Archives for June 2011

Ode to a Pretty Sucker

This is a ridiculous poem that I just wrote five minutes ago in an immature act of revenge against my four-year-old daughter. Her ballet recital was tonight. Despite countless hours chauffeurring her, styling her hair, applying mascara and sitting at the ballet studio (which ain’t the cleanest joint in town) she picked Daddy to take her to the recital alone. “I pick Daddy, Mommy can stay home and watch Kate.” Oh, and if you’re wondering what a Pretty Sucker is, click here.

I drove you to ballet

Each and every Tuesday

Ballet class…

Where I sat on my ass

Waiting for you to have your turn

At being a little girl

I washed your skanky tights

Long after we turned out your lights

So you could rest your pretty face.

No lines, no wrinkles, no pimples, no bags

That’s right dear, you’ve turned mother into a hag.

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Trouble

I have lots of trouble. At least that’s what I told myself this morning as I stood in Target looking at the workout DVDs. I’m not into Zumba. Don’t get all huffy and bent out of shape, I’m not passing judgement on the Zumba cult! Zumba looks like an enormous amount of fun if you’re… I don’t know, coordinated. I am not. Somewhere along the line my coordination vanished.

*POOF*

I took ballet as a kid, jazz, some gymnastics and I was even a cheerleader before I decided that drinking beer and smoking skinny cigarettes under the bleachers was more fun than doing splits in the middle of the gym at half-time. I suspect that  if I were to attend a Zumba class, I’d probably take out an entire row of women with my flailing, graceless gyrations. Why, just yesterday I walked smack into the open dishwasher door and went careening across the kitchen, washing the walls and floor in berry punch flavored Juicy Juice.

In the face of my spastic inability to dance, I like to run. But I don’t.

You see, last year I suffered the mother of all sinus infections and just stopped. In essence, I have done nothing other than sit on my atrophied posterior for the past year. Sure, I occasionally (rarely) ventured downstairs to use the treadmill, but mostly I just sat around writing, napping or reading books and it was lovely. I honestly don’t ever remember being so still. If I were a dog I’d most definitely be one of those shaky little terriers that never stops moving, snarling, playing and barking. Like Stella. Stella is the dog version of Kelli. Yet, over the past 12 months I’ve become the equivalent of a big old lazy Bassett Hound. No, that’s not right… I’m an aging, overweight Shar Pei. Yes, I’m thin but I’m developing weird jiggles and wrinkles in places that never jiggled or wrinkled before. For example, when I run up the stairs now, my ass continues moving for a half second after I’ve stopped. There’s also that thing where my outer thighs have begun pooching out with a layer of fat I’ve never seen before. It pains me to say it but, I have fat, flab and an ass that’s threatening to climb up my back and park somewhere that I never imagined my ass could go.

My Canine Soul Sister

I’ve noticed all of these new things over the past week or so. Like last week when I put on a pair of shorts that, two years ago looked perfectly lovely and cute. This year, I caught my reflection in the glass door on our porch and nearly fell over. Do those saddle bags belong to me? Then, just to punish myself, I put on my skimpiest bikini. Yup, I did.  The one I used to wear at Orient Beach in St. Martin where clothing is optional. By the way, have you ever noticed that the only people who actually choose to go nude are chubby seniors?

Anywho, I took that bikini off so quickly you’d have thought it was made of battery acid.

Yesterday I squeaked out a mile and half on the treadmill. I used to run 5.

This morning, at Target, I rolled the girls around filling the cart with diapers, laundry detergent and other equally unexciting items and thought about the load of trouble I’ve gotten myself into. I realized that after years of stringent excercise and healthy food consumption, I finally opened the door and invited the flab to come on in. It’s like a vampire, right? Once you invite it in, you’re doomed. Unless of course you’re a painfully bland teenager who recently moved to Forks. In that case, you’re good. Carry on.

As I rolled around Target pondering my big ass, er…trouble, something magically caught my eye. There, on the top shelf, awash in a beam of light from heaven was a DVD called No More Trouble Zones from Jillian Michaels. Last year I did P90X, but somewhere near the second week, I wanted to punch Tony Horton in the face. I can’t stomach Tony Horton’s incessant babble again. So Jillian Michaels, bring it on. Yell at me. Tell me I’m loser. Go right ahead and call me a lazy bitch because nothing, and I mean nothing, gives me more incentive than a fellow bitchy woman. If I could hire another chick to come to my house and run on a treadmill next to mine, all the while looking over at my time and speed, increasing her own to match, I’d be a fit and skinny in no time. That’s why I used to love the Oak Square YMCA. I’d pick a treadmill right smack in the middle of a bunch of girls and run like the wind. I nearly always won the race.

I smell a lawsuit!

Jillian claims her workout will “Eliminate Love Handles, Muffin Tops and Wobbly Arms for Good!” Let’s hope she threw a little something in there for saddle bags, wine guts and double chins because once I’m flabless again, I’m going to run like the wind!

I..like..big…Butts and like ’em round! Yeah, not really. But I do like when I see that you’ve vote for No. 7!!Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

They Love the Dog More!

Sigh…

I don’t know. I mean…what’s there to say really? I’m here typing away while a couple of hot dogs boil on the stove. The clementines are peeled and the popsicles are chilling. I’ve been feeling decidedly blah-ggy (get it?) lately. Mostly because the sun is out and, if you’ve been reading No. 7 for any period of time, you know that I LIVE for these sunny summer days. Sitting inside and forcing myself to write to entertain y’all just ain’t working for me today. Sorry. Still love you lots though!

I’m simply absorbing, experiencing and loving the simplicity of this day. Watermelons and a spastic puppy dog to entertain the girls. That tick that tried to crawl up my leg. The wasp that dive-bombed my head. Shit, even the cooler that I forgot to take out of the minivan after last week’s beach day. Sure it stunk and the mold was nasty, but you know what? It means that summer is here. Summer. The season that I love.

So Dear Reader, I hate to run but my spastic puppy dog has developed a penchant for launching herself up the side of and into the sparkling water of our Wal-Mart Glamour Pool. Unfortunately for Stella, the pool has no real means of escape for creatures lacking opposable thumbs. Each time she performs her little Jack Russell-turned-Esther Williams dive, my ears fill the blood-curdling scream of my middle girl. Evidently, the doggie paddle and/or the thought of drowning bothers her. On the up-side, it appears that all of my pool safety talks resonated.

 Actually, it’s not that funny because poor Gwennie’s little face truly fills with unbridled terror as she attempts to drag Stella to safety. The only real humor in the situation is when I paused to recall that day last winter when I nearly passed out thanks to a stomach bug and dehydration. Did my little Gwennie exhibit the same terror in the face of her dear mother’s imminent death? Nah. She stepped over me and asked her Daddy if she could have a cookie. Seriously. She didn’t even mention the fact that mommy was sprawled out on the family room floor. The experience of my daughter simply maneuvering around my lifeless form (okay, maybe I’m being slightly dramatic) on her way to retrieve processed junk food was slightly upsetting; especially in the throes of winter whilst fighting tendencies toward depression.

Sigh

It all comes back to my beloved sun-filled summer days. I’m not wasting a single one. Though, it appears that you got a little bit o’ the blog out of me anyway didn’t you?
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Rocket Man

The sun has finally made an appearance here in southern Maine so guess what? I’m taking the day off to play outside with my girls. Call me slacker if you must. In the meantime, I’m reprising “Rocket Man” for your reading pleasure. See you tomorrow!

As I whipped up a gourmet meal for five last night, it suddenly dawned on me that the house was dangerously silent. In fact, I was hypnotized by the magnificent lack of sound in the kitchen as I stirred my scrumptious homemade spaghetti sauce. Yet through my silence-induced stupor some inner voice screamed, “Hey, stupid! Snap out of it and go see what your three children are doing!”

I dropped the spoon, leaving an ugly splatter of red sauce in my wake.

As I reached the top of the stairs I heard three muffled voices and thankfully, no sounds of distress. My ears picked up on the sound of my six-year-old boy counting down, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1….” My four-year-old piped in and yelled, “BLAST OFF!” As I hastily rounded the corner into the master bathroom, I was greeted by three happy children and a floor littered with Tampax. Kate was gnawing on a cardboard applicator but when she spotted me, she proudly held it up in her chubby hand and declared, “BLOFF!”

“What are you doing?” I tried so hard to be nonchalant but frankly, I just wasn’t prepared to address the situation. Internally, I beat myself up for not properly researching an age-appropriate explanation of tampons. As I stood there floundering, Joe could barely contain his excitement at having found an entire box full of missiles right there in the vanity! Gwen screamed in protest when I began sweeping the pile of unwrapped tampons from the floor.

Inevitably the question was asked.

“What are these things, Mom?”

I was tired, way too tired to think as quickly as usual. “These things? Well, ummmmm…these things are for stopping bloody noses.” I feigned stuffing a tampon up my nose to demonstrate the premise. Joe looked at me skeptically then studied the tampon he was holding. I quickly plucked it from his hand and asked, “Who wants an ice cream?!”

Mission complete. The mere mention of ice cream successfully eradicated the tampon-turned-rocket ship from the brief attention span of my young children.

Mental note: figure out an age appropriate explanation for tampons. STAT.

I’m outside with my children – possibly collecting more horrors to share with you, Dear Reader. In the meantime, please vote. Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

What I Didn’t Expect When I Was Expecting. *WARNING: do not read if you’re squeamish and/or an in-law*

I’m not naive…let’s just get that out of the way right out of the box, but there is some funky business going down over here at No. 7 and, for once, it’s not of my doing. Since making the move to WordPress, I’ve discovered this magical place called Site Stats. It’s a far more magical place than Sitemeter ever was because within Site Stats exists the most magical realm of all. Its name is “Search Engine Terms”. Getting the picture? I can see what people are searching for when their proverbial ship comes to ground here on the beautiful yet slightly schizophrenic island of Narragansett No. 7.

I can’t stop myself. I love logging on and while my stats are loading, my level of anticipation builds to a frightening level.

Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please let there be just one more bizarre or filthy sounding search term in that queue!

I have started sharing the previous day’s weirdest and/or most offensive search terms on the Narragansett No. 7 Facebook wall. I own it, so I can do whatever I want to and, well…I want to. On Saturday morning I shared Friday’s winning search term which was as follows: “mom washing my penis”.

Huh.

Well, I’m not entirely sure how that particular search landed Mr. McIssues at No. 7, but I want to thank him for the laugh.

As I pondered these strange and border-line repulsive searches conducted by people unknown to me, I recalled a time back before I was a mommy. Actually, I was technically very close to becoming a mommy for the first time. My stomach was freakishly large and I was enduring a heat wave in Boston which, for some odd reason, caused me to sit on the floor in front of a fan for an usually long period of time. I don’t know why. Maybe the hardwood floor felt cool, I don’t remember. Nonetheless, after lying around like a giant sow for what seemed like hours, I hoisted my grotesquely deformed self off the floor and began my pitiful end-of-pregnancy waddle toward the kitchen. Mid-waddle, it struck me that things weren’t quite right down below. Something was really out of place. I’d never had a baby before so you’ll understand that I was slightly alarmed when I realized that my entire crotch was swollen.

Yes, that’s right, I said my crotch was swollen.

Believe me…I had the same disgusted and horrified reaction except I actually grabbed a mirror and looked at it! After emitting a piercing scream, I ran-waddled to my laptop and began furiously searching Medline and OB/GYN sites for the cause of ‘giant swollen crotches in the 9th month of pregnancy.’

Evidently I wasn’t the first woman on the face of the Internet to suffer the malady because I immediately found a discussion board about the very subject. I know…what are the chances? Yet, it was on that very informative (and slightly off-putting) discussion board that I found a link for “Cheeseburger Crotch”. By that time I had determined I wouldn’t suffer death by swollen vaghooha and my swelling was likely due to the fact that I’d sat my big, fat pregnant ass on a hardwood floor while my baby’s head pressed on some nerve or something…yadda yadda and totally boring. BUT… Cheeseburger Crotch intrigued me. It might have even made me giggle just a little bit, so I clicked the link. Today, as I wrote about what is probably my most intimate and mortifying moment ever, I found myself Googling “Cheeseburger Crotch” again. Nearly seven years have passed since my brush with The Burger, and it appears that Cheeseburger Crotch is much more widely discussed in these enlightened times. WebMD has even dedicated an article discussing embarrassing pregnancy symptoms, one of which, as you can probably guess, being Cheeseburger Crotch.

Well, back there in 2004, I laughed really hard – at myself and my crotch. Then I did what any woman with freakishly swollen vagina would do. I called my sister.

Hello?

Hey…so, I have Cheeseburger Crotch.

WHAT?!

Yeah, Cheeseburger Crotch.

Ummm…(followed by some nervous laughter)

I got up and couldn’t walk right because my crotch got in the way.

WHAT?!

Seriously. My crotch swelled so much I couldn’t walk, so I walked to the bathroom and looked at it because I thought maybe the baby’s head was coming out or something, but it was just REALLY swollen. So I did a web search and it turns out that I have Cheeseburger Crotch. [pause as I popped a salt & vinegar chip into my mouth] But don’t worry…it’s going away now.

uh…

I’ve gotta tell ya’…Cheeseburger Crotch is exactly the right description for what was going on down there.

I don’t really know what my sister said because she was laughing so hard. Until this very moment…right now…as I type…I have never discussed my run in with The Burger with anyone other than my sister simply because of all people on the face of this earth, she was the only one I knew who would laugh as hard I did.

 Yeah…I went there. Click the flashing box if you like fries with your burger.

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Cheesy Breath…

“Okay girls, hop into bed!” I called. “Lights out.”

click

“Don’t forget Twinkle, Twinkle,” Gwen sings with an upward lilt.

As if I ever would.

This is our nightly ritual after all. The same ritual we have performed since the first night she spent in her crib. That night when we clipped one of the strings that tied her so tightly to us – the first of many strings. Her chubby body, all warm from a bath filled my arms, and I pressed my cheek against her tiny face. That night, I began our song and we’ve been singing it nearly every night since. Nearly four and a half years of singing our special night-time prayer. The song that I whisper into her ear to tell her that she’s loved.

Sometimes she joins me, our voices weave together and linger in the air over her sweet pink bed before I kiss her goodnight.

I remembered this as I knelt at her bedside, pressed my cheek to hers and begin to whisper-sing the song.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How I wonder wha….

She pulled away, nose all wrinkled in revulsion, “Your breath smiles like cheese.”

“Oh, sorry,” I apologized. “I just ate some white cheddar Cheez-Its.”

“It stinks,” She declared. “You can skip Twinkle, Twinkle tonight. No…wait. Sing it but just stand over there by Kate’s bed and then you can go.”

Mouthwash…it’s a good thing. Click the blinking brown box if you agree.

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Captive

An enormous jar of marbles sat perched on a shelf in the depths of the basement closet. In the dark, damp and musty room full of laundry soap and tools, a jar filled with perfectly shaped orbs in riotous colors was held captive in an old Ball jar. She reached in and pulled the jar into a shaft of sunlight pouring through the basement window. She was below ground, sitting on the cool cement floor and enjoying the silence.  One small rectangular ground-level window provided a view of the deep blue summer sky. Outside, the day was filled with heat but the basement was nearly frigid. She held the jar up, using the bright blue sky as a backdrop. The sunlight caused those perfect glass orbs to come alive again. Their color returned.

She marveled that inside of the dusty long forgotten jar, a bit of magic had been caught and held hostage. Inside the jar, the marbles screamed for release. For sunshine. To be held in the hands of a child. To roll across the sidewalk and click against another once again. Inside, under that zinc lid and neglected in the depths of a basement closet, they were captive and forgotten. Possessed but unloved.

She heard her mother’s footsteps on the basement stairs, “Be careful those are Ron’s marbles and they’re very old.” That was enough of a warning. To lose even one of those marbles wasn’t worth his vindictive wrath. Once he possessed something, he made it clear that no one else was entitled to touch what was his. From experience, she knew that children were not immune to his spiteful revenge.

She turned the grimy jar and marveled at the stifled beauty within, “Why are they in this jar in the basement?”  Her question was answered with a shrug and look of confusion, as if her mother couldn’t understand why it mattered. She felt a wave of aversion, realizing that her mother didn’t recognize the disservice of capturing such beauty and hiding it away. She stopped asking questions, knowing she’d never get her point across but also realizing that the marbles were his to keep confined forever. And wasn’t she avoiding just that? She constantly bucked against his masochistic need to dominate what wasn’t his. Including her. She’d given up waiting for her father to rescue her. She realized, at fourteen-years-old, that she must fight her battle alone.

Spellbound by the marbles and his need to control, she spat on her finger and rubbed a circle into the grime of the Ball jar. Through that clean spot, the marbles gleamed. She stood and walked to the washing machine to retrieve a towel and polished the grime-coated jar. Once more, she held the jar against the rectangle of bright blue summer sky and slowly turned it. Inside, the marbles knocked against glass and clicked against one another, begging for release. I can’t help you, she thought, I can’t help myself. She slid the jar back onto the shelf and closed the door on the beauty that shone within.

This is a piece inspired by the photo prompt at The Lightening and The Lightening Bug. It is a memory. I don’t know what became of the jar full of beautiful marbles held captive. I eventually escaped.

Sometimes, it’s good to write about things other than “Mommy”… I am a writer, therefor I write what comes to me. If you enjoy my odd (schizophrenic) mixture of mommy horror stories and creative writing, please deliver a click on the annoying flashing box right down there. If not, click on the box to return to regularly scheduled programming…not really, but you will find oodles of cute mommy blogs, baby gear giveaways and people who really dig coupons.

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Snakes in Maine

Did you know that Maine has no venomous snakes? We were informed of this tidbit while house-hunting two summers ago, as if that bit of knowledge would suddenly cause us to say, “Oh, well in that case…we’ll take this house right now!”  Being a natural skeptic, I simply nodded my head at the realtor and smiled real pretty-like, reserving my sarcasm for the privacy of our car.

I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could absolutely know whether or not poisonous snakes exist in a state filled with vast amounts of wilderness. Not only that but, how exactly, does one keep a snake from entering the state? Is there some kind of sentinel standing watch at the border of Maine and New Hampshire? “Can I see your papers please?” The visiting venomous snake pulls out some forged papers claiming that he is a common milk snake and hands it to the snake sentinel. “I’m sorry, sir…your photo looks nothing like you, you’ll have to turn around. We don’t like your kind in Maine.”

I subjected David to a relentless monologue about Maine and snakes after the realtor provided that weird (suspicious) piece of trivia. I have a hard time letting things go and, just as the ride settled into a comfortable silence, I’d ask, “So…do snakes just stop at the state line? Is there some invisible poisonous snake-repelling force field?” or, “Maybe the poisonous ones choose to avoid Maine. So….what? Maine’s not good enough?” I huffed, “Those elitist jerks.” We tend to engage in these types of conversations on road trips. Mostly because we’re slightly twisted and also because we make each other laugh with ridiculous scenarios.

Have you ever visited Maine? The first thing that you see as you cross the state line is a giant sign proclaiming that this is a state that lives life the way it should be lived. Evidently, whoever decided that living “The Way Life Should Be” also decided that life shouldn’t involve venomous snakes.

This morning I walked out of the house to find all three children huddled at the side of the driveway. Upon hearing the screen door shut, they all looked up and began talking simultaneously in a mixture of unintelligible squeals and excited sentences punctuated by high-pitched voice cracking. “Wait…what did you say?” Joe stood and ran toward me holding his hand out, “We found a snake, Mom!” I realized that the hand he was holding out was wrapped in a brown snake and my heart momentarily skipped a beat. Thankfully, I remembered that suspicious claim about Maine having only non-venomous snakes. I’m obsessive enough to have checked the facts and, short of contacting the State Wildlife Agency to confirm, I’m going to proceed living life the way I should…without fear venomous snakes. (The last known sighting of a Timber Rattlesnake in Maine was in 1901.)

Here’s our new (and likely temporary) friend, Mr. Baby Snake a/k/a Bing Bong. I can’t make this shit up.

Of course, after warning that snakes should never be picked up unless you know they aren’t poisonous and even harmless snakes bite, I let Joe hold Mr. Baby Snake who showed no signs of aggression. Plus, his tiny little head wasn’t threatening at all. I suspect that his mouth was too small to get a serious hold on kid fingers. Besides, how could I resist this textbook -boy” moment of exploration? Look at him… I love that smile and his new, too-big-for-his-face front teeth. I’ll think about the orthodontist bills later. For now I’m going to relish his final days as a six-year-old, big crooked teeth and all.

After he’d begrudgingly boarded the school bus and the grumpy bus driver shot me the hairy-eyeball, I realized that I was standing in the driveway in my nightie and a sweater. Whatever… we were having a moment. Besides, she’s pulled up and caught us doing The Robot and playing dead at the end of the driveway, I think it’s safe to assume her opinion of our family has been formed, nightie or no-nightie. (Do people even use the word ‘nightie’ anymore?)

Anywho… Joe was gone and the snake, now renamed Bing Bong, was subject to two inquisitive little girls who proceeded to poke him and decorate him with ornamental leaves. Bing Bong needed to look pretty for his journey home.

 

*Other than a bit of psychological trauma, Bing Bong escaped unharmed.

Do you hate snakes? Perfect…then click the brown Vote For Me button below and I won’t send you pictures of hissing reptiles oozing venom. Not really, you’ll actually be casting a vote for No. 7. – I’m not compensated at all, but your votes help increase my blog’s audience. Happy Friday!!

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Wait, don’t go! Did you hear the latest in raunchy gossip? Well, it seems that Mollie over at OK in UK gave me blog herpes. It’s true. Go check her out and find out who else she passed her herpes on to. Thank you, Mollie!

Floradora: A Drink and a Bit of History

Last week, my friend Valerie from New Hampshire was in Portland to see the Avett Brothers, and while she was here she turned me on to the Floradora, possibly the most refreshing and summer patio-worthy drink ever.

 

Valerie arrived on the day that Kate had gone missing and possibly eaten by a rabid monster fox and, right around the time that she was pulling into the driveway, I was realizing that I have just three weeks to complete all the work for my residency. Needless to say, I was slightly ‘off’. Yet, when Valerie whipped up those Floradoras the world was made right again. Okay, not really. I just thought it tasted super delicious and kind of enjoyed the fact that I was drinking a cocktail while my children were parked in front of the television in the family room. What the hell…very Peg Bundy of me, wasn’t it?

So harried mommies, friends and countrymen, I will now share the Floradora recipe with you. Drink one and your mouth will feel happy*

Ingredients

1 1/2 parts gin

1/2 part fresh lime juice

1/2 part raspberry syrup

spicy ginger beer

a lime wheel

2 raspberries

Preparation

pour gin followed by lime juice and raspberry syrup into an ice-filled highball glass. Now top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wheel and two raspberries.

*David, who bartended his way through college, mid-20’s and law school, felt compelled to warn me that gin has a tendency to cause a ‘Mean Drunk’. Consider yourself warned and maybe limit your Floradora consumption to avoid punching your best friend in the face and/or picking a fight with that obnoxious mommy who constantly tries to sell you Mary Kay products despite your increasingly rude brush-offs.

http://www.musicals101.com/News/floropgm.jpg

Did you know that the Floradora is an ancient cocktail named after the first stage production ever? I’ll bet you didn’t…because that’s a complete lie. The Floradora was named for the first Broadway musical hit that opened in New York in 1901, having originated in London in 1899.  The musical was wildly popular and the beautiful girls of the ‘Floradora Sextette’ were the stars of the time. However, it was Evelyn Nesbit who became the reigning queen and spawned the “Gibson Girl” hairstyle after modeling for artist Charles Gibson’s famous drawing, “The Eternal Question.” Look at that…even before Jennifer Aniston and Farrah Fawcett, women were coveting the hairstyles of the superstars. Evelyn was also at the heart of one of America’s first sex scandals. It involved a love triangle, a shooting and sexual escapades on a swing. Following a very public trial, Evelyn became know as “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing”.

Evelyn Nesbit via http://gotham.fromthesquare.org/?p=283

Look at that, a delicious cocktail recipe and a history lesson all wrapped up into one tidy little post. Cheers!

Gotham Lost & Found, http://gotham.fromthesquare.org/?p=283, by David Freeland was a great read and resource about Evelyn Nesbit.

I Remember the Dancing Dust – A Writing Prompt

This week’s memoir prompt asked you to dig deep to find what, from your childhood, you still know from heart.

I still remember all those rhymes you did while slapping hands with a friend, like Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack all dressed in black black black.

What do YOU remember? 600 word limit

The parking lot’s gravel crunched beneath my feet as I followed my father toward the door. The mid-day sun threw a glare off the rear windows of the handful of cars parked outside the quiet building. I wondered why this place was always our secret. He’d slapped my knee in the car and given it a light, tickling squeeze. “Remember…don’t tell mommy that we came here, K-Belle.” he instructed. Why wasn’t I supposed to tell Mommy? Through the screen of trees I could hear the cars on Route 6, but we were hidden from view in the parking lot of this dead end road, cloaked by the trees that seemed eager to help keep our secret. I would do anything for him, anything to stay with him forever even if it meant lying to my mother.

He pulled the door open onto a darkened room. From the outside, I could vaguely make out the tables and empty red vinyl chairs. The familiar smell of stale cigarette smoke and beer wafting into the daylight reminded me that this was a tavern. My sneakered foot crossed over the threshold and entered the cool, darkened cave of a room. To the right I saw the long bar with its rows of bottles lining the wall. A yellow-haired woman stood behind the bar, tending to a handful of men, each sitting alone and hunched over a glass. I knew who they were. They were the nice old men who suddenly talked to me in the voice of Donald Duck after they’d gone to the bathroom two or three times. Their faces bore silvering whiskers and deeply lined creases. Their good humor seemed forced and unreal. There was nearly always one who would speak to me through reddened eyes full of water. He’d lean in too close, too eager to ask me questions that didn’t make sense and I would wonder why his eyes were so filled with tears that never fell. Was it my fault? Was it my presence that reminded him that he was lonely? Was he sad because his little girl wasn’t sitting at the bar next to him?

Those men bothered me with the way that they waited until my father left for the bathroom to approach me. I’m sure that their intent was to care for the little girl sitting at the bar alone under the temporary care of the barmaid, but they left me unsettled. When I spotted a man who had the potential to become too interested in me, I always chose the barstool on the other side of my father, creating a barrier against men with rheumy eyes. Why was it that I was always the only one who noticed them? Everyone else seemed to look through the watery ghost men.

I knew one of them would keep me rich with maraschino cherries and orange wedges while I sat with my daddy. Sometimes, they’d buy me a Shirley Temple and tip their hats in my direction. I learned to hold my drink up and say thank you, like all the ladies in the bars did. I didn’t want to stand out.

When I was a little girl, I spent a considerable amount of time in bars learning to play pinball and read the words in the jukebox. This piece is an excerpt from the memoir I am working on in my MFA program. It is only a portion of what I so vividly remember.