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Winter 1997
How to Do the Twist
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I saw a man with large brown arms. They had a tangle of black hairs, and as I followed the arms up and up, I found the man's face. He was dressed in white and he reminded me of Bob Hope. He looked like someone who was going to play golf later.

"Where is your father?" he asked.

"Virginia."

"Where in Virginia?"

"The navy." That's all I knew. Somewhere in Virginia. Somewhere in the navy. My father was always somewhere else.

My mother spent three months at a state mental institution called Fairfield Hills. It took an hour for my father to drive us there, so we only went on weekends. The place looked a lot like Scarlett O'Hara's Tara, only it had bars on the windows. My brother and I weren't allowed inside because we were kids, so we would wait on the grass outside and make up stories about the people in the criminally insane wing of the hospital. Finally our parents would come out, and they would fight while my brother and I ate the chicken sandwiches we'd packed in aluminum foil. I'd sit and watch them, imagining my mother was Scarlett O'Hara and my father was Rhett Butler.

"When am I getting out of here?" My mother refused to eat the sandwich, refused the forsythias I had picked from the backyard for her. They were wilted anyway.

"When you're better." My father swallowed hard.

"I'm better."

"No you're not."

"I'm not taking any pills."

"It's not the pills," my father sighed. "It's the reason why you took the pills."

"I took the pills because you're an asshole."

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