School was OK by me.. I was out of the house nearly 8 hours a day and that was terrific. And since I did well at it, I got positive vibes every now and again from a teacher, and my doing well in school seemed to please the old lady. So she set a priority on home work. About the only way I could get out of working on one of those jobs or chores with my father on the weekend was to say I had a paper to write or a test coming up and that I had to write or to study.
I milked the study thing for all was worth. I always lied about my grades so my mother would think I was doing worse than I was and that meant in turn that I would have to study more and more. Mostly, I didn’t study. I would stick a novel inside a magazine and I would put my feet up on the desk and read what I wanted to read. I guess had I been a social kid with friends and stuff to do this study routine would have seemed crazy. But I was already developing an anti-social—leave me alone and don’t bother me, shithead—attitude.
But when it came to writing a paper, I had to write one, and the old lady would insist on getting her two cent’s worth in since she was the official family grammarian and the only person in the whole household who spoke English correctly. God, whole Sunday afternoons, would go up in flames, as we fought back and forth about whether I should change this word or this phrase or not. Mostly, I didn’t want to change a damn thing. This was back when people had typewriters and I typed on something called erasable bond which meant you could erase some of the words, though it looked like shit when you did so…
The old lady would tell me to change things, and later she would demand to see the paper and she would see I hadn’t changed all the things she had said I should change. And then I would have to go back to the room until I did change it. We like locked horns. And it just went on and on. I considered her suggestions for changes picky, picuyne, and pee-dantic. Though she would catch some of my spelling errors and those I usually changed.
And she would get all upset and make me feel awful by suggesting I was stubborn and that I was resisting only to upset her and didn’t I understand she was only trying to help and what was wrong with me that I persisted in refusing her assistance, and so on and so forth. And then she would go to her bedroom and take a nap. She took one of them every day and on other occasions when she got upset and started crying, which was frequently. So usually, I ended up making the changes because I didn’t want to sit there in the bedroom and feel bad about having driven her to take a nap.
The woman had pieces of kleenex sticking out all over on her person. Little balled up pieces of kleenex. You’d find them dropped all around the house.
Also, she was constipated all the time. She would disappear for hours into her little, private, half-bath that nobody could use without special permission. She went with her sister, when her sister made money selling real estate, to England to visit the place where their mother had been born, in Dorset, I think, and she got so constipated they had to put her in a hospital. Somehow, in there, they got her to shit.