This is the second edition of Equations by Adam Fieled (2018), originally released as a Blue & Yellow Dog print book in 2011, and employing "Dialectic Form."
#41 Trish tells so many horror stories about her parents that they have assumed legendary status before I even meet them. They are white-collar, devout Christian WASPs; they live in a large, conventionally furnished house in Media. Because all three daughters are grown up, there‟s not much left to fill the house; it strikes me as being both too empty and too clean. Trish‟s horror stories involve alcoholism, sexual abuse, philandering, and rampant meanness; I see none of these things. But I realize, through Trish, that the WASP psyche dotes on artful evasions, permanently closed doors, and freshly scrubbed, polished surfaces. The WASP version of nice is predicated on a perpetual need for surface maintenance; for all of Trish‟s buffoonish antics, put a stranger in front of her and she becomes a model of propriety. As I sit down to dinner with Trish and her parents, I‟m amazed at Trish‟s sudden transformation into dutiful daughter. There‟s nothing extravagant about the food, because of course these WASPs aren‟t going to waste their money wooing their black sheep artist daughter and her boyfriend. But the surface of the conversation remains unruffled. It is only when Trish‟s mother claims to be “so-so on the gays and the blacks” that a rupture occurs. She also finds time to remind us that “you can never be too rich or too thin.” The problem I hear with this WASP is that she has absolutely no sense of irony. She lives straightforwardly on the surface and naively hopes that nothing else exists. She‟s a housewife; but her social position, she believes, is immensely elevated by her husband‟s funds and the God that provided them. 48
#42 Trish and I are both buffoons; when we see Trish‟s family we are often stoned. One Christmas I spend with Trish‟s family, I am asked to bring my guitar. I do, and the whole family sings along to old Beatles songs. Trish‟s sisters are as attractive as she is; Trish plays the usual competitive games sisters play. Usually, the mood isn‟t all that festive. Trish‟s parents want what most traditional WASP families want for their daughters; to have her marry into money, so that she might be off their hands. As I realize this quite consciously, and know that in this family‟s eyes I‟m no less a failure and a flush than their daughter is, it‟s interesting to feel a sense of almost- acceptance at these dinners. That my roots are unclean tilts things even more formidably against me; but I enjoy the education I‟m receiving nonetheless. I learn, for the first time, the absurdity of middle-class, church-going, white-bread America— folks that vote Republican as a matter of course, elevate themselves by considering their brand of normalcy the only Godly one, and don‟t need to rationalize the way that Catholics and Jews do, because they have no guilt or shame to begin with. 49