Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Water Balloons

   My parents were in their twenties and still full of a youthful lust for fun when I was a small child, so it was with some regularity my sister and I were dropped off at Grandma's on Saturday nights.
   Grandma was always kind to us, letting us help bake cookies and lick the batter from the beaters, playing Yahtzee or Cooties with us, or popping us popcorn on the stove top to crunch on during the Saturday night programs – with a whole bottle of Pepsi mind you.
   On Sunday morning we would buckle on our patent leather shoes, and she would take us to church and let us doodle on the church programs and suck on Certs mints or butterscotch candies.
   Life at Grandma's was pleasant, tranquil. Nothing to disturb the mind of a five-year-old. Almost nothing.
   There was only one bathroom in Grandma's house, and on plenty of occasions, Grandma would take her bath and I would fritter away, playing on the bathroom floor, waiting for her to be done. I had seen my mother's breasts. Round like the top of a snow cone. But Grandma's breasts were another story.
   In her fifties then, Grandma wasn't obese, but she had a belly. Her breasts draped themselves atop her belly like the floppy ears of a basset hound. They looked like water balloons being held by the lip, stretching the necks beyond their capacity, all the weight of them amassing in bulbous blobs at the bottom. She had to pick them up and wash under them.
   This filled me with awe and alarm. Having not yet learned about gravity, I wondered how breasts could get into such a slump? Why were they on such a slippery slope? Had Grandma accidentally caught them under her iron and flattened them out that way?
   Thanks for the mammaries. Through the years, I've tried to erase the visual of Grandma's distended bosom. To pretend I didn't see it. To ignore the tendencies of heredity.
   Drying off after a shower recently, something in the partially fogged mirror caught my eye. There was no face visible in the mist, but below where a face should have been two water balloons reflected back at me. Grandma? Wait, what?
   Lifting my breasts to dry underneath, the gravity of the situation was obvious. It took no stretch of the imagination to see what had transpired. Cleavage had turned to leavage. The rubber had hit the road.
   I suppose I should be distressed by this revelation of the arrival of my old age. But if saggy mammaries can produce such firm and fond memories, I'll celebrate being doused by water balloons.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Get Your Gander Up

   Although in our twenties, my sister and I still found ourselves relegated to the kids' table for Christmas dinner. Not because we were acting childish, but because the “grown-up” table simply wasn't big enough.
   She and I (and her then boyfriend) were not at all put out by this arrangement. Being at an age when you're certain your level of wit and sophistication has far outpaced the old people in the room, we thought it perfectly acceptable, if not in fact, preferable. Frolicking with freedom to discuss topics suitable to our age group in as off-colored a manner as we dared.
   At the time of this specific Christmas, my mother was married to a man named Dick, and they lived in a cozy (aka small and tight), wood-paneled trailer. During holidays, Mom went all out with the decorating. Every room swollen in festivity. A knick for every nook, a knack for every cranny. One of Mom's favorite decorating schemes was to display the Christmas cards she'd received that year across the backside of the overhead cabinets which divided the kitchen from the dining room. A cardboard array of wishes and goodwill.
   In addition to my mother and her husband, my aunt and uncle and my grandmother were seated at the grown-up table, gobbling up roast beef, caramel-coated dinner rolls, wild rice, and steamed veggies.
   My grandmother, nearing her eighties, was profoundly hard-of-hearing which caused her to speak at an elevated volume, and by that I mean loud. She was a God-fearing woman whose worst curse word was “Ah sugar!” When retelling a story in which a character used a curse word, she would lower her head conspiratorially and whisper the offending quote.
   In between bites of savory flesh, she scanned the Christmas cards overhead, catching sight of one featuring a Christmas goose. The others installed at the table were quiet, no one was speaking. The only sounds were the forks clinking on plates or knives scraping through carcass. Until.
   Her unembarrassed words blared across the table. “Have you ever ate goose Dick?”
   There was no comma in her statement. There was no pause.
   Lips curled in, trying to hold it together, I looked across the table at my smirking, wide-eyed sister, all self-restraint abandoning me. “No just the balls,” I honked.
   Red faced, tears of laughter cascading down our cheeks, we delighted at this Christmas gift, better than any we opened all that day.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


   I broke my mother's butt. Not just anyone can say that. This little tidbit of personal history sets me apart from those who never fractured the delicate mother/daughter relationship quite so literally.
   At eight, I had only recently mastered the single blade ice skate, advancing from the kiddie-fied double bladed skates of my early childhood. The kind of skates my kid sister, two years younger than me – and still such a baby – continued to use. My proficiency at this new skill was only surpassed by my added ability to skate with my hands in the back pockets of my corduroy pants. Keith Partridge would often keep his hands in his pockets, thus setting the coolness bar pretty high. Never was there an eight-year-old more cool in her own mind than me with my red, unruly curls shoved inside a stocking cap, my knuckles flush against my buns, and my lopsided cockiness balancing on quarter inch steel atop a slippery floor.
   It was a nighttime skate on the thick ice of the cul-de-sac'd end of the lake canal. One of our shrewd lake neighbors had had the slick-witted idea to shovel a basketball-court-sized, rectangular rink out of the many inches of blanketing snow cover.
   Side note: There was a mallard duck entrapped several inches under the ice, a perplexing discovery for my refrigerated, eight-year-old brain. What in the world, ducks can fly? Why would it just sit there becoming a duck-cicle instead of hightailing away to freedom? But I digress...
   Cheeks flushed with cold night air, I glided round and round the crowded, make-shift rink, ice crackling under the scrich, scrich, scrich of the skates. On the next pass, I spotted my mother, wearing her blue parka and crocheted, white beret with a puffy ball on top, stepping into the rink. Arms spread wide to my sides, picking up speed, I raced toward her, eager to welcome her to the arctic arena. “Mommyyyyyyyyyy!”
   My mother was a pretty good skater, but she was unequal to the brunt of an eight-year-old with a head full of steam. She landed with a thud. The ice didn't crack, but her pelvis did.
   Turns out there's no good way to heal a busted behind. Can't put a cast on it. Can't put it in a sling. My mother endured a lot of pain and a lot of butt crack jokes. It's a wonder she's not more frosty toward me to this day.
1973 skating with my hands in my pockets