Thursday, May 31, 2007

Eighteen today

I wear love beads and I believe...

Some things never change…..

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Highway Man

“Are you a transient?” I asked, leaning in…..laughing…..

“No, no, I just moved here…” the words spilled out of his Saturday night smile.

I asked to see his driver’s license. You never know. “Hmmmmmmm….” I toyed with it for a moment, scanning the picture for tattle-tales…. “Yeah., it looks like you”….smiling at the obvious tourist, with his polished deck shoes and button down shirt. I slid the laminated ID, face down, into his hand…..and he casually tucked it into his wallet, next to the pictures of his other world. Upside down.

That was a zillion years ago.....

Peace~love, baby.

Everything in between is a roadtrip......

Friday, May 25, 2007

The long, long week-end

" " the chic in black leather purred from the table. Her eyes steadied, locked with ours, as we ambled by. We nodded hello's, southern style, and raised our beers. Clink! She didn't blink. She purred. Stretched her legs out, siamese cat style, from under the shadow of the umbrella...

"She likes you, baby" ...I laughed

"She likes you, baby".... he laughed.

Two more steps and we were lost in a sea of bikers. Beer and leather everywhere. No Tequila Sunrises , Bloody Marys, Gin and Tonics.....just a sea of leather boots, stub-nosed, at the best....bottled beers ....and tainted tattoos.

I swam in it. Bask in their Cher and Sam Elliott ambience. They stared at us. Him with his groomed "he's such a nice boy" looks and me, hippiesque and smiling. But there was something Woodstocky here. The way they all bonded together, swayed together, drank together, clanking empty bottles. The way they smiled. The way their laughter rose like smoke rings over the orchestra of revving engines. I liked it.

Hours later we wandered back through the blue-jeaned, black booted crowd, hugging our last beers. She stretched her leg out one more time on our way back..... " ice cream" she whispered.

Pinching my belt loops and leaning in...his words brushed my Sunday afternoon cheek..... "I'm your ice cream man, baby"...

It's Friday.

I'm standing in the drive-way, rolling the crumpled dollar....listening for the rinky dink music..... waiting on the ice cream truck...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Trainwrecks and other truths....

Two likened souls in the last place on earth you'd ever go....

I leaned in.

And then fell.

Suspended, for a moment in laughter...tumbling face first into... "Nice to meet you's"....

And it seems like a million years ago that we first met, flirting with fate...
Daring Mother Nature, the world at large, and our own demons to stop us. No one did.

We've driven thousands of wreckless miles chasing a fickle sun. Danced in the kitchen, on the sidewalks, in darkened corners, and under neon lights. Laughed until we were snot-nosed and wet faced and laughed again. We've traded dirty little stories for "I've never told anyone this before" secrets....the recanting tumbling out in a language perhaps only we understand. We've dreamed and pretended and smacked each other around with the truth.

We've been to the Fair and back.

Riding rickety roller coasters with broken tracks, the clickety clack of the wooden climb, an atom bomb tick-tocking at our backs. And made it to the top, again and again..
free to fall fast,
eyes closed,
into the crash.

Rocking the flimsy ferris wheel chariot, long arms and legs dangling mid-sky.
Rattling the safety-bar.

Chugging mid-way beers with the carnies, the locals, the drifters, the tourists.
Our kind of people.
All kinds of people.

Falling through mirrors.

It's been a helluva ride...

Sunday, May 20, 2007


My Mother groaned and moaned, sighed really big and slow like a Southerner. .. A lady always sits with her legs crossed”….. “Practice, you can do it”….

I was skinny, and gawky, and bendy. Like a wish bone.

I folded myself up like a paperclip to watch TV. Sprawled all over the place, like a limp spider, to read a book. Crouched Chinese style to dig in the dirt. Tucked myself neatly into an accordion to sit on the floor and draw. I was bendy. I never sat like a lady.

“Don’t run” she bellowed as I flew out the kitchen door, nose first, ankles trailing behind me. “Don’t run” she begged me when I was finally pregnant and in early labor. “Don’t run” she pleaded when I took up ballet for the seventh time at thirty-five.

“You’ll fall” she whispered. "It's not ladylike..."

I tried.

To cross my knotty knees. To not let my panties show. To not hike my ankles up in the air so my toes could reach the stars. To not tuck my feet under my fanny and plop on the floor. To not loll around in my body …

To go slow…

I tried to be ladylike.

But I was hanging from trees, and climbing out windows, sliding down dunes and scuffing in the dirt, dancing on dirty dance floors and skating in ditches....

And I was laughing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Little black spell....

She flew into the driveway, aiming for her spot, wreckless, and not at all caring if someone else might be parked there. It belonged to her, of course. That gravely, patchy grassed, dusty piece of drive way. She irrrrrkkkkked the brakes just shy of slamming down the pink park benches, threw open the crinkled driver’s door and screamed…… “I’m home!” I looked out the kitchen window in time to see her fanny and feet only, the rest of her lunged face first into the back seat, her tiny hands flipping Samsonite and garbage bags blindly out behind her! Thunk! Plunk! “Oh, this is just junk!” Make-up bag hurled over her shoulder. “Mom! I’m home” she screams a little louder, with her “Are we losing this damn game?” cheerleading voice. “I’m right here, baby girl, you just clobbered me with a ghetto blaster”…..

We hugged and
It all up the drive-way.

Home for the summer.

Giant Tupperware tins with leftovers and graduation gifts line my hallway. “Why do you keep hauling this stuff back and forth?” I asked her with my best garage sale smile on. “It’s sentimental, Mom” “…‘kay” I mutter, the one who taught her memories are priceless.

An hour later, she’s unpacking and rearranging her room. Lining little perfume bottles and mascara samples up on the vanity. Choreographing her private world. Shoving “please don’t tell me this is you” pictures into the frame around the mirror. Yet another summer, I’ll have to ban her grandparents from her room.

An hour and a half later, I stand in the hallway…pacing. Waiting on the ice cream truck. And then she starts. A halter flies out the door and lands at my feet. A pink bra, three socks, a fake diamond ring. Two hot curlers, a pair of size 0 jeans, an Ohio State sweatshirt. A little black dress with the tags on it. Two plastic champagne cups and a bag of aquarium marbles.

“Is that it?” I offer, my toes stretching to lift the pink bra up and drop it in the black garbage bag. “Yeah”
“So you don’t know who this stuff belongs to?” “Nah” “So we don’t need to save it?” “No, Mom, I’ve told you that before. It’s not mine. And I don’t know who it belongs to so I can’t return it”

This is a ritual. The cleansing.

The pitching of the “it accidentally ended up in my room” stuff.

I lift the heavy bag of marbles up and shove them in the hall closet. Skinny just got two new goldfish. Christmas is only seven months away.

I kick the little black dress. Cat hair swirls in a current and latches on for safekeeping . I reach down and pick it up, the tags jingle a little. Size 3.

I hold it up in front of the bathroom mirror. Dust it off. Traipse barefooted into my room and grab a hanger.

I can’t wait for Friday.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

No shirt. No shoes. No service needed.

We stopped for Hollywood sunglasses , popped on the highway and flew. The miles unraveled behind us blindly, ribbon dancing to the past.

We left it all. The cats, the dog (Please, Lord, let the neighbors feed the dog!), the bills, the wayward child with a payday wad in his pocket, the refinanced -high financed-home-sweet-home, the dirty dishes, dirty laundry, and dirty little secrets. Left ‘em all.

When the tires crunched on the coquina driveway, salty dust dancing in a lazy tornado around the car, we smiled. Big summery run-away smiles. We listened to the last verse of the song and waited for the sand to settle, a flannel blanket on the car. “This is good. This is so good”. Our doors opened and slammed in tandem.

We parked our little fannies three feet from the unlocked motel room door. The splintery Adirondack chairs were just our size. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, we tried them all on until we found the ones that “fit just right”. Comfy, cozy. The ocean roared and hiccupped salty spittle into the air…GOD, I’M IN LOVE…..
“Whatchoo girls doin’?” the big fellow, crossing the grass and ambling our way, drawled with a slow grin on his face. “Bonding” she whispered over the pink Marguerita. “Well, that’s nice. Real nice” “Whatchoo girls drinkin’? he said with his head tilted and his smile sliding sideways into his double chin. “Sunshine” we chimed. We’re drinking in the sunshine. He laughed with his eyes to the sky and turned on his feet like Fred Astaire…..sauntered back to the Tiki Bar.

“Bartender! We need some room service here! Gotta delivery to make!” “See that blonde hippie chic over there……” And so began the week-end.

Bonding with our new best friends.

The three suburban fifty-something ladies, on a girl’s night out. They giggled and drank foo-foo drinks with little pink umbrellas, stewed meatballs in a crock-pot plugged in through the window, and played hopelessly romantic 70’s songs from a giant boom box. At midnight they were dancing on the sidewalk, in their two-piece (not bikini, thank God, not bikini) swimsuits and cover-ups.

The little league Dads and their tribe of youngin’s. On a Field-Trip of dreams. The kids ran in an endless “You’re gonna crack your head open and knock your teeth out” circle…. around the picnic tables, down the sidewalks, through the bar, into the pool, onto the deck, in your room, my room, their room…laughter trailing behind them like bubbles from a magic wand.

The big fellow and his brother. The chef with his guitar. The absolutely adorable bartender with no hair and tattoos. The brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and the biggest baby I ever saw from Indiana.

The cops. Sauntering by at 2:30 in the morning. “You folks need to go to bed now”….respectfully shining their flashlights at our barefeet and not blinding us with their intrusion. “You got all day tomorrow, Coach".....

The housekeepers, smiling toothlessly and knocking in early morning whisper tones. “Well, if you don’t want no towels or nothing’, do you need ice?” “We gotta get it before the bar opens up again”

We left a good tip.

The tires spun on the too hot, too dry gravel . I adjusted the rear view mirror and gunned into traffic. There was no looking back. Only a lazy tornado spinning in the distance.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Half way

“That’s the way it used to be, motels on the beach. Now, It’s high-rises, parking garages, shadows” “Florida, the way it used to be, is gone”

Silly tourist….

“Take my hand and come with me…..”

I’m off on a road trip. Around the corner. To a fairytale. To layers of peeling aqua and pink paint. To a cement pool with dolphins furiously painted on her bumpity finish. To a Tiki-Bar with a one -armed, one- man band. To the smell of rotting oyster shells and French fry oil. To Michelob’s and Bud Lights on Ice. To stray cats feeding on the left-overs, never tame, but always game. To a window unit blowing icy air on my face, dripping on my feet. To a midnight moon smiling, winking, as we wade past, ankle deep in the salt water, skipping over jelly fish glowing in the dark. To the broken shells, forgotten by the tide. To salty towels draped over rusty lawn chairs. To McDonalds in the morning, “a large coffee with cream and sugar, please…”. To late check-outs….

I’m off on a road trip…..

Peace, love, and everything in-between……
is just a fairytale…..

Welcome to my world…….

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Burn, baby, burn....

The terrazzo floors were cold. It didn’t matter that it was August. And gritty. Sand under my fat-padded little feet. I ran on my tip toes. A plastic bag of cheerios in my right hand. From the kitchen to the TV. Laughing.

The cartoons were on. In black and white.

He sat on the floor. In pajamas, too. Humped over. Scrunched close to the TV. I ran up behind him, behind the plaid flannel shirt and matching shorts, the greasy black hair . And flung myself. Bammm! Laugh! The rabbit ears on the TV matched his hair and for a moment, from the back , I had crashed into a giant Bunny! He made a sound, “hmmmmmppphhhhh”, and scrunched further into himself. He wasn’t fun. But he was here. Sometimes he smiled. Squinted his eyes and smiled. Most of the time, he didn’t.

Mama finished the dishes. Set the coffee cup upside down into the plastic drainer and sighed. “I’m gonna hang the clothes out. Don’t leave the room”. I didn’t know then that living at the beach had it’s drawbacks. We didn’t have a dryer.

“I was only gone a moment” she would later say. She had toted the wicker laundrey basket out the back door into the sandy yard, and just two or three swimsuits later, realized that the clothespins were in a little plastic basket in the house, leftover from the “take the laundrey down” game we had played the day before. She sighed and her barefeet prickled and high-heeled it through the the hot sand and back into the house.

She was horrified.

I stood silently screaming …


In the middle of the terrazzo floor….

pajamas engulfed…..

The back of his black head, wearing the silhouette of the rabbit ears, never moved. He reached over and turned the volume up……

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shake it like a hula hoop! or in other words, Will work for Beer Part II

We came late and they charged us a cover. The corner bar. We had been there a zillion times before and never been charged a cover. They were having a party. A celebration. They had a catered spread (we just left the little restaurant down the street, feasting on cheap appetizers) and they had goodie bags and were touting games and prizes. “Are you kidding me?” I just wanna rock and roll.

We sat through the first set, lullabyes , and I started to get antsy. My Mother played this music to me in the womb, and while it’s comforting, I am being a rebel tonight and just paid a $10.00 cover to park it in a bar filled with couples on date night. I am not on a date. I start fidgeting. The band takes a break and I grab the drummer and whisper two words ….mouthing them close enough for him to feel my lips on his cheek, and hopefully understand I am begging…. Rolling Stones!

I waited. They belted out The Platter’s “Only You” and couples swooned and crooned on the dance floor. Chey and I took our miniature Heath bars (from the goodie bags) and played craps against the wall….We cheered and gambled and ordered another round…..on the gentleman next to us....

Dute dute da....I heard the first three notes and went flying. Chey behind me. We jumped , and stomped, and flung our hair like Jumping Jack Flash on Fire. It felt good. “I can’t get no SAT-IS-FAC-TION!” A few couples dribbled onto the dance floor, into our space, but we didn’t leave them elbow room. They already had their turn. This was a revolution. “We’re mad as hell, and not gonna take it anymore”…..

The music ended and a parade of regulars waded past our barstools. “Did you break up with your boyfriend?” Arrrrrgggghhhhh! "You girls need a beer?" "Yes, thank you"

At 11:00 they had a twist contest. “Are you kidding me?”

At midnight, a hoola hoop contest. The prize: A $25.00 bartab.

I grabbed Chey by the arm and twisted her just-as-thin-as-mine skin. “Pretend we’re at Jai-Lai….we have to minimize our losses” They handed us florescent hoops, and I traveled back in time. Grin and bear it , baby girl. Shake it like a hoola-hoop.

Between the break-up beers and the hula-hoop, we came out ahead...

Saturday, May 05, 2007


It’s just a crooked screen door. Kind of Florida-like, kind of Victorian, kind of 50ish. One of those. It’s the rusty hinges that do me. The cheap haunted house sound they make. The way they pro-create their own tainted WD40, oozing like dirty glue, dripping down the door frame.

The hinges. My doorbell. My pit bull. The way I know if my next door neighbor, Maggie, is ready for coffee…sneaking over in her pajamas on Saturday morning ,hangover plastered on her face….if my Father has lumbered up the drive-way , "The beer-garden-fairy", on Friday afternoon, to have his “dearest darling daughter” chat, if my son has successfully stumbled past the benches and made it as far as the screened porch to make bodily noises and expel his Friday night at my feet. But, made it home Alive.

It’s the way I know if the mailman, who has had a crush on me since 1999, has left a package from SLB, loitering if he thinks I’m at home. The way I know if Daniel got my cut-off notices in his mailbox again, and is slipping them discretely onto the outdoor coffee table.

It’s the announcement.

Anyone that rings the real doorbell, stands on the front porch, and leans past the wasp nests, through the bouganvilla,to put their dirty little fingers on the front door button, is a stranger. God, I hate that sound. The ringy ding screams trouble. On the other side of that noise stand cops, Religious witnesses, pizza deliveries to the wrong address, men in uniforms selling fertilizer, frozen steaks, and serving subpoenas. I have furniture piled up in front of that door. Even in a fire, we’d have to run out the kitchen door, couldn’t be saved by the sound of the saving grace. We don’t do the front door. It’s the screen door that spells welcome. The screen door that is dressed in an old piece of oak, carved by Skinny , that says “This house believes…”, the screen door that I slam when I’m having a hissy fit, that I flit in and out of, creaking, squeaking, slamming…..

God, I love the noise we make

When we’re not strangers……

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Tinker Man

His clapboard house sat sinking on the lot adjacent to St. Christopher’s’ Church. Bamboo stalks teetered everywhere, randomly squashed between the trees and lining the roadside like weeds. With their caney stalks painted fluorescent colors, I imagined them all to be plastic straws, the kind with the bendy thing at the top.

I had to walk past…around…. his house to get to Girl Scouts. In the broad daylight, of course.

Mama laughed when I told her he was spooky…. “Ahhhh, half the women I know have been to visit him” “and they’ve all lived to tell about it…’re fine. Walk fast if he scares you, but if you walk slow, you can hear them” “Hear who?” I asked, eyes a little bigger. “Never you mind, honey, go ahead and walk fast…”

So I didn’t.

I slowed down and kicked loose gravel in the street. Dropped my book bag over and over again. Picked up sticks and squatted down low…..examining…..torturing …..little mounds of ants. And I listened. And peeked.

That year I stayed in Girl Scouts five months longer than I made it the year before. I learned the facts of life from the Troop Leader’s daughter ( “They put their tongue in your mouth and then you have a baby”) and I fell in love with the Tinker Man……

I spied on him every Tuesday, under the trees. He whittled and spit and took deep swigs from his beer. He never once looked me in the eyes, but I wanted him to. I would hum and play hopscotch, sing, talk to the birds….Make all kinds of racket. He never once looked up at me….

But I looked at him.

His skin so dark , freshly baby-powdered by the dust that drifted around his grassless house. His black hair, twined, knotted and fringed. Paper moths and love bugs dancing on the locks. His mammoth left hand cupping the beer can, ( I knew it was HOT beer, not cold like Mama’s.) and his other, the right, painting, widdling, sometimes just tinking coins in a cup. He smiled. Not at me. But at the dirt. At his feet. At whatever was before him.

His trees were littered with tin-can faces, chicken bones and rag dolls blowing in the dirty wind. Nonsensical carvings. He was the voo-doo man. He cast spells and took them away.

The lady in the Thunderbird flew past me. She pulled in between the neon cane trees and jumped out, in a hurry . Her diamond tennis bracelet caught the sun and the tin cans sparkled as she hustled over the crackling sticks and rotting sugar cane, lifting her high-heeled feet in fast tense. She handed him the money and he never looked at her. She left the same way she came...only poorer.

I sat down on the curb. Skipping Girl Scouts. The little black convertible arrived within minutes and the man, who should have never fit in the car in the first place, lumbered out of the driver’s door. He stretched his arms lazily to the sky. He yawned wide open. A show. For me . Or the Tinker Man. He walked slowly down the same path she took moments before. He stopped at my love, reached deep into his right pocket and pulled out a wad. Slowly peeled green bills from the money clip. I counted. Five. And then I stared at my feet and wrote in the sand. I gave the big man the honor of not looking in his eyes as he drove off.

The Tinker Man smiled at the dirt. Took another swig from his Tuesday beer. And I heard them then.

The spirits laughing.