I Am Rosemary's Granddaughter Chapter 2: Lie A Little

Lie a Little

Our dorm shared the bathroom with the one next door. We weren't exactly friends with our neighbors but we didn't barricade ourselves in our room...well, sometimes we did, especially at night as it would look peculiar if we were found sharing the same bed, regardless of how we could try to explain it. We were in an all-guys dorm, after all. I thought that I could handle being surrounded by a legion of guys of every shape, size and color...and I could...sometimes.

Unbeknownst to my father, I had taken the liberty to become a bit...well, liberal after the first day of school. I stopped wearing boxers--even though there was an issue with something at times--going to a more frilly style, and more form-fitting jeans. Granted, on my second day at campus, I looked like the guy "most likely to be trounced or pushed around" but I had my own personal bodyguard and I was in the theatre department, so I wasn't bothered too much. An occasional look or two and a comment from the backwater crowd that was to be ignored, nothing that a sneer or well-timed middle finger couldn't answer.

However, if my father had decided to just spontaneously visit then he would see my longer hair, earring in my ear (on the right ear), slim down shirts and a possible panty line if he bothered to look not that I would have wanted or expected him to; the longer hair would've done it.

"Kristopher Allen Novoselic. that hair is a rat's nest. It's worse than a rat's nest. It's a nest of a polecat. You are almost an adult, you need to dress like one. Like your friend, Michael."

Michael, if he was ever in the room at the time of these dress-and soul-down sessions, would either reply "yes sir" or nod or try to find a way to avoid being a part of the conversation.

"You can't go out looking like a slacking hippie from the sixties."
Funny thing to note about my family: my mom was a hippie during the sixties

As I said, I owned one dress and it was hidden away, under the bottom drawer of my dresser--again, worn only once up to that time. There were days that I would open the bottom drawer and contemplate whether or not to just go ahead and wear it outside of the dorm and to my classes. I'm pretty sure my English prof wouldn't care; my math instructor was a graduate student with multiple piercings in his ears, face and...and well other places; Mrs. Peterson was one of those teachers who didn't care if you came into class wearing a donkey costume as long as you didn't act too much like an ass. Mr. Montesi, the theatre director, would have assumed I was method acting for some project I was working on. I had gotten by for so long pretending to be a guy that it was too easy...except...that I still kind of was.

Michael was never too stressed about it...it never bothered him. I once asked him if it creeped him out a bit (because it did me)...but he suspected form the first day he met me that something was unique about me. I told him that that he was a horrible liar and would have to do better.

We usually left the dorm together and, if we had not been busy that morning, then off to the cafeteria for breakfast. Usually, we were very busy...so only a quick cup of coffee and then off to our respective classes. Michael, against my suggestions, had taken a full course load in electronics and computer technology. He had heard (from Danny) that it was where the money was and he had an old southern stereotype that he had to do what he could to support his future family. I could talk Michael out of a lot of things and he would take my ideas into consideration but I knew it was never a good idea to say what he was doing was wrong or foolish. I mean, I was taking theatre classes without a clue if I would ever get to move beyond community theatre shows; so who was I to tell him that he couldn't make it knowing the physical address location of some kind of gizmo.

We would sometime meet for lunch--but only for a few minutes as our classes overlapped on most days. It was okay but there were days that I had to complain to someone, I mean really unload in a “that time of the month” (yes, I have that too) kind of way. I would want to rail and spit about what my math class and how the professor-lite insisted that we solve it HIS way; which took ten minutes to come to a conclusion and not in the way that it's been done since the day someone put two and two together.

"He's just showing you that it can be done in multiple ways."
"And a computer can have it completed in thirty seconds, right?"
"Sometimes faster."
"So, let's say I'm an engineer."
"Oh, I got to hear this," Michael moved his tray to the side.
"Shut up and listen."
"Alright," --he held back a chortle.
"Okay, I'm an engineer and I have a client with me and I'm working through an equation. Am I going to waste his time, using a napkin or a piece of receipt paper to run through it the long way or am I going to solve it as efficiently as I can."
"Maybe your client had the same textbook?"

Most of my afternoons were taken up by my theatre class. I had made it my mission to get in the face of the head of the theatrical department and demand to be able to work on the production of whatever play we were going to work on. I put up a fight for stage manager without even knowing the title of the play. I gave the third biggest performance of my life to Mr. Montesi. He asked how much I knew about Shakespeare and I rattled off every coherent fact I knew about the bard. He still refused to tell me the title of the play but challenged that if I knew everything about the play in two days then he would consider my request.

So, with being on the campus for only two days, I spent the rest of the day at the library researching every single play supposedly written by Bill. I was not going to be surprised by the plots of any of them. I deduced that "Romeo and Juliet" would be too cliché and no one performs "the play that must not be named" without suffering dire consequences.
Mr. Montesi stood in front of the theatre class and simply asked: "Who has read 'A Comedy of Errors'?"
My hand shot up so fast that everyone there thought I was high on caffeine...which was true--I had the empty cases of Mountain Dew thrown out of my room that morning. Mr. Montesi had me explain the plot and I nearly acted the whole damn thing out on stage. With that, he handed me a copy of the script and a clipboard.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce your stage manager: Kris Novoselic."

I took my job seriously. I had to know everyone's entrance point and control the flow of the production. It also didn't hurt to know the play like the back of my hand. The cast worked with me, but a lot of them were second and third year students who took offense to listening to a short freshman with kind of long hair and glasses. Fortunately, the power of the clipboard gave me an upper hand.

"Say, is your tardy master now at hand?"
"Nay, he's at two hands with me, and that my two ears can witness."

Halley Nichols, Leslie Anderson and Brendon Ceseratto, third year students, walked about their marks in act two, scene one. Halley had made it her mission to method act her part of Adriana--even going so far as to dress in the period--with nothing on underneath her robes; talk like the character and refuse to bathe--stating that she would use herbs and perfumes of the era. Leslie portrayed Luciana but her strong southern accent did not mesh very well with the Shakespearean voice. If I was in charge of casting I would have given her the part of a tree. She could be a sequoia or a magnolia as long as she didn't say a word! Brendon wasn't an actor as much as he was a comedian who always told a joke at the wrong time.

"Say, didst thou speak with him? know'st thou his mind?"
"Ay, ay, he told his mind upon mine ear: Beshrew his hand, I scarce could understand it."
"Spake he so doubtfully, thou couldst not feel his meaning?"
"Nay, he struck so plainly, I could too well feel his blows; and withal so doubtfully that I could scarce understand them."
"But say, I prithee, is he coming home? It seems he hath great care to please his wife."
"Why, mistress, sure my master is horn-mad."
"Horn-mad, thou villain!"
"I mean not cuckold-mad; But, sure, he is stark mad."
"Yes, Halley?" I asked without looking up from my notes.
"Does he have to say cuckold?"
"Yes. Yes, he does."
"I don't like that word."
"Yet, it survives," Brendon replied to her.
"I mean do you know what it means?"
"I'll show you," Brendon had moved in for the kill.
"Can we return to the scene, please?" I asked.
"Can't he just say something else?"
"Such as?" Brendon chimed in.
"I don't know."
"Oh, I got it...We could rephrase it to say: Oh, he so horny."
"He love you long time!" Leslie finished.

There were times, pretty much every day of rehearsal, I would look past the actors and to the back stage area, as if I expected the playwright to come on stage and cuss us all out in iambic pentameter. Sure, we were all students that sometimes needed to vent, but then there were times where we needed to pay attention, set our nose the grind stone and...
Crap...I still sound like my father at times.

I tried to keep a calm and relaxed demeanor so I wouldn't appear as a pompous jerk. That being said., there was one cast member who did not like me after the second day.
Not the second day of theatre, of school.
Heather Ashman.

Michael and I arrived on campus with a minimal amount of stuff so after my parents had said their goodbyes we went back and forth to the local stores to get the odds and ends for our dorm room. We met up with Heather on one of those trips. We didn't know who she was but she came up close to Michael as he was unloading a shelf from the car..
"Welcome to UT, fellow Vol."
"Thank you, I--"
I stood on the other side of the car watching her performance.
She was good.
Tight jeans? Check
Loose shirt with a strapless bra. Check
The eyes that say "you're cute...just take me now, big boy"--One freaking check-a-rooney.

Heather had her hand on Michael's arm. She waited only seconds after he lowered the shelf and set it against the car to start touching him. Not that I thought that he would give into temptation even though she was much more endowed than I was at that time and she was able to express her feelings to him without a care in the world.
I figured if she was roleplaying, I could too.
"Yo, baby!" I shouted.
Heather looked to me with an expression that read one-part what the Hell are you? and two-parts No, seriously, what the Hell are you? It would appear that Heather wasn't looking for a practicing goth--that being, black hair with a slight green and red streak, parted to the side, black jacket, earring, etc--maybe I went a bit too liberal that day--kind of way.
Michael didn't flinch--he never responded to anybody who said "yo"--as I strutted up to her.
"You're pretty hot."
"And you're pretty--"
"I was going to say annoying." She replied with a, was that a pinch of sarcasm mixed with arsenic?
"And to think things would be different here, you know, Mikey?"
Heather's eyes shifted back and forth between Michael and I; perhaps wondering if he was worth going through the trouble.
"I can be romantic, if that's your desire. I carved the name of my last girlfriend--"
"Let me guess, in a tree?"
"A tree? No. Not a tree. A tree doesn't speak the love, you know? I carved it in my leg. Wanna see the scar?"
And with that, she turned around and walked away.
"Yo, baby?" Michael asked as he picked the shelf box back up. "Ten years of theatre class and that's the best you could think up? Yo, Baby?"

I wanted to assume that Heather could forgive me but I was pretty sure she was still pissed on how I made her look in front of Michael and she seemed to love trying to hold her bitterness over me...didn't really work though. She learned soon enough that I could speak "bitch"--quite fluently when I had to. Heather's role was of "the courtesan" which was almost a typecast.
"Oh stage manager?" Heather never called me by name.
“Yes, Heather?”
“I thought we were going to rehearse my scene?”
“We are, just not right at this moment."
"How long until my scene?" She asked with a tone that translated to "I hate you."
"There are three scenes before we--"
She then ran off the stage.
“You have twenty minutes!” I knew fully well that it would take her over thirty to get back to the auditorium. It was her routine....to annoy me. And, once again, if I had control of casting; Antipholus would have been meeting a gigolo, then I wouldn't have had to deal with Heather...or, perhaps I would have given the part to Leslie!

By that time, the scene had dissolved into chaos with Brendon and Chad--our two Dummios....I mean Dromios--involved in a sword fight with broomsticks.
"Can we go to our cue spots and get some quiet, please? C'mon people."

Theatre wasn't always that bad and, as I said, a lot of the cast listened to me. I wasn't a fool and they knew it. They sometimes didn't know that to think of me, especially as my wardrobe started to become increasingly "different" from the first two days of class, but I still held power. I would have so much have preferred to "A Streetcar Named Desire" or Even "Rocky Horror" as I wouldn't have to translate the scene to the members of troupe, But, alas.
"Thank you. Shane, Chad, you're up."
"The gold I gave to Dromio is laid up Safe at the Centaur; and the heedful slave Is wander'd forth, in care to seek me out By computation and mine host's report. I could not speak with Dromio since at first I sent him from the mart. See, here he comes. How now sir! is your merry humour alter'd? As you love strokes, so jest with me again. You know no Centaur? you received no gold? Your mistress sent to have me home to dinner? My house was at the Phoenix? Wast thou mad, That thus so madly thou didst answer me?"
"What answer, sir? when spake I such a word?"

My journey back to the dorm was one of the few times of the day I had everything to myself. No one walked with me, which was fine, so I could feel free to think of things like weddings or what I would have done differently growing up. There were a few times I would just stop and stand still...wondering if it would have best if my brother had been the one to survive.
Yeah, dark thoughts sometimes broke through. I was never good dealing with negativity: yet another reason why I was in theatre. I could act like a boy with a functioning appendage. I could rehearse how I wanted life to be. I could pretend to be a different someone when I was around everyone else. I had been an excellent liar for quite a long time.

My dad seldom ever came to any production that I was in. You know those movies where the kid gets over some issue in their life and is the hero of the very last game, recital or nuclear physics test; and the crowd does that slow clap that erupts into massive applause and there's the kid's parents; beaming so proud and saying THAT'S MY OFFSPRING UP THERE, GOSH DARN IT!
We'll let the nostalgia overtake us for a moment.
My dad saw one play of mine: "The Little Engine that Could"
I had one line and I said it with all the gusto that a first grader could: "You can do it, Little Engine!" It came out as: "Ewe can do it, Wittle Engwin!" but I thought it was an energetic delivery nonetheless and I deserved a Tony right then and there.

My parents worried that I was paying too much attention to dolls and would write in rolly-polly cursive with hearts so they removed me from public school and from the second semester of first grade until middle school I was tutored in a home school-ish kind of environment; one away from prying eyes and questionable looks as I would go back and forth on how I was feeling that day.
My grandmother once took me out shopping with her and we bought a skirt. It was a dark green and I loved it when I first saw it. I stood in the juniors department, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans....looking pretty out of place, or at least a tomboy; emphasis on the 'tom'.

"Do you like it?" My grandmother asked.
"Well, then let's get it."
I had the skirt in my hands...wondering how I could ever wear it back home. My grandmother lived over one hundred and forty miles from Memphis so I had no fear that anyone would see me. But that was an issue in of itself: no one would see me. No one could, lest I open up a pox upon my house.
We did buy it an I was able to wear it three times...all in my room and around the house. However, I fell asleep with it on and woke up to my father looking at me with such disdain his eyes were looking through me.
"What are you wearing?"
"It's a skirt." I replied as I thew my blankets over me.
"Where did you get it?"
"Of course. Take it off."
"Okay, I will."

I had lived thirteen years as "Kristopher" and there had been, like I said before, days that I would drop the act and try to be who I was...which was more female than my father ever wanted to admit.
"Okay, I will."
"I said take it off."

This was coming from the man who never let me go camping with the guys on my summer baseball team and knew fully well...oh yes, I had stopped taking any hormonal pills at that time and so the fight over nature vs strong-arming had begun. I was not comfortable with taking anything off in front of anyone at anytime.
"I'll take it off after you leave."
"Kris...." He let out a sigh and gave one of the legendary Novoselic face palms. "Elizabeth!"
I moved my blankets further up...still feeling a little violated, even though, in a way, I shouldn't have.
"Aaron?" Mom shouted from someone within the house.
"Upstairs. Kris has--"
He walked out into the hall and closed the door.
"What is it?"
"You need to talk to him." The door did little to muffle his tone.
"About what?"
"Just...just talk with him."
You would think that he would want to talk to me about this, seeing that it was one of those times that I should get an honest talking to by the man of the house...you know, before someone else told me.

My mother opened the door, looked at me and did not see a problem.
"Close the door, please."
"What's going on?" She closed the door and then looked back at me.
"I bought something else while shopping with Grandma."
"What would that be?"
I moved the blankets off and bolted up.

She looked at me for a few seconds before replying: "It's a nice color, but I think blue or black would work better."
Mom took one of my shirts that had a similar hue, ripped pieces from it, took the remnants and threw them in the trash can.
"Put that away, hide it for now." She pointed at the dress.
"How can I talk to him about this? He never listens."
"And he never may. Your father is...his father."
"Grandma said that too."
"Because she knows that once he decides on something his mind shuts up like a steel trap."

Dad was like that in everything...his business, family, playing Monopoly...it had to be done his way...like Baron von Trapp...before Maria arrived. The king ruled his castle and we (meaning everyone else) were expected to know the rules. I would have to go over the rules with anyone who came to our house, so, naturally, I never invited many people over.. Our house was on the far east side of Memphis, Tennessee near Cordova. It was kind of out in the middle of nowhere so to avoid the city. It was not palatial (although both Karen Anne and Michael used that word) but it was big and we had a pool, which was good for the hot and muggy summers that we had every so often....too bad I never got to host any parties.
"He can be pig-headed sometimes."
"That's putting it mildly."

There were times when I hated to talk about my dad behind his back. Mom didn't really help by playing both sides of the fence. She wanted him to be happy but she didn't want me to be miserable. I never thought pretending to be one thing while really being another was a good balance. Wear the pants, be "the son" and try to not let anyone know that for five to eight days in a month you're cramping and bleeding. My dad knew of it, yes, he knew very well. He didn't like it as he said that hormonal shots, pills, regiments, therapies....that they all should have washed me free of the "fe".

In a way, butting up against my dad was kind of like a "Karate Kid" exercise kind of thing. I had to learn how to think, act and speak around him and get good at it quickly to avoid dealing with his high and mighty thinking. This training allowed me to actually survive high school and segue to college where some people had the emotions and temperament of a terrible teething toddler. You could coddle the toddler, but you'd want to cold clock your collegiate colleague.

An example would be our dorm room manager, Richard Mannis.
I'll let you take a wild guess what everyone referred to him as.
Yes, and to his face too.
Yes, he asked for it.
And yes, he deserved it:

“Kris,Kris, Mr. Kristopher Novoselic.”
Richard sat at the dorm office desk. He was tall and always dressed in a white shirt with a tie. It was like he was living an audition for a Christian Dior ad. He was one of those types that...that...you want to like him...you want to think he's cute--which, okay, he was--BUT--once he opened his mouth, the ugliness in his soul would belch out and make you nauseous.
"Rick, Rich, Dorm master Richard Mannis."
"I want to talk to you about the noise from your floor."
"Then you need to talk to Jason and Mark. They’re the resident Limp Bizkit fans."
He sat back in the chair, at an almost tipping-it-over level.
"I wasn’t referring to music," he replied as he sprung up from the chair and stared through me. Yet another "ugly" trait he had--glaring into your heart...and desiring to carve it out with a rusty spoon.
"Then what are you referring to?"
"I think you know."
"I'm not going to go play this game, Rick. If you have something to say, say it.
"You’re both going to go to Hell, or out of the dorms. I’m not sure which yet."
There was one time that I made a sound. ONE time...and that sound could have been interpreted as a scream or yell...like I was screaming due to a movie or yelling because perhaps I slammed my thumb with a hammer. However, someone thought it just had to be something sexual.
Well...it was...but...did Richard have to take it that way?
"Stay ever vigil in defending this honored hellhole of a hall, Dick," I replied with no emotion as I opened the hallway door. I never liked talking to him. He was always there though. If I was paranoid I would assume he made it his mission to be there whenever I came back from class.
Tragically, I was very paranoid.

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