Thursday, March 3, 2016

Countdown to Spoon Knife: from "My Mother GLaDOS"

This month, Autonomous Press releases three new titles, including the first volume of The Spoon Knife Anthology.

Pre-orders are now open online, but if you'd like to get a sneak peek at Spoon Knife before you order, stay tuned.  We'll be running excerpts from works in the anthology from now until the release date.

Today's excerpt is from "My Mother GLaDOS," by Dani Alexis Ryskamp.

You, SUBJECT NAME HERE, Must Be the Pride of SUBJECT HOMETOWN HERE

You come from a long line of people who really loved cake.

“Cake,” of course, is a euphemism for sex.  Straight sex.  The kind of sex that is always implied, never stated; the kind of sex one assumes happens in marriages but tastefully omits to mention.  Good-girl sex.  Lie back and think of England, where cake is served alongside afternoon tea.

In 1690, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Harold Kennedy, disowns your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Harold Kennedy, depriving the latter of several thousand acres of southwest Ohio in addition to the usual emotional connections one associates with family.  Three hundred years later, the remaining records only mention that the disowning had to do with Harold Junior’s conversion from Presbyterianism to Methodism.  You’re in graduate school before you learn that “Methodism” is a euphemism for “enjoying too much cake with the wrong people.” 

It might even be a euphemism for “enjoying cake with your own team,” as it were.  You can’t tell.  The familial euphemisms for non-bakery-approved relationships are even more dense and confusing than the euphemisms for vanilla cake.

In 1901 or thereabouts, your great-great-grandmother’s sister, “Aunt Marie,” scandalizes the society pages of the Urbana, Ohio newspaper by declining to have her impending marriage memorialized in them.  Instead, she runs away to Florida for her nuptials.  Ninety years later, your great-grandmother is still heavily implying that Aunt Marie ate her cake and had it too. 

How many Methodist bakeries are there in Florida?  The sketchy end to which Aunt Marie came is repeated, technicians inform you, by your great-aunt, whose decades-long friendship with the first openly gay mayor of Key West may or may not have involved cake.  If the family knows, nobody will discuss it.  “That has nothing to do with us,” your aunt announces staunchly at her funeral.  Of course it doesn’t.  Still, when he is cremated, half his ashes go to his artist partner in Florida; the other half live in your great-aunt’s house, caked in the bottom of a glass tumbler.

“I knew this bisexual thing was just a phase,” your mother says in 2005 or thereabouts.  She’s not referring to the six months you’ve spent attending Methodist college youth meetings – she doesn’t know about those.  No one does.  That has nothing to do with us.  Your mother is talking about your cousin, whose actual bona fide relationships with women were followed by an actual bona fide relationship with a man, whom she married.

Your mother’s voice oozes scorn.  You decide not to mention the Methodist youth group.  Your gaze drops to the cake lying on your plate, half-eaten.

Only after you’ve been safely married off to a straight man do you start to suspect that the cake is a lie.

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