Sunday, December 27, 2009

Okay, here's one more trek down memory lane. Don't worry, this trek is less treacly than the first two.

I don't remember her name, but if I were to give her one, it would be "Godzilla." I was a puny five-year old, and she was about eight or nine. She was huge and hard. Even the boys in the neighborhood gave her a wide berth.
One day, I was innocently playing in my front yard. I felt the ground shake and I looked up. It was Godzilla. She was carrying a 2" by 4". "I'm going to hit you with this," she announced, matter-of-factly.
I was filled with a sense of the unfairness of the situation. "But I don't have a weapon," I complained.
"Well, go get one! I'll wait."
I ran into the house. As an adult, looking back, I can't imagine why I didn't just stay in the house! Instead, I looked around hurriedly for something with which to defend myself. "What are you doing?" my mother asked.
"Nothing!" I replied, and ran back outside carrying a broom, the nearest thing to a weapon I could find. I confronted Godzilla. She laughed out loud and whacked me across the head with the 2" by 4".
The next thing I knew, I was lying on the couch, with my tearful mother bathing my face with a wet rag. "Who did this to you?" she sobbed.
"It was Godzilla."
"You mean that big girl with the long, black hair?"
"Do you know where she lives?"
"Well, you show me where her house is, and I'm going to talk to her parents. She's not going to get away with this."
I lifted my throbbing head from the pillow and stood up, pleased that justice was about to be served. Mommy held my hand as we marched down the street and around the corner to Godzilla's house. I could hardly contain my excitement. We walked up to the front door and Mommy knocked loudly. One thing I should mention here is that my mother stood about 5' 3" and had a small, dainty build. No one answered the door. Mommy knocked again, harder this time.
Suddenly, the door flew open and a woman at least the size of King Kong appeared. She had bristly, black hair that stood out every which way, and her face was contorted.
"What do you want" she bellowed.
My mother looked up at Kong, trembled slightly, and said, "Nothing!"
Gripping my hand tightly, she turned around quickly and walked us away from the ogre's den as fast as our short legs could go. I felt a crushing sense of disappointment.
"But Mommy," I cried. "You didn't tell Kong what Godzilla did to me."
I'm sorry, Zelda. Someday, you'll understand."
She was right.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Well, the memoir idea went over like a lead balloon! Okay friends, no more treacly tales. Keep it light! That's my motto. How 'bout those 'sixers? Cold enough for ya? Merrrrrry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Okay, here's the second installment. Daddy left his job with the railroad and went to work in the shipyards, in Oakland. So, we moved from the boxcar to a ramshackle place near the bay.

In the Beginning
During my first sixteen months on earth, I was the apple of my parents' eyes. I was number one, the first-born, slightly defective, but still pretty cute, brown-eyed and blond. Then, along came Judy. Judy, with her dark curly hair, big blue eyes, dimples, perfect little mouth...pretty and cute. I was yesterday's news, old before my time, consigned to the sidelines. Judy was serene, happily accepting the parental devotion heaped upon her. Strangers stopped my mother on the street, just to exclaim over the perfection of the "little doll," while I hung onto mommy's skirt, twisting my tongue into a knot.
Still, I had it better than Marilyn, number three, the third girl born in two and a half years, when Daddy had wanted a boy, and Mommy had wanted to stop the baby parade after Judy was born. Mommy persuaded the doctor to remove her overly fruitful uterus, shortly after Marilyn's birth. There would be no additional pesky kids, robbing her of her youth and freedom. Not that Marilyn made many demands. She lay in her crib, smiling happily in response to any shred of attention paid her, requesting no more than Mom was willing to give, which was very little. Mom was very busy visiting with other young housewives in the neighborhood, drinking lots of coffee and discussing the inadequacies of her husband and her life in general. Then Daddy would come home from his job in the Oakland shipyard, find Marilyn lying in her crib, with an overflowing diaper, and yell at Mom for not taking care of the baby. I remember him holding the baby in the bathroom sink, rinsing her off under the faucet. Mom would yell back at him, asking him how he'd like it if he were stuck in the house all day with a bunch of kids and nothing to do except housework. Then he would say how it sure didn't look like she had been doing any housework, and just what did she do all day, anyway?
During one of these oft-repeated discussions, I saw little Judy heading for the open front door. Since the adults were not paying attention, I decided that I should administer some much-needed discipline. I grabbed a candlestick from its holder and proceeded to whack her on the head until she stopped walking and started crying. Those big, blue eyes were overflowing, by the time Mommy and Daddy heard the ruckus. And, in the first of many unjust reactions to my earnest attempts to improve my sister's behavior, I got a spanking, while the miscreant was comforted.
Housing in the Bay area was tight, and Dad decided to make a little extra money, by renting out our third bedroom. Marge and Elaine became part of our little family. At that point, two sailors became frequent visitors to our house. I thought they were very handsome, with their bell-bottomed trousers and white caps. They were Alf and Harold, Daddy's cousins, who were stationed in San Francisco. They quickly hooked up with Elaine and Marge, and romance was in the air. Mommy talked a lot with Elaine and Marge, and sometimes there were more than two sailors in the house, and sometimes Mommy went for drives with the sailors. Mommy and Daddy fought a lot, and Daddy said that if she could go for drives with sailors, maybe he should go for drives with Marge. I just wished they would stop fighting and that someone would change Marilyn's diaper, because she didn't smell so good.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Okay, ready or not, here's the first chapter of my memoir, entitled "Born in a Boxcar." I should explain that I wasn't actually born in a boxcar, but I was conceived in a boxcar and that same boxcar was my first home. But somehow, the titles "Conceived in a Boxcar" or "Lived in a Boxcar" didn't seem as catchy as "Born in a Boxcar," so there you have it. This first chapter should probably be called, "Born in the Hospital That Was Closest to the Boxcar at the Time."
It is the story of my birth, as told to me by my father.
Old Doc Sullivan didn't perform episiotomies. "If God had wanted a woman to have an extra slit down there he would have given her one," he explained to my father as Daddy stood awkwardly by, watching the painful labor. So, when my big head had stretched my teen-aged mother's vagina as far as it would go without help, Doc Sullivan inserted his gloved finger gently between my head and my mother's taut skin and slowly and carefully moved his finger around and around the perimeter, stretching the skin gradually as my exhausted mother pushed and heaved. Pop! The head was out, shoulders and torso followed easily.
My father gasped. "Oh my God, what's wrong with the baby's face?"
"Hold your horses, Ken, and let me take a look." The doctor gently wiped me off and examined my mouth. "Well, it looks like she has a cleft lip." He opened my mouth and looked at the palate. "Her palate's okay. Be grateful for that. Everything else is fine. She has all her fingers and toes. We'll get this lip stitched up and you can take her home in a couple of weeks."
"What's wrong? Let me see, " Mom asked.
"Just a minute, Evie," Doc Sullivan answered. "I'll cut the cord and you can hold her." He looked again at Daddy and added, "She'll have to have plastic surgery in about a year. That'll smooth out the scar a little."
Mom was crying as the doctor handed me to her. "Oh, my poor little baby. Don't cry. Mommy and Daddy love you, no matter what."
Daddy moved next to her and put his hand awkwardly on her shoulder. All he could think of was, How the hell am I going to pay for all this?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Haiku For Now, Memoir Later
I've written a lot of memoir-type short (500 to 1000 words) stories, recalling my rather odd life. They sit mouldering away in my file cabinet, because I'm too lazy to ever try to do anything with them. It just occurred to me today that I could post one on my blog now and then. If I get even one comment encouraging me to do so, I will. Otherwise, I will continue to let them moulder, which is fine.
In the meantime, I entertained myself while at Starbucks today, writing some haiku. I like haiku, because it's effortless, both to write and to read. I even compose them at night sometimes, while lying in bed, unable to sleep. I don't remember them in the morning, which is just as well.
Sitting in Starbucks
Drinking my cappucino
Wanting more from life

Caffeine is a drug
A legal drug, thank goodness
Or I'd be in jail

Cool jazz overhead
Does that mean Starbucks is cool?
Or "cool" wannabe?
Now it's folk music
There's something for everyone
Except me, that is

Now Christmas music!
For Christ's sake, leave me alone!
I want peace on ears

Disclaimer: The photo posted above is not me, not even a reasonable facsimile. Starbucks paid me to insert it, so all the the multitudes of horny male readers of this blog will think they will find women who look like that, sipping their lattes and looking for love. Forget it, losers. It's not gonna happen.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A New Script for Johnny and Me
Zelda: But Johnny, I'm so much older than you, you can't really want me to go to bed with you, can you?
Johnny: Zelda, I have waited for you since I was Edward Scissorhands. I saw you in the audience and knew that you were the woman that could heal me. My soul was tortured. I was only half a man. But I could tell that you were not attracted to me then. Perhaps it was the hands that put you off. But when I made the movie "Chocolat," I thought of you again, and made sure that the movie would be shown in Lancaster, at a discount theater, so you would go see it. I watched you from the balcony as your eyes rolled back in your head during the love scenes.
Then I did some research on you and discovered that you have a secret fascination with pirates. So I persuaded the studio to make a quick movie based on the Disneyland feature, "Pirates of the Caribbean." There wasn't time to create a whole new story...after all, you were getting older by the minute. And I knew you'd love Jack Sparrow.
Zelda: Oh yes, Johnny! From the moment I saw Captain Jack, I knew I would walk the plank for him. He could harpoon me anytime. And when you, I mean Jack, kissed the leading lady - OMIGOD! It was so sensuous, so lascivious. I gave up my treasure right there in the theater!
Johnny: Ah-ha! My gamble paid off! And what did you think of the sequel, my dear?

Zelda: Well, Johnny, to tell you the truth, it was a bit tedious. And you weren't on the screen as much as that hideous octupus-thingy. So I had to go home afterwards and watch my taped version of "Chocolat" to re-kindle my Depp-lust. But now, you're here and...and...wait - I can't! I'm married, and're just saying all of this because you know I'm the president of your fan club, aren't you?
Johnny: What?? Of course not! I'm in love with you because you're one of the famous "Harbinger 33" authors. I've read your writing and am captivated by it. Also, I'm hoping you'll introduce me to Sugar. I hear you and she are always fighting over Harry, so I'll give him some competition.
Zelda: I don't know, Johnny. With my luck, you and Harry will be fighting over Sugar and I'll be deep-sixed. Though it breaks my heart, I must send you back to the video store. Arrrrrr...