I grow avocado trees. Besides fucking, it’s my only hobby.
Welcome to chapter four! Roche starts her chapters like a champ, coming in blunt and hilarious.
Helen talks about how avocadoes were her favourite fruit as a child. She’d cut them in half and but mayo in the hole with paprika sprinkled on top. I don’t know about you, but that sounds fucking fantastic. Although I’d maybe swap in cream cheese instead of mayo. Or sour cream. Or BOTH. YUM! Anyway.
At first the pit is shiny and slimy from the avocado oil. I like to rub it on the backs of my hands and up and down my arms. Spread the slime all over.
This book has really made me hate the word slime. Joy.
If you leave it on the radiator it only takes a few days [to dry]. Once the moisture has dried, I run the soft, dark-brown pit across my lips. When they’re dry they feel so soft.
Helen compares this to the times that she would run her lips over the pommel horse in gym class, and the other kids would laugh at her. She realized that she had to sneak into the gym by herself to be able to do it, and then compares the softness of the pommel to her shaved ‘ladyfingers’, which in case you’ve forgotten is what she calls her labia.
You’ve got to peel the brown shell off the pit. To do that I stick my thumbnail into the shell and keep cracking it. Just be careful not to let any pieces of the shell jab under your nail.
I hate to admit it, but I find the whole process of prepping avocado pits to grow trees pretty interesting. Of course, you get all of the wonderful gross bits in between, but yay, learning about things!
Then I hit it with a hammer. But not so hard that it crushes. After that I put it in the freezer for a few hours to simulate winter. Once you’ve had enough of winter, you pull it out and insert three toothpicks into the pit. Then you suspend it in water in a glass, using the toothpicks to hold it at the right height.
So I looked it up, and apparently you can grow an avocado tree by putting toothpicks in the pit and suspending it in water. Nowhere did I see that you need to peel it, hit it with a hammer, and put it in the freezer, but I’m totally curious now to see if that would work.
A slimy film grows on the part of the pit in the water. I find it very inviting.
You would, Helen.
Sometimes I take the pit out of the water and put it inside me. I call it my organic dildo.
Of course you do.
Obviously I only use organic avocados for my starter pits. Otherwise I’d end up with toxic trees.
You definitely want to take the toothpicks out before you put it inside you. Thanks to my well-trained pelvic muscles I can shoot it back out afterwards.
I’m sorry, I’m laughing so hard there are tears running down my face. Anyone else? Bueller? Ok, back to the avocados. Helen states that after a couple of months the pit will crack and a root will start to grow out of the bottom. Once a sprout starts growing from the top, it can be transferred to soil.
I’ll never get closer to giving birth than this. I looked after that first pit for months. Had it inside me, pushed it out. And I take perfect care of all the avocado trees I’ve started that way.
I hate to burst your bubble Helen, but according to my internet research, you have to do a graft or your trees will never bear fruit. Unless putting the pits in your pussy is the magic ingredient… you know what, I don’t even want to know.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to have a child.
So now we get into some deep shit in the recesses of Helen’s mind. At this point, I honestly don’t think that Helen should have any children. She is very obviously a damaged girl. She rebels against her overbearing mother, and misses her absent father, and now she’s admitting that she’s always wanted to have a child. I personally think that she just wants someone that will unconditionally love her. Which is a really shitty reason to have a baby.
There’s a recurring pattern in my family. My great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, and me. All first-born. All neurotic, deranged, and depressed.
Sometimes I feel like Helen is just a clueless teenager, and then she goes and says things like this and I feel like she has a better head on her shoulders than meets the eye.
But I broke the cycle. This year I turned eighteen and I’ve been waiting for that moment. One day after my birthday – as soon as I didn’t need parental approval – I had myself sterilized.
Wow, ok. Well I guess she won’t be having a baby after all. On one hand, I think, smart, she knows she’s fucked up and shouldn’t have children. But on the other hand I feel sad for her, because making a life decision like that at eighteen seems pretty rash.
I couldn’t find it online, but I’m pretty sure in Canada that you have to be over 25 to have a hysterectomy unless it’s for health reasons. That’s pretty crazy that they’d let a perfectly healthy eighteen year old walk in and get sterilized.
Since then the thing my mother says to me so often doesn’t sound so threatening: “How much do you want to bet that when you have your first child it’s a girl?” Because I’ll only be having avocado trees. Apparently you have to wait twenty five years for a tree to bear fruit. Which is also about how long you have to wait to become a grandmother. These days.
Pretty dark thoughts, Helen. I guess we should be glad that she’s not going to procreate, but again, I kind of feel sad for her. It’s possible that someday her brain will level out and she won’t be so fucked up and she’ll be ready to have kids and she won’t be able to. I don’t know. Also, she seems pretty bitter about the world. At least she gets her jollies from the things she enjoys, but I’m not sure all of it really actually makes her happy.
On a side note, I read from many different sources that avocado trees can bear fruit after 5-7 years, as long as you do a graft from a fruit-bearing tree once it’s potted. So Helen shouldn’t have to wait too long to have her babies.
Helen notices that her pain is subsiding.
I love painkillers and try to imagine what it would have been like to be born in another era when there were no good painkillers. My head is free of pain and now there’s room for everything else. I take a few deep breaths and, exhausted, fall asleep. When I open my eyes I see mom leaning over me.
So here we get to officially meet Mrs. Memel, the woman who birthed and raised this psychotic teen. Helen asks what she’s doing, and she tells her that she’s covering her up because she’s totally exposed.
“Leave it the way it is. The sheet’s too heavy on my wounded ass, mom. It hurts. It doesn’t matter how it looks. Do you think they haven’t seen it here a thousand times before?”
I love this. A daughter essentially teaching her mother a lesson about how she shouldn’t be so worried about appearances.
“Then stay that way. Good God.”
That reminds me.
“Can you please take down the crucifix over the door? It bugs me.”
“No, Helen, I won’t do that. Stop being so ridiculous.”
“Fine. If you won’t help me, I guess I’ll have to get up and do it myself.”
I start to move one leg off the bed, bluffing that I’m going to stand up, groaning with pain.
“Okay, Okay, I’ll do it. Please stay in bed.”
This whole exchange here feels so empty, like their relationship is extremely cold. Even at eighteen, I feel like a mom would be fawning over her hospitalized daughter even a little bit. Even if it was her own fault for slicing open her asshole with a razor.
Also we see how easily Helen can manipulate her mother. She’s actually pretty good at manipulating a lot of people. And I think Mrs. Memel knows she’s being manipulated, but doesn’t want to get into a battle of stubbornness with her daughter.
She uses the lone chair in the room to reach the cross. As she’s climbing onto it, she speaks to me in an artificially friendly, sympathetic tone. I feel sorry for her. But it’s too late.
See, this is sad! Mrs. Memel has to fake sympathy and even friendliness to her own daughter. Their relationship has been so strained that even though Helen is a legal adult Mrs. Memel can’t even relate to her.
“How long have to had this condition?”
What is she talking about? Oh, right. The hemorrhoids.
“Not back when I used to bathe you.”
“So I got them sometime after I was too old for you to be bathing me.”
Ice cold, guys. I’m shivering imagining this awkward exchange. I feel like these two have little if any love for each other. It feels like Helen never became the daughter Mrs. Memel wanted her to be, and in turn was never the mother than Helen wanted her to be. Shitty stuff.
“You know, mom, hemorrhoids are hereditary. It’s just a question of who I got them from.”
[…] “From your father. How was the operation?”
Helen reflects on how she learned that with divorced parents, many will badmouth each other to try to manipulate their children.
What those bad-mouthing parents fail to realize, though, is that they are always insulting one half of the child. If you consider a child half the mother and half the father.
This, right here, yes. To any couples that are divorced with children, remember this. Not only are you damaging your children by slandering each other, but you’re also insulting them because they carry qualities and genes from that person. And your kid might just grow up to rub her genitals on dirty toilet seats and shove avocado pits inside of her. Think about that.
Children whose mothers constantly insult their fathers will eventually take revenge against their mothers. It all comes back like a boomerang.
Ah, the plot thickens. Not only did Helen rebel against her mother because she smothered her with her overly religious and hygienic beliefs, but she also hates her because she slandered her father so much.
So for years the mother has tried to get the child on her side only to have the opposite happen. She’s just pushed the child closer to the father.
Our teacher was right.
What I don’t quite understand is why Mrs. Memel wants Helen on her ‘side’. She doesn’t particularly exude fondness for the girl. I suppose a mother would love her daughter no matter what, and want to keep her close, but she really seems indifferent. Perhaps it’s just a matter of one-upping Mr. Memel, and has nothing to do with Helen at all. If so, you are a piece of shit, lady.
Helen tells her the operation went well and asks about her avocado pits. They’re on the windowsill within reach of the bed.
“Did you bring the camera?”
She pulls it out of her handbag and puts it on the nightstand.
“What do you need it for here in the hospital?”
“I don’t think you should record only the happy moments in life – like birthdays – but also the sad ones, like operations, illness, and death.”
You know what’s funny about this? My guy and I were just joking yesterday about how hilarious it would be to start a photography company that only does photos for stuff like getting arrested or divorced or any crappy things in life. Because these are the things that we think up and laugh about.
“I’m sure it will be a joy for your children and grandchildren to look at an album of those pictures.”
I grin. If you only knew, mom.
Sigh, I figured she hadn’t told her mom, but at what point will she? Since Mrs. Memel seems preoccupied about her daughter at some point having children, if Helen is ever in a long term relationship, she’ll likely be hounded about when she’s going to make some grandkids. At what point is she going to snap and tell her mom she got sterilized at eighteen? I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that one.
I hope she’ll leave soon. So I can take care of my ass.
So blunt, so beautiful, Charlotte Roche.
The only situation in which I would want to spend more time with her would be if there was a legitimate hope of getting her together with dad. He’s not coming today. But tomorrow for sure. A hospital with your daughter in it is the perfect place for a family reconciliation.
And, the plot thickens ever the more. Helen wants more than anything for her parents to get back together. This is one of those juvenile things that put me back in the view that she isn’t grown up enough yet. I don’t have divorced parents, so I don’t know what it’s like, but I would think by eighteen you’d be old enough to understand that sometimes relationships just don’t work out and you can’t force two people back together.
Tomorrow. Today: ass photos.
So glad this isn’t a picture book.
Mrs. Memel leaves, telling Helen that she put pyjamas in the wardrobe. Helen rings for Robin.
“How can I help you, Ms. Memel?”
“I have a question for you. And please don’t say no right away.”
“Can you help me… actually, can you not call me Ms. Memel. It’s too formal for what I want to ask.”
“You’re Robin and I’m Helen. Okay. Can you help me take a picture of my ass and the wound on it? I want to see what it looks like.”
I so much love this scene. Can you picture the look on his face?!
“Um, let me think for a second – I don’t know if I’m allowed.”
Translation: FUCK NO! WHYYYYY WOULD I WANT TO DO THAT?!
“Please. Otherwise I’ll go crazy. There’s no other way for me to figure out what they did back there. You know, Dr. Notz can’t even explain it. And it’s my ass after all. Please. I can’t tell from feeling it. I’ve got to see it.”
“I understand. Interesting. Most patients don’t want to know. Okay. What do you want me to do?”
See, she really can manipulate anyone. I feel like she is being sincere here, but still. I think Robin could get in a lot of trouble for doing this. And she doesn’t seem to care, doesn’t even offer to let him go ask if he can. She just convinces him.
Helen sets the camera to close up and turns off the flash, because she says it always looks better. To which I agree. When taking close up shots of your infected asshole, you want soft natural lighting and a 1.8 f stop.
I pull off the outer bandages and the plug of gauze. It takes a while. They’ve stuffed a lot of gauze in there. I carefully turn on to my other side, my face to the window, and hold my cheeks apart with both hands.
She tells Robin to take a picture and be steady because there’s no flash. Alas, his test shot is blurry, and she laments that he doesn’t have a steady hand.
Other talents, though, I’m sure.
Oh, you sly little fox. What a great way to put the moves on a guy. ‘You’re hot, take pictures of my asshole for me, will you?’ That’s sure to get him horny.
“Take a few pictures from various angles. Up close and from farther away.”
Click, click, click, click. He won’t stop.
Unless you’re into that sort of thing? I don’t know if I’m scared or glad that Helen got a nurse that’s kinda fucked up too.
He carefully hands me the camera and says, “I’ve worked here in the proctology unit for ages and I’ve never been able to see the actual surgical work. So I thank you.”
Ah, so he’s just excited because he got to see the surgical work. A likely story.
“No, thank you. Can I look at these on my own? And would you do this for me again if it’s necessary?”
“You’re really cool, Robin.”
“You, too, Helen.”
‘So, how did you two meet?’ ‘Oh, you know, he took pictures of my infected ass, and we were like, hey, you’re cool, and totally fell for each other!’
He walks out grinning. I stuff the gauze stopper back in.
And this marks the end of chapter four. Next time, we get a play by play of her photos, and then the story of why she started shaving her body in the first place. It’s riveting!