You’ve heard the tale of the Goldilocks, right? She was the blondie girl who went for a stroll in the forest and somehow let herself into the home of the three bears while they were out doing bear things. Not only did she let herself in their house, she ate up their food, set in their chairs, and slept in their beds. She was kind of an odd duck, huh?
Why they tell the tale of the Goldilocks to children is beyond me, because something this odd just doesn’t happen. I mean, bears don’t fucking live in houses. You ever see a goddamn bear with a mortgage payment? No, this Goldilocks wasn’t even a blondie girl. She had dark brown hair. And she didn’t go for a walk in the woods. And she didn’t let herself into the home of the three bears while they were out doing bear things (what constitutes a bear thing, anyway, besides shitting in the woods).
Goldilocks was a regular girl from a residential neighborhood. She was white, she came from a two-parent household. She went to Catholic school. Her long sleeves & long pants hid the bruises her physically abusive mother inflicted on her. Everybody else’s mother thought she had such nice manners. The fact that she never spoke of what went on at home hid the fact that her father never protected her from her mother. She was always so well-behaved.
And Goldilocks wasn’t just walking aimlessly in the woods. No, she was shopping, in a manner of speaking. And she didn’t just let herself in to the three bears’ house. She managed, through hard work and determination, to ingratiate herself, into the Behar family home. The Behars were a German-American family from the same neighborhood. They had a son Goldilocks’ age, but Mrs. Behar liked Goldilocks. The Behars couldn’t have anymore children of their own, and Mrs. Behar wanted a little girl, so she sort of liked when Goldilocks came around, and rather encouraged it. Of course, the Behars had no idea what Goldilocks’ true intention was. No one did. Maybe not even Goldilocks realized at the start what the plan really was.
See. Goldilocks went to school with Baby Boy Behar, and because they lived near each other, they studied together. Because Goldilocks never wanted to be at her own house, she always insisted they study at the Behars’. Mr. and Mrs. Behar, whom Goldilocks came to think of as Mama and Papa Behar, she spent so much time over there, they didn’t mind.
“Are you sure your mother doesn’t mind you staying for dinner again?” Mama Behar asked one night, as Goldilocks set the table.
“Oh, she doesn’t mind,” Goldilocks insisted, not caring whether her mother minded or no, “what with my sisters, my dad, and my grandparents over there, the place is a regular madhouse.” She left out the part about how her mother routinely came home from work angry and looking for someone to use as a punching bag, and how her father hadn’t moved from the Barcalounger since 1979. Mama Behar neither worked nor struck anyone. The Behars’ was a nice place to be.
The food was good too at the Behars’. Mama Behar made rack of lamb with little roasted potatoes. Some nights Papa Behar barbecued, he made the best burgers. Or he would make steak, nice thick steak. He was not like other men…he never once looked at Goldilocks’ rear end. She felt safe being in the same room with him.
In the beginning, Baby Boy Behar didn’t mind having Goldilocks around. She set the table, his mother dressed her in little outfits. This meant he didn’t have to set the table or be dressed in little outfits. But Goldilocks was at his house A LOT. His mother made his favorite dinner and Goldilocks showed up to gobble it up & ask for seconds. And because she was the guest she got seconds. It wasn’t fair. It was his favorite dinner, why did she get seconds? Why did he have to share everything he had with HER?
“So, I’m going to the park with Mark and Paul,” he said one afternoon as school finished for the day, “play some football. You can’t come because football’s not for girls.”
“OK,” she nodded, “I’ll see you at your house after, your mother’s making fried chicken tonight.” And with that, she skipped off to the Behars’.
“Goldilocks,” Mrs. Behar said when she got there, “I’m surprised to see you today. Baby Boy’s playing football down the park with Mark & Paul and after that they’re all three having dinner at Paul’s house. I thought you’d be eating with your own parents tonight.”
“Of course I am,” Goldilocks said, hoping her fake smile concealed her anger and frustration, “it’s just my mother wanted me to come over here and make sure I thanked you for all you do for me.”
“Well that’s very thoughtful,” Mrs. Behar said.
That evening after dinner, Goldilocks’ mother re-enacted the slapping scene from the film Chinatown…on Goldilocks. The next morning Goldilocks sought out Baby Boy Behar at school.
“Enjoy your football game?” she asked him pointedly.
“Yeah, yeah I did, what of it?” he retorted. “In fact, the three of us are getting a team together and we’re gonna be playing every afternoon. No room for you.” Her eyes got wide. “And about the way you’re always hanging ‘round at my house. Mark & Paul think it’s weird, I mean, you’re not my girlfriend or anything, so why’re you always at my house?”
“OK,” Goldilocks said, “I get it. Last night, my mother was saying I don’t spend enough time at home, anyways. So, I was just coming to ask you if you could tell your mother I won’t be at your house so much anymore. It’s not that I don’t appreciate her, it’s just…you understand.” She smiled, hoping Baby Boy wouldn’t notice that something inside her had snapped when he told her she wasn’t wanted ‘round his house anymore.
Goldilocks went home to her own house again that day. But she didn’t go to sleep at her regular bedtime. She stayed up until after everybody else in the house had gone to bed, and then she snuck out the house. Wasn’t hard to do, either. Her grandfather and parents all three slept like logs, a bomb could’ve gone off and they never would have known. And her younger sisters were in bed before her, asleep and in dreamland.
So she snuck out and found her way to the Behars’ in the dark. She knew that house as well as her own. Fuck, it may as well have been her own. If she had her way in the world, it would have been her own. The basement window that didn’t lock…she wedged that open and was inside. Silently as death, she made her way upstairs. The Behars were not out, but rather sleeping. She stopped in the doorway of Mama and Papa Behar’s room and watched them sleep. She thought briefly about taking Mama Behar’s place in the bed, sleeping beside Papa Behar. He always behaved like such a gentleman, she imagined it would be a pure delight to walk through life beside him.
But no, she was still a child, not yet ready to walk through life with a grown man. She could not dethrone Mama Behar. She walked down the hall to Baby Boy Behar’s room. He was snoring away in his bed. Very quiet now, she slid into bed with him. Ohhhhhhhh but the bed was so comfortable. It suited Goldilocks just fine. This was her rightful place in the world, in Baby Boy Behar’s bed, with Mama and Papa Behar as her parents, rather than her actual parents. But how to take Baby Boy’s place WHILE HE WAS STILL OCCUPYING IT…Stealthily, she started to reach into her pocket for the steak knife she’d brought from home.
Suddenly the lights flicked on. Mama and Papa Behar were standing in the doorway. Papa Behar had a golf club in hand. “Goldilocks,” Mama Behar sighed, as Goldilocks let go the knife, let it slip back into her pocket, “good God. We thought we had a burglar. What are you doing in here?” By now Baby Boy was half-opening one eye and muttering.
“I missed Baby Boy,” Goldilocks said, “he’s been playing with his other friends the past two days,” she attempted a sheepish smile and got up.
“Well, you’ll see him tomorrow,” Mama Behar said, “right now I’m calling your mother to come and get you. It’s two in the morning.”
And so Mama and Papa Behar unwittingly saved their Baby Boy from Goldilocks. She went home that night and ended up never going back to their house. None of the Behars knew, ever knew, she’d been armed that night. It’s better if they never know. She came to realize, of course, that one cannot kill one’s way into another’s family. I’d tell you she lived happily ever after with her own family, but the happily ever after series this ain’t. She lives, don’t get me wrong, and she remains a part of her own family, but like the family depicted in Terms of Endearment, she’s still coming to terms with her lot.