Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ooh Baby Baby Redux

Here are some of the problems with teen-age mothers and their kids.

Teen-age moms drop out of school.
They are often shunned by their families.
The teen-age fathers seldom contribute to children-related expenses.
Teen-age moms rarely have the resources to fend for themselves.
They are often unemployable in any but the lowest service capacity

Encouraging marriage of teens is silly. Such unions have a staggeringly high divorce rate.

Here is the problem associated with teaching abstinence only.

It doesn't work because:
  • Having sex is fun
  • Having sex can make you very popular
  • It shows you care
  • Your boyfriend wants to do it
  • Your girlfriend wants to do it
  • It's fun.

There are a lot of things right now that do not make a lot of sense.

Each year, more than 750,000 teenage women aged 15–19 become pregnant.

Governor Palin's daughter, who is pregnant, will soon become an unwed mother, or, more likely, a wife and mother at the tender age of seventeen. Governor Palin and her husband will step in, as parents should in such a situation, and somehow make things right for Bristol and her boyfriend Levi. This will be seen as a triumph of Christian ethics, and the pregnancy is certain to become an icon among anti-abortion groups.
Trouble is, of course, that the overwhelming number of teen-age mothers do not have Bristol Palin's background. No, they mostly come from impoverished parentage, and will survive largely on the public dole--food stamps, public housing, welfare, insufficient health care. Many will turn to drugs, prostitution or both, and help swamp a judicial system already overwhelmed. They will often have additional pregnancies by different partners, thereby, for all good purposes, sealing their fates and those of their children.
This, incidentally, is happening in all states including Alaska.

Here's installment 43 of Wasted Miracles

Colin declined Mamadou’s offer of a ride and walked home. The bar was less than a mile from his apartment building and it was a pleasant night, a full moon bathed the trees and the temperature had become bearable. He hoped Catherine had called, perhaps there was some news about Josie and the whole thing would be called off. The prospect of becoming too closely involved with the Senegalese bothered him.
Colin wondered whether the man might himself be a dealer, he seemed to know the workings of the street and drug cultures, but if that was the case, why volunteer to help? No, Colin thought. That doesn’t feel right. There was something else going on, something more complex.
Why had the man been so willing to talk? Colin replayed the conversation. It had been full of suppositions and inferences, but truth to tell there really hadn’t been that much concrete information given. With enough time, anyone could have gathered that knowledge. And yet through the unease he felt, Colin could also spot a measure of admiration. Policeman or not, it had taken nerve and audacity to face down the gang members. And the Senegalese had voiced no regrets.
By the time Colin reached his building it was nearly midnight. As he opened the door he saw Joe the Cop dozing on a bench in the vestibule, a copy of that morning’s Post on his lap.
“Hey, there you are! I was gonna give it five more minutes.” He folded the paper, put it his jacket pocket.
Joe the Cop wore a rumpled gray suit over a light blue shirt with a wide brown tie pulled loose at the neck. He had on thin white socks and cordovan wingtips. One of his shoes was unlaced.
“I just dropped by, hope you don’t mind.”
Colin shook his head. “No. Is this pigeon business?”
They headed for the elevator, waited. Joe said, “Nope, everything’s fine on that front. No screaming desires. I’m still doing it a day at a time and I have to admit it’s getting easier. This is something else. I thought you might want to know about it.”
The elevator stopped at Colin’s floor. Joe waited for Colin to unlock the door, made a beeline for the kitchen. Colin could hear him open the fridge, pour something in a glass, close the fridge again.
Joe asked, “Want anything?”
“No thanks.”
“Good, cause there’s not much in there and I just finished the last of your orange juice.”
He came into the living room, dropped his weight on the couch, noticed his untied lace. He took a moment to do it properly, pulled his tie off and stuffed it in a pocket, opened the two top buttons of his shirt. Then he glanced at his shoes, shook his head, toed them off. “Damn, that feels good.” He wiggled his feet, scratched an ankle.
“Better. Anyway. This is about your missing friend. I was at a meeting earlier, I’m trying to do one a day whenever I can, and afterwards I was hanging around the parking lot for a minute, see if there was anyone I know wanted to go for coffee. Got nothing better to do, and sometimes I don’t want to be at home. You know. I’m alone, sometimes I start thinking stuff I shouldn’t be thinking.” He looked up at Colin to make sure he understood. Colin nodded, rubbed his eyes. When Joe started talking, it was always a long haul. He allowed himself to sink into the chair.
“So I’m sitting there but turns out I don’t know anybody by name but I see these two girls, young women, early twenties, max. I’ve seen them around at a meeting or two they’re always together, one sponsors the other, I guess. I think maybe I’ve talked to them, you know, standard meeting-after-the-meeting shit. I catch the eye of one of them and she smiles, so I go over there and we start talking, nothing special, just shooting the breeze. And I think, ‘Well, what the hell, why not,’ and I ask about your friend, Josie. You know how it is, AA’s always small town, everybody knows everybody else or if they don’t, they know someone who does. That’s why they call it a fellowship, I guess.”
“They knew her?”
“Hang on, OK? Yeah, they do, but lemme tell the story, all right?” Joe paused, waited for Colin’s nod.
“Well at first they’re a little bit wary, you know? But that’s normal, young girls like that. There’s always some old fart trying to get close to ‘em after the meeting, impart his wisdom, that kinda shit, so I’m not offended. I mean, I think it’s pitiful, some of these guys hitting on women like they do, if I were a chick, I sure wouldn’t want anything to do with ‘em. But me, I look trustworthy, people always tell me that. I go on the scene, some crime crap, people tell me stuff. I tell the captain, ‘It’s a blessing.’ He should give me a raise.”
Colin said, “Josie?”
Joe nodded. “So anyway, yeah, they know her. They tell me about this meeting they go to, women only. Turns out it’s Josie’s meeting, she’s been chairing it for three, four months now, and she’s really good about it, makes sure the speakers are on time, coffee’s made, helps straighten the place out afterwards, that kinda thing. And she wasn’t there yesterday, a first, one of the girls says.
“Well, I say I know Josie a little--OK, it’s not true, but it’s not a big lie, either. I kinda know her, you could say. So we keep talking and I get the feeling that maybe they’re not all that nuts about her after all. And I’m right, they’re not, they think she’s kind of a control freak, as far as the meetings go. Apparently, conscientious as she is, she really runs that meeting like she owns it, nobody likes that shit, and these other two, they’ve been straight a lot longer, they don’t really care for that a lot. Matter of fact, in spite of Josie doing such a good job, there’s people who wanta see about turning the meeting over to someone else. You know how AA politics are... Come to think of it, I guess they’re no different from anyplace else, I guess. Be back in a minute.” Joe got up, went into the bathroom, closed the door. Colin took the opportunity to check his voice mail for messages. Nothing.
Joe reappeared holding a glass of water, sat back down.
“So, to make a long story short. We do go for coffee and like always it turns out we know a lot of people in common, you know, ‘Have you heard from so and so?’ and ‘Whatever happened to whosis,’ and ‘It’s so sad whatsisname went out again, but I knew it all the time.’ I told them I was a cop and that didn’t seem to phase ‘em. They asked about that guy who turned out to be the prostitute killer, you know, the one who dumped their bodies next to the Dulles access road, and I was a little involved in case. Anyway, the conversation drifts back to Josie, and they ask me whether I know the pigeon she’s sponsoring, someone new in the program who apparently looked like hell the first day she came in. Well of course I don’t, so we start talking about sponsors and incidentally, your name came up, Colin, one of them knows you by sight, called you ‘that huge guy.’” Joe the Cop smirked. “Course, I didn’t ask ‘em what part of you they found huge. OK, what it comes down to is that Josie was sponsoring someone new, a real young girl name of Mollie who came in maybe seven, eight weeks ago, and this girl, she’s like 17, looks like she could suck-start a Harley--one of the women said that, I didn’t--and made a big fuss during a recent meeting, started cussing and stuff, really took the group to task for being a bunch of snobs, not being friendly at all, and she accuses them of not treating her right because she’s a topless dancer and a heroine addict.
“Well Josie got her to quiet down, asked her to share her story so the other people can get to know her better, and she did. She’s a dancer in this club in DC, Pete’s Place. You might have heard about it, it’s right in the business district, next to MCI, the International Monetary Fund, couple of blocks from the White House. These legit businesses tried to prevent it from opening and couldn’t, and they’ve been trying to close it down and can’t. I think it’s mob owned. Real weird bar, bikers and a lot of druggies in there, but students and some high paid city bureaucrats too. Rough sometimes, gets the emergency squad at least once a week but it’s near George Washington University Hospital too. Kind of a tough job, being a dancer there, I’d guess. You know, you’re working on your recovery, it’s kinda like trying to maintain a diet in a bakery, but the tips are good, which is why she’s there, working in that bar, I mean.
“So the two women I’m talking to, after a while they have to leave, and I’ve got nothing to do so I go back to the station and hit the computer, because it seems to me I remember Pete’s Place was busted not too long ago, I think a couple of German tourists got stabbed right around there and the police finally had to do something, they don’t want another Miami in the Nation’s Capital, place has a bad enough rep as is, and lo and behold, there’s a Mollie Catfish--no shit, that’s her name--she was caught in the sweep. And I figure that’s got to be her. She gave a bogus address on the forms, by the way, and no phone number but nobody cared because she was clean, but she sure made an impression on a couple of the boys. Gary Smelk, this DC cop I play poker with sometimes--he’s in the program too, got six, seven years--he was part of the action that went into Pete’s and he just couldn’t stop talking about this girl. Tits out to there, he says, and a mouth on her like you wouldn’t believe. He said he’d give a week’s pay for an hour’s rack time with her.”
Colin said, “Hang on a second, Joe. Let me make a couple of notes.”
Hoe waited until Colin found a pen and some paper, continued. “Thing is, I don’t know where this Mollie lives, DC or Virginia, maybe even Maryland, she’s not in any of the phone books, maybe she just moved here, but I thought it might be helpful.”
He took a deep breath, added, “You know, it strikes me that I have a couple of days off coming up, so if you want, I could maybe kind of talk to her, find out whatever she knows if you like.” Joe looked at Colin expectantly. The prospect of finding and talking to such a woman had him interested.
Colin laughed, “Seems to me her recent experiences with the police might make you unwelcome. Save your days off, Joe. I’ll go look her up.” He paused. “That’s really her name, Mollie Catfish?”
Joe the Cop shrugged away his disappointment, nodded. “Yes indeed. North Carolina driver’s license. Probably a fake, it says she’s 18. Mollie Catfish. Isn’t that a hell of a thing? Imagine bein’ her daddy and hangin a name like that on your daughter. Should be against the law.”

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