitstopalready. But no such luck. I desperately wish Kristin Kreuk would get too big for her britches and leave the WB for an attempt at a movie career.
The "let's stay in high school forever" storyline didn't quite work in that they tried to make the central character simultaneously popular enough that never graduating would look good to him and psychotic outsider enough to kidnap and torture all the popular kids. Also, those mannequins looked really idiotic. Though even the unfortunate actor playing Mannequin Man was having a better night than Annette O'Toole, who gave one of her worst performances ever as Caring Mom/Concerned Wife. I prefer the far more interesting machinations of Genevieve and Lionel -- I thought she was going to pull a Grifters for a moment to get Jason on her side ("What do I have to do to get it? Is there nothing I can do, nothing at all...") And now that I'm thinking about it, it's really too bad he shot her son, because otherwise I'd be rooting for them to get married...can you imagine her as Lex's mother in law?
If I have nasty noir twists on the brain it is perkypaduan's fault, as she came over and we watched An Awfully Big Adventure (being unable to go to Kingdom of Heaven whose earliest show was too late for me to pick up my kids) and then, being in an Alan Rickman Film Festival mood, Galaxy Quest. I figured the latter was perfect preparation to review the Enterprise finale Friday night; I cannot decide whether to try to write serious, analytical criticism or a somewhat whimsical "here are the things the actors are going to get asked at conventions for the next ten years" sort of review. I suppose I must see what sort of mood "These Are the Voyages..." leaves me in.
The producer for the movie Finding Home sent me some photos of Louise Fletcher in that film (which also stars Genevieve Bujold and Justin Henry) for my web site. They're here if anyone wants to see!
Grasmere on the River Rothay. Just because it's pretty and calm.