Monday, March 23, 2009

The 69th Law of Thermodynamics - Hotness is Relative

Starr Ann sniffed the air and said, "I smell bowling alley."

Right away, I knew what she meant. That special blend of alley varnish, concession stand and ball wax is a hard aroma to forget. And, around here, when that smell sneaks up on you in a non-bowling situation it usually means Claire Norma Jeeter-Smith isn't far away. For some reason, Claire Norma took the idea into her head a few years ago that wearing bowling shoes is the ultimate fashion statement. Real bowling shoes. Old rentals she bought from the actual bowling alley. Anyway, if there's anything a couple of optimists like Starr Ann and I are willing to admit is hopeless, it's that it's possible to get the bowling alley smell out of real bowling alley shoes.

So the minute Starr Ann said that, we both started looking around for Claire Norma. I was the one to spot her standing alone over by the edge of the dance floor.

Claire Norma's build is pretty darn proportional to a pear - short and stubby, real broad and round at the base, sloping narrowly upward to the shoulders, with tightly curled short hair that makes her head keep that narrowing effect going all the way to the top. If Claire Norma sounds like the kinda girl you'd pass right over as you scope out the bar, then I guess I described her pretty accurately.

Which brings me to an uncomfortable subject. At least, it's one that gets Starr Ann and me squirming a little bit. Does our reaction, or lack thereof, to Claire Norma make us bad lesbians? I mean, if we were any kind of upright lesbians, wouldn't we find all women beautiful? And not just on the inside?

"There she is, Starr Ann, over by the dance floor."

Starr Ann said, "Seems kinda far off for us to be picking up the shoes this strong."

I had to agree with that.

Well, just as Starr Ann and I were about to head over there like we always do, so Claire Norma wouldn't be all by herself, we both realized Janie James was standing right next to us. Your eyes wouldn't exactly glide past Janie as you scoped out a bar. Just sayin'.

Anyway, Janie nodded real polite as we made way for her to get through carrying two ice cold beers, with a big smile fixed on a point somewhere near the edge of the dance floor, and wearing an aromatic pair of bowling shoes.

Dang. Hotness is counterintuitive.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Passing On The Narcoleptic Girlfriend

For some reason, I've always secretly thought it'd be cool to know someone with narcolepsy. That sounds mean, I know, but you can't really be held responsible for random things that enter your head. Can you? Anyway, it's not like I'd wish narcolepsy on somebody. She'd already be narcoleptic when I met her.

NOT a girlfriend. I wouldn't want a narcoleptic girlfriend. Now I'm wishing I hadn't even started this whole subject, because the deeper we get into it, the more I sound like a jerk. Maybe I've hit upon a real pocket of intolerance in myself here. I mean, I can imagine there are lots of people riding around with narcolepsy support ribbons on their cars who'd find me downright politically incorrect and prejudiced for being willing to hang out with a narcoleptic, yet not wanting to actually take a chance on having sex with one.

Dang. Now I'm mentally designing the narcolepsy support ribbon. It should have a deep, velvet black background with diamondy stars all over it and a half-moon with its eyes closed. And of course it would say I Support Narcolepsy.

Anyway, is it so wrong to be honest about this? I mean, I wonder how many narcolepsy supporters would have to admit they really wouldn't care to have a girlfriend with Tourette's syndrome, for example? Probably many.

And all those people would be considered intolerant by the Tourettes supporters, conspicuously recognizable by their signature bright yellow and red ribbons that blare Fuck, Yes, I Support Tourette's.

At this point, I'm not even sure why I started this conversation. Maybe I have short-term memory loss. Maybe I should design a support ribbon for short-term memory loss. It'd be orange, I think. And it would read I Support...

Anyway, for some reason, I still think it'd be cool to know somebody who has narcolepsy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mothers of Invention

All through growing up in the orphanage, my best friend Starr Ann and I used to create stories for ourselves about what our mother would be like, if we had one. We got so much in the habit of inventing our ideal mother, that to this day, one of us will occasionally begin a sentence with, "If we had a mother,she would..."

Sometime a story would come out of a dream, sometime we'd just make it up, but whatever the source, all our stories became part of this elaborate mother history we shared.

Anyway, here are a few of our mom stories and our approximate ages when they popped into being.

(3-year-old Starr Ann)(made up) Our mom would think of real fun games to play with us whenever it stormed, just so we'd get used to liking rough weather.

(7-year-old me)(dreamed) Starr Ann and I had two beautiful green turtles, the ones about as big around as a half dollar. Their names were Speedy and Greeny (we were little, okay?). One time, our mom accidentally stacked a bunch of cotton diapers right next to the turtles' bowl and the diaper lint made a thin coating on the water that also coated Speedy and Greeny's noses and they couldn't breathe. As much as our mom must have been hurting over finding them dead, she came outside and called us to the porch with this great big smile on her face. Our mom told us she had wonderful news. She was cleaning the turtle bowl and Speedy and Greeny jumped down into the toilet and swam to the river to be with their mother. Our mom said we should be very happy for them. Not the best way to help your children create their grief pathways, but our mom didn't know that.

(9-year-old Starr Ann)(made up)
All through grade school, whenever one of the teachers at our little parochial school would be absent for some reason, our mom was the default substitute teacher. When the sixth grade teacher had a nervous breakdown, our mom taught at our school for a whole year. Her kids loved her so much that a bunch of them used to come to our house almost every day after school, which meant we got to hang out with older kids! It was great until a couple of the wilder boys tricked Starr Ann by giving her a candy bar that was really laxative. But Starr Ann came out the winner, because our mom made those boys bring Starr Ann a real candy bar each and every day until school was out.

(12-year-old me)(dreamed) Our mom's favorite movie star was Susan Hayward. Whenever you mentioned the name Susan Hayward, our mom would say something like, "Ohhhhh, just the thought of her makes my knees weak." Heh. Just sayin'.

(13-year-old Starr Ann)(dreamed)
There was this boy in our neighborhood who was a senior in high school when I was a freshman. Our mom really liked him, but I didn't. When this boy asked me to his prom, I didn't want to go, but my mom practically forced me to. I counted every second of that miserable night and came home real early.

(young adult me)(made up)
When I broke the news to our mom that I was lesbian, I told her it was because she made me go to that prom with that boy I didn't like. Even though she's cool with me being gay, I still tell her that.

About a month ago, Starr Ann dreamed our mom got real sick and had to be put on life support. After a couple of days, she was conscious, but couldn't say a word due to the breathing tube down her throat. She kept looking at me, trying to say something. We tried and tried to guess what she meant, but she shook her head no with each guess. Finally, the nurse brought in this sheet of paper with big block letters on it, and said maybe our mom was lucid enough to spell out her message. Our mom spelled out C-H-A-I-R and pointed at me. She always did worry about how I stand up for too long when she's in the hospital, and here she comes out of a very near death episode, with a breathing tube down her throat and a feeding tube down her nose and needles in her arm and all she's thinking about is my comfort. When Starr Ann and I invent a mother, we really invent a mother.

Not that our mom doesn't have her faults and didn't make mistakes and doesn't drive us nuts at times. We added those parts to the history, too, but somehow they don't tend to stick or seem very important.

Since Starr Ann's dream where our mom almost died, we've been talking and thinking a lot about mothers in general. Starr Ann and I have just about decided nobody in the world sees their mother all that realistically. In fact, it's about as impossible to be objective about your own mother as it is to see your own image the way other people do.

Anyway, in the last couple of weeks, I've added this new scenario where even though the doctors say she's had many silent heart attacks over the years, and even though they say her lungs are awfully bad, our mom is so resilient that she's amazing them every day with how well she's bouncing back.

We love our mom.