Friday, June 3, 2011

Never Say Never

“Mommy?  Why does that lady have a moustache?”
            I heard my molars clack together.  I kept 'em clenched.  Turned slowly.  Tried not to be obvious.  There she was.  Looked like she’d stepped right out of Little House on the Prairie.  Her blue calico dress L’d where it hit the ground.  A creamy apron, edged in eyelet, bathed her front.  Or is that called a pinafore?  A circle of lace hugged her storm-colored bun.  In her hands lay a hank of yarn, yellow-orange from an onion-skin dye bath.  Her blunt fingers caressed the fibers as she gazed off into the fire-colored foliage.  Whew!  I don't think she heard.
            I put my finger to my lips.  “Shhh!” I told my daughter.  “Remember the Thumper Rule?  If you can’t say anything nice—“
            “But, Mommy.  I wasn’t being--“
            I pounced my pointer finger on my lips and made mad eyes.  She shushed.  I pretended to fiddle with my younger daughter’s stroller blanket.  At the same time, I stole another glance at Gunsmoke gal from beneath my lashes.  I had to nip my lower lip to keep from gasping.  Cream-gone-to-butter strands sprouted above her pursed lips.  Honestly?  I’m not sure moustache was the right word for the thing.  It was more of a fringe.  Reminded me of the stringy edge of the off-white muffler my Nan made me years ago to match my camel-colored, Bobbi Brooks winter coat. 
            I murmured.  To me, not her.  “God bless her.  Why she doesn’t yank that thing is beyond me.” 
            I gave the stroller a shove to get it out of a mud rut.  Then I couldn’t help myself.  I did a Lot’s wife.  Glanced back one more time.  I puffed at my bangs and shook my head.     
            “Gracious!  That’s never gonna be me.”

Know where you can find us the first Saturday of every October?  The Springs Festival in Springs, Pennsylvania, but don’t go on a Sunday.  It won’t be there.  Most everyone over that way, especially the Amish, Quaker, and Mennonite folk—will be in church ‘cause  Sunday’s the Lord’s Day.
            The first thing we do when we arrive is buy a couple homemade, soft pretzels.  I love the salt polka dots, almost big as pebbles, all over the glossy brown surface.  I squirt sunny mustard all over my pretzel and open wide.  The kids gobble theirs plain or with nacho cheese.  Fight over the leftover viscous orange sauce that  paints the waxed paper.
            I smile and hand the girl who can't stop blushing two dollars.
           “Two lemonades, please.  ‘Cause it’s so good, one is never enough.”
            Next we head for the Forest Trail.  My older daughter tugs at my jean jacket sleeve.    
             “Is it time, Mom?  Or did we miss it?  I hope not.  We've never missed it before.  Not even once.
            I peruse the printed schedule.  “In five minutes the sheep shearing gal from Morgantown will be here.  Run up and save us a seat on the front row.  Or snag us one of those boulders, one that's dry.”
            We oooh and ah over the lamb getting its first ever haircut.  My girls tear up when "she" gets nicked in her pink, fleshy armpit. Of course, my daughters assume it's a girl. 
              After they pet the shorn she, we get back on the Forest Trail and continue the loop.  We pause at the soap maker and sniff every flavor of her essential oils.  Then we use broken pretzel sticks to sample all the dips and spreads the Tasty Shoppe vendor has to offer.  We listen closely as Musket Man, who looks like a skinny Santa in buckskin instead of red velvet, does his demo.  We can almost recite his whole spiel.  I cover my ears right before he pulls the trigger.  KABOOM!  I feel the sonic force in my skeleton.  We clap and he bows low.  I grin and toss my hair behind my shoulder when he winks at me.
            “There’s a blacksmith this year,” I tell the girls as we continue on.  “Let’s go see.  And then we’ll get homemade ice cream, pet the Alpacas, and buy a broom for Gram.”
            My older girl steps in front of me and locks her brown Bambi  eyes with my blue ones. 
           “Can we take a hayride too?  Pretty please?”
            I herd her close with my arm. Bend to kiss her curls.  “Of course, sweetie.  You know how this is.  We do every thing, every year.”

My younger daughter sits criss cross applesauce on the sidewalk next to the flagpole outside her middle school.  I pull alongside the curb and push the gearshift to P.  She stands.  Opens the back door.  Drops her bookbag on the seat.
            I look over my shoulder.  “Did you tell your music teacher you’ve got a good excuse for leaving play practice early? That we’re going to the Springs Festival?”
            She nods as she opens the front door.  “Can I ride shotgun?”
            “Sure.  You’re almost twelve.  But when we get your sister, she’ll probably--”
            “I know.  I know.   I’ll sit in the back then, with the little guy.”
            I flip the visor down to check my lipgloss status in the mirror.  I feel my daughter’s gaze and turn to her. 
            “There’s something on your face.  On your jaw right there.  An eyelash maybe?”
            I flip the visor back down.  “Where?”
            “There,” she says.  She puts her finger on my chin.  Jerks her hand back and rubs it on her shirt.
            I huff.  “What?  Why’d you do that?”
            Her mouth pulls to one side.  “’Cause it’s icky.  Wiry,” she said.  “You touch it.”
            I release my seat belt.  Scoot forward to get closer to the mirror.  My fingers search my jaw line.  Brush toward my neck, then away from it.  Finally my fingernails find the thing.  Tug. 
            “Oh, poop!”
            My daughter’s eyes are huge.  “What?  What is it?”
            “It’s attached, that’s what it is!”
            She makes a gagging noise.  “Ew!  Are you kidding?  Gross!”
            I yank, hard.  My eyes water.  I inspect the offender.  It's a silver S.  It almost gleams in the noon day sun.  A tiny speck of skin, a flesh rootball, clings to one end.  I hold it in a pincer grip.  Offer it to my daughter.  Her glossed lips curl and twitch.
            “What do you want me to do with it?”
            “Put it somewhere safe,” I say.  “’Til we get home.”
            I watch her swallow.  Her nostrils flare. “You’re not going to do that thing, are you?”
            I grin and re-buckle my seatbelt.  “Of course I am.”
            She moans and presses her palms into her eyelids.  “I hate that urn where you keep all our personal stuff. Our belly button stumps after they fell off, our first fingernail clippings, Dad’s super long eyebrow hair, L'il Paint's toe.  Do you know how weird you are?”
            I chuckle and put the car in drive.  “I think the word is sentimental, dear.”
            She shakes her head.  “No, I’m pretty sure it’s weird.” 
            She turns the radio on, then off.  “Oh, and just for the record?” she says.  “The whisker on the chin thing?  That’ll never happen to me.”
            I snort.  “Really?” I say.  “Oh, sweet pea.  If there’s one thing having children has taught me, it’s to never say never.”


Diane Tarantini said...

I'm checking to see if I fixed the comment problem.

writingdianet said...

Well, looky there! I did it! Yay me! Okay, your all's turn. Someone leave a comment to see if I fixed it for the whole world too. I think I did . . . I think I did . . . choo, choo, choo:)

writingdianet said...

Congratulations Rhonda in Florida! You won the beautiful, lavender infused, Caught Butterflies box of beauty--May's prize package. Must . . . pry . . . it . . . out . . . of . . . my . . . hands.

Arizona Girls said...

I say that too never say never cause you just never know haha

I understand on the hair =/ Wish I didn't though haha Have to go check and see if I need to pluck now!! =) Now on the urn thing hmm can I say I agree with your daughter??!! haha No offense of course! =)

Found you through the Lady Bloggers =) Loved the name of your blog and then your story haha New follower here! =)



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