Posted in A Day in the Life, Counting Blessings, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Friends of Mine, Lancient History, The Book, Tiara Trouble

Glenwood, Glue, and Eating Beads


You know that Gavin Degraw song, Chariot?  I always thought he was singing Carrion, not Chariot.  Changes the whole song when you know that.  I am the Queen of Misheard Lyrics.  You get one little word wrong…

Along with the marketing I’ve done, I dropped notes to a few of my former alma maters (there are nine or eleven, depending upon whether, or not you count colleges) to share news of the release.  The one I least expected to hear back from was my original elementary school, Glenwood School, in Phenix City, Alabama.  TIARA TROUBLE is set in Phenix City, and one of the tiny characters is very, very, very loosely based around my experience representing the school at the Little Miss PC pageant.  I got the happiest surprise today to find that not only did they respond to my email, but the respondent was a classmate!  She said she remembered me vividly, which is worrisome, but it is nice to be remembered at all, non?

It made me think about what my most vivid memories of Kinder and First Grade are.  Funnily enough, my classmate mentioned a boy who plays a role in one of those memories.  As I told her, I remember that boy walking into my classroom and thinking, “Oh yeah!”  I was going to make him my boyfriend.  I thought he was adorable, and I was so glad he was in my class.  I wasn’t even six years old, people.  Turned out, he was in the wrong class, so I only got to see him on the playground.  He did not share my feelings of kinderlove, and did not enjoy being chased.

Another vivid memory is of being dropped off at the school early one morning, and going out on the playground (by myself) to find that someone had torn out the pages of what must have been a Hustler magazine and strewn photos of naked women all over the place.  I went around collecting, considering, and discarding my finds, very, very confused by the amount of hair I was seeing, but more concerned that all these women seemed to think it was fine to wear shoes, socks, and sun visors (or terry cloth sweatbands) but nothing else.  I mean, if you’re going to be naked, take off your shoes.  I spent the next few weeks doodling naked ladies in my spiral notebook, drawing them with massive afros in their crotchal regions.  My mother found my drawings and we had to have A Very Serious Talk.  I promised to stop drawing naked ladies, but was so fascinated by her horror that I kept at it until I got A Very Serious Spanking.  After that, I only drew ladies with dresses on them.

There was the glue fight, which is my greatest memory of injustice done to me, and an excellent example of just what a stubborn little thing I was.  I had to wear orthopedic shoes for several years.  All I wanted in the world was a pair of red shoes.  Orthopedic shoes do not come in red, so when I was finally able to have a pair of normal shoes–normal red shoes–I was prouder of those than I was my own teeth.  For some reason, Mrs. Barnes left the classroom while we were working with Elmer’s Glue.  The little girl who sat behind me purposefully, and with great aim squirted glue on my New Red Shoes.  I was as livid as a 5-year-old can be.  I aimed my glue at the middle of her chest and got her good.  She did the same.  I aimed for her long, red hair.  Take that, Shoe Ruiner!  She tried and failed to get glue in my hair.  Mrs. Barnes returned, and while the other girl was telling on me, I squirted glue in her desk chair.  I think things might have been fine, but when she sat down in the glue, it was all over for me.  I spent a very long time sitting out in the hall, after talking to the principal.  My little friend?  No punishment other than glue in her pants.  I also refused to apologize.  p.s., My shoes were fine.  (To be fair, I probably started it by saying something smart.  I just don’t remember that part.)

I did spend a lot of time sitting out in the hall for talking in class.  I remember thinking that if I could just get a dog costume, I could put it on and crawl out of the school, and no one would ever know.  Maybe the principal would even pat my head and try to give me a treat?  So I spent most of my hall time, trying to conceive of where to find myself that dog costume, and how to conceal it on my person for such occasions.

My last memory of First Grade happened the last day of school.  I was standing with a friend, talking about how we were leaving Alabama, and moving to Virginia.  I was sad and scared, and she was sympathetic.  She also had tiny beads on her shirt that looked like candy sprinkles.  She suggested we pick them off and eat them to make ourselves feel better.  So, we did.  That is my very last memory of Glenwood: My granny driving up to get me, finding me eating beads off another child’s shirt.

Somehow, I managed to grow up to become a productive adult.

 

 

Posted in Tiara Trouble, writing

CATFIGHT!


I haven’t written any blog posts lately because I am writing a little fiction at the moment.  I am enjoying myself immensely with beauty queens, toddler pageants, and a murder mystery that includes gators, explosions, and a big, ol’ catfight.  I told my friend, Arwen, that I was going for Dynasty in the Dirt with this bit.  And since a good slapfight between Krystal and Alexis is always so satisfying, I am sharing.  Y’all take out your earrings!  It’s gonna get mean up in here!

 

…They leaned close and talked earnestly for a few seconds, then Tishelle froze like she’d heard something and looked around wildly.  It hadn’t really occurred to me that if I could see her, she could probably see me, so when I realized she was looking straight up at me, her almond shaped eyes narrowed on the big end of my opera glasses, I yelped aloud.  I also dropped those glasses and jerked my curtain shut.  I very nearly said something unladylike, but I caught myself.

When I was little, Mother had taught me to consider very carefully whether a situation was worth getting my mouth washed out over.  It stuck with me.  It is on very rare occasion that I let a cuss fly, and I never take the Lord’s name in vain.  I also don’t use slang words like dang, or darn, or shoot, or fudge.  Granny always says, “Never say darn when you mean damn. And never say damn if you’re a lady.”  Mother just says, “I did not raise you with that mouth, but I can bury you with it.  I hear that word one more time, and I will put you down.”  At least, that’s what she says to Rusty.  He’s not too worried about being a lady.

I was trying to decide what to do next, call Sarah, call the Sheriff, or fix myself something to eat, when there came a pounding on my door.  Sure as I was born, Tishelle had shot across the street and run up my stairs and was demanding that I let her in.  And you know what?  She wasn’t even out of breath.  I think I hated her a little bit more for that.  I am in excellent shape, but I can’t sprint and climb and still have enough air in my lungs to cuss a blue streak like she was.  That would not have flown in my mother’s house.

I opened the door a crack and she pushed her way on inside.  “What are you doing spying on me?” She howled, her eyes looking wild.

“What are you doing running around with Karl Pursley?” I demanded right back.  I wanted to keep the focus off me.  She’d already killed twice, maybe.

“That is none of your beeswax,” Tishelle slapped her hands down on her hips, auburn hair swinging around her shoulders.  I hated her a little more for her hair.  I mean, I have good hair.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s thick, and shiny, and a good ash blond which I keep highlighted to perfection, but Tishelle’s hair cascades like a cherry-chocolate fountain, and looks like she’s got enough on her head for three or four other women.

I have to work for my good looks, if you get me.  Without hair and makeup, I could just be another cute cashier down at the Piggly Wiggly.  I have to take time to make myself stand out and be memorable, and that’s probably my greatest talent.  I have a boosted genetic platform to work from, sure, but being able to take what God gave me and make myself look like God’s gift is work.  Tishelle?  That hateful thing?  She’s a natural beauty.

She’s got big, black eyes, long, thick eyelashes, and she doesn’t even need to wear mascara to make them pop.  I’ve seen her straight out of the shower, and she’s every bit as gorgeous.  I hate her for it. 

So, she was standing there, anger making her high cheekbones flush even redder and prettier, and I was still kind of dazed and just staring at her thinking, “This is one of those time when you want to tell someone, ‘Do you know how pretty you are when you’re angry?’”  But I was not about to tell Tishelle Tucker I thought she was pretty.  I’d rather cut out my own tongue.

She finally quit yelling at me—she’d been yelling words, but I hadn’t heard a thing.  I was caught up in my hating how pretty she was.  “What are you gawking at, you moron?” She sniffed at me.  “Are you stupid?  Do you understand English?”

“I am not stupid!” I insisted  After all, I have very solid opinions regarding Libya and our involvement there, now.  “You shouldn’t be up here.  You need to get on home before I call the police.”

“The police?  Why would you call the police?!”

Now I could catch her off guard.  “You know why,” I said. “And you know I know why!”

“I know you need to mind your own damned business!  What’s going on with me and Karl is personal and nothing you need to be sticking your nose in.”

“My nose hasn’t left my house,” I reminded her.  “But yours is sure somewhere it doesn’t belong.  You need to leave, and leave now!”

“I want the memory stick.”

“The what?”

“I saw you taking pictures!  I want you to delete those pictures or give me the memory stick!”

It took me a second, then I laughed right at her.  She thought I was taking pictures of her and Karl.  I guess from so far away, maybe my opera glasses looked like a camera?  I don’t know, but I do know she slapped me right across the face and demanded the non-existent memory stick again.

When she slapped me, it took a full second for me to register what had happened, and then it was all over.  We lunged at each other right at the same time, slapping, and clawing, yanking hair and hissing.  We were still standing in the doorway, so we managed to stumble out, still fighting, spit flying, and we half stumbled, half fell down the stairs to the ground out back of the garage.

It was a pretty evenly matched scrap, if you ask me.  She managed to best me for a second, rolling me on my back, trying to gouge out my eyes.  I got a fistful of hair close to her scalp and tore me out a hank of it, and don’t think that wasn’t a small victory in and of itself.  She howled and punched me in the mouth, but it was enough that I could knock her off me.  We both jumped up and squared off again, but that time, I had the upper hand.  I threw her hair in her face, brought my knee up sharp and nailed her right in the taco.

My knee landed hard enough it knocked the breath out of her, and sent a wave of pain all the way up my thigh.  I’m not sure what would have happened next because Rusty, Daddy, my mother, Karl and Royce had all arrived, and managed to get us apart.  Patricia George stood out front of the studio with Ainsley pressed to her side, one hand covering the little girl’s eyes.  “Well I never,” she huffed.

“Well you ought to,” Tishelle hollered back.

Karl was dragging Tishelle away, and she started to whine and sniff about her hair, and her face—I’d gotten my fingernails full of it—and that imaginary memory stick.  He was trying to comfort and cosset, and I considered telling her I didn’t even have a camera up in my apartment, but I decided to let her twist in the wind.  Anyway, now a bunch of people had seen her with him.

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Family, Lancient History

Too Hot


One of my strongest recollections from childhood is of being overly hot.  It seemed like I was always hot.  Of course, what I am remembering is the heat in Granny’s house through humid, Alabama summers.  I am remembering how hot it was in her unairconditioned kitchen, and how she would stand over her stove sweating as she fried cornbread and pork chops in cups of Crisco, and cooked canned green beans to limp deaths.  It must have been ninety degrees in that kitchen, or more.

Most of my memories of Granny come with a sheen of perspiration across her upper lip.  It was hot.  I think she was only pretending to hate for me to slip ice cubes down the back of her pants.

Hot inside, we would go outside into the domain of the mosquito.  Since mosquitoes love nothing so much as a nip of me, I would be generously hosed down with OFF! bug spray, until I was tacky with the stuff, making the dirt from the mostly sand and soil yard cling to me–and forget trying to wipe the dirt off.  That just made bug spray mud.  

Granny’s porch wasn’t much cooler than the house, but at least sometimes the air would stir, or you could get up a bit of a breeze on the porch glider.

There was a window unit in my dad’s old bedroom, and Granny would turn that on for me, but I would still end up so hot that my sweat would stick me to the topside of the goldenrod, polyester bedspread.  It did help me develop the skill of being very, very still. 

See, in order to get full benefit of that window unit, I had to perch on the edge of the double bed on my knees, stretching my torso and neck up so that I could catch the cold air on my face.  Move an inch back or down and it would just blow the top of my scalp.  Move a fraction of an inch forward and I was in the floor.  Stillness.  Zen.  But not quiet.  I could medidate to the sound of a window unit air conditioner like most people can medidate to the sound of a brook.

I was thinking about that last night, lying awake under the ceiling fan, just a little bit too warm.  Texas is hotter than Alabama, but lacks the wet, wool blanket of humidity I grew up in.  And thank goodness.  I hate being hot.