Monday, April 23, 2012


Once upon a time there were three little sisters.  They lived in a beautiful kingdom beside the sea.  They were fair and fortunate and infinitely merry.  Everywhere they went there was the sound of laughter and joy.

The Three Little Sisters

When there were bad times, the youngest usually got the worst of the bad outcome.  There was the underground Radio Flyer wagon race, which ended badly when it clipped the corner of a basement bed inflicting a gash in the head of the youngest, who was then sewn up at the doctor.  Had we lived in Australia, she'd have been the one eaten by Dingo's.  But thankfully we didn't.  We lived in the beautiful kingdom beside the sea.

The Beautiful Kingdom Beside the Sea

Recently when leaving an outdoor band concert, the middle sister failed to see a parking stop, tripped and fell like a bowling pin into the youngest sister, who took the paved surface of the planet on with her chin.  Brutalized by gravity, the two got to their feet and headed homeward with the help of friends, who are still laughing at this moment.  

When the bruised and abraded sisters arrived home to the kingdom beside the sea, they nursed their injuries and felt back where they belonged:  with their whole family of infamous stunt people who fall almost every day.  We compared stories of falling down in restaurants, on dance floors, cruise ships and loading docks.  We compared painkillers and petroleum-based antibiotic ointments.  A good time was had by all.  

Monday, April 16, 2012


When you only have one kind of pet, and a species-specific virus lands like a smart bomb in downtown Kittyland (where I live), you usually have one individual who will be effected enough to seek professional help. Such was my plight last Saturday.

"Princess Putanesca" had been sniffling for days and seemed to be dangerously congested.  "Felix," her house companion was the culprit, sneezing in her face with no regard for her well-being; and so to the open-on-Saturday vet in a neighboring county.

Princess Putanesca (whose right eye was damaged by a motorist)

Felix (one brown eye, one yellow) the virus spreader

This particular vet clinic segregates dog and cat owners in their respective rooms.  We dutifully sat on a wooden bench in the lesser of the two, the cat waiting room (which accommodates all non-canine patients).   There was a most uncomfortable gerbil on the bench next to us.  Having filled out the necessary forms, we began to sense the disparity of the two rooms was emblematic of larger differences in the polar-opposite pet lovers.  

A small group of cat people clustered in one corner, a baby stroller parked beside them.  I glanced up from my paperwork at the group relating continuously the biographies of their significant feline others; describing the ecstasy of automatic litter boxes, the cherished inconveniences, so quaint and amusing;  and the glory of ego consumption as payment for the privilege of loving an omnipotent cat.  As my eye glimpsed the baby stroller, I saw two cats in the baby seat, which rolled past me when the attendant called the patients' names. Stunned, I scanned the lady-owners who gave off vibrations of eccentric overindulgence and implicit strangeness.  

And there I sat, I thought, one of them.  We change Her Majesty's name on the form to "Scooter," and appeal for a more desirable reputation as a rare and "completely sane" cat owner.  My grandfather always touted silence as the cloak of personal shortcoming.  Better to look smart than prove the converse with words, was his belief.  I toed that line and exited the clinic without seeing anyone roll their eyes once.  And her Royal Regal Highness, The Princess Putanesca, has been exemplary in tolerating her illness and taking her medications.  I have several wounds.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Like Brer Rabbit (Joel Chandler Harris's historical character of black folklore), born and bred in the brier patch, women have become inured to the pricks and actually enjoy them (plus they are a biological necessity).  Originally the animal kingdom, of which I count myself a part, flourished from asexual reproduction - you know, nature's magical genetic splitting of one into two complete individuals or more.  If we had hung onto that method, we would all be equals and probably happily devouring each other in an orgy of eternal protoplasm.  But at some point, our species diverged from the earthworm, where we were all bisexual and enjoying our own company for procreation.  How we got Adam and Eve out of that beats me.

A Cousin of Brer Rabbit on Waverly Lane

The Bible maintains that God made man from scratch and seeing he needed a side dish, made woman out of his rib.  Right there is the basis for inequality.  Man was God's main thought, woman was an afterthought, the amusing little helper creature.  Someone should tell Miss Piggy (The Muppet Prima Donna) how we stand because she clearly doesn't get it; and I don't either.  

In my baby bin at Buxton Hospital, where I was born, I could see through the blur that my booties were pink, while others were blue.  No big deal, I thought.  Maybe I'm some kind of royalty.  Little by little that idea lost ground as new unending prohibitions sprang up like signs along the highway:  Red Light, Stop; Green Light, Go; Yellow Light, Caution; No U-Turn; Do Not Enter; Buy Burma Shave.  (That last one is a history lesson, Google it.)

The hair-pulling contest over which political party has the high ground with women is laughable.  Neither does; but one is less likely to toss a virgin into a volcano than the other.  Burning people at the stake used to enforce "traditional family values" too.  Corraling women up and forcing them to face the consequences of a hard decision and the judgement of hard-core believers and the indignity of unpleasant medical procedures does not convince me that anyone has the high ground here.

Mount Hood Daffodils Grown on Waverly Lane

So what is wrong with women?  I think we all suffer from Stockholm Syndrome (empathizing with and abetting your captors).  We can be compared to Otis (the tippler on the Andy Griffith Show from the 60's) who routinely locked himself in jail for drunkenness.  We secure our own imprisonment in illegitimacy and hang the key on the wall.  It is the only way to make everyone happy; and our own happiness is put off until someday.  We sing the hymns to male superiority and consider ourselves a fine creation.  

Enough of this going along.  When you have leverage, use it.  It is the saddest thing in the world to see so much ability and wisdom controlled by the powerful with narrow agendas.  Shake free of "traditional" precepts and think like a bitch, that "back in your place" epithet used by the dogmatic.  Before I die, I want to know that my lifetime of bitching was not in vain!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I recognize defeat when I see it.  Defeat is old age, where your most unattractive feature becomes more loathsome and the chaotic universe of your being coalesces around it, presenting it with cosmic bombastic emphasis.  Oh, just get drunk and kill yourself; or, pick yourself up and walk a charity race of at least 6.3 miles.

The Free Goody Bag (Shirt, Water, Coupons...No Easter Turkey)

As I write this, I attend nerves, sinews, muscles, joints, and (I maintain) bones which are in full rebellion after the insanity induced pilgrimage of today - March 31, 2012 - in the form of Richmond's "Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K."

At the start, I was in the "wave" of amateurs and novices; my daughter (CBW) was farther up the road with runners/walkers of legitimate abilities.  Even so, Meg, my new friend from Williamsburg, took off at the starting line and I never saw her little pink hat again; ditto, Ann Marie, our friend in her little red crab hat.  There were people in costumes, which I did not require to elicit pointing and laughing.  I still marveled at the competitors who blew past me:  the highly motivated, the gray and thin-haired, the morbidly obese, the amputees with artificial limbs.  The good news:  no terrorist snipers leaning from upper windows.  Still I was proud of myself for trying and determined to finish well.
To preserve dignity, I ran when necessary to secure the good opinion of onlookers who lined Monument Avenue shouting, "You can do it!," "Just 5 more miles!," or "Free hot dogs and beans!," which on hearing my stomach almost caused my knees to buckle.

My Little Outfit (Not Pictured:  the panty-girdle which will accompany me to the crematorium )

After the projected consequences of my foolish commitment set in, I enumerate all the possibilities and prepare for:  (1) an undistinguished upright finish; (2) embarrassing failure to reach a porta-potty in time; (3) mental confusion; and (4) sudden death.  I decided to maneuver things toward number (1) with a cautious eye on number (2).

At about the half-way mark, the bricked road became uncomfortable underfoot and brought me back to Paris in 1983, where my feet cursed my shoes for just such inhospitality.  I made a mental note:  "Don't forget where you are, stay focused; and should the worst happen, DO NOT ASK, "Is this Paris?"  It is my fondest wish not to die in a mental hospital.

At the finish line, I ran confidently, my apple-red cheeks spreading to the whole face; and after a Chinese buffet, a turn in the jacuzzi, and a three-hour nap, it has only recently returned to normal.    I may do this all again next year!!