Meatball’s First Feminist


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       Not many people got the best of Meatball during his long year at the house, although some people tried, especially towards the end of his stay there when a whole, new younger and arrogant crowd moved in, college kids who had cut their teeth on the anti-war movement and indeed, liked the idea that Ronald Reagan might become president some day.

       This batch didn’t like the informal arrangements that had given Meatball automatic authority in the house, one that even the landlord came to honor.

       Yet to Meatball’s mind, it was never one of these “two-bit, Wall-Street-bound neo-fascists” that bothered him. It was the change in the females.

       When we moved into the house in late 1972, a flavor of The Sixties still clung to the rafters, with the bunch of us little more than hold outs against a changing tide. Outside, the threat of money-grubbing ravished the landscape, but in our rooms, we still played guitar, smoked pot, and listened to Neil Young records. And Meatball made love to every girl who checked into the house, either as a resident or a visitor, “sharing the wealth” as he called it.

       Over time, many of the original residents moved on to other places, taking up their lives as husbands and wives, working jobs that slowly evolved into careers. I moved out for a while, too, only to move back in when my new life failed to take shape and I need the safety of the old house in a world I found too harsh.

       But the only familiar face left in the crowd was Meatball’s, and that face looked worn from maintaining the old mood when no one else wanted it. But he was particularly vexed by a batch of women who had descended on the house from the campus, “a lot of bitches,” he called them, who not only didn’t want to have sex with him, but systematically converted any women away from him who did.

       One woman – he called “the ringleader” – vexed him most, and cut him and his authority down to size almost from the day she moved in.

       “She had eyes like coal, so deep and black you could see your soul in them,” he told me over several beers in the kitchen on night, “or thought you'd stepped into some Pennsylvania coal mine, abandoned and cold.

       “She weren’t a bad looking bitch really, but when you stood back from her and looked her over real close, you got the impression she didn’t give a shit about any man, let alone me. When I looked over her shapely form, she looked at me like I was nothing, and gave me dark looks every time I uttered some four-letter word she didn’t like.

       “She seemed to think I was vulgar, but I might have said the same thing about her, only her curses began and ended with ordinary English words, that you could have said in front of any kid without blushing. It was the way she said things, you could cut your finger on her delivery and bleed for a week before you healed.

       “The first time I met her in the hall I gave her a howdy and she glared at me so hard I might have slapped her face. So I figured she was just one of those bitches with a bad attitude and tried to stay out of her way.

       “But she took over the kitchen so that I couldn’t get up a poker game when I wanted it. When I complained all she said was: `We were here first.’

       “By `we’ she meant a host of little darling girls a third her age who she was training to be just like she was, none of whom would have any more to do with me than the bitch did. Most nights when I crawled home from work, I could hear her ranting and raving, occasionally throwing my name into the middle of it as an example of how terrible the male population can get.

       “One time I made the mistake of wandering in there for a soda when she was in the middle of one of these, she seated at the kitchen table with a shit-load of class notes spread out in front of her, and a handful of sweet little innocents staring over at her like she was some female version of Jesus Christ.

       “Every head in that room turned to look at me as I walked in, each of them so pumped up with hate for men I thought they would lynch me. I had to tiptoe passed them to get to the refrigerator, and tiptoe back to the hall – though I did get a glimpse of the bullshit pamphlets the bitch was handing out, some of it she later call `women’s issues’.

       “And that bitch preached this stuff loud enough for anyone to hear it in the halls, and sometimes, just out of morbid curiosity, I’d sit myself down on the top step and listen to her talk.

       “She seemed to have a different sermon every night, and all of them against men or things men supposedly did or made. I remember her talking once about how the family was dead, and women ought not to take marriage vows that bound them to death. I remember in another she kept saying how God had been castrated, something I tried to imagine, then gave up, thinking that any woman who had the balls to cut the balls of God, I wouldn’t mess with. Yet through all of these sermons, she kept saying how men and women were created equal. But to my reckoning, she didn’t want men and women equal at all, she wanted women superior.”

       Meatball’s tone was so sour on this point, I asked him if he believed in equality of the sexes.

       “Sure, I do,” he said. “I just didn’t agree with her idea of it that’s all. What’s wrong with marriage anyway that she had to go and destroy it? Couldn’t she fix it up a little? And why couldn’t God be a man? The fact was, she kept knocking things, and wanting to do away with things, but didn’t have anything of her own to put in their place.

       “Her talk reminded me of all those clowns back in 1969 who kept talking about blowing up things, banks and such, and in the end, wound up blowing themselves up. Revolution this, revolution that, screw the system this way, that way or anyway you can.  Every other word out of her mouth talked about oppression.”

       Meatball let out a long sigh. “Then, one day while I was listen to all this, I just got fed up and started shouting down the stairs that she was full of shit and if those sweet little girls listened to her, they would be full of shit, too.”

       “What happened then?”

       “They hushed up some,” Meatball said. “And the pack of them got even more hostile when I passed them in the halls later on. But I got it in my head that I was going to save mankind from their evil clutches.”

       “That sounds like a big task. What did you do?”

       “I didn’t build no bombs, that’s for sure. Sometimes, I would deliberately go down stairs to the kitchen, pretending to retrieve something from the refrigerator – like I did that once by accident, pretending like I was trying to get wind of her secrets. Each time I walked in, everybody shut up. And they would do nothing but glare at me until I vanished again.

       “I knew I was being a pain in the ass, violating the sanctity of their little coven. I wanted to throw them out of the kitchen, telling that other people had a right to use the space, but I knew even the landlord wouldn’t back me on that count. The rule was and is: first come, first serve. It was just that she and her girls never seemed to leave – at least, not until she graduated or whatever happened to her at the college.

       “She moved out just before you came back. I thought things would go back to normal, but they didn’t. While none of the girls who moved in after she’d gone were ever as bad as she was, most of them had some bit of her attitude, and if they ever had sex, they didn’t tell anybody about it.

       “Me? I have to go out to the tavern and bring some bitch back if I want to get laid. Sure ain’t the way it used to be, and it’s all that liberated bitch’s fault. Castrate God? What the hell do they want after that?”



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