Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Two Section Seven: Michelle’s Secret
Part Two: Two Years Later (Continued)
“I have mentioned it but if she knows, she won’t say.”
In 2011, Michelle spent a lot of time thinking about who her Daddy really was but much less time discussing it. Not with Georgina, who had both parents and wouldn’t understand, not with her teachers, none of whom impressed her in the slightest. Certainly not with her Grandma, the only woman who won’t date a guy without a copy of his Driver’s License and a letter from a Notary. She would lay in bed and daydream that Mick was living with them and being a great father to her. She wasn’t sure what Fathers and Daughters did together but whatever it is, she wanted to do it. And she wondered about her Mom, who couldn’t introduce her to anyone for the first time without saying “Does she remind you of someone?” As though anyone could care less what a 66 year old man’s relationship to her might be.
Michelle had one thing in common with Mick and with Hannah, she was very self-confident. When she was 13, and all her best friends were mean girls with arrogance hiding a complete bewilderment about their bodies, Michelle was almost there and had a very good idea exactly how to deal with unwanted advances. At school, one of those elite places, she lead by indifference. She couldn’t be reached so she never felt threatened. Close to the gays, the goofballs, the goths, the weirdos but a part of the upper strata of headgirls and wannabes, Michelle wasn’t bothered by school. It didn’t worry her. Trying to explain to Georgina, and her other best friend Frida (nicknamed Fred) how to handle things at school she was like a Mistress of Tao at the age of thirteen, “don’t run, don’t hide, don’t fight, don’t care, be what you are and leave it for everybody else to decide what to do about it.”
Not particularly helpful unless you were a 5 foot 6 Cali girl with blue eyes and blonde hair before you’d hit your teen years. Though she didn’t quite think it in those words, she considered beauty a commodity and she used it and she maintained and she never ever gave it away. She never gave away her inner life ever, not close, not to her closest and while her friend Bailey was being raped on a consistent basis by her movie producer father. and while Michelle was the poster girl for not knowing who your Dad was, still Michelle believed part of her story was missing. Losing her virginity to a local rock deity when she was fourteen was easy and she was careful about it, though it meant she never saw him again she insisted on a condom, and the struggle to break through was certainly helped by a couple of years of playing around with Frida and a whole lot of horse riding she dropped once she started riding boys, Michelle was not a fool.
Yes easy, she didn’t need her Mom for that, she didn’t need adult supervision, something she hadn’t really ever have any way, she didn’t want a second opinion any more than she wanted secondary virginity. Since she didn’t know any adults, she didn’t want any adults. Since nobody guilted her about anything, she had no guilt. As for school work, Michelle never studied and was a straight B student leaving her to conclude that if she ever bothered to study she could do very well and therefore had no particular concerns.
With two best friends, and maybe 50 other friends, plus boys and men at the snap of her fingers, she wasn’t worried about anything, nothing scared her, nothing stymied her. Speaking with her psychologist, Thomas Strider when she was eleven years of age, an unnecessary addition to a somewhat calm life, Michelle had explained: “I look at everybody around me and I just can’t see what all the fuss is about. I don’t know why I need to impress them, or concern myself with what they think I need to be doing. I am doing OK, you know. “. If Strider had been better at his job his first question might have been why was she seeing 1) anyone, 2) a man, 3) him, and he might have found a distress line going through Michele. In the six months she went to Strider, he was completely clueless as to why she was there. Whatever Michelle was looking for he couldn’t see it in his leather man’s lair of concern and sexual innuendo. When Michelle had finally had enough Hannah had tried to question her but backed off fast. Michelle tended to shrug when her Mom tried to parent her but this time she looked angry and Hannah decided there was no reason to hear what came next.
So Michelle started with Mick. The Stones were on the Licks tour in 2002, so it was certainly possible Mick and Hannah had met and hooked up. There was other proof, a lot of it, the friend who was with Hannah at the party confirmed it. That all made sense. She looked at a picture of Mick in 2002, an aging Casanova at 50 years of age, and when you are twelve years old, 50 is simply old, there is no gradations of it.
There was no one to discuss it with, no one to explain it and so she studied and she worried and thought. There were similarities, she looked at pictures of his official children and Michelle looked more like Mick than some of his own kids. Michelle lied down on her bed, put on her Beats, and played Aftermath, her favorite of their albums, while she tried to imagine Mick as her real father. She imagined doing fatherly things with her, she imagined, in a complicated and long daydream she developed over months and used it to put herself to sleep at night, Mick telling off Hannah, stopping the ridiculous speaking to herself, the séances, the mix and match strangeness. Less successful was a daydream where she was backstage at Hollywood Bowl or Felt forum (it changed) and Mick shouted from the stage, “Please allow me to introduce my beloved daughter Michelle Jagger, she is gonna come out and sing the last song of the evening with me… and then she stopped. Nothing seemed appropriate on Aftermath at first glance. “High And Dry”? “Under My Thumb”? “Stupid Girl”? Maybe they could mention Hannah. “Hey Hannah, this is for you. Right Michee?” Nobody called Michelle Michee. She didn’t like contractions, wouldn’t allow them, but maybe daddy could. Michelle settled on “Going Home” though not happily and begun to think of different albums before she got bored of the entire thing.
Still, there was something that didn’t seem right about Mick being her dad, she’d heard “Some Girls”, she knew how this stuff worked and she couldn’t help that for all Hannah’s conviction that Jagger was Michelle’s father, part of her didn’t want to have it proven. Michelle really thought a lot about the question as to what was going on and she always ended up with Phillip Verlierer, Hannah’s concern was that Phillip was really the father…. But if that was the case but it obviously wasn’t since…
Everybody always had something on their mind, for Michelle entering her teen years it was a reminder for herself that she wasn’t who she might be and who was she was. How could she be who she was if she wasn’t who she was. In a very real sense, this insecurity changed Michele. She was quiet though not withdrawn, she didn’t engage people quite as clearly. Hannah, and her cousins, her entire family, treated her as though she was a leader and she knew that wasn’t what she was. At family get togethers, she didn’t allow the drunkenness and old never forgotten animosities that surface to infect her; Michele’s indifference was a shield from the lousiness of family. She was never touched as a child, though she was extremely lovely, because she was wary, leery, on guard, and to herself. Respectful of everyone, she was admired and kept at arm’s length, there was something about Michele that made everybody else seem a little seedy.
Michele’s two favorite cousins, Scully and Di, brother and sister a year apart, allowed only her into their world where they dealt with their closeted alcoholic father and his former Nanny current wife who didn’t much care. At how the parents performed a pas de deux of bearding and indifference and money, while the siblings snorted speedballs and pretended they were married, crossing the line from time to time, but never so far they couldn’t make the trip all the way back.
Michele tried pot, speedballs, uppers, downers, ambient, Xanax, but she didn’t really enjoy drugs. The reason always went back to who she was. It was like a dark secret that was no secret. “Nonsense? Nonsense.” It must be Mick and Michelle thought of actually contacting him and might have done it, Michelle knew people, friends in high places, it would get back to Hannah eventually but even so she might do it and even so she couldn’t do it. What if Jagger rejected her? Then what?
Something else as well, Michele was so in control of her life it made her uncomfortable, she needed a secret, she needed some place where she wasn’t what she appeared to be and this was it and it was huge. For Michele, bigger than if she had been a lipstick lesbian, or if she had been raped by the family lawyer when she was eight, or molested or tasted, tested, strange or obsessed with death or a horsey person: much bigger because what she questioned was her own true identity. In her imagination at least, Michele had a father, no Mick, somebody who she could just see the outline, who took care of her, who fathered her. Maybe like the way Hannah spoke about Michelle’s Grandfather. Michelle could just about imagine him in her daydreams, doing nothing, reading too her, telling her she could do better than this. “I am very disappointed in you”, she could imagine her dad saying. “I know what you are capable of and I know you are better than this.”
There he is in her mind eye, at the door of her personal living quarters, frowning and in thought, and there she is on the sofa, watching TV with the voice mute and sulking and yet solemn, not happy and not amused. Michelle never knew what it was she had done, she always picked up the action mid-way. Her daddy frowning and upset and she sulking, not looking at him. He sits down next to her and holds her hands, turns her towards him. “I love you more than anything else in the world, Michelle. I want everything for you and I want you to have everything you ever need and want but I need you to take your life seriously.”
As Michelle daydreamed, the tears would well up in her eyes. She’d back another moment. “I cherish you my daughter, it is you who is my greatest achievement. Always, always…”
Daydreaming on her sofa, Michelle would check her remote to make sure her quarters were in privacy and she would sit down and her imaginary father would be sitting right next to her. “I expected more from…” Back… “I cherish you…” and Michelle would cry and cry and cry. None of her friends, not her new boyfriend the kid brother of a boy band singer, would believe it. Nobody, her secret, her deepest secret was how she could break her own heart. She imagined her father holding her, squeezing her… “I cherish you…” and she crying on his shoulder. “I’m sorry daddy, I’m so sorry…” Cherish, sorry, tears.