COLUMN NINETY-EIGHT, OCTOBER 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
JILLIAN AND HER MOM
" 1987 Al Aronowitz and Dakota Lane)
[I met the young and beautiful Dakota Lane after I was exiled from journalism to a Devil's Island of the mind in Upstate New York's fabled artists?, writers? and musicians? colony of Woodstock. There I was the guest of that legendary music business eminence, Albert Grossman, who'd single-handedly rearranged the music business as the manager of the super-legendary Bob Dylan. Although many years my junior, Dakota---like me---burned with the talent, the ambition and the fire necessary to dazzle readers, but---also like me---she found herself thwarted by the ignorant and arrogant devils who so zealously guard the gates of print. Still fogged by the smoke of the cocaine freebase in which I'd once sought comfort but from which I 'd thankfully so recently escaped, I decided to lend my experience to Dakota's youth and I joined her in an assault on those gates with a series of collaborations. Following is one of the vignettes with which we made our valiant but unsuccessful assault on the guardians of those gates]
mother could do worse.
She's got a
just-turned-17-year-old-daughter who's never had sex, isn't on the pill and
smokes only one or two cigarettes a week in the school bathroom to be
look like Meryl Streep, but there's something about her that makes one think of Meryl Streep looks, the kind of
got her teased in junior high school (too tall, hair too red, too many freckles,
too snub-nosed). And that are now
getting her chased in high school.
genius. But all the reading and
math problems she had while her parents were getting divorced are pretty much
behind her now. She's got one more
year of school to go and her grades are fair---mostly Bs and Cs and an
occasional A in art because she loves to draw.
like she's in her 20s. When she
goes out with her mom to bars on weekends, people always think they're sisters.
Jillian's mom wears tight jeans and tight sweaters and Jillian wears
tight jeans, too, but she wears big, baggy sweaters to keep her figure
concealed. She's got a great
figure, like her mom, and it makes her feel weird to have people notice it.
At the same time, she's pleased when an especially cute guy gives her a
compliment, like, "Great ass!" She's
still expecting guys to call her "firehead" or "Howdy Doody,"
like they did when she was 12, so it's kind of hard to accept honeyed words.
telling her best friend, Lynn, about what happens in the bars, asking Lynn:
think he really meant it or was he making fun of me?"
Lynn tells her
she's insecure and too sensitive. People
have always told her she was too sensitive.
She's getting better about being sensitive but when her mother puts her
down, she still cries.
being a drip!" her mother says. "I
can't deal with you. Quit asking me
if this guy likes you. How do I
So Jillian sees
a counselor at school, a nice guy called Roger.
Roger mostly listens as Jillian tells of her problems in her classes, the
boys who throw things at her, the girls who snub her, the teachers who tease
her. Sometimes she likes to play
class clown and make the kids laugh with a loud comment.
Sometimes the comment backfires. The
kids don't laugh and the teacher says something to embarrass her further, like:
you're acting like a baby, Jillian, why don't you wear pampers?"
So Jillian tells Roger about these things and feels a little better because he's only on her side. And sometimes she talks a little about her mother and stepfather. Not too often, because she
feels guilty, like she's telling on them, which she's
actually doing, but sometimes she just has to tell someone.
So she tells
Roger sometimes about how her stepfather and mother are always fighting,
screaming their heads off, calling each other "bitch" and worse.
And sometimes her stepfather hits her mother and sometimes they do drugs,
a little cocaine, maybe, and whatever else.
Jillian's not exactly sure. But
once on New Year's Eve over a year ago, they let her have some coke and she
loved it. She wished they'd let her
do it all the time, which they don't. But
she doesn't tell all of this to Roger. She
doesn't even say, "coke," because she's afraid Roger will bust her
parents. Instead she says they're
always smoking pot, because that's pretty acceptable.
girl at school who gives Jillian the creeps because she's nine months pregnant
and she won't talk to Jillian. This
girl used to be pretty good friends with Jillian and one day she even showed
Jillian her stomach in the bathroom. She
seemed pretty proud of the fact none of the other kids knew she was pregnant.
You couldn't tell because she wore tight pants and big shirts over the
pants. Her parents didn't even
know. Jillian kept asking what she
was going to do and the girl couldn't really answer.
At first the girl thought she'd get an abortion but then she guessed it
was too late for that. The girl
made Jillian feel weird from the start because the girl wasn't even 16, while
Jillian was 17 and she'd never had sex.
gotten her very first kiss only a week before her 17th birthday. She
was at a bar with her mother and stepfather and this really cute guy with really
nice eyes who looked like Bruce Willis but who happened to be a coke dealer
asked Jillian if she'd ever been kissed. She
said no and then the guy put his tongue in her mouth and she found it gross. Nothing like she'd imagined, because everybody always told
her that kissing gave you warm feelings. Jillian's
mother was watching when this happened, but all she said to Jillian was:
don't do that in front of me."
Lynn about the guy and Lynn was really upset.
know you can get AIDS from kissing?" Lynn said.
get it from kissing," Jillian answered.
you can't get it from kissing on the cheek," Lynn said.
"You can get it from spit, you know.
How do you know the guy wasn't gay or a dug addict?
You're really crazy, you know."
Jillian had her first date just after her birthday with a guy she met hanging
out at the pinball palace across from the school.
He was even cuter than the guy who kissed her and he seemed nicer.
They went to a movie and then back to his place, where they watched Max
Headroom until 11 p.m. Then he drove her home, kissed her on the cheek, told her,
"Goodnight, sweetie," and then added:
"Give me a
That was really
weird. Jillian couldn't figure out
what it meant. How come he didn't
say he'd call her? She asked her
mother about it.
"How am I
supposed to know?" her mother answered.
think he liked me? Do you think he
sounds like a nice guy?"
thrilled about this 'Give me a call' business.
If he calls you, great! If
he doesn't---off the list!"
list!" was a favorite expression of her mother's.
would've loved to talk to Roger or someone about this problem but she didn't
exactly trust Roger any more. She
had been so worried about the pregnant girl that she'd finally told Roger.
He promised not to tell but the next thing she knew, the girl wasn't
talking to her any more. And the girl's parents found out she was pregnant.
couldn't really talk to Lynn about her date, either, because Lynn was starting
to act weird. Lynn was hanging out
with a guy but she wouldn't tell Jillian much about him.
Jillian started thinking maybe it was the same guy she'd gone out with.
She could go crazy wondering if the guy she went out with was the guy
Lynn was going out with. Or if
Roger had told the pregnant girl on her. Or
if she was going to get AIDS from kissing that cute coke dealer in the bar.
Or who she was going to talk to about all these things.
She kept asking her mother just one more time if her mother thought the
guy who told her to call him sometime liked Jillian.
stand that look on you face!" her mother says.
"I can't deal with this!"
one of the million American adolescents who got pregnant before finishing high
school last year. She's not one of
the countless numbers of kids hooked on drugs or alcohol.
She hardly ever even smokes a cigarette.
mother could do worse. But she
probably could do a lot better if she cared. ##
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