Monday, June 02, 2008

Christopher Atamian: Hana Spills the Milk

for Gregory Djanikian

It is nineteen eighty something
And Hana Mandlikova has Chris Evert by the throat
Up five games to zero in the third as I watch nervously
(How I wish to be truly American and blond like she
Every fiber of my body aches and wants to kiss the very ground she walks on)

“Well anyone’s better than that dyke what’s her name? Pfuh” my father
“Martina I answer and my heart sinks. Martina is a sister
Gay as a picnic basket, pink as a rubyfruit jungle.

And slowly Chrissie comes back
Apple pie, Chevrolet, one game, now two
Ice Maiden, Queen of Cool, (a thinking man’s sex pot)
Now three games and four, that’s what she does best

And as she finally takes the lead, it all comes out:
The Marxist-Chrissie-hating-American-bashing.
The shame of it almost makes me scream
(because Hana is Czech and the Czechs are behind the iron curtain
and so are Armenians so we must love her over Chrissie
even after the tanks have rolled into Prague.
And their names are hard to pronounce too
so we must feel kinship, empathize.)

At five games to six, my father can barely contain himself.
He jumps out of his seat
As if he were at a World Cup final
Knocking over his madzoon and plate of pilaf.

“Aggh my son! My son! Look, Hana is going to spill the milk!”
I nod dutifully and smile with inner glee.
Apple pie and Chevrolet is about to win the Open again
Sputnik and the commies can go to Hades.

And before leaving the house, I cannot help but correct him:
“It’s spill the beans, dad, and cry over spilled milk.”
Pause for effect, look straight into his Anatolian eyes.
“All she did was choke-plain and simple. No metaphors or fancy
turns-of-phrases required.”
And my father looks up and stares at his long-haired American son, befuddled.

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