Polavision by Susan Hayden
Around 1966, I was bitten after hours by a standard poodle named Coco. My pediatrician had to make a house call to give me a tetanus shot. I wanted to marry Dr Sokoloff and faked sick all the time so he would have to examine me. I was three. He was James Coburn’s double. I’d seen “Ride Lonesome”; I already knew my future husband would be like a steak at The Palm, a Prime Porterhouse; rough-hewn on the outside, tender underneath.
Around 1975, my Dad’s best friend’s son fell to his death while mountain climbing in Yosemite. Stevie Marsh was 16. That’s when I quit Hebrew School, because I no longer believed in G-d.
Around 1997, my husband got Lasik and I thought, This will be the end of our marriage. I’d always been one big blur. But I quickly learned the naked art of backing out of a bedroom.
Around 1972, Ricky Minkman and I cut 4th Grade and went to Benihana of Tokyo in Encino. We shared a Lunch Boat Special over an open fire; it was so romantic, then he said, “I feel like a beautiful girl trapped in an ugly boy.”
It was my first date.
Around 1996, my son was born, and there was a clearing in my heart, simple as a snow-plowed road after a massive storm. I decided to name him after a singing waiter I’d met when I was 12, a Kenny Loggins look-alike who’d worked at The Great American Food and Beverage Company in Santa Monica. Allan Mason had dedicated “Danny’s Song” to me and I’d never forgotten it—or him.
Around 1989, poet S.A. Griffin told me, “We are all sincere liars” and I took him for his word.
Around 1969, Sam Weinstock asked for a slow dance during a family wedding at the Ventura Club in Sherman Oaks. He said he lived next door to my Aunt Goldie and thought I was “kind of pretty.” As he twirled me, his hands on my back felt like wheels of Brie, smooth and effective; soft like a cow. I told him I was six. He told me he was forty. I told him he smelled good. He told me he’d bought his cologne at Rexall.
Later, Mom said guys who wore Brut and/or Canoe were “cold and hungry.”
Around 1990, I saw Christopher Allport onstage in a Pinter play at the Taper and announced, “That’s the man I’m going to spend my life with.”
It took a little convincing, but within 3-weeks he said, “I feel like I could spend 30 years with you.” I remember thinking, “Why not 50?”
He was a domesticated wild man who wore fleece year-round and Everyone wanted to touch him.
Around 1980, my Father drove me over the hill, to the gourmet food section of Neiman Marcus, where they had free samples. We gorged on caramel corn and rumaki, bonding over food; arguing about religion.
He said, “God will start to make more sense once you get older.”
He asked, “Are you gonna finish that?”
He was Santa Claus crossed with Nachman of Breslov. All my girlfriends had crushes on him. He had the best beard ever.
His nickname for me was Pupik.
Around 1993, my husband was writing me poems and songs but I was never satisfied. He wanted a porch; I asked for a balcony. He grew his own vegetables and cooked 5-star meals that I refused to eat because I was either on Jenny Craig, Scarsdale, grapefruit + hard boiled eggs or the Atkins Diet. He kept trying to feed me, anyway.
Around 1977, at Camp JCA/Malibu, I fell for my first guitar player, a 16 year old Kosher folkie with bib overalls and a Star of David earring. I asked him to hike with me to the creek, where I planned on undressing from the waist up, even though I didn’t have boobs yet.
“I like you more than a friend,” I said.
“We have no basis for a relationship,” he replied.
But I wanted to be prepared in case one day he changed his mind. So Carrie Jacobs taught me how to give a handjob on a can of Tab.
Around 1974, Ricky Minkman had read so many Cosmo magazines, he would know far more than I did about how to be a woman or just look like one. This was the year he would teach me that the proper way to apply eyeliner was also the proper way to get a man to fall in love with you. He said: “Tilt your head back slightly and bring your eyes to a half-open state.”
Around 2008, my husband headed to the local mountains for some day-skiing. “You’re off to see the snow mistress again,” I said.
She would later seduce him into his last run.
Around 1971, the best looking men on Ventura Blvd could be found in photos on the wall of the post office, carwash-style. I would stare up at them and wonder why all the guys I knew were clean cut in comparison.
I asked Mom what TV shows they were on.
She said, “These are mugshots, Susan. These are horse thieves, train robbers, kidnappers. That one killed his wife. What’s wrong with you?!”
I didn’t know. To me, they were scruffy and real, and I hated anything that was shiny and anyone who was polished.
Susan Hayden is a poet, playwright, novelist & essayist. For three decades, she has been a fixture in the Los Angeles spoken-word community. Susan writes about being lost and found, about identity and belonging, and about love, grief and healing. Her plays have been produced at The Met Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s LA WinterFest, South Coast Rep’s Nexus Project, Mark Taper Forum’s Other Voices, Ruskin Group Theatre’s CafePlays, etc. Her novel, Cat Stevens Saved My Life, was a Top 100 Finalist in the Inaugural Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award with Penguin Press. Her fiction has appeared in Storie: All Write, The Black Body, and on Jewish.com.
Last year, her story, City of Rocks, a Finalist in the Tara Fellowship for Short Fiction (Heekin Group Foundation) was featured in the online journal, Angels Flight literary west (aflwmag.com). Recently, her work has been published in two anthologies: The bestselling “Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine: Los Angeles in the 1970s” (Rare Bird Lit, Nov. 2016) & “I Might Be The Person You Are Talking To: Short Plays From The Los Angeles Underground” (Padua Playwrights Press, July 2015).
Susan is the Creator/Producer & Curator of the monthly, mixed-genre literary series, Library Girl, now in its 9thyear at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, CA. She donates all proceeds for her show to the Ruskin Theatre. In 2015, she was presented with the Bruria Finkel/Artist In The Community Award by the Santa Monica Arts Commission for her “significant contributions to the energetic discourse within Santa Monica’s arts community.” Hayden’s proudest achievement has been raising her son, singer-songwriter Mason Summit.
You can reach Susan on Instagram: http://instagram.com/librarygirlpresents
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanelizabethhayden?ref=tn_tnmn
Library Girl has two shows in May!