I have a crush on Liv Tyler.
Liv Tyler is a lovechild.
I love lovechildren.
Human products of one-night stands or fleeting relationships embody magic for me, perhaps because I imagine that being raised without a default nuclear family shifts how they look at everything else. I have this idea that they’re more open about other ways of living in the world, and more accepting of everyone in general. They are less boring, less judgmental, more exciting, a little bit crazy. I’m being presumptuous here, but fantasies require a certain amount of departure from logic.
So, Liv. Yes. You know the story. She was raised by Todd Rundgren and her model mother Bebe Buell. Bebe took her to an Aerosmith concert when Liv wasn’t quite a teenager, and Liv felt an immediate connection with the lead singer. She asked if Steven Tyler was her father, and her mother confirmed her suspicion. And just like that, she had two rock-god fathers.
Rewind my crush-timeline. I adored Rick Nelson when I was a kid, and he seemed to be such a clean-cut fellow on the Ozzie and Harriet show. Little did I know then, TV reruns glowing on my ALF pajamas, that Rick was a playa. Later in life, he estimated his conquests in the thousands, and I heard about that after I had already been irreparably wounded by his untimely plane-crash death in 1985. The news coverage was the first time I had ever heard about cocaine, too. Then it came out that he had fathered a fifth child with a Playboy bunny. A series of blows for my tender heart, yes, but now I wonder why I thought that was such a big freaking deal.
I was still playing with Barbies then, and my family of Barbies were the Nelsons: Rick was married to my sister Victoria, and they had three girls and two twin boys, Gunnar and Matthew, who would later climb the Billboard charts as the rock group Nelson. This family was different from the real Nelsons, but I had way more girl Barbies, so I had to make do. Well. When I heard about this lovechild, all hell broke loose. I had custom-designed a four-story cardboard house for them, and Rick started spending less and less time there. Victoria got really lonely, and she was pissed that she was stuck taking care of the kids. And precisely because I did have more girl Barbies, it made it really easily for Rick to tool around with a multitude of new women in his pink Cabriolet. The girls started having his babies—really violent, traumatic births, which Rick always seemed to miss—and Rick ignored them after their bodies became more maternal. He experimented with blow, which was flour pilfered from my real-life kitchen. Things were not good. I grew out of Barbies soon after that, but really, I think we parted ways because their lives were just too painful for me to watch any longer.
For whatever reason—because there was something inside me that pretty much refused to be hip enough to like whatever was currently on the radio—I fell in love with Barry Manilow. It fascinated me that he had lots of women but no children. In our house, we had no money. Barry had money; I knew that much. So I had this fantasy: he had slept with a woman in the mid-seventies while he was on tour, and their tryst had resulted in me. I would show up on the doorstep of his mansion, and he would know right away why I was there, because I would look just like this woman he fell in love with and never heard from again. I had fantasies of being a lovechild, and there would be some sort of sexual attraction thing wrapped up in there too. (Yeah—I know. I’m not quite right in the head about some things.) Being a famous person’s lovechild, for me at least, felt like it would be the ticket out of a dull, hard life where I didn’t fit in. Hell, Barry himself was a lovechild! If I were Barry’s, everything else would fall into place; everything would suddenly make sense.
But, alas, I was still me. I was born to save my parents’ marriage. I am the consequence of a purposeful, manipulative slip in birth control, a last-ditch effort to keep something burning.
Now, see? That’s the great thing about being a lovechild: there’s no pressure. No pressure to keep people together, no pressure to cleave to a family where everything feels wrong for no particular reason. There must be some kind of freedom that comes with being born from a spark of passion rather than as a matter of course in a steady, well-rehearsed life, the monotonous procession of days. And you know those kids have to have some built-in spunk to flip the bird to a couple of unsuspecting people.
But I’m fantasizing again. I’m thinking of all lovechildren as Liv Tyler, when really, she was dealt the most fortunate hand of all the out-of-wedlock babies. There are other kids who are resented, tossed aside, ostracized. Many of them probably wish they had traditional families. But maybe I wouldn’t call them “lovechildren”—just “children,” like me, like most other kids, making our way down the pike as best we can.
Lovechildren—they’re the ones whose parents were so hot for each other that their love couldn’t have possibly lasted in that particular state, or else the heat of it would eventually melt them both. These kids are maybe not even made out of sperm and eggs, but wine and sweat, or fishnet and cockrings. They keep the deepest secrets and throw the best parties. They have lived all over the globe in a series of shoddy walk-ups, their one or two present parent selling paintings to make ends meet. Their presence is proof of something golden, something miraculous: that love and lust together are combustible, and with a fervent bang, can set meiosis into motion. Naturally, they have silkier hair than the rest of us, and their skin tastes like butterscotch. When they look at us, we can believe in love too. The kind that stings. The kind that soars. The kind that would feel like living music if it weren’t super-sonic….
“Lovechild” – Diana Ross & The Supremes
“(You’re) Having My Baby” – Paul Anka
“All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” – Heart
“Sweet Baby James” – James Taylor
“If I Were a Carpenter” – Tim Hardin
“Friend, Lover, Woman, Wife” – Mac Davis
“For Baby (For Bobby)” – John Denver
“Love Is the Answer” – Todd Rundgren
“Cradle of Love” – Johnny Preston (my dad wrote this!)
What can I say about Gary Moshimer without gushing? I have never met a Gary Moshimer story I didn’t like. That’s big stuff, considering that even the best writers tend to generate a fair amount of crap. We have published a flash and a poem by him before, and I’m thrilled that he’s also given us “Zolpidem,” which answers the question: what happens when you mix Ambien and Viagra? Sure, you could answer that yourself with a little experimentation, but we will save you the trouble (the public and private embarrassment, the nighttime trysts you won’t remember, the arguments you’ll inevitably start). You’re welcome.
Randall Brown is bad-ass. The great thing about a flash is that it’s easy to read it over and over without too much of a time investment, and that’s what I recommend you do with “Found Out.” With each read, I’ve uncovered something I missed, and then something else. I’d like to think that this doesn’t mean I’m dense, but instead that Brown has hidden a cache of treasure in this amusing, existentialist, self-reflective, god-vs.-man piece that runs parallel to the narrator’s reading of Oedipus Rex. Heavy but subtle; rattling but peaceful.
“The Queen of Sheba Meets King Solomon” gives the Queen her power back, makes her dig her circumstances, makes her feel good: Nadia Ibrashi makes sure of that. The Queen gives herself rather than lets herself be taken, and then takes herself away. She decides, and Ibrashi’s imagining of this event rests luminous atop history and myth.
In This Issue:
Zolpidem by Gary Moshimer
Found Out by Randall Brown
The Queen of Sheba Meets King Solomon by Nadia Ibrashi
Art: The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1486.
Thanks for the very kind words. I too played with barbies.