@LolitaParens-Part One



(picnic, lightning)

(I am writing under observation)

(that is, before I first saw my little Annabel)


(where we were to spend three winters)

(and then I see Annabel in such general terms as: "honey-colored skin," "thin arms," "brown bobbed hair,"
"long lashes," "big bright mouth")

(and this is how I see Lolita)

(born Vanessa van Ness)

(of which more later)

(as I remember that picture)

(this was our very last chance, and nothing really mattered)




(with comparisons drawn from English writers)

(that is, demoniac)

(look at the ugly dumplings in black stockings and white hats that are metamorphosed into stunning
stars of the screen)

(oh, how you have to cringe and hide!)

(after that, from fourteen to seventeen, the statutory definition is "young person")

(who, moreover, habitually associates with vicious or immoral persons)

(that royal couple had a litter of six)

(10.7 years)

(11.2 years)

(a nymphet was groping under me for a lost marble)


(a bird, a very bird!)

(a band, a posy)


(and indeed this is the reason why I linger gratefully in that gauze-gray room of memory with little Monique)

(oh, she had been a nymphet all right!)
("Regardez-moi cette belle brune!")

(nothing very grand--the Mirana had been sold long before)

(I never established her exact age for even her passport lied)
(I translate from her French which was, I imagine, a translation in its turn of some Slavic platitude)
(I have not spoken of them, I think, but never mind)
(as the colonel called her)
(j'ai demannde pardonne--excuse me--est-ce que j'ai puis--may I--and so forth)
(with an oriental tang, perhaps)
(Maximovich! his name suddenly taxies back to me)
(fruit in one, water in another, mats in a third and so on)
(an ancient set, N.Y., G.W. Dillingham, Publisher, MDCCCLXXXVII)
(with some nice photographs of sunshine-haired Girl Scouts in shorts)
(in collaboration with Vivian Darkbloom)
[a list of some thirty plays follows]
(I notice the slip of my pen in the preceding paragraph, but please do not correct it, Clarence)

(alas, always remote)
(never very successfully)
(somewhere on Prince of Wales' Island, I understand)
(he, too, had some psychic troubles)
(through which, however, nothing of importance showed)
(I noticed, for instance, that dreams under the midnight sun tended to be highly colored, and this my friend
the photographer confirmed)
(as one of the botanists jocosely put it)
(if to melancholia and a sense of insufferable oppression that cruel term must be applied)
(which make them, the dream-extortionists, dream and wake up shrieking)
(sleeping admirably and eating like a schoolgirl)
(and, surely, deranged)

(elms, white church)
(one of those who lie in wait for cars)
(only now did I realize how hot it had been out-of-doors)
(where lay the brown core of an apple)
(where "I and Lo have our rooms"--Lo being presumably the maid)
(the question mark of a hair inside)
[she looked at my lips]
(the last more brightly, with a kind of winsome toss of the voice)
(under "my" room, on the left, there was nothing but a garage)
(lost, kidnapped, discovered in gypsy rags through which her nakedness smiled at the king and his hounds)
(the king crying for joy, the trumpets blaring, the nurse drunk)
(her eyes blinking over those stern dark spectacles--the little Herr Doktor who was to cure me of all my aches)
(a great big handsome hunk of movieland manhood)

(by courtesy of a photographic memory)
(with many erasures and corrections)
(whatever that is)
(much as a spy delivers by heart the contents of the note he swallowed)
(bathroom window)
(Beginning perhaps amended)
(mother Haze, Dolores and I)
(this is her mother who thinks she knows French)
(diary resumed)
(smelling of crushed daisies and sweat)
(who had been a boxer himself in his robust youth and could still slug a sinner)
(she had squeezed herself in, the pet)
(Pisky was the Haze home town in the Middle West. The Ramsdale house was her mother-in-law's. They had moved to
Ramsdale less than two years ago.)
(le mot juste)
[I quote from a girl's magazine]
(all this amended, perhaps)
(I had just been describing, in a flippant vein, the delightful little toothbrush mustache I had not quite
decided to grow)
(which she could not decipher)
(whose eyebrows, I suspect, have by now traveled all the way to the back of his bald head)
(all New England for a lady-writer's pen!)
(where a roller-skater kicked her in Pisky)
(the only sanitary act Lo performs with real zest)
(who, I suppose, is enjoying her third, cooing and subduedly mirthful, telephone conversation of the morning)
(and mamma still talking to Mrs. Chatfield or Mrs. Hamilton, very softly, flushed, smiling, cupping the telephone
with her free hand, denying by implication that she denies those amusing rumors, rumor, roomer, whispering
intimately, as she never does, the clear-cut lady, in face to face talk)
(common-sensical shoes, tailor-made dress)
(still desperately devising a means of escape)
(killing the motor)
(sideglancing at me, hoping I would throw rude Lo out)
(not for the first time)
(hot, opalescent, thick tears that poets and lovers shed)
(yesterday, for instance, when she was again in my room to show me her drawings, school-artware)
(Kenneth Knight, I suspect)
[no exclamation mark in her tone]
[no question mark either]

(who, as the reader will mark, was more afraid of Lo's deriving some pleasure from me than of my enjoying Lo)
(as I would like to dub that devil of mine)
(a dark little beauty in her own right)
(Lo recalled that 1944 summer with an indignant shudder)

(not the lilac)
(the late Mr. Harold E. Haze--God bless the good man--had engendered my darling at the siesta hour in a
blue-washed room, on a honeymoon trip to Vera Cruz, and mementoes, among these Dolores, were all over the place)
(pity no film had recorded the curious pattern, the monogrammic linkage of our simultaneous or overlapping moves)
(pajamas and robe)
(spell because of the garbling)
(a nicety of physiological equipoise comparable to certain techniques in the arts)
(as if we had been struggling and now my grip had eased)
(to her mother who was telling her to come to lunch with her at the Chatfields--neither Lo nor Hum knew
yet what busybody Haze was plotting)
(wanted to be fetched by car, my little Carmen)
(Drew his .32 automatic, I guess, and put a bullet through his moll's eye)

(was on a diet)
(recipe lifted from a woman's magazine)
(lame, lamentably lame!)

(they were so thoroughly sampled by Thursday that she left them behind)
(a rude wind had put out her red candles)
(whom and which she was never to see again)
(Haze furiously calling after her)

[so the letter began; and for a distorted moment I mistook its hysterical scrawl for a schoolgirl's scribble]
(but what would it matter?)
(and kidding poor me)
(which I know I won't--and that's why I am able to go on like this)
(including that awful French)
(where the letter did go)
(not shown)

(to rig up yet another expression)
(say, Charlotte Haze)
(Lo, Lola, Lolita)
(what a Genius of Pain must have invented that!)
(through the very grimace that twisted my lips)
(under the conditions of new and perfect visibility)
(quel mot!)
(the two things that create a live world)
(for I was drunk on those visions by then and underrated the gentleness of my nature)
(and avoid, perhaps, a head-on collision that would shatter our different dreams)
("coarse" by comparison with silk and honey)
(where it sloped along one side of the house)
(with the smirk of one about to perform a good action)
(much trimmer than ours)
(but who could replace my Lolita?)
(from which our Lawn Street cascaded)
(Mabel, I think)

(despite the stimulants, her "nervous, eager cheri"--a heroic cheri!--had some initial trouble, for which,
however, he amply compensated her by a fantastic display of old-world endearments)
(I threw in the "Edgar" just for the heck of it)
(eyes rolling up, mouth drooping sideways)
(Mr. Haze had a passion for them, it appears)
(simulating that Coffee Shoppe where in their college days Charlotte and Humbert used to coo together)
(to prolong these Proustian intonations)
(but not Mrs. Junk or the even prouder Mrs. Talbot)
(and first cousin)
(my Dolita)

(a bad accident is about to happen quite soon)
(soap operas, psychoanalysis and cheap novelettes)
(Lolita, with an incestuous thrill, I had grown to regard as my child)
(A Guide to Your Child's Development)
(underlined twice)
(the result of my trying to improve on her sauces)
[crossed out and re-written again]

(Hourglass Lake--not as I had thought it was spelled)
(Jean belonged to the old school of painting)
(as John had quipped)
(in that carefully phrased way of hers that was beginning to tell on my health)
(from an old school report)
(this I take the trouble to note only because my daughter's skin did the same when she felt that way:
disbelief, disgust, irritation)
("look, Lord, at these chains!")
(the one she had fallen upon from a bicycle)
(with ingratiating calm)
(as I had never imagined)
(or Mabel's understudy)
(while several onlookers were closing in upon the group)
(except that it knocked out game Colonel Lacour)
(the Farlows, the Chatfields)
(or "drowning facilities" as the Ramsdale Journal had occasion to say)
(if one could walk across water)
(if they happened to look too soon)
(she was a very mediocre mermaid)
(for was not her merman by her side?)
(you know--trying to see things as you will remember having seen them)
(spies are generally shot)
(which was quite true)
[addressing Humbert]

(getting warmer and browner every day in the fair weather of hopeless distance)
(Oh, the cool rich linens of Mirana Hotel!)
(I was involuntarily folding and tearing and crushing and tearing again the innocent pink napkin)
(businesslike, not coquettish)
(Campus, Canada, Camera, Candy)
(at Canoeing or Canvasback)
(very distinctly and slowly)
(Probably Harold used to take a vacation at that time. Open season. Conditional reflex on her part.)
(a tradition subsisted from my lodging days that I adored her cakes)
(it attempted to send forth a rotation of waves, but an inserted pencil stopped the pages)

(she thought it was a tablet of mild bromides--to anoint her nerves)
(I barely escaped)
(two stamped envelopes were already laid out on the desk)
(to St. Algebra? to Lo?)

(where she had so often pointed out to me with disapproval the crooked green cracks)
(never had I thought I had such strong talons)
(although supplying croquet under the elms)
(Miss Opposite was incommunicado, the McCoos were busy building a new house miles away, and the
Chatfields had recently been called to Maine by some family trouble of their own)
(we were waiting for Leslie to come for his paid tryst with Louise)
(and did)
(he did not really add that but Jean supported his offer so passionately that it might be implied)
(dog not shown)
(Fred showed how by a jerk of his padded shoulder)
(hurrying housewife, slippery pavement, a pest of a dog, steep grade, big car, baboon at its wheel)
(as reproduced by Beale before leaving the room)

(she and I stood in the hallway)
(Jean, whatever, wherever you are, in minus time-space or plus soul-time, forgive me all this, parenthesis included)

(twelve years and seven months old)
(this was Wednesday)
(the weather had cleared, the wet town was like silver-and-glass)
(the reader remembers that Know-Your-Child book)
(just below the gluteal sulcus)
(so that, in a sense, I was always "with Lolita" as a woman is "with child")


(And perhaps afterwards she would say to somebody or other: "The poor guy looked like his own ghost.")
("nature study")
("fair to good; keen on swimming and boating")
(a very narrow human interval between two tiger hearbeats)
(and even those plumbaceous umbrae under her eyes bore freckles)
(if the fates deigned to repay me)
(time moves ahead of our fancies!)
(she let the word expand with ironic deliberation)
(eyes slit at the road)
(sweet wetness and trembling fire)
(as the psychoterapist, as well as the rapist, will tell you)
(what shadow of us was he after?)
(Oh, my Lolita, we shall never get there!)
(....then bear south after you hit the courthouse....)
(McFate's inept secretary, so to speak)
[my static]
(magician showing object he is about palm)
(though plain on the brink of it)
(Was there something wrong, I wondered, with those great gray eyes of hers, or were we both plunged
in the same enchanted mist?)
(while I stood waiting for her)
(word-control gone)
(nota bene: never behind, she is not a lady)
(now side by side)

(incidentally, thoroughly debunked by modern science)
(to retrieve the thread of this explanation)
(a fake, as most of them are--but no matter)
(a great and insane monster)
(by the signs made to me by something in Lolita--the real child Lolita or some haggard angel behind her back)
(King Sigmund the Second)
(she was dead, of course)
(that type of worn woman with a glassy smile and Charlotte's manner of speaking)
(in terms of spinal music)
(which was really quite casual and debonair)

(a rather sordid affair, entre nous soit dit)
(I almost wrote "frinstance")
(they call those fries "French," grand Dieu!)
(always assuming I lay on my back, not daring to direct my viler side toward the nebulous haunch of my bed-mate)
(I had subtracted mine while she drank)
(the sign of the nymphet!)
(It was very curious the way she considered--and kept doing so for a long time--all caresses except kisses on the
mouth or the stark act of love either "romantic slosh" or "abnormal".)

(belied, as it were, by his molding caress)

[says an old magazine in this prison library]

("quite a derelict character," "half-crazy," but a "swell kid")
(some swimming test, I imagine)
(two small lakes in the wood)
(excepting an old meek stone-deaf handyman, and a farmer in an old Ford who sometimes sold the campers eggs as
farmers will)
(in new slippers with pussy-fur tops)
(the situation was beginning to frighten me)
(in which I had slipped quite a few pennies and two mint-bright dimes)
(was she up to something downstairs?)
(the genre of the place had changed overnight to a spurious country-squire atmosphere)
(as, alas, so many were to be)
(eager, hopeful Hum)
(oaks, I thought; American trees at that stage were beyond me)
(Down, poor beast, down.)


End Part One

Part Two