Saturday, September 04, 2010
Get Me A Labrador And I'll Retrieve It
The cartoon opens with Charlie being "taken for a ride in the country." A man opens the car door, Charlie bounds out, the man throws a stick, Charlie gives chase and the man jumps back into the car and roars away, leaving poor Charlie with a stick in his mouth on the side of the road. Charlie then goes into all his "adorable dog" poses until along comes Porky and he is rescued...we think. It is not long before we learn why Charlie was cut loose by his previous master. He's just a bit obnoxious. Being over-eager to please, he goes into con man mode.
My favorite exchange between Porky and Charlie is; P:"What kind of dog are you, anyway?" C: "Why I'm a Labrador Retriever." P: "You're not a Labrador Retriever." C: "Oh Yes I am. Get me a Labrador and I'll retrieve it!" P: non-plussed silence. C: "Do you even have a Labrador?" P: *sputter C:"Do you know where you can get a Labrador?" P: "Well, No." C: "THEN SHADDAP!"
It wasn't until I watched this cartoon in its entirety again, that I saw, in the body of the film, the bits and pieces of a lot of reunions. Charlie is over-eager to please and over-needy to the point of being obnoxious. Porky is having trouble getting his bearings and wants to be a kind person but is being pushed to the edge. The cartoon ends with Porky taking Charlie for another "ride in the country," only Charlie pulls a fast one and jumps in the car and drives off while Porky is throwing the stick. Now it is Porky's turn to sit at the side of the road and try to be adorable.
I think that the roles here are interchangeable. There always seems to be one who pushes and one who retreats in the reunion dance and that can change from one to the other as the years pass. Charlie wants to be the center of the Universe and, while Porky is willing to give food, water and shelter (*love and acceptance), he does have a farm to run. The Mother and the Adoptee wear both faces in this analogy. I have seen some mothers try so hard that they lose what they might have had of themselves in the need to connect with the child they lost. I have seen adoptees pushing and testing and needing until the mother is drained and they, the adoptee, are angry and emotionally exhausted, not understanding why they do it.
And I have seen both Mother and Adoptee so angry that "THEN SHADDUP" is the only thing left to say. It's a dance to discordant music and with no rehearsal. In a way, it reminds me a bit of the Apache dance of the Parisian streets of the early part of the last century. The dancers exchange slaps and pushes and drags and there are intense but mixed feelings in every movement. The Apache dance is, to me, passionately sad and cruel. But what was done to us and to our children is also sad and cruel. And it has placed a barrier between us that is very hard to penetrate all the way.
There are times when I want to just wish, so hard, that I could go back and have a do over and not have my children appropriated for adoption. I put my sanity at risk if I dwell on that tragedy and what happened to them very much. I have to make room in my life for all the others who are integral parts of my world. But the gap between me and my adult, surrendered children is keenly felt and the bridges we build are not all that sturdy. It's like the paste we used to make in kindergarten. Too much water, and nothing holds together. Adoption dilutes the bond of blood and love and we have to find new ways to strengthen it. If we are lucky, we can add more of the original bond until it "takes." Or not..... Too often there is a gate in the center of the bridge and the lock on that gate is, most often, the adopters.
If ever there were anything that would make me want to scream, it is the confusion of this unnatural thing called adoption and the treatment dealt out to the mothers of the EMS. I know we are not going to get anywhere by sitting on the side of the road trying to be adorable. We learn, too quickly, that it just doesn't get the job done. That's why you will see mothers of the EMS, representing SMAAC, in San Antonio next July. We're done chasing the sticks that anyone, including the Industry, throws and are throwing a few of our own.
Whether we are a fast-talking Charlie or a befuddled Porky, we are all mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore. When it comes to getting justice for us and our children of the EMS, you just get me a Labrador and I'll retrieve it.