The Perfect Happy Family:
My father, the celebrity plastic surgeon and doctor, Harrison Monroe, is a doctor by day and a drag queen by night. We rarely see him because he works about a hundred hours per week; traveling to his high profile clients’ parties and check-ups. He’s also authorized to perform Botox injections, so you know that living here in California, the land of beautiful people- business is always booming. He’s always been an ambitious man; having a doctor’s degree, being a star athlete in high school and college, and marrying a former supermodel, and my mother, Bonnie Cousteau.
My mother, Bonnie Cousteau, is a former supermodel, who is the epitome of a rag to riches story. She was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother was an alcoholic and she never knew her father. Her mother would bring an abundance of strange men into their rat infested apartment and sleep with them for money. On one very cold night in December of 1979, my mother was raped by a guy her mother had been sleeping with for a while. Her mother was passed out from a reckless binge drinking night while she was getting raped. She told her mother what had happened but she didn’t believe her. She accused her of stealing her man and kicked her out the house. Distraught and confused, my mother went to live with her grandmother, Natalia Cousteau, in Queens, New York.
Natalia Cousteau was a seamstress and owned her own bakery. She did everything she could for my mother. She even enrolled her into a modeling school in Manhattan. People always told her she should become a model and one day at the mall she was discovered by an agent when she was 15. In a few years, she became the IT Girl. She graced the covers of numerous fashion magazines and walked the catwalks of France, New York, London, and Italy by the time she was 21. She owned the catwalk. Everyone knew her name and designers loved her. However, the pressures of staying thin, young, and beautiful got to her. She started doing drugs; mostly heroin and marijuana. When she was 23 she accidentally overdosed on cocaine at a high profile party thrown by a top designer. That’s where she met my father, Harrison. He was the one that saved her life.
He took care of her during her time at the hospital. Natalia had died a few years back of cancer and she didn’t even know where her mother was. At first, my father had-had a bet with his other doctor friends that he would get in her pants. Nevertheless, after dating her for a while and getting to know her; he fell in love with her. To the contrary, my mother wasn’t a big fan of relationships and love. She liked having sex with different men every night and smoking weed with her model friends. She loved her glamorous life; the clothes, the money, the parties, the jewelry, and the champagne. Despite her reluctance to settle down with a man, Harrison was not one to give up. He sent her thousands of sunflowers, which were her favorite, and did everything he could to make her fall in love with him. Eventually his charm wore her down and they dated for a while. They broke up a few times because my mother cheated on him twice but he always took her back. Finally, they got married and had their first child, my brother, James, in 1990. I then came 2 years later and was named after my father’s great-grandmother, Lisabella, because she was the one who had inspired him to become a doctor. In 1995, we moved to Malibu, California because father had accepted an offer for a head surgeon position at UCLA. A few years later, he successfully established his own plastic surgery facility.
James and I had a very entertaining and strict lifestyle growing up. We had everything we wanted and more. We crossed the world in our own personal jet to France just because we wanted to. We rarely saw our father though because he was always at work. I guess that’s why my mother did the things she did. She made sure we looked our best even when going to bed. Our hair had to be perfect, our teeth had to be blinding white, and we always wore designer clothes. We had to be perfect in everything. We had to wake up everyday at 4 in the morning to exercise because she didn’t want us to get fat. Subsequently, after our exercise routine we would have to clean the house even though we had people that did that for us. Mother was anal about having the house clean. You would never think anyone lived in our house because it was spotless. In regards to school, only A’s and B’s were acceptable and we had to play sports or be in an extra-curricular activity. James followed in our father’s footsteps and joined the football team. He became captain his sophomore year; talk about star athlete! I joined the soccer team but mother wasn’t too happy about that. She wanted me to be a cheerleader and gave me so much grief about it.
Soccer is a man’s game darling she told me. She wanted me to be primp little princess in a cheerleading outfit just looking cute. She didn’t understand that I didn’t want to be like her. I didn’t want to be a Barbie nor a trophy to any man. I wanted to study law and become a lawyer someday. I wanted to play soccer and I did and I was good at it. After winning the championship game my freshmen year and becoming captain, she gave in only because I was a star athlete now. It was all about status with her. You had to be somebody or she would not talk to you.
Life was good until it wasn’t. My parents started to fight a lot; mostly about dad working so much. They started sleeping in different rooms when I was nine. I dreaded that meeting where they would tell me and James that they would be separating; particularly because mother did not cook nor clean. No one ever wants to hear that their parents are divorcing. I mean I had friends that their parents weren’t together and I saw how difficult it was for them. Shuffling back and forth from parent to parent would be a jarring transition for me. I didn’t want to be one of those kids. I just couldn’t handle it because I liked how things were and never wanted things to change. Somehow by some miracle that meeting never occurred. Things did get weird though. Each of us fell into our own darkness but yet we were still a family, I suppose. We had family dinner parties, we laughed together, we traveled together, and we cried together. Nonetheless, we kept up with our disguise to our community. Mother would always lie about her upbringing. She would say that she grew up with her grandmother in the upper east side of Manhattan, when talking to the other high maintenance housewives, at their weekly manicure and pedicure bash. She started cheating on my father when I was 12 years old. I caught her having sex with Mr. Dooley when I came from piano lessons one day. Mr. Dooley was a young man of about 27 years of age who married a filthy rich cougar named Veronica Constance. Mrs. Constance had inherited her millions from her five ex-husbands whom are rumored to have mysteriously died.
I had run up the stairs, to mother’s bedroom to tell her that I had been granted the headline act for the talent show. When I got to her bedroom door, I heard strange noises and sounds. As I opened the door, I saw them there in her bed naked. I’m still traumatized. She screamed when she saw me and yelled at me to go to my room. After she got Mr. Dooley out the house, she came into my room and made up some lie about what they were doing.
Honey, me and Mr. Dooley were just playing a game she said to me. She actually thought I was stupid enough to believe that calumny. I knew what sex was and what I saw them doing was definitely sex. I couldn’t believe she cheated on my father. She bribed me with money and extending my curfew to keep me quiet. Truth is, shamefully so, I did blackmail her for many years. I didn’t feel bad about it because in my head she was the only that was being erroneous. That isolated incident really messed me up. Like I said before each of us fell into our own darkness when we moved here. Malibu changed us for the worse and we were oblivious to the fact that we were falling apart.
Mother promised me she wouldn’t have another indiscretion but I didn’t believe her. She cheated on my father many other times. She thought I didn’t know that I knew what she really was doing when she said she was just going out for a bit. Darling, I’m going out for a walk she told me one October night. I didn’t want her to go because I would be home alone. James was at football practice and dad was at work like always. Our nanny, maid, and cook were available for my bidding but I knew my mother was up to no good. Can’t you stay? I need help with my math homework. I pleaded. I really didn’t need help; I had the highest grade in class. I just didn’t want her to cheat on my dad again even if it was just only for this night. You know I’m not good in math, darling my mother responded with a petulant expression on her face.
Then she walked out the door in her gold Manolo Blahnik strappy sandals and red Dolce and Gabanna halter dress. I decided to follow her that night to confirm my suspicions. She didn’t stray too far from our house; just a couple of blocks down to Mr. Mathew Quinn’s house. Mathew Quinn was a successful movie producer and was also married to an oil heiress, from India named, Sane Sahib. Sahib’s car wasn’t there so I knew this wasn’t good. As I watched my mother go up the marble steps I fought the urge to tackle her down and stop her from ringing that bell. She had a gorgeous silhouette and I envied her for that. Even though she was in her late forties; she looked like she was in her late twenties. I mean guys thought I was hot in school but when they saw my mom I was just her shadow. Mr. Quinn opened the door on the first ring and they immediately started making out. When they got inside, they really went at it like teenagers. I felt sick. I couldn’t believe she would do this to my father; to our family. That’s when I saw James. He had gotten out of a car and there was this man with him.
I had a good time tonight the man told James. Yeah, it was great James smiled at the man. At first I wasn’t sure what I was witnessing, then to my shock James started to make out with the man. I couldn’t believe my eyes! My brother was a gay. I mean I didn’t see this coming. How could I have not known? Nobody could have seen this coming. He had brought girls over and I knew he wasn’t a virgin. This was too much for one night and I had gotten weirdly ravenous during this escapade. I slid away from my hiding place behind the bushes from across the street and ran all the way home.