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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Written by the Write Club

Spring Awakening

By Paula Killen

I don't care how old you are -- everything wakes up in spring. Every spring reminds you of the one before and you can't imagine ever sleeping through another winter again. And when you are young, spring affects you like candy in your pockets.

I don't remember if the things that happened to me while growing up are real or just punched up parts of little experiences. Ultra-color-washed day dreams, that you take as real because all new ideas, like the ones you have for the first time, plant the seeds of things that will eventually become true enough.

If memory serves me, all the colors in 1978 were brighter and it smelled differently too. I had the same nose; a gap between my front teeth and my friends called me "notes", short for "no tits." But I had a flat belly, good legs and a tan. I stared at everyone, but mostly teenage girls. I knew that I would be one of them soon. I'd fill out a bikini, talk to boys, dance to the radio, pierce something and pay very little attention to 11-year-old kids like me.

My younger brother, Jefferson, was nine and we got along when I wanted to. I liked an audience and he was quiet, shy and game for anything. So, when my parents said that we were going to Mexico for spring vacation, all we could think about was buying fireworks, sneaking beers and going para-sailing off the back of a speed boat. Dad said they had para-sailing in Mexico. Dad said they had everything in Mexico.

The only drag was that we had to take my Uncle Merv and Aunt Margy with us, in our car. They lived in a house that was never entirely furnished and all I knew about Uncle Merv was that he never held a job very long and he had a big old gold tooth right in the front of his mouth. Margy was a second wife that everyone said was better than the first, but to my mind she was no prize either. We called her "plaster brows" because she painted them on so thick.

My Uncle Merv wanted to drive and my Aunt Margy said that she had to sit next to him in the front seat. My parents were suddenly relegated to the back seat of our station wagon and my brother and I were stuffed in the trunk with the luggage. Our natural family order was shifting and I wasn't for it, so when my aunt demanded that I change my shorty top before we got to the border, I ignored her completely.

At the border between Texas and Mexico, my parents went for Visas and my brother and I wandered around. I had never been to any foreign place before and I had no idea why men were following us, tapping my brother on the shoulder and making unmistakable comments. Sex talk reads in any language. My brother was totally freaked out and I was nervous, but suddenly awake. I walked slowly back to the car trying to catch all the glances like fireflies in a jar. I knew I'd never get this kind of attention back in The States -- after all, they had teenage girls there.

Leaving the border in the car, Jefferson couldn't wait to blurt out the whole sordid story, which made my Uncle drive faster and my Aunt remind us all that she warned me not to wear that shorty top.

After one million years, we arrived at our designated condo, hidden in a compound of condos, under layers of rubber tree plants and right on the beach. We had the best of both worlds -- the comfort of a condo and the exotic landscape of Mexico.

It rained every day and my mother got sick. There was no para-sailing and no fish in the sea according to my Uncle, who hadn't even had a nibble. Even fish can figure out a guy like Merv.

I ignored my brother and just walked up and down the beach all day, waiting for something to happen.

At night, we could hear the music coming from the bar down the way. My family went there during the cocktail hour for "The Shrimp Parade." Young men in fluffy white shirts would come to your table with shrimps on a burning skewer, blow them out and then serve them one by one to interested parties.

I saw one lady open up her frosted pink mouth and let one of the boys drop a shrimp right in. This was not America, after all, these were sexy Mexican people, serving sexy Mexican shrimps to tourists who could only hope to have some experience that would make them feel sexy too.

One night towards the end of the trip, my begging paid off and my parents let me out of the condo for a walk around the compound. I went directly to the bar. All the shrimp hubbub was over and a little band had begun to play plinky, tango type music. I sat on the sand, close to the band and tried to act like a teenager looking for action. Hot teenage action.

It was warm enough to take off my sweater and the sand was whiter in the moon light than during the day. My hair was white, my teeth were white and I had on a white T-shirt and shorts. And remember I had a tan.

When the busboy would look at me I would turn away, like I wasn't looking at him. I liked the way he looked, young and not too lecherous. He came up to me and asked in broken English if I wanted something? I told him that I didn't have any money by turning the pockets of my shorts inside out. He took my hand and walked me to the back door of the bar, by the kitchen. He made some gestures that told me to wait for him and he was gone long enough for me to worry about what it was I was waiting for.

He came back with two glasses of dark rum with fat limes floating on the top. Made the back of my neck ache just to smell it. He held my hand and we drank in silence, looking at each other a lot and smiling. I put my drink down and started digging for a Kleenex in my pocket because my eyes were watering.

His hand followed mine into my pocket. He smashed my fingers and thrust both our hands towards the inside of my thigh. I did not know what to say -- he wouldn't have understood me anyhow. My whole body felt like I was being stung by a swarm of bees. I pulled in the opposite direction, trying to get on my feet -- I'd leave my sweater behind if I had to!

After all, I was not a teenager yet, but spring pushes young things forward into the dangerous arms of nature. Ready or not.

I was twisting in this strange dance with the Mexican boy when my brother Jefferson came down the beach with his flashlight and fireworks. He was looking for me. And even though my brother was a geek and a pest and a kid, I screamed his name, "Hey Jefferson, over here!"

The Mexican boy froze as my little brother shinned his flashlight right in his face and asked me, "What are you doing?" Nothing. Something. You'll get it later. Let's go back. I want to light fireworks off the porch of the condo and look at the ocean from a safe distance. Go to bed early.

How could I have known that I was awake and would never really sleep again without spring planted deeply in my pockets?

by Lauri Fraser

As a child, I got all the love a nurturing that my parents could have possibly given me. It was not enough. My Dad wanted a perfect kid. I wanted to be that perfect kid. I was a reflection of him and I reflected imperfection. He got critical, and I got hungry. Hungry for his attention. Hungry to be accepted. Hungry to adored. I had to fill that void. I wasn’t old enough to pick sex, drugs, or rock and roll, so I picked sex’s closest equivalent for a kid…. FOOD.

At the age of five, I used to lie down on the floor by the bathroom and talk to my Dad through the crack at the bottom between the carpet and the door. My Dad was always working and I’d be in bed by the time he got home so this was my one chance to talk to him. I’d ask him all sorts of questions. He’d eventually get fed up and say “Lauri, I’m going potty.” I guess this meant that I was supposed to leave, but instead I’d just be quiet for a while and then start up again. One day while I was being quiet, I noticed his trousers lying over the small chest of drawers. I put my hand in every pocket. Just filling time while I waited for him. I found his wallet and some change. Change, I knew could buy food. I put the change in the pocket of my cowgirl outfit. I wore my cowgirl on every morning that I could until it was so filthy that my Mom would have to sneak it out of my room. I had the shirt with tassels on the back, the skirt, boots, holster, and the hat.

I would walk my Dad out to the car, and I’d wave good-bye to him until his silver Thunderbird, disappeared over the hill to the left of our track home in Monterey Park. Well that morning as he drove away, the Helm’s truck came up over the hill to the right sounding it’s unmistakable Helm’s truck horn. The Helm’s truck was a bakery on wheels, kind of like the Ice Cream Truck but it was filled with cookies and donuts and pastries. Heaven for a five year old. Okay, for THIS five year old. I felt the coins in my pocket and shot my hand up in an uncontrollable victory salute waving him down. There he was in all his glory, The Helm’s Man. He held the key to that great big door at the back of the truck that protected the precious cargo that lie inside waiting for ME. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as I often did when I was about to tell a big fib. After all it was just ME. Without my Mom. It would have never been my Dad. He wouldn’t let me eat sweets because he didn’t want a fat kid. In fact he would make us Avocado or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and give the other kids each a whole sandwich and cut mine in fourths, give me one of the fourths and tell me to come back and ask him if I wanted more. Did I want more? Was I so abnormal? Why wasn’t I treated like the other kids? A quarter of a sandwich? Of course I wanted more. That was the beginning of my never being able to get enough of anything. Especially food.

In fact I would be engulfed in an epicurean delight as soon as I could tear myself away from whatever was causing me to feel anything but good. (Oh, wait a minute. GOOD, had it’s own set of set me offs.) This included my first wedding where I made sure that a napkin filled with stuffed Kishka (a Jewish delicacy. A long thick tubular sausage- type skin stuffed with a greasy vegetable- type stuffing) accompanied me into the limo. I sucked out the stuffing in a lady like manner as not to disturb the sausage skin being the vegetarian that I was. All this while sitting next to my new groom, who perceived this as sexually exciting. A promise of things to come. And now here I was in front of the Helm’s man. The man of my dreams. He pulled out that long tray of cookies and donuts and the smell lifted me off my feet. I picked two sugar jellys and two twisted glazed, and cookies with sprinkles and chocolate cupcakes and when I handed him the money he said “Oh you must be having a party.” and I said “Yes we are. “ The next day after waving my Dad good-bye over the hill, my little neighborhood friends were there with me when the Helm’s man came. I picked more this time because I had more money. My Dad was always pretty cheap but donuts were too.A Good time was had by all, and everyone liked me, which thrilled my budding little people pleaser to no end. I had a real thing going here, I was the Pied Piper of Monterey Park with a song in my heart and a sugar high in my metabolism, until my Mom decided to stop the Helm’s man one morning. She was having a couple of PTA ladies over and the Helm’s man commented, unbeknownst to me, on how he hoped that she enjoyed all the goodies for all the parties she’d been having. The following day, it was me in my cow girl outfit, the bathroom door conversation and business as usual, only this time when I waved my father good-bye over the hill, he had instead gone around the block and caught me red handed with a sprinkle cookie in wax paper, in my hand and my friends waiting eagerly to pick there morning fare. I felt like G. Gordon Liddy when the Watergate cops caught him breaking in. My Dad walked up and stared down at me….”Open your hand.” I put my head down and looked up and shamefully opened my little sweaty palm revealing 55 cents in one hand and a sprinkle cookie in wax paper, hiding behind my cowgirl skirt, in the other. I was busted. At this point I was all alone, My friends had all but scattered and I was quietly but swiftly ushered into the house, gripping tightly to the sprinkle cookie wrapped in wax paper and still intact. My only solace for what could be an eternity. He’d be watching my every move and even though I, could get every cookie out of the package without hearing a crinkle or a crackle coming from the wrapper, when it came to listening to me in the kitchen, HE could hear a baby mouse peeing on a blotter. My father was not a mean man by any sense of the word, but I had hit a nerve. He didn’t like fat people. They disgusted him. A Nobel Prize winner? His favorite Aunt? If they were fat, he didn’t want them in the house. Oh, he’d put up with it, but he kept his distance. Even my boyfriends. If they were handsome and fit, they could have robbed us blind and he’d defend them, but let them have one ounce of fat toppling over their pants and they were losers. He didn’t particularly like this quality about himself, but it didn’t seem to stop him. I’m sure that he had nightmares of me coming home with my hands full of shopping bags from Lane Bryant and a chili dog with all the trimmings hanging out of my mouth while trying to give him a kiss. I’m not sure what he was angrier about. That I stole the money or that I was starting to get chubby and he didn’t know what to do about it. He never hit us but sometimes we got the towel. The Rat-tail. That day I got the Rat-tail. He’d wind the towel up and fling it just barely grazing us but stinging us just enough to let us know that what we did was NOT okay and not to forget it. I didn’t.

Now in his eighties, you can still see the handsome in his face and HIS tummy just topples over HIS pants and I watch him as he scours the refrigerator for what may be HIS only solace. Oh, sure, I’m tempted to swat him with the Rat-tail, but I manage to suppress that. I still have dreams that I hear that oh so familiar horn and go running towards the door. But after therapy, diets, meditation, and exercise, I’ve managed to suppress that urge, too. But if I truly look deep within my soul and am absolutely honesty, I musty admit that NOTHING compares, to a sprinkle cookie from the Helms man….or two sprinkle cookies.

"If Only I Liked Strippers"

James Schneider

If Only I Liked Strippers from James Schneider on Vimeo.


by James Schneider

If Only I Liked Strippers

Like you do, like you say you do

I don’t need no artificial sweetener

Don’t wanna watch like Chauncey Gardener

Cause if I look but cannot touch

It don’t mean much, in fact it’s worse

To sit and suffer, let’s call it as it is

As she warms her hands in what once was my purse


Take it off when it means something

Meet me halfway when we’re alone

Take it off when it’s not so safe

Cause I don’t wanna bitch, but I do want to moan

You’re friends with twenty strippers… on FaceBook

You’re a V.I.P. to the Industry

But at the end of the night, hey, you’re just talking to me

Cause if you look, but can’t be pleased

How fun is that? In fact it’s a tease

She can talk to you like a shrink or a nurse

But when the show dies down you still got the guy’s curse

When the show dies down you still got the guy’s curse


Take it off when it means something

Meet me halfway when we’re alone

Take it off when it’s not so safe

Cause I don’t wanna bitch, but I do want to moan

She can talk to you like a priest in the Church

You connect with her til you’re ready to burst

Maybe I’m being a guy, thinking last things first --

But the tune won’t change til up drives my hearse

No, my tune won’t change til up drives my hearse


Take it off when it means something

Meet me halfway when we’re alone

Take it off when it’s not so safe

Cause I don’t wanna bitch, but I do want to moan

If I wanted to chat I’d pick up the phone

Every dog has his day, but still wants his bone

The courtesy van’s in the white parking zone

I don’t want to bitch, I’d rather both have us moan

If Only I Liked Strippers…

© 2010 James Schneider words & music

Shot and edited by RustyCan Productions. See our sidebar for more information on how to contact RustyCan, the best team for filming comedy we've found!

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