Category Archives: Self-flagellation

Back to a Future Past…

I’ve been afraid to state an opinion.

Afraid to rock a precariously tiny boat on very troubled seas.

A friend recently suggested I “Woman up” or, in essence, to stop being a coward.

So here goes:

I am truly terrified of COVID-19. Everything I’ve read convinces me this is a plague of biblical proportions. And that’s saying something coming from an agnostic!

But even more than a highly contagious disease, I am afraid to lose friendships because of COVID-19. So afraid, that I have not asked people to wear masks when I’m in close proximity. Even though I have worn mine in my yard…while by myself…while weeding.

I desperately cling to friendships, even when the cling-ee isn’t that keen on tolerating the stranglehold I have on them. I have lost friendships before. I will likely lose friendships again. Possibly over this. And I truly hate the thought.

I have been a coward; and I’m going to try very hard to stop. But even contemplating telling my friends my position, I’m feeling a welling, choking sensation I haven’t felt for years.

TIME TRAVEL SEGUE–NO, NOT THAT KIND OF SEGUEA BACK TO THE PAST KIND:

I had a job once at a place we’ll aptly refer to asDeepHell University.” It was in the fundraising department. I had a very challenging boss who, in her defense, had a very weird secretary. Me. I was the secretary.

(TRUE CONFESSION: I accidentally read a highly personal email from one of her friends when the I.T. guys accidentally linked my new email to my boss’s mail system–and I read it…and replied to it…at length…because I literally did not understand what the internet was and how it differed from emails.) This happened the very first day I worked there, but the boss forgave me. Kind of.

We managed a rocky half-year of an increasingly challenging relationship. This boss made me nervous. Like cat-on-a-hot-plate-in-a-room-full-of-rabid-pit-bulls, nervous. I took everything she said as criticism or complaints. I felt stupid, clumsy, and unsuited to the job. Everything I heard sounded like blame and hostility. I became so nervous I would plot a course around the entire department in hopes of avoiding seeing her. (Her office was right next to me, but around a corner.) It got so bad, I started doing a thing. A thing I did NOT know I was doing. I started holding my breath. I passed out several times before finally wising up and seeking professional help. I’m lucky I didn’t give myself permanent brain damage via concussion or oxygen deprivation. I have never been so grateful to be fired from a job in my life.

BACK TO THE FUTURE…MEANING THE CURRENT OR PRESENT DAY:

So, if you see me, and I keep a six foot distance from you while you are unmasked, do not be surprised and try not to take offense. Please understand, I am not judging anyone. I am not trying to make any kind of political statement. I’m just trying to make the best choice I can in a very bad time in our world.

I’m supposed to see family tomorrow. They prefer to go maskless. (Apparently they didn’t have the same fantasies about becoming Zorro I did as a child.) I really want to see them but I’m also a ticking time bomb of terror–albeit one with a love of alliteration. It tears my heart in two when I’m faced with this dilemma. I don’t want to be considered a nagging worrywart. And yet, if the wart fits…

So I’m asking them to move the get together into the backyard. And crossing my fingers that I am not dropped from future invitations of this kind–especially seeing as I organized this one. But my family has forgiven flakier behavior than this. [More on this topic in another blog post. I’ve confessed enough for one day. It’s best to spread the crazy out a little bit at a time.]

I’d like to think someday we’ll be safer and these extreme measures won’t be necessary. But that future isn’t here yet. (I’m feeling an overwhelming need to throw in another Back to the Future reference, but I’m coming up blank. You’ll just have to picture me driving a Deloreann and wearing a white, fright wig.)

And for those of you too young to get that reference, here’s a YouTube clip. (Proving I am slightly more technologically capable than my younger self.)

Back to The Future Present Tense–Plague Edition

Do you hate me now?

If you knew that, by catching COVID-19 there is no one who can watch my son, would that make a difference? Any sign of even a cold nowadays, and I lose all the help that comes into my home throughout the week. Help that keeps me from going bat-guano crazy. If I really caught COVID, I would be on my own, struggling to take care of a special needs child and afraid to ask anyone to help because I just couldn’t risk exposing somebody else to the disease.

So I will wear a mask. I will try to stay a six foot distance away. And I will not hold my breath waiting for others to understand. I am scared. For all of us!

In parting, I ask you, my viewing audience:

What would you do if you had to choose between friends…and safety?

What would you choose?

…a question that tempts me to include the following:

I.E.D.s in the Family Tree

I used to scream bloody murder when I was a child. I would shriek so loud, so long, that eventually I would go hoarse. I even developed nodes–tightened knots on my vocal chords. When I finally figured out screaming wasn’t helping me I stopped. This allowed my vocal chords to relax and I discovered I had a deeper register. (As a result, I sing somewhere between contralto and tenor with a hiccup in my falsetto.)

What I couldn’t have told you, even if you had asked, was why. Why did I devolve into a nightmare child shuddering in hysterics? I couldn’t tell you then, but I might be able to tell you now.

But first, a little back story…

Continue reading I.E.D.s in the Family Tree

Think Pink

Right after finishing GISH, Kiri took a tumble in the hallway. She wrenched her ankle, her knee, and her hip. She cracked her head against the wall. She went camping and got vertigo. Obviously she’s under a curse. (Actually, this might explain more than a few things wrong with her…) Join her internal debate team in figuring out the cure!

Continue reading Think Pink

Stupid Entropy

I have always wanted to be a smart person.  Or, at least, to feel like I was a smart person.

I have also been suffering lately from the certainty that I am not getting any smarter. In fact, there is evidence to suggest I may be regressing and losing my faculties altogether.

In other words, I am getting dumber.

How do I know this? I tried recently to be clever and failed.

I attempted to write a post. I wanted to be witty and erudite, to create a mathematical equation quantifying the values of parenting–like something you might see on a white board on The Big Bang Theory set. I wrote for hours. I struggled. I waffled. I flailed in my efforts to write what my brain kept telling me what should be a funny post.

At the same time, I have been trying to research what kind of cell phone or carrier to switch before my iPhone dies for good. The more I read on the topic, the less sure I am that I am capable of making a rational, informed decision.

To stave off complete digital death, I switched off as many features of my ‘smart’ phone so as to conserve the battery life past a nano-second. I turned off so many functions, my phone stopped receiving voicemails and texts. As a result, my ‘smart’ phone is now a dumb phone which is holding my information hostage until I turn my data back on.

Didn’t phones used to just work before ‘data’ was invented?*

Why is a phone designed to use data to send a message anyway?** 

*shouts into the abyss*

WHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYY?

In my efforts to keep my phone running while not plugged into a recharger, I even deleted Facebook from my apps.

The entire next day I learned exactly how often I have been checking Facebook. Like, every fricking time I had a break…or had to wait in line…or stopped at a red light for more than two seconds. I wish I were kidding.

So, I’ve learned two things this week: I am not getting smarter and my phone is possibly making me dumber.

In my research for ‘smart’ terminology, I found a physics term that I feel describes my mental state:

En·tro·py, noun

/ˈentrəpē/

PHYSICS

  1. a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
  2. lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

Apparently I am suffering from a terminal case of entropy.***

Let’s just hope it’s not stupidly fatal.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*C’mon conspiracy theory junkies, give me your best explanation for why phones cost ten times as much to do half as well for less years than you’d like. And then tell me why we fall for it?

**GROUP BREAK-OUT SESSION: What exactly is DATA and why is it the new gold standard for the inequalities between the haves and the have-nots? Discuss.

***Additional proof of my stupidification is denoted by the fact that I have to use the second definition of Entropy to understand the meaning of the word.

*—*—*

The Image Stolen for this header comes from a site that did a much better job of actually explaining entropy–in case any of you are smarter and want to read up on it.

 

 

Mulan-ing It Up and Deciphering Pernicious Plumbing Portents

Mulan on Rooftop
Definitely Stolen Image…Come on Disney, let me have this one!

In science fiction/fantasy stories, when the heroine has pissed off the gods or broken the ancient talisman of her people, she can go on a quest to redeem her honor. Sure, she may have to crop her hair and dress like a boy to defeat the Hun army…but in the end, it’s worth it.

She returns with the seal of the emperor and is held up as an example of once-in-a-lifetime courage and fortitude. At the very least, she is welcomed back home with cries of “Huzzah” or a marriage proposal.

At what point does our heroine realize that she is in an epic battle for her existence?* Maybe to her it just seemed like a lot of bad luck rolled up on her at once?

I ask this question, in truth, because I think I missed a giant clue along the way.

Or I’ve defiled a temple somewhere and the gods are angry.

I’m not entirely sure when it happened.

But I think it started with the toilet. Continue reading Mulan-ing It Up and Deciphering Pernicious Plumbing Portents

Getting Disciplined

“Desire is the root cause of all evil.” Buddha

I try to remind myself of this every time I see something that my avaricious soul desires.*

But it is so very hard to be good.

What I need is a little Christmas Discipline.

Ginger Fetish
Buy local – and if you’re into S & M and live in San Francisco, this link is for you: https://sf.funcheap.com/sf-fetish-flea-market-citadel/

<*>

I am currently enjoying a period of forced minimalism, otherwise known as being broke.

I have never budgeted. As a result, I have also never saved much money. I just let the paycheck drop into the account and spent said moolah on whatever I wanted and periodically looked to make sure I wasn’t dipping below the fill-line, so to speak, trusting that the bank will never run out of money.

But it did…for about three days.

November had five Thursdays in it.

FIVE!

Did you notice? I certainly didn’t.

Fun fact, our social security payment arrives on the last Thursday of the month. I auto-pay my bills electronically on or around the 25th because, usually, by then the check has hit the bank.

Unless there are five Thursdays.

Five Thursdays spells disaster with my current un-budgeted way of life. If I’m not careful, the money doesn’t quite stretch to cover the month unless I pay attention and not buy every indulgence that catches my eye.

Discipline
The Victorians had a very odd notion of discipline if this is what they think it looks like!

I had no idea what a spend thrift I could be until I realized I couldn’t spend ANY money for three days.

I mean none.

I got through the days of parsimony and rue recognizing that I have some really bad habits.

Elf on Shelf Naughty
It was about this point of writing, I began to regret Googling “Naughty Elf.”

It was time to enforce some strict discipline…

I looked at my love of fancy compressed curds and altered my favorite Thanksgiving side dish to omit the Grueyer and Emmenthaler cheeses.** 

Turns out, I might just need a cheddar-vention.

cheese_addiction

I have some expensive, thoughtless, habits that I now need to pay attention to.

A sudden need for a french fry fix makes me commit a fast food drive by almost without thinking about it. The doctor, at least, will be happy to hear we are cutting back on our deep-fried addictions.

The road to my personal hell is paved with indulgences that would make angels weep.***

So, I’m submitting myself to some long-needed tightening of the purse-strings.

The Little Vanilla Book
Add a little Vanilla Discipline to your life!

I am become an acolyte for pleasure through self-deprivation.

All books will come from the library for the foreseeable future.

…Or a regional Little Free Library /black-ops drop site.

Little Free Library
I didn’t notice the Ayn Rand book front and center until I downloaded the image. Mea Culpa.

No more wine.

We won’t mention over-priced chai lattes that you can get at Biggby’s.

And I’m going to cut back on the diet cherry coke habit, though I worry I might actually kill somebody for a taste of the sparkling poison, so be warned.

I am now faced with the consequences of life-long bad habits. I must buckle down and pay attention to my finances and make fiscally restrictive choices. Or, find another way to make income.

Which brings me to my brilliant sub-theme.

My New Year’s Resolution will be to find out which of the following jobs is the least repellent way to bring in extra cash:

Will Humiliate for Food

I once read a profile on OKCupid for a guy who was willing to pay women to come out to California, dress in appropriate costumes, and humiliate him for hard cash. I’m not entirely sure if this one wasn’t an invitation to join a sex-trade, but maybe he has Skype?

Phoning It In

Sex phone operator. In which we find out whether I can suppress the giggles long enough to achieve a quasi-sultry conclusion. Also, where exactly am I going to do this in a house full of therapy techs and my ever-present child? I’m yawning the minute it hits 8:00 pm…this will take some thought.

Lashing the Page

Or, based on what I’ve seen while Googling images for this topic, there’s an aching void waiting to be filled in the Christmas-based sadomasochism/erotica market. Now how shall I plug that hole?

Santas Naughty List_0001

With such exciting job prospects, I’ll be sure to report back I am once more swimming in something festively green…hopefully it’s money and not jello with marshmallows on a pay-per-view fetish site.

Oh, and could someone remind me in the third week of January that the month has five Thursdays?  Thanks.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Which, at Christmas, means everything. My inner child is a window-shopping glutton.

**For those interested, here’s the recipe: Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

***It doesn’t make angles weep–which is what I originally wrote–but then I decided the heartless bastards would just laugh for 90 degrees in their corners until it was no longer funny or acute. How obtuse!

***

You’ve read this far bonus:

 

 

50 Shades of Earl Grey Crème…

Wanted: A naughty cup of tea with a bergamot bite.

I’m on my knees.

I’m begging for relief.

Aching for that particular and distinct pleasure that only a true acolyte of the libatious arts can attain. But alas…

My cup is empty.

I am truly lost without my Earl Grey Crème.

————————

 

The week I learned that Teavana was going to close its doors, I went straight to the mall, plunked down a piece of plastic and ordered an obscene amount of tea–something near 7 pounds–because that was the minimum I could order to get 30% off the total price. I did not even look at the receipt when I signed it. No price was too high a cost to pay.*

You think 7 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot?  Imagine the backpack sized tea parcels they gave me–I’m sure I looked like a tea mule smuggling fine grade, uncut pure leaf addiction–I’d show you…but I drank it all.

In less than a year, my precious was gone.

My Precious
Thanks to: http://www.vitamin-ha.com/gollum-memes-14-pics/ for coming up with a Gollum/Tea meme.

 

I swore I wouldn’t buy any more tea until I have drunk some of the thousands of other teas in the many, many containers I already possess.

You think I’m kidding?

I’m not.

Tea Time 2
I have issues. Crazy, manic, matcha-based issues.

 

I’ve stuck by my resolution not to succumb to temptation. Not to bend. Not to splay myself prostrate crying

Why have the tea gods abandoned me? WHY?”

I’ve been sucking down Twinnings Chai to sublimate my desires. I sugar it. I even use the latte foamer that makes me feel like a pampered princess…until I have to clean it.

IT’S ONLY DAY THREE!

I’VE CRACKED.

 

I am now hunting for a replacement.

How hard can it be to find a fragrant facsimile?

A delicious doppleganger?

A tantalizing taste bud teaser to pleasure the palate? A tea that will make me whimper when it’s gone bottom’s up!**

I’m putting out an ad to the area tea purveyors:

“I’m a sweet young thing looking for the bad boy I’ve been missing…oh where, oh where is my Earl Grey Crème?

Fortunately, the internet is ready to cater to most discerning clientele.

Clickety, click, ka-ching!

So, bring on the Adagio Moonlight loose leaf and the Earl Grey Crème wares of Art of Tea–I can’t wait to sample your charms!***

Hurry to me, my darling. I’m waiting for you!

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*I lied. I did look at the receipt. The total was shocking, and this was after the discount. And, though I did not faint, it was only because I was afraid I would drop my complimentary cup of tea in the process.

**I want a tea that will own me, make me say “Thank you! May I have another!”

***This post may be a sign that I need an intervention…or a really dominant cup of tea.

 

Calendar Mom Drops the Holiday Ball

Crass Consumerism Lite Show
IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE LIGHT POLLUTION….

 

 

 

Dear All,

I am spending Christmas Day writing cards to friends because, apparently, I am living the holidays backward. And it started off so promising too…

The cookies were baked and frosted in early December…ready to be handed out to teachers and neighbors instead of requiring exhausting shopping jaunts and wrapping to accomplish. Ta dah!

*She gloated and lo’ the gods of irony did take notice.* 

So, of course, the minute I added the last dragée sprinkle, I came down with the worst bubonic nasal funk, like, EVER. I didn’t dare hand out the frosted ones out to anyone…I liked.

We’ve been eating them all in lieu of chicken soup. (Note: I make something like 100 cookies each season.)

 

Cookies 2017
Over-sprinkle much?

 

As a result of the plague, all shopping was done last minute. Like on Saturday, or as I was calling itthe Eve of Christmas.

I gritted my teeth and plowed through the tinsel strewn madness in a frantic bid not to throttle my fellow man–just so I’d have presents to hand out at the family gathering.*

I stayed up all night Saturday wrapping the last-minute what-nots decorated with frills and furbelows and wondering why BBC America wasn’t showing the much-awaited Dr. Who Christmas special.

*A clue, she has not.*

Dizzy with a stuffy head, thrown by the fact I work from home and days are marked by whether I have to shove my kid on a bus or not, things are spectacularly wonky. Festivities happen in spastic fits and starts if they happen at all. To be perfectly blunt, I’m off! In fact, I am so off in my order of traditional holiday crapola, that we celebrated early.

LIKE…a DAY early.

I woke Sunday thinking that it was Monday because I saw a mail van delivering to the house next door. So, Santa came early. I made the traditional pop-n-fresh, cinnamon rolls from a Pillsbury can baked into the shape of a lumpy Christmas tree the way my mom always made for us when we were kids. My son happily opened his giant tube of popcorn and his Orville Redenbacher fun-fun air popper.

It is only after the morning is gone and all the presents are opened that I realize…oh, wait. It’s only the 24th.

Christmas Comes Early - Cinnamon Roll Tree
No…his shirt says “PUCK”…though I understand why you might be confused.

 

So, here we are, December 25th with nothing to celebrate. The snowy day precludes the emergency ‘road trip’ that I blankly promised my son yesterday with the caveat “If the weather is good.”**

And we woke to this…

Old Man Winter
Neon depiction of actual weather event – The Old Man Winter Blow-Out White Sale!

 

This wouldn’t be so all-fired tragic if it weren’t for the irony of it all.

My kid, the Calendar King, said NOT ONE WORD about the fact mommy was off by a day.***  I guess all kids dreams of Christmas coming early. This does explain the kind of puzzled looks he kept giving me when I told him to keep opening his presents though…

So, Happy Holidays to everyone… and I might as well wish you Happy New Year. I’ll be with you in spirit/s next Saturday as we toast farewell to 2017!  Because who in their right mind would put New Years on a Sunday of all things! Am I right?

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*I was shocked to find other people shopping and leaving me with no place to park but the butt-end of the parking lot. Seriously, why weren’t they all home with their families and snug in their beds?

**Note: all weather is good weather for travel according to my son. The roads could be melting with lava, hail could be denting the roof and Pteradactyls might be making a bid to return from the primordial ooze from which they sprung and he’d still say, “Car ride?”

***Yeah yeah. I know. Non-verbal autistic. But he could have pointed to a calendar or something!

Brain on Standby…Hold, Please

I keep trying to pin down a thought.

T

H

  O

       u

 G

                                                   T

Crap…there goes another one.

Distracted by minutiae*

Unable to FOCUS!

*slaps face*

Need sleep, breath…peace.

I have a moth for a brain and the light bulb burns like an acetylene torch.**

The afterimage from staring into the glow is cutting holes in my cerebellum.

Burning+Moth
Image stolen from eyeheartcreative.ca

 

 

I write, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Have posts unpublished and no time for review, reflection, or renewal.

Stop the world spinning so fast…I might be sick.

And so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes…

 

I am Fine
In searching for an image for ‘Thoughts’ this is what I found. Seems about right.

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*One of which is the correct spelling of the plural of minutia.

**Googled the spelling of that one too.

The Dungeon, The Escapee, and Occidental Fudge

Just after posting my celebratory hurrah about our South Haven Adventures last week, I get home and decide to compound my success by being a ‘good parent.’*

“C’mon son. Let’s go for a walk.” I say.

I’m thinking of a brisk stroll, fresh air, and then getting back to the house to tackle some work. It is a good game plan.**

As I have mentioned before, my son is a runner. He would explore a lion’s den given half a chance. Like Austin Powers, his middle name is “Danger.” Unfortunately, this evening is no exception. As we walk, he keeps pointing out buildings he would like to ‘visit’ and even writes house numbers down on his papers when I don’t seem to pick up on his subtle signals when he tries to drag me to the front door.

The night is turning colder when I spot the Grand Villa in the distance. This is a local restaurant which goes by the nickname “The Dungeon” because of its subterranean locale. If I had seen their website beforehand, I might have taken heed of the warning they post in their tagline:

“THE DUNGEON IS WAITING FOR YOU”

Teeth chattering, I haul my child away from the housing complex he is lunging toward—a nondescript giant block of apartments in what once was a large family home. Seeing as my son is now 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs as much as an overindulged Great Dane, this takes some effort.

I lure him in with the promise of chocolate milk.

Twenty minutes later, warm again and well quaffed, we gather our things to go. Then I consider the nearly mile-long walk back to the house…in the cold…and decide the bathroom should be our first stop. I send my son into the men’s room and wait for a few seconds…before deciding I’d better make sure myself and pop into the ladies.

I swear I peed in less than a minute and was back out to wait for my son. A MINUTE.  That’s all it took.  My clever, devious, Machiavellian boy was gone.

You can pretty much predict the rest. After a frantic and futile search of the area, I’m on the phone with 911. While talking with them, I see a police car pull up alongside the road. I hail them while I’m on the phone with the operator.***

Now I’m babbling at two different sets of people—neither of whom can understand me—when someone calls out:

“We’ve found him!”

Another police officer escorts my happy, oblivious-to-the-chaos-he-causes boy to my weeping embrace.

My son is returned safe and sound and, though he had broken into a home, no one is hurt. A few papers are stolen and have to be retrieved. He’d even had time to scribble calendars on the back as a memento to the family he invaded. I hope they frame them.

In those interminable minutes he is out of my grasp, I imagine enough scenarios to make my heart stop a thousand times. I am honestly surprised it doesn’t kill me.

Once home, my child goes to bed with no complaints. I think on some level he recognizes mommy has had it. I turn off my phone and tune out the world and spend the evening overwrought and shaking.

The next day, I find the energy to call my mom.

“Hey, mom…Little Man is okay, but I have to tell you something that happened last night. Understand, I can’t take any comments about what might have happened. I still feel so emotionally raw I can barely breathe.”

My mom knows about loss. I had a sister—Robin. She died of crib death before I was even born. As a result, mom has had a super-charged paranoia about any dangers we faced as kids and I think this has multiplied exponentially for her grandchildren.

I re-live the night before as factually as I can without breaking down. She lets me vent. It is what I need—a shoulder to cry on without judgment. It is phone call catharsis at its best. Mom says she’ll check in on me later, but she has something to do first. I ring off feeling a shade lighter than before.

My mom stops by that afternoon, carrying a cooler. I unpack it while she tells me a story of her own. When I get to the table with a warm bundle wrapped in a towel, she is drawing me a map as she talks:

“When I was a little girl, my father took me to the ice cream shop at the Occidental Hotel in Muskegon. It’s torn down now, but it was located between Clay and Webster Street downtown—it’s in the same area the Frauenthal Theater and the culinary school are now.”

I pull up my computer to help in the search for yesteryear landmarks. We have a doozy of a time since mom—who has a much better sense of direction than me—apparently can’t reorient her mind to the north-on-top directionality Google maps insists on presenting.

Map to Occidental

“Anyway, they had a famous hot fudge sauce that I absolutely loved. We didn’t go out very often so it was a big treat to go there. So I made this for you!”

As mom is saying this, she’s unwrapping the towel to reveal a small Corningware casserole dish wrapped in plastic wrap with a band of duct tape for extra insurance. (She’s not messing around with spills!)

“After you told me about your adventure, I thought you could use a treat.” Mom says.

She makes me sit down with a big bowl of ice cream and a dollop of the chocolaty, silken sauce melting over the white caps of vanilla-y goodness.

She then tells me more about our connections to the famed hotel with the equally famous sauce.

“Do you remember the lamp your father brought back when they sold off the property and its belongings?” She asks.

I would have been eight in 1975, and home furnishings weren’t a high priority in my experience, so I shake my head and take a bite. I swallow her memories with each taste.

“It was a heavy iron lamp and we put it in your room with the flowered Crosscill bedspread and curtains—you remember those?”

I had loved that frilly bedroom set up until I left for the Army. It was gone when I got back home four years later and I truly mourned its loss. I nod and lick the spoon. No words are necessary when you have hot fudge. Mom continues to wax nostalgic about the past:

“I was nineteen in 1959. I remember going to a Valentine’s dance there once–sponsored by the Elks, I think. A boyfriend, Jack Boles, took me to a ball at the hotel when we were dating. Do you remember the beautiful dress you borrowed for school that was stolen?”

This I distinctly remember. It was my first experience with theft. I borrowed it for a theater skit for a character in the show. It was gorgeous red dress of some kind of stiff but silky material. I have never quite forgiven myself for losing that dress.

“It was a play, Mom. We were performing at the elementary school. The dress disappeared from the prop and costume boxes before we finished the shows.” I interject. I’m apologetic—it’s a script we’ve enacted whenever we rehash the event.

“It had a square bodice and the style was so grown up. The sheer overlay matched the underskirt perfectly. Do you remember the fabric?” Mom holds her hands out as if measuring the width of a belled skirt.

“It had a swirly pattern—nothing distinct, like paisley, but more like the swirls you see when oil floats on water.” I say.

[A hunt online produced similar styles but nothing is exactly like what she had:]

Now it’s her turn to nod.

Yes! I wore it when I was in the beauty contest at the ball—you’ve seen that picture, right?”

It is a small, black-n-white snapshot of three women in ball gowns. Mom was the first runner-up. In the photo, she stands to the left of two other women—all dressed up and carrying bouquets of now, long-dead flowers. It was a night of beautiful memories.

Mary Moeller - Beauty Contest3
Left to right: Mary (Mom) Benson, Joan Wachovia, and Sharon (last name unknown)

 

The fudge sauce is slowly disappearing as we reminisce. We look online trying to find a photo of the ice cream parlor that existed before The Occidental Hotel was imploded in 1975 to make way for a parking lot. But all we can find are details of the implosion. The article is an epitaph for a leveled landmark torn down in pursuit of a mall that would later close of its own fiscal demise.

The ice cream is gone and I scoop up the remains of the cooling, lava-like gooeyness to store in the fridge.

“Be sure to hide it from the boy or he’ll eat it all!” Mom warns before giving me a hug goodbye.

It’s after she’s gone and I’m cleaning up that I realize what she’s done. It is what all mothers do—try to make it better. When you skin your knee, she offers a kiss. It is a little sugar to take away the bitterness that life sometimes hands you. I may be an adult, but I am not immune to the sway of childhood remedies or memories—be they mine or my mother’s. The sweetness cannot stop the pain, but it can make it better. And when those remembrances come with chocolate sauce—it surely does.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Being a Good Parent—a laudable goal that, when I try to do it on purpose, results in immediate failure.

**Life is out to get me most of the time and rarely needs a good reason. Still, I thought, in light of my good intentions, the universe was being a real shit not to reward me.

***No matter how many times I have called 911, I do not improve with experience. I am just as hysterical and useless each and every time. I owe sincere apologies to the people who man those phones…and probably a fruit basket.

 

———–You read this far bonus—————–

I just had to include this photo. It is the entire line up of contestants from that long ago Valentine’s beauty pageant.

Mary Moeller - Beauty Contest