(first part of story here)
This was the strangest week. I was depressed lately, rarely leaving the house. I spent a lot of time in my office, introducing my mother to new technology. I showed her how to use Firefox on her laptop and how to quick dial on her new phone. My mother is officially the only one I know in real life who has a Barbra Streisand song as her ringtone.
On Tuesday, I was invited to this party at a hotel in Midtown. Yes, me — Neil Kramer, who never gets invited anywhere. A group of mommybloggers had started a group website and were having a launch party at the Hilton. They were arriving from all over the country. Toshiba sponsored the the party. The event would be a way for bloggers to socialize, as well as for Toshiba to showcase some of their latest products.
When I first received the invitation, I didn’t want to attend the party. Would I be accepted by the others? I had made enemies in the mommyblogging community lately because of some comments I had made on Twitter, accusing them of ruining blogging with all their giveaways and monetization.
My mother convinced me that I should go to the party. She was worried that I was turning into a hermit and shut-in. There was another reason I wanted to attend. I was curious to meet Eleanor. Eleanor, one of the writers for this new blog, was a single mother from Arkansas. We had flirted a bit on IM. She had never been to New York before and was bringing along her daughter, Sarah, for the event.
Despite the rain and the first game of the World Series, the party was a huge success. I spent most of my time chatting with Eleanor and drinking “dirty martinis.” I related to Eleanor. Unlike some of the other mothers, who were unnaturally upbeat, there was a darkness to Eleanor. It felt as if she had “experienced life,” good and bad, and I found her sexy.
Eleanor brought Sarah to the party for an hour, just so she could meet everyone. I had read so much about Sarah’s on Eleanor’s blog, it was as if I knew her. She was five years old, with raven hair — the most adorable young girl you’d ever seen. Sarah and I had a discussion about “My Little Pony,” which apparently was her favorite toy. Luckily, “My Little Pony” was the giveaway in the latest Happy Meal, and I had just read about it while standing in line at McDonald’s, so I was able to fake my knowledge. It worked, because I clearly won over this sweet girl!
After Eleanor put Sarah to bed, Eleanor and I continued our conversation in the hotel bar. She talked about her last relationship. I talked about Sophia. When it was time for the bar to close, she invited me upstairs to her hotel room.
“You mean… stay here?” I asked, surprised.
“Will your mother mind?” she asked, laughing.
“Mind?! She’ll be grateful! But what about Sarah?”
“I have a two room suite.” she said. “And she’s fast asleep.”
As anyone who has read my blog, you know I don’t hold back from telling you about my life. I am an open book. I would love to report back, in complete detail, about what happened in that New York City hotel room during the next few hours, with the lights of Fifth Avenue sparkling below, but I can hardly remember what occurred, and if I could, it would hardly make logical sense. I remember her long, thin body, her hard nipples, and her long hair falling on my chest. I can hear the bed ramming loudly against the wall. But were those moans of pleasure or pain?
In the morning, I opened my eyes and groaned. The light was burning my retinas. I had the worst hangover in my entire life. The mattress was half off the bed. I was in bed naked and alone. There were deep scratches and bruises all over my chest, stomach, and thighs, as if I were attacked by a jaguar.
What happened last night? And were was Eleanor? I turned towards the window and saw that I was not alone. But it wasn’t Eleanor. It was Sarah, sitting comfortably in the arm chair, her feet crossed, innocently playing with her My Little Pony. I quickly covered my bruised body with the sheet.
“Uh, hello there, Sarah. Where’s your mother?”
Sarah rose up, but didn’t speak. She handed me a letter, written on the hotel stationery. It was from Eleanor.
For the last six years, I have been a mommyblogger, and have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I have given seminars at BlogHer, had lunch with both Amalah and Bossy, and I am ALWAYS included in those books which compile blog posts on motherhood.
Lately, I have been disappointed with the direction of the momosphere. New mothers want to move up the ranks without doing the hard work. That is why I have decided to quit being a mommyblogger, and re-brand my blog as a fashion blog. My brief stay in New York has opened my eyes to the world of fashion. I am bored with Arkansas. Women are so glamorous in the big city, and I want to be part of this world. Last night, as we made love, my mind drifted to my career goals. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a fashion blog in Paris? I could name it “Arkansas Gal Goes to Paris” and it could be about my exploits in the French fashion world. I definitely could monetize that!
As you can imagine, my daughter will not be an asset to my online business as I re-brand. As a mommyblogger, she was essential, of course. I will always appreciate everything she did for me during my early years of blogging. Most of my readership came from stories about her, starting when I live blogged her birth. My blog would not have been a success without my weekly photos of Sarah, especially the ones where I dressed her up in funny clothes during Halloween, but I think now is the time for BOTH of us to search for new opportunities.
As Sarah’s mother, I want the best for her. And that is why I thought about YOU. Who do I know who could use a child to enhance his reputation with the online community? You! Now with a child, you can be a parent blogger like the rest of us. You can be ONE OF US!
I was shocked and intrigued by the content of this letter. And perhaps Eleanor was right. Having a daughter would change my online life. I heard Eleanor’s voice ringing in my head.
“You can be ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!”
I glanced over at Sarah and she smiled at me, but when I stared into her eyes, I had to avert from her gaze. I saw something inside her dark eyes that I found troubling, but what?!
The next few days were a whirlwind of activity. I brought Sarah back to Queens, and my mother was ecstatic. She had always wanted to be a “grandmother.” My mother introduced Sarah to the neighbors in the apartment building, bragging about how smart she was, and how she was going to attend Harvard Medical School and make something of herself, unlike her son.
“Success always skips a generation,” she told Muriel, my next door neighbor.
Despite my fears, nothing bad came to pass. In fact, Sarah had only brought me good luck. The news of my new “daughter” spread throughout the blogosphere. Within a day, my readership had tripled, and PR companies were inviting me to free trips to Disney World.
But something changed when I was alone with Sarah. Twice a week, my mother went to play mah jongg at a neighbor’s apartment. The minute my mother closed the door behind her, Sarah became more obstinate.
“I don’t want to put away my f**king toys!” she would say to me.
I tried to remain calm, knowing that changing families can be hard on a young child.
“Now, Sarah, in this house, when we finish playing with our toys, like My Little Pony, we put them into our nice toy box.”
“Eat sh*t, you motherf**ker!”
“Now, Sarah. I know the type of language they have on TV nowadays. I sometimes watch Entourage, too, but it is inappropriate to speak this way to someone older than you.”
“I bet you have a tiny d*ck,” she replied.
I found this entire exchange troubling. When my mother returned from mah jongg, I told my mother about Sarah’s misbehavior, but when we walked into her bedroom (which used to be MY bedroom), the young girl was sleeping soundly, looking like an angel.
“You must be imagining all of that,” said my mother. “Sarah is the most perfect child I have ever seen. Are you jealous because she is getting so much attention from me?”
My mother assured me that I would always be her son, even if she doted on Sarah and treated her like the daughter she always wanted instead of a boy.
“By the way. Please clean out your closet to make room for all the new clothes that I want to buy Sarah at TJ Maxx,” said my mother.
I went to sleep on the uncomfortable living room couch, the plastic cover sticking to my body. I felt confused. Maybe Sarah was just tired from all the excitement. That would explain her temper tantrums. She needed time to adjust to her new environment.
The next morning, I woke up. The head of Sarah’s My Little Pony, cracked off the rest of the body, was sitting on my pillow, in a pool of ketchup. I could hear Sarah laughing in my her bedroom — in MY old bedroom. It was not the gentle laugh of an adorable child, but the crazed guffaw of Satan’s offspring.
“You need to bond with her,” said my mother as she made French Toast for breakfast the next morning. “Then she’ll be your friend.”
“You make the best French Toast in all the world, ma’am,” said Sarah to my mother. Sarah was sitting at the kitchen table, her hands folded like the teacher’s pet.
“Thank you, sweetie. You are so nice and polite. And please… call me Grandmama.”
“OK, Grandmama. I love you, Grandmama! One day I will go to Harvard Medical School and make you proud of me! I will never waste my life on Twitter like Neilochka does!”
My mother suggested that I decorate the house for Halloween with Sarah.
While my mother attended her mah jongg game, I bought a large pumpkin.
“How about we make a Jack O’Lantern together!” I announced cheerfully.
“Yayyyyyy!” Sarah yelled, with youthful enthusiasm.
We went into the kitchen to start the project. I cut off the top of the pumpkin, and threw out the guck inside. I gave Sarah a Sharpie so she could draw a “spooky face” on the exterior of the pumpkin.
“This is fun!” she said.
I was glad that we were finally bonding.
I found the sharpest kitchen knife, one that my mother recently bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond with a 20% off coupon, in the utensil drawer, and used it to start carving out the face. As I worked on our creation, I entertained Sarah by teaching her the words of “The Monster Mash.”
It was at this point that Sarah’s demeanor changed for the worse.
“You cannot sing for sh*t,” she said.
“That is not very nice thing for you to say, Sarah. It is not polite to criticize someone’s singing. If you don’t have anything nice to say…”
“Loser! Dummy! Fart-face! Moron! P*ssy!”
I could tell that words alone were not enough to discipline her. I was forced to say the most hated statement that any parent could ever speak.
“Sarah, stop that, or I will spank you!”
“You don’t have the guts to spank me, you weenie! I piss on you.”
Sarah started to pee all over the kitchen floor, laughing like a hyena.
“This is unacceptable!” I said. I kneeled down with a roll of paper towels to wipe the pee. Being a parent to a child was more work than I ever realized!
As I scrubbed the floor, I decided to have a serious conversation with Sarah about her behavior, but when I turned to my side, she was not there. I immediately noticed that the knife that I was using to carve the pumpkin was also gone. Whaaaa…?
I angled my body backwards and there was Sarah, behind me, holding the knife over her head, the florescent light reflecting the sharpness of the metal blade.
Sarah’s face was blood red as she uttered her mantra –
“I must kill you for your mocking comments about mommybloggers. I must kill you. I must kill you because I was brought to this earth to do evil and EVIL I must do!”
This Daughter of Lucifer was about to stab this kitchen knife into me, when the front door opened. It was my mother, having just finished her game of Mah Jonng at Mildred’s.
“No!” screamed my mother. “And not with that brand new knife!”
I had heard stories of how human beings can develop super-strength when their adrenaline is pumping. I read about a father who lifted up a Chevy truck with his bare hands in order to rescue his son trapped underneath. The parental bond is that strong, and so it was with my mother. When she saw that I was in danger, she leaped into the sky and knocked the knife out of Sarah’s hand. Sarah went flying across the linoleum floor.
“F*ck you, Grandmama,” said the angry girl.
“That’s it, young lady. You’re punished.”
My mother dragged Sarah into the bathroom, where she proceeded to wash her mouth out with a bar of Ivory Soap. I remember my mother once did this to me because of my “potty mouth,” and it was an experience I would never forget. However, Sarah was unrepentant. She continued to curse at both of us, and her head did a 360 degree turn, which was a clear sign that she was up to no good.
“This child is inhabited by the evil power of Lucifer,” said my mother. “We need to find an exorcist!”
“Where are we going to find an exorcist in Queens?” I asked.
We both agree that we needed to find a religious figure, a person of education and faith, one equipped to fight this monstrous Beelzebub that was inside this young girl.
The next day, on Halloween, we dragged Sarah over to Beth Israel and requested a meeting with Rabbi Gold. It seemed natural to first seek counsel from “one of your own.” Rabbi Gold was new to the temple, a handsome young rabbi, still single, fresh from the rabbinical seminary. After we told him about our problem, he was honest with us, and said that he had never dealt with the spawn of the devil before.
“Maybe we should call up Father O’Herily at Saint Francis. He’s probably more experienced. When Jews get possessed by Satan, they usually don’t come to their rabbi. They usually go into therapy.”
“Hey there Jew-boy,” teased Sarah. “You wearing that yarmulke to cover that bald spot?!”
“Sarah, that is so rude!” yelled my mother.
The red-faced rabbi rifled through the Talmud looking for instructions on how to do a exorcism.
“I don’t know if this will work,” said the rabbi when he found the appropriate passage, “But we can try this fifteen century pray written to combat evil.”
Rabbi Gold started reciting the powerful Hebrew text, but Sarah just laughed.
“Going up?” she asked, as if she was an elevator operator, and she lifted the rabbi into the air with her powers, pinning him to the ceiling of the temple.
“Bring him down right now,” scolded my mother.
“Sorry, Grandmama, but maybe Neilochka can keep him company.”
Sarah extended her hand and I zoomed up against the ceiling, landing next to the Rabbi.
With the rabbi and I helpless, this left my mother alone with Sarah, female vs. female.
“What is wrong with you?” asked my mother. “Why are you so evil? Who’s ever going to want to date you when you get older? You’re a total bitch!”
Sarah lifted up the top of her shirt.
“Girls Gone Wild!”
“Ugh,” we all said in unison, disgusted and uncomfortable.
Sarah then told us about how her mother, Eleanor, worked in a funeral parlor after graduate school, and how on one lonely, rainy night, Eleanor made love to a handsome, but decapitated man who was lying dead on a slab, but still with a hard-on, and how, because of this terrible and unnatural lust, she became pregnant and gave birth to a child from Hell. Sarah then revealed the secret details of that recent elite Mommyblogging summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, where top mommybloggers gathered to come up with a plan to kill me, as punishment for some unflattering comments I made on Twitter. It was Eleanor who suggested using her evil daughter to take care of things.
“And that is why I am who I am! I was BORN EVIL!”
I was shocked by this story, at the horror of it all, and how easily demons can take hold of even the most innocent of creatures and turn them into cruel and inhumane monsters.
“And now to take care of ALL OF YOU.” the devil girl cried, her eyes glowing with hatred.
Sarah raised her thin hands again and the synagogue shook. The stained glassed windows cracked, and the floor started to break apart, as if Hell itself was gobbling us up into the fire. Blood spilled from the walls, and we could hear screams of agony from those imprisoned in the underworld.
“Good-bye, Mom. Good-bye Rabbi Gold. Goodbye World.” I said, sobbing.
And then there was a faint sound. A voice of goodness. Of joy. A voice that cut through the violence. It was my mother’s cellphone. It was Mildred calling, wondering if they were still playing mah jongg on Halloween. But it was not Mildred that we heard. It was my mother’s new ringtone, Barbra Streisand singing “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” from the movie Yentl.
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa can you find me in the night?
Papa are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me not be frightened?
As Barbra sang, Sarah released her raised hands and crumbled to the floor in tears, vulnerable and child-like for the very first time.
“Daddy! Where are you? Who are you?” she asked, as tears ran down her face.
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa can you find me in the night?
Papa are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me not be frightened?
The Rabbi and I slowly drifted down to safety and the shaking of the building ceased. The blood on the walls disappeared.
“So, this is it,” said the rabbi. “She never knew her father, and this longing has created the anger within! And only Barbra Streisand’s voice and the lyrics to this song have healed her!”
“Oh, poor baby,” said my mother, her maternal instinct returning, as she went to hug Sarah.
“I’m a freak!” said Sarah. “A freak because of my father!”
“No, you’re not,” said my mother. “You’re just different. And different can be interesting. Look at Neil. He’s a weirdo, and people still like him.”
“That’s true,” replied Sarah.
Just then, a ghost appeared. It was a handsome man, his head decapitated and hanging to the side, still with a raging hard-on.
“Who’s your daddy?” he asked, a smile forming on the decapitated head.
“Papa?!” yelled Sarah.
“Yes, I am your father. And even though I was dead when I impregnated your mother, I have always been proud of you. I always will watch over you, even with my decapitated head. There’s no reason for you to be the spawn of Satan anymore. It’s been done already anyway. Be original!”
“Thank you, Papa. I love you.”
“I love you, too. Whenever you hear Barbra singing, think of me!”
And with those wise words, the ghost of Sarah’s decapitated father with the hard-on faded into the air.
Sarah was a new girl. A girl of innocence and joy,
“Can we go get some ice cream now?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “We will ALL go for ice cream!”
And off we went to Baskin Robbins to celebrate the rebirth of Sarah, now non-Satanic. The rabbi thought it would be good idea to contact her mother and tell her the good news. He sent an email to his cousin in Paris, who was doing a junior year abroad. The rabbi’s cousin was able to track down Eleanor, who was floundering as a fashion blogger. Eleanor returned to the states to reconnect with her daughter.
Rabbi Gold went with Sarah to pick up Eleanor at the Air France terminal at JFK. The minute the Rabbi and Eleanor locked eyes, there was an immediate chemistry between the two, and they were married the next day, standing under the chuppah at the rabbi’s temple. My mother and I also attended and were happy to dance at the wedding. Sarah moved in with Eleanor and the Rabbi, and they became a happy family unit. Sarah accepted the Rabbi as her step-father, knowing that the ghost of her decapitated biological father was always with her in spirit. Eleanor became a successful blogger, writing about Jewish crafts.
As for us, it was sad to lose Sarah, even if my mother and I were happy that she found a good home. My mother looked at the bright side.
“You are such a neurotic mess. Let’s first try to get you straightened out before we take in another Devil child.”
I would be lying if I didn’t admit enjoying my short-lived experience as a parent. But, more importantly, I gained a new respect for YOU — my online friends who are parents. You do deserve all the freebies and trips to Disney World. Because — holy crap, being a parent is HELL.