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教育频道 > 外语天地-英语频道 > Words and Stories
Fathers(父亲们)(连载四)
时间:2006年09月22日16:53 我来说两句  

 
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来源:中国日报网站

  Mr. and Mrs. Wainwcenter came from Chicago, where they hadbothworked as window dressers for adepartment store. The storehadclosed down or had decided that it didnt need somanywindowsdressed—whatever had happened, they had lost their jobsandcome here, to live in Mrs. Eddys houseand try to set upawallpapering business.

  They had a daughter, Frances, who was a year younger than Iwas.She was small and thin and she gotout of breath easily, becauseshehad asthma. On my first day in grade five, Mr. Wainwcentercameoutand stopped me on the road, with Frances lagging behind him.Heasked me if I would take Frances toschool and show her wherethegrade-four classroom was, and if I would be her friend, becauseshedidntknow anybody yet or where anything was. Frances wasalldolled up in a very short checked cotton dresswith a flouncearoundthe skirt and a matching hair ribbon.

  Soon it became understood that I would walk to school withFrancesand walk home with her afterward.We both carried ourlunches toschool, but as I had not expressly been asked to eatlunch with herI neverdid. Very few students lived far enough awayto eat lunch atthe school, but there happened to be one girlin myown class whodid. Her name was Wanda Louise Palmer, and herparents owned andlived in thedance hall to the south of town. Sheand I ate togetherand formed a friendship of sorts, which wasbasedmostly on avoidingFrances. We ate in the girls basement,behind a barricade of brokenold desks thatwere heaped up in acorner. As soon as we finished,wed sneak out and leave the schoolgrounds to walkaround the nearbystreets or go downtown and look instore windows. Wanda Louiseshould have been aninterestingcompanion, because of her life at thedance hall, but she was soapt to lose track of what shewas tellingme (but not to stoptalking) that she was actually very boring. Allwe really had incommonwas our bond against Frances, and ourdesperate stifledlaughter when we peered through the desks andsawher looking forus. After a while, she didnt do that anymore; sheate her lunchalone.

  I would like to think that it was Wanda Louise who pointed heroutto our classmates, when we stood inline ready to march intotheschoolroom, as the girl we were always trying to avoid. But Icouldhavebeen the one who did that, and certainly I went along withthejoke, and was glad to be on the side ofthose doing the gigglingandexcluding. Living on the outskirts of town, as I did, andbeingeasilyembarrassed yet a showoff, as I improbably was, I couldneverstand up for anybody who was beinghumiliated, never rise aboveafeeling of relief that it was not me.

  The hair ribbons became part of it. Just to go up to Francesandsay, I love your hair ribbon. Where didyou get it? and havehersay, in innocent bewilderment, In Chicago, was a lastingsourceof glee. For awhile, in Chicago, or just Chicago, becametheanswer to everything. Where did you go afterschoolyesterday?Chicago. Or Where did your sister get her hairwaved? Oh, inChicago. Some girls gotinto fits of laughing thatwere likehiccups; some feared that they were going to be sick.

  How much Frances was aware of, I dont know. She may havethoughtthat there was some special placewhere girls in my classalwayswent to have lunch. She may not have understood what thegigglingwasabout. She never asked about it.

  She tried to hold my hand crossing the street, but I pulledawayand told her not to. She said she alwaysused to hold Sadieshand,when Sadie walked her to school in Chicago. But thatwasdifferent, shesaid. There arent any street-cars here.

  One day, she offered me a cookie center over from her lunch.Irefused, so as not to feel an inconvenientobligation. Go on,shesaid. My mother put it in for you.

  Then I understood. Her mother put in this extra cookie,thistreat, for me to eat when we had our lunchestogether. She hadnevertold her mother that I didnt show up at lunchtime and shecouldntfind me. Shemust have been eating the extra cookie herself,but nowthe dishonesty was bothering her. So every dayfrom then onsheoffered it, almost at the last minute, as if she wereembarrassed,and every day Iaccepted.

  We began to have a little conversation on our walks, startingwhenwe were almost clear of town. Wewere both interested in moviestars.She had seen far more movies than I had—in Chicago, youcouldseemovies every afternoon, and Sadie used to take her—but Iwalkedpast our theatre and looked at the stillsevery time thepicturechanged, so I knew something about them, too. And I had onemoviemagazine athome, which a visiting cousin had center. It hadpicturesof Deanna Durbins wedding in it, so we talkedabout that,and aboutwhat we wanted our own weddings to be like—the bridalgowns andthebridesmaids dresses and the flowers and thegoing-away outfits.The same cousin had given me apresent—aZiegfeld Girl cutout book.Frances had seen the Ziegfeld Girlmovie, and we talked aboutwhichZiegfeld girl we would like to be.She chose Judy Garland becauseshe could sing, and I choseHedyLamarr because she was sobeautiful.

  My father and mother used to sing in the Light OperaSociety,she said. They sang in The Pirates ofPenzance.

  Lightopra society. Pirazapenzanze. I filed those words awaybutcould not ask what they meant.If her mother came out to greetus,she might ask if I could come in and play. I always said I hadtogostraight home. (接下页)

  温赖特夫妇来自芝加哥,两人以前为同一家百货公司布置橱窗,那家公司后来可能倒闭了,要么就是要不了那么多人布置橱窗了——甭管什么原因,反正他们失业了,来到了这里,住在埃迪太太的屋子里,且尝试建一份装贴壁纸的生意。

  他们有个女儿叫法兰西斯,比我小一岁,很瘦小,有哮喘病,动不动就喘不过气来。升五年级时,第一天上学的路上,我被拽着法兰西斯的温赖特先生拦住,他问我能不能带法兰西斯上学,并帮她找到四年级的教室,他还希望我能跟她交朋友,因为她在这里两眼一抹黑,谁也不认识。法兰西斯穿了件格子图案的短棉袄,一条带荷叶边的裙子,头发上系了跟匹配的缎带。

  很快,我明白了,我得和法兰西斯一块上学、一块回家。我俩都带午饭上学,但温赖特没明说让我跟她一块吃午饭,我就没跟她一块吃过。很少有学生住得离学校很远,非得在学校吃饭不可,可我们班正好有一个住得远的,她叫旺达·路易斯,她父母在小镇的南边有个舞厅,他们家就住那里。我俩一块吃饭,并建立了某种友谊,这友谊很大程度是为躲法兰西斯而建的。我们在女生盥洗室堆放在角落里的坏旧书桌的后面吃饭。一吃完,我们就溜出学校,在附近的街道溜达,或者在商店里闲逛。旺达·路易斯自家都有舞厅,本该是个很不错的玩伴,可她说话老跳跃式的没个思路,还老说个不停,很乏味。我们唯一共同的地方,就是我俩都躲法兰西斯。从书桌的缝隙看到她到处找我们时,我俩拼命忍着没笑得喷饭。过了一阵,她不再找我们,自己一个人吃饭了。

  我想一定是旺达·路易斯在我们班排队准备进教室时,把那个我俩一直躲着不想见的人指给全班同学看了,这事本该是我做的,不过当时我肯定附和了,且与大家一起笑作一团,孤立法兰西斯。我自己也住在郊区,一直受大家排斥,想炫耀却总不成,因此最忍受不了的,就是看到别人被羞辱,那会让我马上联想到自己。

  法兰西斯头上扎的缎带也成了羞辱她的笑谈。大家走到她跟前,故意逗她说:“我好喜欢你头上的缎带哟,哪买的?”不辨真意的她说,“在芝加哥买的。一时,“芝加哥”成了大家的笑资,回答什么问话都是“在芝加哥”,或者“芝加哥”。“昨天放学后你去哪了?”“芝加哥。”或者“你姐姐在哪儿烫的头发?”“哦,在芝加哥。”一些女孩笑得岔气,另一些女孩怕自己笑痉挛了。

  对此,我不知道法兰西斯是否有意识。她也许以为我们班女孩吃午饭有个特定的地方,她也许不知道她们笑什么。反正她从未问过。

  过马路时她想拉着我的手,被我甩开了,我叫她别拉着。她说在芝加哥桑迪送她上学时,她总拉着桑迪的手。“可那里跟这里不同,”她说,“这里没那么多汽车。”一天,她给我一片她午餐没吃完的饼干,我拒绝了,免得老感到要承担自己不乐意的义务。“拿着吧,”她说,“我妈特意给你放的。”

  我这才知道,她妈特意多放了一块饼干,让她在我们一起吃午饭时请我吃,她却从没告诉她妈我一到午饭时间就不见了,找也找不着。那些额外的饼干她肯定都吃掉了,心里很内疚,因此,从那以后,每天她几乎都是在最後一刻把饼干给我,好像很难堪的样子,每次我都欣然接受。

  一路走的时候,我们开始有了交谈,一般都是在出了城以后。我们都对电影明星感兴趣。她看的电影比我多多了——在芝加哥你每天下午都可以去看电影,总是桑迪带她去的。我只是每次路过影院时,看看更换的电影剧照,因而我对电影还有所了解。我家还有一本电影杂志,是一个来我们家作客的堂兄留下的,里面有迪安娜·达宾婚礼的照片,我们便谈起她的婚礼,还展望自己想望的婚礼——新娘的婚纱、女傧相的裙子、鲜花以及度蜜月的全套服装。堂兄还送我一个礼物——一本电影《齐格菲女郎》的剧照集锦。法兰西斯看过《齐格菲女郎》电影,我们便谈起自己想成为什么样的齐格菲女郎。她说她选朱迪·加兰,因为她会唱歌,我说我选赫蒂·拉马尔,因为她很漂亮。

  “我爸爸妈妈曾在轻歌剧社团唱歌,”她说,“他们唱‘班战斯的海盗。’”

  轻歌剧社团。班战斯的海盗。我喃喃重复着这些很陌生的词,又不能问它们到底是什么意思。她妈出来迎接我们时,总约我进去玩,我总说我得直接回家。(编辑:赵露)

  (何朝阳,中国科学技术大学外语系)

  2


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