You know those people who are cock-eyed, and you feel so uncomfortable because you don’t know which eye to look at, and then you wonder if they know that you don’t know which eye to focus on? Suddenly, you’re concerned that they might be as uncomfortable about it as you are.
I found a seat, sat next to a woman and thought, where is everyone? Considering this was to be an established group affiliated with the Writer’s Alliance, I assumed it would have been larger than Crazy Eyes and the lady beside me. Crazy Eyes introduces himself by saying “Have you ever seen the movie, A Beautiful Mind?” Enthusiastically I replied, “Why yes, I have.” “I am just like the guy in that movie; I hear voices.” Oh good God!
Enriching the next twelve and half minutes of our lives, he explained how he recently saw his doctor at the VA who instructed him to never inform him about these voices again, or, as a medical professional, he would have no other choice, but to admit him to a mental facility for immediate observation.
“But Doc, they’re nice now, not like they use to be. They were incredibly vicious before. It got so bad that I had to live alone on top of a mountain. I came down only once a week for groceries because they were so sadistic; and, and just plain wicked. You don’t want to know what they use to tell me to do! But now they help me write and illustrate my children stories for my picture books.”
I’m not sure what his doctor had to say to that because in walked a giant of a redneck with long salt and pepper hair and a scruffy beard. He appeared to be more than two hundred and sixty pounds, and probably six feet six without his alligator boots. Actually, I was more interested in his triple X big and tall T-shirt. It had only two, big, black, block letters – FU!
Between Crazy Eyes and FU, I thought to myself, Am I in the right place? I am at the Children’s writing group, right?
Suddenly, FU stomped up leaving gravel in his wake and the smell of wind and exhaust lingering in his hair. “Is this here ‘at writer’s meetin’?”
“Yes it is,” Crazy Eyes eagerly answered; just one more person for him to ask if they have ever seen A Beautiful Mind. Somehow I doubt FU has seen that one.
FU told Crazy Eyes in his unskilled, southern drawl, “I jus gots ta get published! I don’t know nuttin ‘bout typin’, don’t know whut’s I’m doin’, I jus tell my sis, she dun all dat stuff fo me, but den she up an got ‘erself knocked up en married off. So nows I hav ta tryin’ type it all up fo meself; an I jus wanna get published. I’m heres ta find out how yous go ‘bout doin’ dat?”
At this point, I decided to salvage what was left of this fiasco and acquaint myself with the lady sitting beside me.
A lean and leggy unsuspecting woman in her mid-forties, with long, untamed, auburn curls, introduced herself as, Margarita-Runs-With-The-Wind. “You can call me Rita-Runs-With-The-Wind, for short. My mother was an alcoholic and named me after her favorite drink. We don’t talk much anymore and I have always preferred Rita–and Scotch.”
Amused by her hilarity, Rita sat laughing–and snorting. She told me her last name use to be Smith, but it did not express her true nature so she legally changed it to Runs-With-The-Wind.
“Cowboy, he’s my boyfriend at the moment, has been so supportive, patient, and understanding about my writing that I am going to dedicate my first book to him. He really does deserve it. I’m writing from personal experiences yah know, and I’m reliving actual events daily. Unfortunately, it has been emotionally draining and extremely taxing on our active sex life. I’ve even had to quit my job to work full time on this!
“My book is written specifically for mother’s to read and discuss with their daughter’s. It deals with abuse, and how to not windup with the wrong man. You see, when you wake up in a hospital with your head bashed in it really changes a person!”
Mouth wide open, mind spinning, I grip the edges of the cheap plastic chair so I won’t fall. I feel its flexibility and texture confront my slick palms. While making contact, I contemplate all she has said.
As I close my mouth and hang on tight I ask, “We are talking about first readers, right? Children anywhere from four to seven in age?”
“Yeah, something like that. Girls need to learn at a young age what to look for so they don’t end up in an abusive relationship,” Rita replied.
“Just wondering,” was all I said aloud. Mother’s will be reading this book to their daughter’s at bedtime–like hell they will! Cowboy deserves his dedication. At this point, I decided I had had enough. I politely said my good-byes, and yes, I would try to make next month’s meeting.
As I left the book store, I ran into an acquaintance. As our conversation ended, he asked about my cat, Prozac. I did not know it at the time, but Crazy Eyes was lurking from behind and got all excited, jumping and twitching like the oddest animated cartoon saying, “Prozac, you have Prozac?” Oh for Christ sakes! As if I’m on it, and now we have something in common! We could go back to my place, pop some Prozac, and if it doesn’t affect our libidos, and he can focus, we can have hot, passionate sex. Disgusting, repulsive, an absolute abomination! He still reminds me of one of the monsters from the book, Where the Wild Things Are.
“We will call you if you give me your number.” That’s what Crazy Eyes said. Who’s we? Probably all those friendly voices that help him write children’s books! What are all his voices saying about me? I don’t want to know. My one voice is saying, Run. Run fast!
He said he would be willing to work with me one on one. I joked and said, “In a well lit area, when pigs fly?” He didn’t get it, he just stood there eyeballing my bosom and below. Maybe one of his voices will explain when I am far, far away.
As I drove home, I pondered the events of the evening. This was not a group of Science Fiction writers, or Horror, or even Romance writers. It was Children’s and Young Readers at that! Frightening thought if you’re a parent.
The question lingered; Should I check out a different writer’s group? What am I thinking, right? But, how much worse could it be? Hell, it’s worth going just for writing material. Of course, I am far, far away now. The shock is wearing off, and I am finding the humor.
Who knows whom I could meet in some local bookstore children’s section, under the tree, sitting in a child size plastic chair?
I could meet Len, who loves to illustrate juveniles (from thirty feet away – court ordered); or April Showers, an elderly stripper/ escort/ contortionist, who was the Effingham County Twister Champion 1975.
My imagination runs wild with possibilities! So, I leave you with this for the moment, my creative friends: I am not like that guy from A Beautiful Mind – I suck at math.
Are you belted in; what about you back there?
YES, MOMMY! I leaned forward, eyes closed tight, and shouted from my belly’s bottom just as she was putting the car in reverse and turned to look over her right shoulder to back the car up.
Eager to be on our way and not yet having mastered “volume control” at six, my mother calmly informed me there was no need to yell, especially when I was sitting right behind her; it was not safe to do when someone was driving. When you yell like that you scare Mommy; it is very dangerous and Mommy could crash. Besides, you are going to make me deaf!
Trying to see something, anything, out the window besides the blue, cloudless sky of the Sunshine State was definitely occupying the majority of my attention. Phone lines were visible, but I wanted to see a bird at least. I was too short! The seat-belt was uncomfortable; I couldn’t even lay down with my blue blankee and take a nap. However, my mother’s hearing was a priority, so when she asked me, If I was listening? If I understood? I whispered so low I should have used sign language so she could understand.
AAAAAAHHHHHHH, the driver seat passenger gave a shrill, startled cry, while pointing out the window and grabbing her chest as if having a heart attack. Interrupting the front seat, backseat nonverbal exchange of my mom’s very cool, I’m running out of patience expression, as she eyed me in the rearview mirror. With mom’s composure already strained by her backseat passenger, she refocused her attention. Alarmed, she hollered, WHAT?!
I prepared to crash.
My Great, Great Aunt Ida took a deep, shaky breath, and cried, PURPLE!, while pointing at the blossoming Jacaranda whose petals littered the earth beneath its roaming branches. As I gazed at those loitering blooms, I found it magical. They made me happy, like they had made her. I gave a hoot, and a boisterous, OO, dramatically dragging it out towards the end just to make sure all within hearing would have no doubts about how I was feeling.
My Great, Great, Aunt Ida was just as tall as I was, thanks to arthritis and an advanced case of osteoporosis. No wonder she got so excited, we could both finally see something!
Once my poor mothers below normal blood pressure came way back down, she relaxed and enjoyed it as well.
Though I’ve grown and can see more out my window these days, I have always remembered that Saturday afternoon drive and what it was really about – love. The Jacaranda’s were in bloom and Aunt Ida loved purple: Purple dresses, purple parasols, and purple flowers on trees with their resting decorative petals a carpet beneath. She also loved my mother.
My Mom has been telling me for years: Enjoy it while you got it Kid!
Since her recent trek through menopause and the common frustrations associated with aging, I have unavoidably glimpsed the “exciting” developments a woman must endure.
Hot flashes, the loss of your waistline, and sex drive, simply because your vagina decided it has had enough and begins to atrophy. Body parts are no longer where they are supposed to be, and as the days go by, the woman staring back in the bathroom mirror suddenly resembles a Picasso.
You are also the proud new owner of a permanent floatation device that is attached to your waistline and will never be removed no matter how much you exercise, eat right, or bitch about it. The optimism in this is that since your brain has waned in the last fifty some years, and you have forgotten how to swim, or you were to fall overboard on one of those senior cruises, you would just float to safety.
Yet, your husband, if he is still around and hasn’t traded you in for a newer model, looks better than the day you married and is randier than most eighteen year olds. God forbid his friend, the Doctor, gives him a prescription for Viagra!
By now, you are probably asking yourself, Why is a young woman concerned with a matter that won’t affect her for years to come?
Well, for one, I am a woman, and this is what I have to look forward to. You progress, not regress, and in a lot of ways I am thankful for that. For a slew of other reasons, I am a nervous wreck.
Women in society shoulder a lot of responsibility and expectations. Of course we are “supposed” to remain beautiful, young, and firm forever. Our worth is somehow judged by this. Girls out of the school room have already had plastic surgeries; we are doing some maintenance work in our thirties; becoming “Botox Beauties” in our forties; starting over from scratch in our fifties! God knows what’s left after that. Between what our body does naturally as it “matures” or falls apart, how society views us, and our own insecurities, it is no wonder so many of us have a difficult time with the aging process.
My other concern is that I just turned thirty and I suddenly realize everything has changed overnight. Society in general seems to be perversely fascinated with my single status, a topic not just discussed at family functions, but with complete strangers like the sweet senior citizen behind the register at the local market.
After scanning my “bachelorette” groceries and brown-bagging my bottle of Pinot Noir, she sadly shook her head and frowning gave a tsk, tsk.
You’re not getting any younger, Cookie. You should be sharing that wine with a nice young man. Horrified, I felt like asking the well-meaning old bat to wait while I grab a razor to go with my Pinot.
Then, there is the shelf-life of my eggs. No one has ever informed me that as I age, my eggs do too. This seems to be another important thirty-something issue.
With no prospect of children in my present to near future, when I do decide to have babies, it will be with rotten eggs. The longer I wait, the development, intelligence, agility, and basic overall health of my future children could be affected. So I’m picturing slow, stupid babies, which if I’m lucky, will make it into community college. And if I wait till thirty-five, well we’re talking GED.
When I meet new people, I am no longer the youngest in the group. Nope, I’m the old one; the one that everyone gauges their success or lack thereof by: I got plenty of time; I’ll never end up like her. See, I can also help with depression.
I even enjoy it when I get carded and thank the person like I’ve seen my Mother do. I always thought she was such a dork when I was younger and would roll my eyes and laugh as she happily handed over her identification, while beaming, and giggling like a schoolgirl.
Instead of being aggravated and annoyed, I readily show my I.D. and thank the little girl rolling her eyes behind the counter. I’m only THIRTY for Christ sakes! Just you wait sweetheart, you’ll be thirty one day, and someone will be rolling their pubescent eyes at you!
But then some things never change. When a semi-truck pulls alongside me on the interstate honking his horn, and scaring the hell out of me, I smile, and wave, and think to myself, You got it kid. Instead of, You Ass, are you trying to kill me?!
He may be one of the worst characters you’ve ever had panting at you, as his eighteen-wheeler erratically merges into your lane, but you have to give him credit, he is multi-tasking.
Hanging out the window, resting his index and middle finger on each side of his mouth like a “V”, plunging his fat, slobbering tongue in and out like some starved reptile feeling for its slower-moving prey, while periodically pointing at the bumper sticker on his extended cab that says, It’s not the size of the worm, but how you wiggle it that counts!
Yes, enjoy it, because that heinous spectacle is fleeting. The Peterbilt horns will stop blowing, our counties finest road construction crews will stop whistling and calling me Mami, and forget the days of receiving a free drink. It will all soon be a thing of the past.
When I hit that stage in my life and start sagging, I hope I will grow old tastefully, and comfortable within myself, not like the women I’ve seen in the mall with the long blond hair and stiletto heels.
From the back she looks twenty-five, then she turns around and you’re like, Good God! No amount of surgery is going to make a sixty-five year old woman look twenty-five, and who in their right mind would want to?
I love to watch the guys who spot her from behind. The young males with raging hormones will actually spout off something like, D-A-M-N!
While waiting for their wives to hurry up, the older men, with their raging hormones, are speaking even louder, but only with their eyes.
Then she turns towards him. Excitement transforms into shock and revulsion, followed by denial, ending in embarrassment. Once the poor fellow pulls himself together, his adamant expression of superiority clearly states, I wasn’t checking THAT out in the first place!
I guess you could try and stay twenty-five forever, or you could grow old gracefully, floatation device and all; hopefully with a randy husband that loves you and wants you just the way you are. Or maybe he could just have cataracts – in both eyes! That is the woman I aspire to be, and if I should fail, then I hope I marry a brilliant plastic surgeon!