Posts Tagged ‘1981’

The Playboy story

February 24, 2013

Headlines say Seth Rogan will be on the cover of Playboy magazine. He will be the eighth man to do this.

I’m excited about this headline, not because I like Seth Rogan, but because I have a Playboy magazine story.

When My Oldest Friend and I were about 11 we were on our town’s tree-lined, Main Street-type strip. We were in the corner drug store. It was an old-fashioned store, not like the corporate chains you see today.

The store’s side facing our cozy downtown was window from floor to ceiling. There was a magazine stand that ran along this.

At her suggestion we spread open Playboy magazines all along the display rack facing the window and ran out of the store.

Good times.

The map story

January 30, 2013

Tonight’s story was my son’s choice.

When I was in seventh grade I had Mr. Snodgress for social studies. Mr. Snodgress was one of the best teachers I had, and I remember many things he taught or said.

But he was funny about maps.

Every week he passed out a blank map with a couple of continents on it. We were to get Color-Rite pencils, color at a 30-degree angle with a light touch and rub over the finished product with a Kleenex to soften the lines.


The he started going on about the compasses. Mr. Snodgress wanted compasses with more pizzazz. We were slow to learn he didn’t want a plain cross with N, S, E, W at the points.

Cheeky punk that I was, I drew an elaborate full-figure Popeye, arms outstretched toward east and west. It took up the whole Atlantic Ocean.

It was a masterpiece. It was shaded and detailed from pipe to shoes. It was rubbed with a Kleenex. Vigorously.

The next Monday he was handing back the maps. He made it plain he recognized the sass, but he chuckled and breathed deeply before clarifying his compass request.

I don’t remember all the words. He started with something like, “When I said to make your compass nice…,” and ended with something like “not what I meant.”

But I remember the middle exactly: Probably the best drawing of Popeye I’ve ever seen.

The tissue story

November 12, 2012

When I was in junior high I went to my Auntie Martha’s after school. She lived across the street from campus.

Auntie Martha was one of my grama’s older sisters.

I would snack on the Frosted Flakes she kept hidden in the bottom cabinet and watch General Hospital on her little black-and-white kitchen TV. After that I would push the chairs aside and jump on the Linoleum under Richard Simmons’ guidance.

Auntie Martha watched Guiding Light and then Phil Donohue in the den.

After my workout I went in where Auntie was. We would play gin or backgammon. She taught me to sew.

Then in the evening my dad would pick me up. Sometimes he would sit on the patio and have a beer with Uncle Phil before we left.

One afternoon I went in the living room and she was pulling wadded balls of pretty paper out of a new gym bag and ironing it.

The bag had come stuffed. My mom had just bought a bag like this. I was fascinated by the whole scene.

“This will make nice wrapping paper.” She was making a pile of the ironed. Each sheet was different.

I couldn’t get past that she was ironing wrapping paper.

My dad showed up just as she told me that she also irons her tissues and reuses them.

Dad was in a hurry.

This was too much. We went back and forth with ‘You really do?’ ‘I really do’ as he dragged me out.

I never knew Auntie Martha to be cheap, and that was disgusting. My incredulity was consuming.

The next afternoon it was the first thing I wanted to talk about.

“Auntie, I want to buy you clean tissues. I think it’s gross you iron and reuse them, all full of mocos.”

I wish I hadna said that.

I’m sure you’ve deduced she meant tissues for gift wrapping, not Kleenex. I’ve been teased it about it these past 28 years. This kind of embarrassment spreads fast through my family.

And 28 years later, I’m still using the wrapping paper I went home and pulled out of my mom’s new gym bag and ironed.

Adverb humor

August 9, 2012

Today is My Junior High Best Friend’s birthday.

It’s also my High School Boyfriend’s birthday, the boyfriend from The Trumpet Story‘s birthday and the copy editor from The Palm Tree Story’s birthday.

But I’m giving the post to my Junior High Best Friend.

We used to fancy ourselves grammar police, which everyone knows makes you popular at parties.

My focus was verb tense, and Kelly’s was adverbs.

When somone said, for instance, ‘I’ll just do it real quick,’ she would mutter ‘-ly.’ She was always muttering ‘-ly.’

My running joke was that when she was born her mother named her ‘Kel,’ and Kel popped her mouth off the breast to mutter, ‘-ly.’

Knock knock

August 6, 2012

Tonight we took my grama out to dinner, and we were talking about funny things people said or did.

Nana shared that when she and Grampa took me to see Annie for my 10th birthday, I saw a photo of ice in a glass in the program and said loudly, “There’s subliminal seduction in this photo.” (I had read the book and learned how sexual words or images were hidden in ad photos. This is neither here nor there.)

Everyone near us in the audience turned to look at me. This is neither here nor there either.

I said, “But remember on the way home, when we were doing knock-knock jokes, and each answer had to be a song?”


“You said, ‘Knock knock’ and Grampa and I said, ‘Who’s there?’ and you said, ‘Wendy’ and we said, ‘Wendy who?’ and you sang ‘Wen-dy deep purple falls….

“Then Grampa said, ‘I have one!’ ”

“Knock knock”

“Who’s there?”


I miss him so.

The intruder story

June 19, 2012

School’s out for summer. My kids are home.

When I was a kid, my parents were already at work by the time I got out of bed during break.

We lived in a big, old house on a busy street.

One morning in the middle of the summer I had gotten up and gone into the bathroom. Just before I flushed, I heard someone in the house. Someone with heavy footsteps.

I crept to the door and turned the lock quietly. Then I crouched next to the toilet behind the little wall dividing it from the tub. From there, I listened to the intruder opening cabinets in the dining room and pulling dishes out. That’s where the crystal was.

I pictured a guy in striped convict clothes with a Zorro mask emptying the dishes into a large sack.

He went from room to room. I tried periodically to figure out how to get out the window, but it was too high. I was a small 12-year-old.

Finally I resigned myself to my fate. I would be killed. At  some point he would try the bathroom door, and there was nothing I could do but wait.

I imagined my family hearing the news by phone. One at a time I pictured my aunts’ and cousins’ reactions.

I thought how I hadn’t appreciated it when I wasn’t scared.

Then I heard the intruder clear his throat. It was my dad.

I waited for him to do it again, because I wanted to be sure before I emerged.

By then I was mad. Why didn’t anyone tell me he was going to be home? He never stayed home.

I heard him say, “I wondered why you were in there so long” as I stomped off to watch Three’s Company.