Starlet Sassy’s brief brush with fame went straight to her head, and mine, truth be known. With the money she earned we bought new wardrobes for the family and redecorated the house. We thought Sassy would get other jobs out of her exposure to the children’s TV market, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. We waited patiently by the telephone for calls from her agent, but the phone remained idle.
Every single day, our little starlet raced down the stairs, dressed in her finest creations, usually as a fairy princess or as a “space queen,” and awaited her big break. Try as we might, Ray and I could never convince her to dress like a normal child. She even wore a tiara to church! It didn’t help my cause when Ray would encourage her by saying she looked “saintly” in those ermine robes. Faux ermine, of course. We were rich, but not that rich!
Eventually the money dried up, and the commercial stopped airing, and life went back to its usual slow grind. I then turned my attention to Snoop, who was becoming more and more precocious, and quite the little prankster! Ray called him a “hooligan in the making,” but I always defended my son, pleading he had a “higher than average” intelligence, and a well-developed sense of boyish curiosity. I rapidly put an end to his budding penchant for wearing my clothes and hiding in the bathroom whilst we showered, and encouraged him to study computers at school instead. A much healthier occupation for little boys, for sure! Technology was always a staple in our home, and Ray often came home with various electronic gadgets, from the factory, for our amusement. He said that he felt more “connected to God,” and received messages from the almighty through the various electrical transmissions, either from the radio, the television or the newfangled computer.
The computer in particular captured Snoop’s imagination. He’d spend hours studying practical codes and basic computer language from books he’d obtained at the school library. I was pleased to see him taking such an interest in technology, and was convinced he’d be an astrophysicist, or run a multi-million dollar computer conglomerate by the time he was twenty-five. He also had a vivid imagination, and as a lonely child he’d create entire conversations with his imaginary friends, conducted over the computer. He called it a “chat cafe.” We laughed, and said it would “never” happen. Little did we know…a few years later, it would!
Snoop was also obsessed with skateboarding. We do not know where this obsession came from, as neither Ray or myself were of the athletic persuasion, and if I could, I would have kept our son wrapped up in a blanket of cotton wool, to keep him safe. Nevertheless, the obsession persisted, so I chalked it up to boyish curiosity once again, and bought him a skateboard, helmet, and knee pads. I’d have bought him a padded suit too, if I could have afforded it!
The first time he fell and skidded his elbows I banished him to the house and kept his skateboard under lock and key. Yet the little devil somehow managed to procure it by picking the lock. So I finally relented, and allowed him to take up skateboarding again. Ray was more convinced than ever after that little lock-picking incident that Snoop was destined for a life in organized crime. He was always one to exaggerate!
I focused more and more of my attention on my little tadpoles, ignoring my ever-diminishing love-life with my husband. Ray was always distant, but in the years that followed our marriage he became ever more distracted, preferring a life of priestly celibacy, despite my pleas for him to shower me with flowers and romance. I wrapped myself up in racy novels and old black and white films, and tried everything to attract my husband. Oh, the hours I spent plucking my eyebrows, applying makeup and wearing frilly lingerie, but to no avail.
In an attempt to reach Ray on his level, I wore frankincense and myrrh, like church, and it made me “pure” in His eyes, at least for awhile, but he was convinced I was either possessed by evil spirits or a witch. This belief persisted unfortunately. He even called me a “Succubus”, and recited passages from Revelations, throwing holy water at me. Imagine the sting of those words!
For awhile I plunged into a deep depression, hardly getting out of bed to make dinner or clean the house. But after several more years of this misery, a chain of events threw us into a state of upheaval. Ray lost his job at the television factory, and I lost a baby. He took that as further evidence of my “unclean” nature, and never touched me again.
The months following Ray’s unemployment were the hardest of our lives. We could no longer purchase skateboards for Snoop, or costumes for Sassy. I had to scrimp and save every penny, and cut out coupons for everything, even my antidepressants! Sassy, by now a young lady, spent more and more time in her room, piecing together costumes out of old scraps of curtain material, and Snoop, a precocious young lad, spent all of his time in these new places called “Internet cafés.”
Things were so bad, we even considered going on the bread line. And then a miracle occurred- or so we thought!
Ray came sailing home one day after another fruitless attempt at pounding the pavement, looking for work;
“Look at this, mother! A high tech pharmaceutical corporation is seeking an “ideal nuclear family” for a series of clinical studies. The study could take up to five years, and will pay handsomely. All housing and living expenses will be paid for. We can sell the house, and live like kings! What say ye, woman?”
It seemed too good to be true. I had lots of questions and concerns, but as usual, Ray wasn’t interested in discussing the minor details with me. Our family were on the verge of financial ruin. What other choice did we have? So, sucking in my breath as I ignored the nagging feelings of dread, I finally replied,
“Well, Ray…what have we got to lose?”
Those were words I’d live to regret for the rest of my life.