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DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #39: The Baby Bird

By

Dear Sugar,

WTF, WTF, WTF? I’m asking this question as it applies to everything every day.

Best,
WTF

Dear WTF,

My father’s father made me jack him off when I was three and four and five. I wasn’t any good at it. My hands were too small and I couldn’t get the rhythm right and I didn’t understand what I was doing. I only knew I didn’t want to do it. Knew that it made me feel miserable and anxious in a way so sickeningly particular that I can feel that same particular sickness rising this very minute in my throat. I hated having to rub my grandfather’s cock, but there was nothing I could do. I had to do it. My grandfather babysat my sister and me a couple times a week in that era of my life and most of the days that I was trapped in his house with him he would pull his already-getting-hard penis out of his pants and say come here and that was that.

I moved far away from him when I was nearly six and soon after that my parents split up and my father left my life and I never saw my grandfather again. He died of black lung disease when he was 66 and I was 15. When I learned he died, I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t happy either. He was no one to me and yet he was always there, the force of him and what he’d made me do moving through me like a dark river. For years, I didn’t say a word about it to anyone. I hoped silence would make it disappear or turn it into nothing more than an ugly invention of my nasty little mind. But it didn’t. It was there, this thing about which I’d wonder what the fuck was up with that?

There was nothing the fuck up with that and there never will be. I will die with there never being anything the fuck up with my grandfather making my hands do the things he made my hands do with his cock. But it took me years to figure that out. To hold the truth within me that some things are so sad and wrong and unanswerable that the question must simply stand alone like a spear in the mud.

So I railed against it, in search of the answer to what the fuck was up with my grandfather doing that to me. What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck?

But I could never shake it. That particular fuck would not be shook. Asking what the fuck only brought it around. Around and around it went, my grandfather’s cock in my hands, the memory if it so vivid, so palpable, so very much a part of me. It came to me during sex and not during sex. It came to me in flashes and it came to me in dreams. It came to me one day when I found a baby bird, fallen from a tree.

I’d always heard that you’re not supposed to pick up baby birds; that once you touch them their mama won’t come back and get them, but it doesn’t matter if that’s true or not—this bird was a goner anyway. Its neck was broken. Its head lolling treacherously to the side. I cradled it as delicately as I could in my palms, cooing to soothe it, but each time I cooed, it only struggled piteously to get away, terrified by my voice.

The bird’s suffering would’ve been unbearable for me to witness at any time, but it was particularly unbearable at that moment in my life because my mother had just died. And because she was dead I was pretty much dead too. I was dead but alive. And I had a baby bird in my palms that was dead but alive as well. I knew there was only one humane thing to do, though it took me the better part of an hour to work up the courage to do it: I put the baby bird in a paper bag and smothered it with my hands.Tiny_Beautiful-330

Nothing that has died in my life has ever died easily and this bird was no exception. This bird did not go down without a fight. I could feel it through the paper bag, pulsing against my hand and rearing up, simultaneously flaccid and ferocious beneath its translucent sheen of skin, precisely as my grandfather’s cock had been.

There it was! There it was again. Right there in the paper bag. The ghost of that old man’s cock would always be in my hands. But I understood what I was doing this time. I understood that I had to press against it harder than I could bear. It had to die. Pressing harder was murder. It was mercy.

That’s what the fuck it was. The fuck was mine.

And the fuck is yours too, WTF. That question does not apply “to everything every day.” If it does, you’re wasting your life. If it does, you’re a lazy coward and you are not a lazy coward.

Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it.

Yours,
Sugar

 

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