AND MORE MESSAGES FROM THE HIDDEN WORLD OF GIRLS PHONE LINE
When we first put out the call for stories for the Hidden World of Girls series, science fiction writer Pat Cadigan sent us this email about her secret life with her best friend Rosemarie.
Dear Kitchen Sisters,
My name is Pat Cadigan. My best friend Rosemarie and I had a very involved secret life when we were in elementary school. After we saw The Day the Earth Stood Still on TV, we invented a whole secret life in which we were twins from the planet Venus and we were in charge of the entire solar system as well as Earth. This mostly involved our having exclusive contact with the Beatles, who came to us for advice about their songs, how to deal with fame, and other important matters. On occasion, they would ask us to use our highly-developed shape shifting ability to become them and finish recording sessions and concert tours when they were too tired to go on themselves. Every detail of our exciting lives was being broadcast to our home planet Venus as well, providing many hours of entertainment for all the other Venusians.
Of course, we had many other super-powers, which allowed us to help out Superman, the Flash, Wonder Woman, and a few other superheroes.This complex double life lasted from 1963 to a time when we should have
outgrown it, except we were having too much fun.
Eventually, our lives diverged—Rose stayed in the town where we grew up, married, and had two daughters. I went off to university and eventually became a science fiction writer. We re-united in the early 80s, when we were both having marital problems, and tried to keep in touch, although contact became sporadic again.
We had been out of touch for a few years when I found out that Rose had died of bone cancer, about two weeks before 9-11 only a few days before she would have turned 50.
She’s on Venus now, I’m sure of it.
FROM OUR INTERVIEW WITH PAT CADIGAN
We were so taken by Pat’s short story that we got her into a studio to read her essay and tell us more about her life. Here’s some of what she said.
“When I heard about the Hidden World of Girls, I thought, this would be a good thing. A tribute to Rosemarie. Rose Marie Decaria was probably the strongest formative influence making me who and what I am.
Raised by Three Moms
In our secret lives Rosemarie and I we were twins, Joan and Jane. She was really the dominant of the two of us. She was just a little older than I was and she gave the instructions. She was raised by a mom and dad and fighting with her brothers. And I was raised by three women. I called them all mom interchangeably. My mother, my aunt and my aunt’s life partner.
I grew up in Fitchberg, Massachusetts not too far from the New Hampshire Vermont border in an industrial, working class neighborhood known as “The Patch.”
My father was a violent alcoholic and my mother did something very brave. She left, which most women didn’t do in 1957. We moved to Fitchburg to be near her older sister Loretta who lived with her business partner Dolly.
It was Easter. We were supposed to spend Easter with Loretta and Dolly. It was one of those times when my father disappeared on a bender. SO we just left. On the last day of our visit my mother got up and she said to Loretta and Dolly, ‘I cannot go back there, I can’t stand it anymore.” And Dolly said, “Now you’re talking.” So she out she rented a UHaul and I never saw my father again.
Candy Stick House — LISTEN
Loretta and Dolly owned the tenement building we lived in, they had full time jobs, and they had a candy making business in the basement. Candy Stick House. They used to make gourmet candy for restaurants. We’d pull the taffy. They made lollypops, lady fingers and horehounds. Beautiful shiny candy making equipment and these extraordinarily detailed molds for lollypops that were shaped like men on rearing horses.
My aunt and Dolly got together during World War II and we went to live with them in 1957. I’m a ringer for my Aunt Loretta. Dolly was kind of tough, wiry, French Canadian who knew how to do everything.
In those days if you left your husband that was a scandal. There would be a lot of gossip and speculation. Fitchberg was a very small town. We were brand new faces.
Starting first grade they were asking me about Who’s you’re mother, who’s your father, where are you from? When they came to “Where’s your father?” I said, “He’s dead.” And that settled the matter. I knew my mom would have a much easier time as a widow than as someone who was separated or divorced. Maybe I picked it up or from TV or overhearing adults talk. And went home and I told my mother and she was very happy to go along with it. So that settled the matter, that’s the way we worked it.
My mother got a job in the admitting office of the local hospital and sometimes when she had to work weekends I would go into the office with her and while she sat in the front part of the office I would sit way in the back and write stories.
Shape Shifting on Venus—LISTEN
Because Rosemarie and I were from Venus we used a body changing machine that we went into and would change us. With shape shifting you have the ability to change your body and become something else. Shape shifting is something from mythology. Zeus became a swan and seduced Leda. It’s inherent in all mythologies from Native American to Japanese to, they’ve probably got it on Venus too.
We didn’t worry about the fact that shape shifting into the Beatles meant that we were changing sex. We were just becoming the Beatles. The Beatles spoke to us. I couldn’t get enough of Love Me Do, Rose loved “Can’t Buy Me Love.
My secret life with Rosemarie, made science fiction much more a part of my life. I wasn’t just reading the books I was living in it. That is something that took hold and has dominated my approach to everything else in my life.
Rose, wherever you are, I hope you like this.
PAT CADIGAN is a well know science fiction author whose work is described as part of the cyberpunk movement. Her novels and stories all share a common theme, exploring the relationship between the human mind and technology. She has won numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Robert A. Heinlein in part dedicated his novel Friday to Cadigan. She is the author of Cellular, Reality Used to be a Friend of Mine, Mindplayers, Synners, Fools, Home by the Sea, Tea from an Empty Cup, Dervish Digital and more.
MORE MESSAGES FROM THE HIDDEN WORLD OF GIRLS PHONE LINE
We’ve received hundreds of messages, emails, photos, stories and contributions to the project. Here’s a sampling. Keep them coming!
My name is Jessica Delfino. I grew up in a very small town called Damariscotta, Maine, the oldest of six sisters. I ran away from home at about age 15 and never ever went back. I put myself though art school go-go dancing. Eventually, armed with a guitar and a very big mouth, I wrote a bunch of edgy, sassy songs about life, love and the female anatomy. People either love or hate what I do.
Hello, my name is Michael Pollit. I live in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. The story I want to let you know about is about my daughter who got training as a car mechanic. Opened a garage in Burlington, Vermont called Girlington Garage.
Hello, my name is Lena Greenberg. I’m 12 years old and I’m on the New Moon Girls Editorial Board.
My name is Lori Brix. After the Second World War the Queen Mary was utilized to bring an entire boatload of British war brides to the United States to be reunited with their husbands. And my mother, who is still living, was among the women on that boat.
My name is Lyz Lenz and I am the second oldest of seven siblings. I have four sisters so there’s five of us and whenever one of us turns thirteen my mother has this big make-up coming of age ritual where she’ll sit you down and do your colors where she finds out if you’re a Fall or a Summer and then give you this big make-up lesson
Hi, this is Marshall Bright. I’m calling about my grandmother. She is eighty-seven years old. My grandmother, Minnie, and her partner Nanoo started an all female practice in the south in the 1950s. They never had segregated waiting rooms and Minnie especially has been a vocal advocate for the Civil Rights Movement to her friends and family.