The Sociopath and the Beauty Queen
Daniel Boone was my grandfather and I am the daughter of American heritage; of crisis and chaos, of turbulence and travesty. We are all living here together on this spinning ball of commerce suspended amongst the cosmic expanse. Some of us working to self-actuate while others of us self-destruct, searching to find inner peace and make sense of it all.
Flashback: She walked up and down in front of the school donning a sinful blazing red stain upon her lips, against the rigid rules of her preacher father, and she added insult to injury sucking down the smoke from a cigarette; she was only 14. She smoked until the night she died. It was the 1930’s when conservatism ruled like an iron fist and fire and brimstone flew from the pulpits of every building with a steeple. Her name was Nan and she was an even closer granddaughter to Daniel Boone; she was my grandmother. She had dark eyes, raven-black hair, olive skin and resembled the Cherokee Indians of her heritage. She was one in a family of 13 and struggled for her independence and wanted to be the star; but instead she was the rebel. She graduated valedictorian of her class at age 15 and went off to Berea College in Kentucky where she would meet the love of her life. His name was Jimmy, he was my mother’s father. The love was rich and true, they married and Jimmy was off to war. It was the early 1940’s and Jimmy flew a plane in WWII. He went down with his plane overseas and his body was never recovered. Nan was literally 2 weeks to giving birth to their daughter Nancy Jo, the beauty queen.
Nan lost the love of her life and now had a living memory of him in her arms but was not emotionally available to appreciate the gift of life left by her true love as her heart was wounded beyond repair. Her weight dwindled, she lost her breasts and wore falsies, and the doctors at that time (1944) told Nan to have a drink every night before bed to calm her nerves. ……Nan became a raging alcoholic. She married 5 times thereafter, never to find true love again, just momentary love in an alcoholic haze. She drank and smoked herself to death. Nancy Jo never had the life she should have and everyone lost in this game.
Alternate Flashback: Harriet was a young girl growing up in her family with responsibilities and chores. One of the things she did was to dress the babies that died for their funerals. She told me this when I was young and I only thought how awful, but she just told it so matter-of-factly without hesitation or real emotion. It was a different time and I could not understand. Harriet met and married Harbert and they had 3 children, the last of which was unplanned, the cord tightly wrapped around his neck and his name was Charles, the sociopath. Charles is my father.
After Charles was born, his mother Harriet had a nervous breakdown and went to the mental hospital for a few years. Charles was left with his father, two young siblings and attended to by the cooks, maids and yardmen. There was never a true human bond formed with Charles and so a conscience never developed. When the family went into town, they always left Charles behind and when Charles went to the first grade, he did not speak and they did not know what to make of this. When Charles did eventually speak, he sounded like a southern black boy, the baby of his cooks, maids and yardmen. Charles, however, grew up knowing how to be both cunning and charming, getting whatever he wanted from anyone despite his disparaging upbringing.
Speed to the 1960’s and Nancy Jo was a beauty queen, entering pageants and found herself being crowned Miss Tallahassee, Florida, the hometown of Charles and his family. It was to be my hometown too. When he saw her, she became his next conquest. He swept her off her feet. He had all the trappings of a successful, handsome young man in his twenties. He drove a Mercedes, had his pilot’s license and a plane. He took her on moonlight flights, wined her and dined her. Impressed her and asked her to marry him. She said yes.
As the wedding grew close, Nancy Jo felt like this was a mistake that she could not marry him and she wanted to back out. Nancy Jo’s mother Nan had been busy spending money she did not have to have air condition installed in her modest home so that when her new family members might come they would find her in modernized comfort. Nan told Nancy Jo that “you have made your bed and now you have to lie in it”. True words of support coming from a heart-broken alcoholic, and Nancy Jo was devastated with no where to turn except down the aisle in her beautiful white lacy dress.