Happy Hour, the poem … and the film

Click to see the trailer of Happy Hour: a short film that explores the memory of childhood sexual abuse, complicity and grooming—based on a poem, narrated by Julianne Moore.

Happy Hour

When women laugh at jokes they don’t find funny
and men tell stories only half-true, I recall how,

at his house, my parents and their friends welcomed in the weekends.
How they’d sit by the fireplace wishing

the flame’s ribbons could tie up life’s loose ends. How they’d never
see him lead me from the room and up the stairs,

martini in hand. Olives bobbing like bloodshot eyes. After cleanup:
a monogrammed handkerchief, the quick zip of pants, he’d

slip a silver dollar into my pocket—Good girl.


Click to see the film’s fall 2012 Kickstarter video and campaign.

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  1. Great poem, Gretl. I recall your reading it at our poetry reading series in Cambridge, UK. The audience was mesmerized by your performance that night. Keep up the fantastic work.

  2. Each time I read this poem, I hear your voice reciting it – always a pleasure. I marvel in your talent to share life experiences through poetry.

  3. The way you wrap the coziness and horror so gently together makes the prose devastatingly poignant and compelling…

  4. The little girl’s hand reaching for the silver dollar touched me deeply. I could almost hear the man’s voice saying “Good girl.”

  5. How nothing horrible is seen by adults when it happens “under their nose” is odd to me. I believe that people see with their conscious selves, but when such horror is presented the mind resolves to go around and around in an impossible stranglehold of not knowing what to do, and then not doing anything at all. Perhaps people see and don’t react when they, themselves, are bound by other matters so deeply horrible that they’re paralyzed beyond even what instinct is telling them they should do…to save.

  6. This makes me think of all the financial transactions that women encounter in the dating world… “Can I buy you a drink?” The man paying for the first date… What exactly am I obligated to give in return???

  7. Terrifying imagery, Gretl. I’m speechless at the thought of anyone having to go through something so horrific; and at such a young age.

  8. Ahhh. Just shattering. Unadorned and dressed in drab…hits home like only an awful reality could. How silently she must have cried inside. What parent knows the inner space of their child’s heart and mind? Keep the lines of communication open, oh parents, so that all may be spoken in trust and love, conquering fear. I cry for you, the child, and pray for the woman.

  9. Brilliant Gretl. Raw, Powerful, and Real. Thank you for the courage to speak what remains to many unspeakable. My heart breaks and my heart opens.

  10. I’ve been in that place.

    I’m very glad that you can write about it in such a beautiful way. I am able to write about it in poetry. It doesn’t make the memory of the touch go away but sharing helps, doesn’t it?

    A lot of survivors can’t write about it. Thank you for this gift to them.

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