Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Empty Bar....

"At 9:00 the bus pulls out"...she winks over her shoulder. It's a ritual. At 8:45 I hide my keys in an obvious place, open a new pack of cigarettes, tuck a twenty in my pocket and turn the lights out. We're goin' out!

We tuck the car into the first tight squeeze and scan the parking lot. Whose here and whose not registering like ten potatoes-for-a-dollar at the Winn Dixie check out. I skip ahead, first one to the graffiti lit dungeon door, stand on my tippie toes, peek through the smoke smeared window and then......
we go in.....
I never tell what I see or don't....

We curtsy and shake hands, kiss cheeks and tossle hair, hug, make the rounds, and then lean our barstools back on all four legs, and claim them. Our drinks hit the black bartop before our cigarettes do....and Friday night begins....

Ten o'clock, eleven, twelve, and save the last one for me. We make the rounds, clink 'em, spin 'em, twirl and dip 'em. The occassional new face wanders in and we scoop them up into the circle, twine them around our little fingers and into our Friday night stories. Sometimes, they come back again, and then we call them "Friend"......

I love this bar.

It's only when they belt out Bob Segar, that I slump a little, chug my beer a little harder, and realize how empty it is...

Turn the page....

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Sunday. The rains finally got the drift, Ma Sun has had enough of you. She warned them. Scolded them. Poked her head up from underneath the down comforter enough to tell them "No more", "Don't make me do this..." But they were stubborn little buggers. Flailing, falling, raining on our parade. I could have warned them, but I didn't wanna be a "told you so....."

She came flyin' out of her bed. Mad as hell. Glaring. Scorching. She won.

The world tilted on it's axile, and all the rain slipped off. Shunned into "Shame on you" land.....and Sunday was born.

I woke up to dark coffee and every bird on the universe camped in my unkempt yard singing out of tune, vying for the lead role in todays Soap Opera. You gotta give it to 'em, they never give up. I woke up to my new life, rewritten from the old, and a few pages missing. I kissed the sky. And waited.

Jonah never showed up to mow the yard. Not that he ever has before, but his late night call the night before gave me hope. Not that I can't mow it myself, oh I have a million times. Every time almost. With babies in backpacks, pushing the mower and pulling a buggy. Under ten o-clock street lights. In a cast to my knee. I just hoped this once, he'd show up. That I could lay eyes on my six foot tall wayward child in the sunlight. That I could know he was safe.

At one o'clock, I went to fetch the gas. I pumped my $3.29 cent worth of fuel into a can the size of my pocketbook, strapped it into the hatchback, and cranked my engine. And then I heard it. The sound. The noise. The message.

The Beastie Boys. "We gotta fiiiiiiggggght for our right to Partaaaaaaaaaay"! I turned it up louder. And louder. The speakers cracked. I cranked it one more time. It's a Toyota for crying out loud, she can take it. I rounded the corner rocking.

And when the afternoon played out, I whispered those words to myself, over and over again, Sometimes "we gotta fight" for our right....."to"......

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pajama Day!

It's raining. That thick, delicious, syrupy kind of rain. The world, as far as I can see, has been draped in one giant cottonelle sheet. For a moment, I think I'm a bird, and the giant hand of God has tossed a towel over the cage to slow us all down. I'm listenin' to the man. Staying in my pajamas all day.

I open all the windows and the morning wetness settles in, a free spirited ghost drifting through the windows. I like it. There is no sign of the Saturday morning sun. The moon has been showing her up lately.....the eclipse a strip tease act that left us breathless in the streets....and last night, the glowing, all knowing mischievious face in the sky.....the full moon rising. And now this, the sun hiding, sleeping in late, staying in her pajamas all day.

I'm rewriting my life today. Starting where I left off, except someone hit the rewind button, and things are all happening in deja vue. The same lines. The same stories. The same meant to be's playing over again in slow motion, only this time I get to pick which ending I like. The butterfly effect. Clink!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Big wheels keep on turnin'..."

Sunday morning. Two insomniacs sleepin' in. Counting. Waiting on it to be late enough or early enough to make coffee, let the dogs out, dial each other's numbers....Kimbies and I. "Whatchya doin' today?" "Ah, dunno. It's cold. I wish we could just go to the beach" "yeah" "Soon sister, soon...." "yeah". "Hey, you think we should get bikes? For the beach, I mean?" "To like ride at sunrise?" "Yeah....yeah, I do"

Sunday morning. 10:45. Two sibs in painted pajamas and sock feet waiting on the sun to do it's job. "What's you're agenda for today?" "I dunno. Wanna go bike shoppin'?"

So we did. With Papa, Kimbies hub, in tow. We made the rounds. Walmart, K-Mart, Target, (Sears doesn't sell 'em anymore) We tooled around toy departments, balancing on pegs, braking fast for little old ladies with buggies. We cruised up the sock aisles and banged 360's in "I accidently got here" automotive departments. We shimmied on seats and "grrrrrrrr'ed" the handlebars. We posed for pretend pictures. "How cool do I look on this one?"

We left empty handed over and over again. Dreaming of the perfect ride. "It'll have a cushy seat, tilted a little forward" "I wanna basket" "Not me, I wanna beer rack, a little fender in the back with bungy cords" "Hmmmmm, I just wanna be able to ride facing the sun, not the sidewalk, all crunched over" " I wanna banana seat" "You said that already!"

And then we went there. The "Sports" store! The doors opened automatically. Beeping. We passed rows and rows of boring clothes, water bottles, and neon colored nerf balls. Rubber tires were lined up one after another like wet noses poking through a fence. The bikes! We looked around. Unleashed them. All of them. "This one's mine! Mine! Mine!" Papa's little ride was deja vue, and after three trips around the cleats, he was slingin' Sunday morning papers with his right hand....Cha!Chink! "Morning, Mrs. Robinson!" Kimbies wobbled. Teetered. Smiled. Gained speed. "Clink~Clink"~ her right hand tinked the handlebar, "gonna get a little bell soon" ! I climbed on from the back, no sissy bar on this baby, straddled the black and red and tan Freedom Flyer, and took off. Big wheels turning. We waved when we passed each other. Two fingers raised for peace....Kimbies clinking!

And then we parked them.

Got in the car and drove home.

Thank God we turned around......

Tonight on my way home from nowhere, big wheels turnin', I heard New Orleans in the wind. And then, there around the corner, up the hill, broken sidewalk between us, was the trumpet player....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

First dates, cigarettes, and the Bayou.....A little Love Story reincarnated from the Archives for Valentines!

We talked for hours every night. Him, hot and sweaty, just home from football practice, Me, not yet 14, not yet a wild child. I sat Indian style, wringing, twirling the curly que Princess phone cord in my left hand, receiver tucked between my ear and left shoulder, until hours later it left hickies on my ear. With my right hand, I scribbled “I love yous” on sheet after sheet of blue lined notebook paper. He told stupid stories, and stupid jokes, and had the body of a man. Even at 13, I could see that. He was the Captain of the Catholic High School Football team. I was a not-even-Catholic cheerleader at the St. Michaels of the…..(I really can’t remember of what!)

We met at the School Fair. The first time. I was working the GO FISH booth and he was spending dimes and tossing lines. The second time was at our football game. I saw him in the stands. Three rows above the Nuns. Laughing. We looked good. In our Christmas green uniforms, hemmed to 4 inches above the knee (Catholic regulation) with the little green bloomers just beneath. But this time we had a punch line. A surprise. We had choreographed it ourselves. Come up with a little twist. (With a little help from MY Mom!)

“Choo-choo. Bang-bang. Got’s to get that boomerang. Ungowa. Great power. Hit em to the west. Hit em in the chest......
W A R R I O R S !
And we spun and fanny faced the bleachers, flipping corduory skirts to the sky, spelling our our team’s name in bold yellow letters on 8 teenage rumps! W A R R I O R S !

The crowd went wild. Mother Moriarity went crimson. Eight cheerleaders got suspended. My Mom was retired from being our Coach. He called me that night.

I went to his games. He went to ours. And in early December he asked me to THE DANCE. The High School Christmas Dance. A car date. My Mom had to talk to his Mom, I was mortified, he laughed. And we were on! My first date. A double date! To the Garden Center for a semi-formal. Pictures at my house beforehand. Home by midnight. My entire 8th grade class was in awe, envy, on the edge of their couch....waiting for "the scoop".

I forgot to mention that going to Catholic school when you are not Catholic is expensive. We were broke. "Not poor, just broke". I don't know how we got in the doors, a friend of a friend of the family's, but we were there. And so it comes as no surprise, that at 13 almost 14 I had no idea what SEMI-formal meant or no means to dress the part. My Mom was sure it meant formal, but short. I thought it meant really short. (I later found out it meant, the girls wear formals,long flowing beautiful formals and BIG HAIR, the boys shirt and ties!)

Having no money, but not much need...I was already a hippie spirit and didn't want or need a hairdoo, thank you, I was going in my Peggy Lipton straights! But hello, world, I did need a dress! We bummed a prom dress from my Mom's friend's daughter, already married and busting with her first, surely she wouldn't need it again, and proceeded to lay it out on the dining room table and FIX it! First, we chopped, literally, about 3 feet of fabric off the bottom, and another foot off the top, and then we put it back together. The puffy sleeves were swiped and it was now skimpy to show off my December (we didn't yet know it was dangerous to live at the beach) tan. The little pink cinderalla dress was now an Empire waisted lace Micro mini. I threw on some pantyhose , slipped my size 7 feet into a pair of borrowed size 8 bridesmaid slippers spraypainted to match, stuffed the toes with TP, and took a twirl. I can do this!

I had never felt so beautiful!

My parents drank cocktails, dark ones, while I dressed. My Father paced and Mom babbled on, often peeping through the venetian blinds for his arrival. The doorbell rang and there he was! My first date!

We posed for pictures, smiling up and down. Giddy to go. (We never told him there was no film in the camera...God, I wish we had those pictures, but there was no money for things like that! ) Still, my Mom thought we should go through the motions...posing and smiling and later, anticipating the film coming back! At least he had that anticipation, I was already practiced in the parade! Kodak moments are best kept in the heart!

And then, we were off! In a car! Flying down Davis Highway with the windows open and the music on. Less than 1/2 a mile from my house, they( My first date, his best friend, and the gorgeous brunette in the totally formal gown, rhinestone earrings m make-up and BIG HAIR) opened the wine , lit the cigarettes, cranked the music and started the party! I was mortified.

Being 13, not yet 14, and all.

The dance is a blur. I loved the band, they could care less. I wanted to dance. He wanted to make out. I wanted to dance. He wanted to step outside and smoke. I wanted to dance. He wanted to drink. I wanted to stay. They wanted to leave.

And we did leave. Spinning tires. Music blasting. We exited in style. Leaving behind the last dance, the one I had been dreaming of, to the girls with dreams that came true. And made a bee line for my house. Or so I thought.

I saw the familiar glow of the dock lights at the Bayou and finally, rested my head on his shoulder. We're almost home. He'll kiss me goodnight. My first kiss. And I'll spend all day tomorrow on the phone! But the car slowed, and the headlights dimmed and I could hear the tires on the cold coquina of the shore. We were "parking".

I heard the key in the ignition clicking off. The music stopped. No one said a word.

But me.

"I wanna go home"

"Let's take her home" he said. "She's only thirteen"
And they did.

No first kiss.

And we never spoke again.

Until he followed me to the airport years later.

When I landed safely back home, 450 miles later, he was still at the airport, calling from the payphone...
and I was still dancing.

Timing isn't everything. And then again, sometimes it is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"I'm not like you...."

"Peace~love" I whisper, two fingers up, out the car window, backing down the drive. She throws a kiss. Shakes her head. "I'm not like you" she confesses over Margarita's at the beach, 21 and all grown up. I smile. Her brown eyes, mud puddle paper plates, playing frisbee with my own. Her brown skin, yen and yang with mine, her dark hair, the same. I watch her hands talking. Ten tiny fingers, piano playing words. Her toes, cheese curls. Mine stretched out, reaching, skinny in the sun. My child. Beautiful. And different. I hear the fight, an echo in the wind. "You"re dark" he yells. "You're pale" she blasts him. My children. Five and six, throwing words. Swords.

And then they're older. "You're adopted" he yells. "You're not" she ping~pongs him. "You're my children" I whisper. Praying for peace.

Peace would be a long time coming. There would be first dates and sleepless nights. Crawls out the window. Bumper benders and "I think I'll sue you's". Police at the door on sunny afternoons, broken windows, and broken hearts. Stray children staying for the night, or the week-end, or until their own parents fetched them home. Prom nights and after party's. Camp outs and Cahoots. Growing up.

Last night we grilled chicken. Sat at the same table. Adults. "Why didn't you bring you're girlfriend, sweetie?" "You know, we want to meet her"....He swallows marinated cajun cookin' in chunks, "She's not like you....." he mutters in between bites. She smiles. In between spoonfuls. Her belly swelling. Expecting her own. "We're family, Jonah"

"Bring her next time"....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Whachoo talkin' 'bout?

I once dated , fell in love actually, with a man, who spoke seven languages. All of them fluently. Except mine.

He knew more three syllable, four, even five syllable English words than I did. It was what we heard that made us stumble.

We met in the drive through teller lane. Me, twirling my hair, blasting rock in roll in the five o’clock lane, and him passing out doggie treats ,receipts, and lollipops through the vacuumed canister. He was working his way through school. I was doing the nine to five. On overtime.

We went out for dinner.

Followed each other.

Me with a diapered Haley in tow. Him, with his broody eyes, listen-to-me-lips, and that accent. Every word musty, ending with a curly que. I fell hard.

On the Tuesday before Valentine’s day he called and said we would probably go out on Friday. Probably go to the Club on the River, dine and dance. I told him I probably wouldn’t be there when he arrived.

I hired a babysitter and got dressed. Turned on the outside lights. Sat in the Gray Grand Am and put the car in reverse every time I saw a pair of headlights. He was five minutes late and just caught me backing over the little rock garden at the mail box.

He was beaming and I was fuming. We rode to the River in silence, me twirling my hair, and him humming to the crackly music on the radio. His knees fidgeting. Cold I guessed. I couldn’t have cared less.

A block from the restaurant he pulled over. Pulled a thorned wild rose out from his shirt. “Jesus, could you just smile so I can give this to you?” he whispered. “It’s Valentine’s Day…..”…..
“Well, I could smile” I started to blabber, "but hell, you were only probably coming to get me, and I might have probably had plans, and I really don’t know how you probably caught me in the drive-way, because I totally wasn’t going to only probably be your Valentine!”

And suddenly we knew, " probably” was “definitely” in his world, and “if you only knew” in mine and that if we were ever going to understand each other, we couldn’t assume we did. We had to ask….

Deja Vue…..

Monday, February 04, 2008

One door closes....

And another door opens....

It's been six months since I went splat in the middle of a Mick Jagger routine and broke the hell out of my foot. Six months and five pounds ago actually. Six months and a lifetime ago.

I have a new bike with a flat tire now. A new grand~baby on the way. A new pair of boots just the right size, just the right height to hide the damn brace and dance like it never happened....

"You have keys in your door" he smiled as he left.

"Of course" I whispered to the night.