First, there was Sid Vicious. Or maybe it was my friend Maggie’s older brother, Andy. But then, maybe it had been my father himself. Though, I would never have put him on such a list. At thirty-five, I did not know who had been the first to break me. I did not care to know. I did know that I loved music, babies and my father, Lowell. None of these could disappoint me. These were my heroes. It was heartbreak I could not bear. Cannot.
1. Sid Vicious/Andy
I wanted to be a homeless heroin addict for Halloween. So it was definitely Sid Vicious. Or maybe Andy.
“A what?” my mother had asked.
“You know, a drug addict.” I was eight, and it was the era of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. I had caught a glimpse of Sid and Nancy at Maggie’s house one Friday after school. Maggie’s brother, Andy, attempting to induce fear in us, made us sit through a half hour of the movie, maybe more. Andy had ruffled my penny-colored hair and said, “Isadora, watch: This is your brain on drugs.” Pretending to hold the handle of a frying pan with one hand, he mimed cracking an egg with his other hand. Then he wiggled all ten fingers over the pretend frying pan, simulating the splattering egg.
“My brother’s so gross,” Maggie later complained. I disagreed.
My mother, Alice, taught sociology at the state university. She was an avid reader and a perfectionist, and she’d immersed herself in parenting guides since the day she gave birth. When I presented my Halloween costume choice, she was in the midst of reading 5,6,7,8 – From Imagination to Education: A Primary Schooler’s Developmental Stages and also, a book on the cutting edge disciplinary technique of the day called, Yes, You Can! A Parent’s Guide to Positive Reinforcement. At least, these are my guesses. (I’ve rummaged through her collection of parenting self-help books. I’ve even catalogued them for her.) Alice convinced my dad that they should give in about the costume, maybe explaining that it was essential to indulge the stages of my imagination in a positive manner. These were the types of arguments Alice used to make.
When she took me and Maggie, who dressed as a fairy princess, door-to-door in the neighborhood, people asked, “Well what are you, little girl?” I held out my arms to reveal drawn-on track marks, and replied, “A homeless junkie.”
Sid Vicisous – or would you say it was Andy?, a sloppy, fourteen-year-old, pot-smoking skater who idolized punk music – set the tone for all of my future loves to come, beginning with Dmitri Mercurio.