Sign Here, Mr. Rob Zombie

February 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Thirteen years ago I worked as a youth counselor for a non-profit residential program for teen girls. I wore a set of keys on a stretchy bright orange bracelet. The residents had to ask to be let into their rooms, into the bathroom, into the kitchen; they had to wait while staff unlocked the doors to go outside, eager to escape the government gray cement walls.

“Chris,” a resident in the Pelle Tier dorm, heard that Rob Zombie would be signing autographs at the Ear-X-Tacy on Bardstown Road in Louisville.

“Ms. Hart, you should go get his signature for me.” She said with a half grin. Her blond roots had grown out an inch since her arrival, pushing out the hair dyed green and black. Her bangs hung like a dog’s ear over one eye.

I remembered being a teenager hanging out on Bardstown Road, a time I had only escaped just a few years earlier. I remembered Highland Grounds, Hemispheres, Twice Told – Starbucks didn’t even exist in Kentucky at that time. Every weekend I sat at the same table with my journal. Although surrounded by my best friend and several regulars, I hardly spoke. I watched all the people with their mouths full of talk and sharp teeth – fascinating monsters dipped into the hardwood pool of coffee houses – all like images in an Edvard Munch painting.

I was a new Christian, the old things had passed away and new things had come – but I didn’t understand that yet. Not really.

I stood in line, partly freezing, and felt the paralyzing self consciousness I used to feel at fifteen – I’d quit smoking and I didn’t know what to do with my hands or my feet – I had put away my trench coat and long black skirts, I didn’t have my eyes smoked out.

I wore those little Chinese mary-jane flats you could buy for five bucks at Grateful Threads, the ones where the brick colored soles smelled like new tires.

The line, vulgar and tattooed, goose pimpled, pierced, and nicotine lit, inched along like years.

Then I saw him towering like a black flag that been blowing in the wind so long the edge started to unravel. He wore a ratty top hat that I could see over the shaved heads and dyed spikes. I could see him not fifteen feet ahead, planted there – a tired, narrow man.

The guard ushered me forward. I opened my journal to a blank page for him to sign.

He was friendly, like my neighbor who cooked broccoli and chicken for my husband and I when we first moved into our house – clumsy and cheery, like a good dog you pat on the side, not like the character he plays in his videos, with his skin ashy and flaking off and his eyes whited out and bulging.

“You’re making someone very happy.” I said thanking him for his signature.

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