” She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.” —Vladimir Nabokov
It wasn’t always this way. With me stalking about the house on a Thursday afternoon, greasy haired, still clad in last night’s pajamas, a conversation that never happened playing itself on repeat in my head. I was ignorant, once. Not fully formed, on the lips, nor in the mind, but pure and lusciously innocent. Not yet aware that every man who would ever claim to love me, from cradle to coffin, would love a perception of me, not necessarily his own. But an ever-changing perception, formed long ago, rooted in patriarchy, birthed by religion, and ever, ever, ever evolving, as need be.
(You see, I was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning standing four feet ten in one
sock. I was Lola in slacks. I was Dolly at school. I was Dolores on the
dotted line. And yes, it’s true, in your accusation, I was always Lolita…)
I bought every bauble you ever sold, from the importance of my feminine purity, my virginity, to my responsibility to soothe the male ego. I prayed at your manmade altar, and skipped hopscotch in my plaid and pleated skirt in your church schoolyard. I learned to smile, always. A steady diet of toothy grins, parted lips, and empty eyes, which went from forced to natural, in just a few short years. I signed up for chastity, before I could spell it, much less define it. Long before my body would have the audacity to develop it’s own desires, I vowed to silence it. I promised to shame myself, for you.
I knew at eleven, that time was running out, I could feel, yet not fully comprehend, the shift in your handling of me, both emotional and physical. I became a suspect, questioned daily, on my knowledge of sexual matters. You took deposition,
after deposition, in regards to my prowess, my supposed feminine power over
the sexual desires of men. All men, each one unable to control themselves,
of what, I knew not. Only that it was my duty, not to tempt them, to entice them.
I agreed to understand, they couldn’t help themselves, it was up to me,
to do it for them. To never blame them.
(You see, they were lured by Lo, plain Lo, in the morning standing four
feet ten in one sock. They were lured by Lola in slacks. They were
lured by Dolly at school. They were lured by Dolores on the dotted line.
And yes, through no fault of their own, they were lured, always,
Yet, that window was small, so very tiny, as miniature as one pane in a doll’s house. So minute, one could pass through it, over a lazy weekend in junior high, reading the funny pages, and jumping rope on the front lawn. In the time it takes
to reach the bubble gum prize, waiting at the center of a blow pop, a girl can become
dangerous. She can know too much.
See too much. Speak too much.
Think too much.
She ceases to be deliciously awkward, delightfully unrefined, no longer a silly,
fawnlike creature, but a growing broodmare. The charm of gangling limbs,
and pouty mouth, matures into a state of womanhood, a shape-shifter of sin.
Of course, men want to fuck her, or at the very least, fantasize about fucking her,
she is considered flirtatious, at this stage, coy,
an ardent student of manipulation, and coquettish as a kitten. Her desirability,
at a peak that no man will admit. Instead, they take on a the role of protector,
preserver of purity. But, hey, in some churches, she gets a ring and a ceremony. And
the chance to pledge her pureness to her father. She even gets a pretty, white dress,
all bows and lace. And an assurance of her future happiness, at having signed away
control of her own body and mind. She is blissfully not beholden to her own urges.
But rather encouraged to hand them over happily, to her male gatekeeper.
The master that will keep her clean, keep her virtuous,
keep her wholesome, keep her untainted for the man,
that will one day deserve her,
through no chastity of his own.
(You see, in one form or another, at one time or another, we were
all Lo, plain Lo, in the morning standing four feet ten in one sock.
We were all Lola in slacks. We were all Dolly at school. We were
all Dolores on the dotted line. And in some man’s arms, we were
all, always Lolita…)
It wasn’t always this way. With me stalking about the house on a Thursday afternoon, greasy haired, still clad in last night’s pajamas, a conversation that never happened playing on repeat in my head. I was ignorant, once. Not fully
formed on the lips, nor in the mind, but pure and lusciously innocent. Not yet aware
that every man who would ever claim to love me, from cradle to coffin, would love
a perception of me, not necessarily his own. But an ever-changing perception,
formed long ago, rooted in patriarchy, birthed by religion, and ever, ever, ever,
evolving, as need be.
I swallowed my girlhood, smothered it deep inside me, stunted my womanhood,
per your orders, satiated myself with conviction, unwavering belief, in an ideology of what you wanted me to be, wanted to always see when you looked at me. But, biology is funny that way. Every girl becomes a woman, without realizing the outcome, the aftermath. The deep, dark well kept secret of male desire.
You want us to be that gawky eleven year old, at the breakfast table, eating waffles, with sticky maple syrup, a scab on one knobby knee.
You want us, by lunchtime, to be thirteen years old, newly minted breasts, cloaked in an unnecessary training bra, with a tiny bow at the center, self-conscious and pretty.
You want us to arrive at dinner, fifteen years old, demure and ever so slightly flirtatious, burgeoning on a sexual awakening, that we have yet to fulfill.
And, you want us to start new, fresh and unsullied at that breakfast table, each morning, as if we hadn’t shyly, laid on our backs, and spread our legs, so you could fuck us for the first time, just the night before. And we know, never think that we are so ignorant, as to be unaware that you may love us still, but never again the way you thought you did, profess you did, whispered you did, while seducing the innocence out of us.
Our girlhood, nothing more than a fetish for you, in which we smile through our
candy flavored lip gloss, scratch the scab on our knee, tug on that one slouchy sock, stare bashfully at the ground, and pledge to be the happiest girl in the whole USA.
Before we even know what that means.
(You see, we never asked to be Lo, plain Lo, standing four feet ten in one sock.
We never asked to be Lola in slacks. We never asked to be Dolly at school.
We never asked to be Dolores on the dotted line. And we never asked to be,
in your arms, always Lolita…)