Bazooka Joe bursts my thieving bubble

Ooooh, touch-y! Even potentially squeamish-making. Today’s prompt from “A Writer’s Book of Days.” Write about stealing something.

It’s wrong.

Just wrong. Pure ‘n’ simple. No debate, no excuses.

That’s reason 1 I put it back.

Reason 2  is an overgrown conscience. It’s a curse in its way in this sea of life, where sharks prevail and goldfish with consciences get eaten alive. If we survive amid the sharks that is.


I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been around around and around. I’ve seen more people with questionable consciences or amoral characters get ahead, achieve successes, been given opportunities, favors and favoritism than I with my mature conscience, impeccable work ethics, honesty and moral compass received or achieved.

Oft I’ve moaned that it doesn’t pay to be good and honest (to a fault) in life. I’ll bet if I had even half my current conscience , I’d-a gone twice as far!

Back to the story.

I put it back because it’s wrong and my conscience wouldn’t let me carry out the act.

The “it” that I put back was a piece of Bazooka Joe bubblegum.

That sugary cotton-candy-pink square wrapped inside a colorful little waxy comic from the box of penny pieces on the bottom shelf between the cash register and front door of Rexall Drugstore, if memory serves.

I was maybe 8. Can’t say what possessed me to act so atypically.

Wasn’t that the family was dirt-poor and couldn’t afford bubblegum. Loved gum then, still love it.

Wasn’t that I was empty of pocket change. I got a weekly allowance of maybe a dollar. Most I saved for something I needed or wanted down the road, the remainder I spent on little treats or sweets.

I certainly held no animosity toward Rexall. On the contrary. The corner drugstore was a nice old-fashioned place in a bygone era when people were still nice, mannered, friendly, thoughtful and courteous toward one another.

Adventurous and bold spirit that I was, perhaps growing pains pushed me to test the waters, as we all do when we’re tykes discovering ourselves. Or a momentary lapse of reason.

Maybe it was just immense curiosity that got the better of me, as it has throughout my 6 decades.

Whatever the reason, I covertly palmed that piece of Bazooka Joe and headed to the door, free ‘n’ clear.

Before I exited, I turned around, went back to the shelves and put the gum back into the box.

Thus began and ended any thieving career in 2 minutes.

For full disclosure, I did in my 20s steal “successfully.” A small can of tuna from a well-known supermarket chain. Why I took it I don’t precisely recall save for a sense of financial distress.

That was some 40 years ago. Don’t laugh but many’s been the occasion since that I’ve thought about sending the cost of the tuna and an apology letter to corporate (being that I reside nowhere near the “site of the crime”).

I don’t, only because it’s unlikely that this ginormous corporation would have the means to process it. Surely there’s no column in its vast financial spreadsheets for repayment of stolen items. The cost: about $1.39.

I’ve consciously cleared my conscience in other ways, including acts of paying it forward. Still, that crime still niggles.

Be it Bazooka bubblegum or Bumble Bee tuna, I fared no differently in the end. I’d make a pathetic thief. Not cut out for stealing.

Not to be overlooked is my astute awareness of karma — as strong as my conscience if not stronger. For better or worse, all this and a strong moral compass guide me now in my sunset years as they did in the drugstore that day. 

If there’s a moral to this story, it’s this:

Yes, bad people and lesser individuals, the sharks in the sea of life, have many advantages. They win, they get ahead, they achieve, they receive more than I could dream of having in my honest conscientious living.

They destroy in their ascent to their mountaintops and once arrived, they whoop it up and lead really enjoyable lives. And they sleep at night.

Meanwhile, little goldfish such as moi, the truly honest and good folk get ignored, stepped on, shoved aside, overlooked, taken advantage of and fill-in-your-particular-suffering.

Life is unfair. This is known.

Yet stealing does not make life any fairer.

Truth is, I’d rather do without (and have, in profound impoverishment) than turn to taking what is not mine to take.

Bazooka Joe, my bubblegum hero, would be proud.



Caught red-handed

“A Writer’s Book of Days” has the final word tonight. And that word — rather, words, in the form of today’s writing prompt: “You have stayed too long.”

He’s speeding. Smack on the tail of my Ford Focus. Tomato red. “Cops notice red cars,” friends warned, daring with laughter. “Red cars get ticketed more than other colors.”

Guess they were right. My 4th ticket in 10 months.

I slow into a roll to the shoulder. Easy does it.

Caution is demanded when any maneuver except speeding, tailgating and abrupt frequent lane changes — The Norm of California Driving — occurs. Your very life depends on expert execution.

And I’m not about to get slammed and sent sailing into some lane by some speeder doing 85 and meet my Maker at age 24! Where ARE the cops for those assholes anyhow?! Me, I was goin’ only 75.

“Do you know how fast you were going, miss?” he asks, even before requesting license and registration. Not a good start. Good cop bad cop, can’t tell.

What I can tell is a square strong jaw, a broad-shouldered buff tough build, a well-groomed small brown mustache above small tight lips. And my reflection in his mirrored sunglasses. I take advantage by checking that innocence and cooperation are plastered on my face.

“I’m sorry, officer,” I respond in the most conservative tone I can muster, masking my contempt for highway cops. “I was going a little fast.”

“What’s that, miss?” He can’t hear me over the oceanic thunder of 6 lanes of vehicles soaring past at 90 mph. California: Where Speed Limits Are A Mere Suggestion.

Unless your car’s red. Might as well attach a roof topper like pizza delivery drivers use that screams: “STOP ME!” Or “COPS CHEW BIG RED!” Or “RED, NOT WHITE, BLEW BY!”

“I said I was going a little fast,” I roar over the thundering 405.

He jumps back a little.

“He thinks I’m some crazy stoned — dope’s legal in Cali after all — snowflake-y millennial who can’t handle an ounce of stress and am gonna turn psycho on a dime.”

With his eyes secreted behind sunglasses, I can only speculate. His hand brushes casually against the big manly weapon holstered on his right hip. Maybe I’m onto something.

“Miss, you were going 92 miles an hour.”

“WHAT THE F…?!” I remember the authority figure to my left and auto-correct. “Funky … what the funky day I’ve had.” Sigh. Chin and shoulders raised and dropped for effect.

Total lie. I’d had a fucking fantastic day. Got laid by the boyfriend. Day off from the job — waitress at Fuddrucker’s. And now I’m gonna meet Desiree for happy-hour margaritas, free chips and salsa. Perfect meal for a pair of 24-year-olds on the prowl. That’s probably her 10th text buzzing about my whereabouts.

“Funky or otherwise,” says the cop with all the levity of a German judge conducting trials for war criminals. “Facts are facts. The speed gun clocked you at 92 miles an hour.”

He punitively rips the ticket off his clipboard. I could see him in a bar socking some dude who looks at him wrong or his girlfriend lustily. Assuming he’s got a girlfriend. Probably, that whole “guys in a uniform” aphrodisiac.

Not for me. Not now and not him, the prick. He’s someone else’s problem. My problem is the yellow paper in my hand. And the promise of penalties a-plenty.

Brusquely he sets foot toward his vehicle, where spinning blue and red lights slice through even brightest sunlight.

I shove my titties — 36C, all natural, I’m proud to say in the State of Silicone  — up for maximum cleavage, unbutton another to reveal a hint of my hot-pink bra. I cross my right leg over the left and strike a slightly provocative pose, left hip angled into the seat, right aimed toward the driver’s side window.

I lean out. “Ohhh, officer,” I shout, feminine wiles and coyness discernible even from a distance.

My final shot at an appeal. Gotta take it.

The cop marches back to the window. “Yes, miss?” Again, judge at the war-criminals trial.

“Would it help if I said how very sorry I am? I didn’t mean to speed. I had a lot on my mind.”

Such as margaritas with Desiree. I wave my right foot lightly to create undulating motion in my pelvis pointed his direction.

He smiles.

“There’s hope!” I muse. “Turn up the sex appeal.”

I inspect his face.

That’s no smile after all. It’s a smile wanna-be. A straight line bordering on a constipated grimace. Not attractive. Makes him appear humorless, almost cruel.

I uncross my legs and assume the driving position. Rebutton the button and tug at my skirt like an uptight Mormon secretary whose thigh is exposed 4 inches above the knee.

Four tickets. Caught red-handed am I. Dead meat am I — with the DMV, insurance rates, missed work, lost income, even jail time.

Desperate, I stretch for salvation one last time.

“Officer, I’m really, really sorry …”

“Miss,” he replies. “Be as sorry as you wish.” My hunch is he knows I’m not. I am ticked off at the bad rap red cars get. So unfair.

“You’ve stayed too long in my company … and on these roads. Jail time would do you a world of good. Teach you respect and regard for the law and the drivers with whom you share the roads. Let’s hope the judge sees it the same way.”

He turns sharply on his heels, gets into his car and spins his wheels hard, sending gravel and dust my direction.

“Jerk. What a waste of time. And effort,” I free my titties from ramped-up cleavage.

I cut into the freeway race, royally pissing off some guy behind me. He flips me off with vehement waves as if conducting an orchestra and spews presumably a stream of profanity judging by his billowed inflamed red face.

I notice. ‘Cause things red get noticed on the roads.

From secret to smithereens

You never know whether it’s gonna be a silly tickle behind the ear. Or a poke into the wound of the heart.

Such is the nature of writing prompts. From “A Writer’s Book of Days,” today’s reads: Write about a secret revealed.

He wore it well.

As well as he wore his tight bell-bottom jeans, pointy cowboy boots, T-shirts and long hair to midback, often in a ponytail. Hair black and thick like a horse’s mane. Rare hair — for a Japanese man — and it made him very sexy amongst males in Japan. Not my country of birth but my country of resonance, affinity and life for more than a decade.

He wore it well.

As well as he wore his black leather jacket, cut to the waist, tight to his slight frame. Unnaturally skinny he wasn’t. The man could inhale 2, 3 bowls of rice and a plate of cooked sliced beef and veggies and maintain a slim, healthy and strong physique. No gym. No workouts. Just naturally virile. Scrappy. Fucking sexy as hell.

He wore it well.

As well as he rode his big Kawasaki motorcycle. Fire-engine red and powerful. Lordie I loved perched on the back, my thighs tight against his, arms clasped around his waist as we zipped here and there, usually from his abode or mine to our rock-n-roll hangouts in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

As a child, I loved a being passenger on my dad’s bike too — though we never went out nearly enough. Hardly ever in fact. 

Dad mostly rode that Triumph to escape family and stresses and enjoy solitude or time with other bikers in the California desert for a weekend. When I was a girl, I didn’t fully understand him taking off like that. In adulthood, I absolutely got it — and discovered the same need. Get away from people, from life. Solo road-tripping saves my soul, likely as it saved his back then.

He — the former Japanese lover — wore it well.

As well as he wore his particular scent and the smell of tobacco. Not just of Marlboro, yuck, which due to its hideous cancerous odor he was banned from smoking inside my tiny 6-tatami-mat room but of unadultured genuine tobacco from a bag.

I taught him how to roll.

He practiced, oh how he practiced! He was artistic, quite deft with his hands and detail-oriented. Together we’d lay long on futon on tatami, with papers and loose tobacco, often Drum — and roll, an art I’d long before mastered. Only after he’d developed his skill did we compete for whose smokes were better. Tighter. Smooth with evenly distributed tobacco, wrinkle-free paper perfectly sealed along the gummed line.

I gotta admit, he got very good very quickly. And he was very competitive. Often our rollies were too close to call.

He wore it well.

As well as he wore his smarts, sexiness, his sweetness, sentimentalities. He wore well his strut, part swagger, part surety of self. He exhibited unconventionality and the bravery to be a black sheep in a straitjacket society that insists on white sheep and their conformity.

He wore it well, the secret.

The secret that ripped us apart. It gutted me, shattered my heart, cost me one of the great loves of my life.  He fucked another woman. In the very bed where we slept.

He betrayed me with his friend, my friendly acquaintance. She’d long lusted after him. Wanted what he and I had. She didn’t get THAT. But she, backstabbing cunt, got him.

The secret that he — whom I still meet in slumber 15 years later — wore so well for a time altered everything yet altered nothing. 

The secret revealed altered us, shattered all we had and were, love, to smithereens. In an instant. Profoundly, permanently.

And it altered nothing of everything else that he wore so damn well.

Night, how I adore thee.

Sometimes a girl needs a friend.

And that friend is a book. That book is “A Writer’s Book of Days” by Judy Reeves. And in that book is the day’s writing prompt: Night.

The great carouser.

Invitations from Night to play to party to succumb to temporal pleasures delights deliciousness. Invitations to plumb forbidden pleasures in basement bars secreted hideaways and strip clubs with prancing buxom figures in hot-pink neon lights.

Night, the barker who beckons drunken men and bold ladies into exciting holes-in-the-wall brimming with booze and cigarette smoke that in a manner of Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde are dreary, depressing, dead in daylight.

Night, who delivers the surreal the sensual and the suspect.

Night, who suggests and illuminates shadows only by skirting their peripherals, invoking mystery, arousing fears. “Come here, go there, if you dare. Your identity shall be concealed, your face unrevealed,” encourages Night.  “Privacy I guarantee. Daytime reveals, night conceals. I tempt you to pull up the bedcovers up over your head or pull them down, as you please.”

Night is not always the Good Guy. Fear follows where Night traipses. Dangers real or imagined crouch behind dumpsters, inside cars parked at Lovers’ Lanes, in cheap motels and plush homes where illicit affairs and actions produce varied consequences.

Hearts are broken, people brought to their knees, property is stolen, homes invaded, homicides happen and prison sentences are promised eventually by Night’s presence.

Night does not distinguish between Right and Wrong. It offers a wide stage of theater ranging from solemn hours in solitude and prayer to upheavals and uprootings and ruination of lives.

Do you wish to weep in privacy? Night will be a friend at your side. Reminisce at the sea or on the park bench about loves lost, high school friends who like you are now elderly, contemplate problems, cultivate solutions, or simply breathe far from the stress of life and Night does listen.

And no words need even be spoken but inside your heart and mind.

Night gifts you with solitude when you most need it as much as it pierces a burning reminding thorn of loneliness into your side.

As delicate as Night is so is it harsh. From sweet kisses and tender caresses upon a lover’s hand in your bed a dying parent’s in a hospital bed to brutal violations of safety, personal space and living spaceS, Night allows.

Night bears not the Scales of Justice. Night’s purpose is not to weigh or judge but only to serve as the indefinable fulcrum between extreme pleasures and extreme sins.

Night , how I adore thee. You are my nature, my domain, my friend. Never have you betrayed me, wounded or abandoned me. Always certain to show up and certain to return after Daylight provides its performance.

What human being in my lifetime could ever claim such loyalty and trustworthiness? 

a whacky ruling replete with wisdom that never made the news

At 5 in the afternoon.
(after Federico Garcia Lorca)

March 4 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

(First, who’s Federico Garcia Lorca? Oh. A Spanish poet, playwright and director of the 1800s.)

The reverberation of the wooden gavel striking its sound block was felt across the courtroom. Not a difficult accomplishment as the room seated only around 25 at capacity. That day, it was inhabited by only three, which amplified the striking of the gavel all the more.

“Mister Abrams. Are you fully aware of the charges brought against you?”

“I am, your honor,” he responded, meekly. Dumbly. He didn’t truly understand. He did not understand how he could be brought to court for violating the peace and sanctity of another’s home. He thought the world was his oyster. His. H-i-s.

That his thoughtless, inconsiderate and obnoxious behaviors could so impose upon another human being, intrude into another’s home and ruin, if not obliterate, the “quiet enjoyment” of a tenant’s home as provided by Arizona law was a concept beyond the scope of Mr. Abrams’s intelligence and understanding.

“I’m a man,” he thought. “My family is from Egypt.” The machismo of his culture escaped his awareness. Ditto his — their — macho attitudes. He was the center of his universe, like most men of his culture.

Moreover, he was nearly revered as a god by his girlfriend, who sat in the gallery with a tissue already dabbing her eye. A blonde, shapely, busty lady. A real catch by Egyptian standards.

By America’s too. She was young, not merely in age — 25-ish — but life experience. Hers was not an old soul with innate wisdom, neither a soul to acquire wisdom quickly.

She was naive and for that she easily succumbed to the “charms” and powers of a macho dark-skinned man. Danielle Steele couldn’t have penned a more romantic figure. Cliched? You bet! But cliches and fantasies sell romance novels. Not realities.

“Well then,” announced Judge Heathrow, leaning back with all the earned authority of his 26 years on the bench. “Let us proceed. You are charged with excessive disruptions and disturbances of the peace of those around you, including and specifically the neighbor who lives below you.”

“Yes sir,” said Mr. Abrams.

He still didn’t understand how disruptive and distressing his actions were and had been. Months and months of stomping about, stepping with the force of booted Russian soldiers trudging through snowdrifts. Pounding and hammering and dragging heavy furniture across wooden floors into the night. Where was team lifting with the busty girlfriend? Even the judge wondered.

Months of dropping things that sent waves of crashing sounds reverberating across the plaintiff’s ceiling. Abrupt thumps and thuds and ruckus that caused her to literally jump inches from her chair. Her nervous system, overwrought by the continuous intrusions, no longer burned. It’d morphed beyond into a cold steel. She, the prosecutor, was done. She had had enough. Had enough of being unseen, unheard, disregarded by her neighbors. By HIM, the macho Egyptian.

She took the case to court. The judge had listened with fairness uncommon in this modern age of unreason marred by self-serving attitudes, political correctness and gains in the liberal agenda at any and all cost.

Judge Heathrow sat upright in his judge-ly chair with the tall black leather back. Straightened his shoulders. Looked with a poker face first at the defendant, then the prosecutor, then briefly a piece of paper on his bench.

Then, with that same poker face displaying but one expression: an unyielding commitment to fairness and peace that was his task, purpose and mission to uphold, he announced his ruling:

“I rule in favor of the defendant.”

Mr. Abrams’s gasp was as audible across the courtroom as the gavel bang had been. The busty blonde girlfriend’s too.

“With conditions,” he immediately and emphatically added.

The cheer of Mr. Abrams and his busty blonde girlfriend deflated, their shoulders sagged.

“The prosecutor has excellent grounds for this case. This court has found it a case of merit. You have, Mr. Abrams, been inconsiderate. Thoughtless. Inattentive to the right to peace and quiet enjoyment by not only this prosecuting tenant but all tenants in your building.”

Mr. Abrams, seated at the defense table before the judge’s bench, looked down at the floor.

“You have been found to have been arrogant and unconcerned about the impact you have on others.

“You have been the cause of distress, unwittingly perhaps initially. Yet when it was brought to your attention in a neighborly dialogue, you disregarded the agreement toward cooperative harmony and peaceful coexistence in tight quarters. I am assured of such by the photographs entered in the exhibits.”

Mr. Abrams bit his lip. He looked ready to both cry or punch the judge’s lights out. As macho men are wont to do when their machismo is usurped.

“The prosecutor in this case has convinced the court of the validity of every claim. She is, in fact, by law, in the right and in the spirit of the law has won this case.”

Mr. Abrams looked up at the judge, confused.

“To answer your question,” the judge proceeded, “I have ruled in favor of the defendant.”

“That’s me,” whispered Mr. Abrams.

“It is not because she is wrong. She is right. It is you who is wrong. And yet I rule in your favor because it is you who must learn the rules of community cohabitation.

“It is you who must remain at the property, not because you have the means and resources that enable you to do so.

“You have been an unneighborly neighbor and until you learn to be kind, thoughtful, considerate and mindful of those around you, you will continue to live there and received continual reminders from the divine and from tenants below that you are crossing the line,” the judge stated firmly.

“When you have learned that community living involves others, not solely your self and/or your girlfriend, you will be released from your lease by circumstances and forces greater than yourself and you will go on to become a better neighbor in the next location.”

Mr. Abrams’s expression of puzzlement was astounding.

Taking the cue, the judge “dumbed down” his ruling.

“In other words, Mr. Abrams, while the court has ruled in your favor, it is not because you have been in the right. You have not.

“It is because you have been inconsiderate and unneighborly. Until you learn otherwise, you must remain in your current residence and be subject to remands and reminders from those around you about your transgressions so that YOU might grow.”

“Oh.” It’s all Mr. Abrams could muster.

At 5 o’clock that afternoon, under crisp cloudless blue skies and a full moon, a Judge of Uncommon Fairness & Reason made a seemingly confusing if not convoluted ruling that favored the offender rather than defender.

Yet in his supreme reason, wisdom and insight, he issued a ruled ultimately designed to serve the good of all.

How so?

It meant, for the plaintiff tenant, opportunity after opportunity to speak up on behalf of herself and the sanctity of peace and serenity in her home.

It meant, for the defendant Mr. Abrams, lessons in growing up and mindfulness toward others.

Lastly it meant for humans and future neighbors of Mr. Abrams and his blonde-busty- “what a catch!”-girlfriend a quietude that otherwise they’d never enjoy.

A win-win-win in a landmark case on the books that receives none of its due recognition and applause in the legal profession. Unfair? You bet. As are humans.

At 5 o’clock that afternoon on March 4, an unconventional, even whacky, case was sealed with a reverberating strike of the gavel on its sound block.

The judge rose in dignity ad silence, turned and retreated to his chambers.

At 5:15, after hanging up the black robe on the coatrack in the corner of his chamber, he poured himself a thimble of superb single-malt Scotch and sighed a deep sigh of tremendous and voluminous weariness with the human race. “Why must people be so unfair. So unreasonable. So selfish.”

Sadly, he found no answer in his law books, his compelling wisdom or dignified sips of Scotch.

Hair. Humbleness. Hallelujah.

Write about hair.

March 1 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

Well, there’s Hair, the rock musical of the 1960s. A timeless classic of hippies in love beads, bell bottoms, flowy colorful Grateful Dead dresses and barefoot singing the virtues of free love, sex, Hare Krishna and the Age of Aquarius.

Well, they weren’t always clothed, to be honest. At some point in this rock classic of the psychedelic ’60s, the anti-war flower children got naked.

Back then, it was a radical move. Today, we can see endless selfies of Kim Kardashian naked. Barf. I could morph this into an exposé of culture, of how Americans no longer have shame, no longer value discretion or modesty or privacy but that’d be to sidetrack from the prompt.

Then there’s hair, that protein-based stuff found on heads and bodies. I’m about as non-girly as a girl can get! I’ve never worn makeup (well, except for Halloween costumes). The whole shaving legs & underarms — unnecessary and waste of time; a cultural dictate and “rule” of femininity (allegedly) that interest me not at all.

Don’t even get me started on heels, perfumes and nail polish! Barefoot, soap and biting my nails (a lifelong habit I struggle to break).

And beauty salons — since the topic IS hair — you can guess where I stand on that too! Have never had my hair professionally colored or straightened or permed (ditto pedicure or manicure). I’ve had it cut of course by professional cutters.

Then I’m about the basics.

Wash as long as there’s no extra charge.

Work with the waves and the thickness. No need to blow-dry — though they always insist! If blow-dry you must, then do NOT shape the hair with that curling brush! Let it be itself. Let it be.

I always begin a professional haircut by telling the cutter that I don’t do gels, mousse or any product. I’m lucky if I include conditioner in a regime! I’m wash-and-go.

I don’t own a blow-dryer; I don’t even own a brush any longer because now I keep my hair super-short. And I cut it myself with proper hair clippers. Some 14 bucks from K-Mart. I remember vividly when I bought them. From K-Mart in Tacoma, Washington. The darkest chapter of my entire adult life. When $14 was a LOT of money. A LOT.

I stood for a very long time at that shelf, studying the few clippers available, examining their differences, weighing their features. Weighing whether to spend the very little money I did have on clippers. They were an extravagance, to be sure. A luxury. Anything outside of food and paying the bills was a luxury. Even a cup of coffee was a luxury.

I remember many times of handing a dollar bill or two over to a barista and speaking silent prayers of gratitude that I had that money to spend on a cup of coffee in a cafe. It was a luxury. Those humbling experiences colored my external world in black and reshaped, and eventually lit, my inner world in ways profound, meaningful and enduring.

So it was with those clippers. After about 20 minutes of contemplating the cost, value and affordability, I decided to go ahead and purchase them.

Why in a time of such financial duress and stress?

Because I recognized that those clippers would pay for themselves after only one haircut. With even the cheapest cuts (think Supercuts) going for around $16 in Californicated Washington state, at every three months (I really stretched it out!), it’s expensive. The better choice, and smart one, was reasoned. It was clear.

And so it was with great mindfulness and appreciation for the money in my wallet that I purchased the cheapest hair clippers K-Mart had.

I still have them, some five years later. That won’t sound significant without knowing how many times I’ve moved across states with only what I can get in my Subaru and how much I’ve released than kept! Space is a premium. Waaaaay more things are cut than come-with! (Heck, I didn’t even have a bed for 3+ years but that’s another story.)

But those clippers — still in their original box and the thin plastic cape unused and still in its original wrap — have survived those cuts. No pun intended.

Since I’ve no plans (or desire) to return to the hassles of long thick wavy hair — hair with definite personality and mind of its own! — I’ll likely have those clippers until I die.

If the day comes that I no longer need them (i.e., am rendered unable to buzz myself), then I shall pass them on to someone who can use them. That’s how I am. I hate clutter, which includes things unused lying around. Stuff needs to be used and appreciated and valued — I truly believe that. And if not by me, then another. I truly believe that too.

Funny. When I began this post in response to the hair prompt, initially a whole other direction sprang to mind.; it too a worthy (and colorful) tale.

Yet because I let the writing take me where it wants and needs to flow (with prompts, the more I stay out of the way, the better), I discovered something.

I discovered how much those clippers mean to me. How much I value them to this day, years later and three intrastate moves and countless miles on the road later.

I discovered — or rather, was reminded — of a truth that for me is fundamental. When you’ve been truly poor, you never forget. Even if wealth and riches come your way thereafter, poverty shapes and affects the soul and mind and life view in lasting ways.

For some, impoverishment instills a chip on the shoulder. A sense of entitlement. Of going into the world and stealing and taking what is not yours and demanding and bullying because you feel entitled. “Look at what my parents … white man … society … world … {fill in the blank} didn’t give me!!”

My experience was (and is) far from that. Impoverishment leaves its scars. In my deepest darkest poorest years of lack, I cultivated a gratitude and humility and humbleness that I truly believe now, as I endeavor still to heal, would not have been possible had I not gone through the Valley of Darkness.

Those hair clippers are a memento. More importantly, they are a reminder of where I’ve been. They remind of humility and humbleness.

We’re each hair today and gone tomorrow. (Couldn’t resist.) Between today and gone, I’d like to pay it forward … to give because I received. I reckon one day I’ll have opportunity to cut the hair of someone who cannot afford a haircut. Perhaps a homeless person, perhaps a single mom so struggling that she cannot afford the “cheap” costs of the cuts-n-go shops.

I don’t know when or where. I just know that someday, somewhere, someone(s) will be able to partake of the clippers (with all the different-sized combs to boot!). It would be my pleasure and honor to be of service with humbling hair clippers that cost 14 blessed dollars at K-Mart.


It’s a bird! It’s a fish! It’s Supersea!

Close your eyes. Write about what you see.
February 20 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

Azure water.Golden sand. Brown sand saturated by surf. Bold yellow ball high in the sky. Sunny.

Kids shrieking in their fear and their play in the water. I stand where the water surrenders its fierce rolls into laps before disappearing into the wetted sand all together.

I advance 4 steps. My soles sink in as sand becomes like quicksand. Froth and undertow nibble and wrest for a hold of my my ankles. I stand firmly, unafraid. The water is my friend. My element.

A man floats the watery crescendos lying on his belly and paddling offsides like a dog. He’s maybe 20. A grown-up in the eyes of a 12-year-old.

An orchestra in weird harmony. Continous high-pitched shrieks and blows of shootings from kids, like horns from the whale’s blowhole, contrasting with the rhythmic roar of the ocean.

For my petite and skinny stature, I am a strong swimmer. Unusually strong even. I have no fear of the water, even now after I’ve ventured in fully. I understand the water and respect it. Even at my young age, I understand the power of water and her undertows and not to challenge them. I would lose as would most anyone.

Deeper into the ocean, the currents twist and turn and change directions abruptly. There is no policeman or traffic control beneath the surface of the water! Their willy-nilly forces tumble as they will. No man can destroy the forces of water neither should he try. He shall be defeated, ultimately, even fatally.

I plunge head first into monster waves. Well, monstrous enough. They’re not the 50-footers of Hawaii but they’re certainly big enough for fun rides. I love the science of riding the waves. Treading water, studying the wave out there as it comes closer and closer to shore. Rolling. Gaining swell. Gaining momentum. Each pull only pulling more and more for or speed and height. As if water’s imploring, “hey everyone, come along on this ride!!”

Sheer delight. As the wave forms before my very eyes, anticipation only mounts! The dynamics of waves formation are fascinating to watch! But, much as I’ve got an astute observant researcher within, it’s not the researcher who’s here to play! It’s me!

I await that moment where the base of the wave is at its maximum swell and its curve at maximum height but not yet broken into its inevitable fall. That moment where all forces converge into a stellar harmony. A symphony of the sea.

I plunge forward — a dive into glory! Head, arms, legs, feet, all given over to the wave. I let go. The wave flings me up in her forceful arc. I’m a bird in flight! Alighted atop the curve of her neck, I ride, effortlessly. Then all too quickly the flight is over. She thrusts me back to earth, speedily and in no uncertain terms! Unmerifully even! Suddenly I’m a sock in the washing machine. My eyes are shut and mouth closed to keep from gulping rushing salty water. It happens sometimes. Oh well. All in good fun!

All in the world is tempestuous churning water. That is all that is in my world! Her roar fills my ears. No sound but the apex of her symphony.

Gradually, predictably, her frothy wrath — the sea only SEEMS angry, she’s really not — subsides, unwinds, calms into the inevitable meeting at the shore. There, the wave may leave her mark as bubbly froth along the shore or vanish into grains of sand, never to be seen again.

I may gallooop out but only briefly to regain my footing, turn to face the sea and press back in over and over and over! There is no joy like the ocean and merging with her waves! Better than any ride at the fair or a carnival!

Am I an amphibian trapped in a human body?! Or part fish and part bird?! Perhaps! Kinda like the mythical phoenix who rises time and time again from the ashes of fire … only in my case the water instead of fire? Very probably!

When I close my eyes, I see the place from which I came and from which we all originated, mammals that we are. I see too the place to which I’ll return in the form of ashes, when my time on Earth is up.

I’ve no fear, only the greatest respect and regard for the water who birthed us and nourishes us still. She is my orchestra of ever-moving and seemingly clashing forces all come together in one marvelous, outrageous, divine symphony that not even Mozart could write — though he may well try!

When I close my eyes, I see the place where I began and the place where I’ll end up before I resume my astral journey in other galaxies. I see a symphony. I am at peace as the waves thunder in my ear.

Romancing the Stone — with a Twist

Open the box.

February 17 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

It’s not what she expected, Marilou.

When Sam dropped to one knee and presented a box balanced on the fingertips of two hands held aloft, her heart went a-flutter. Just like in the Danielle Steele romance novels she consumed along with her favorite munchies, bags of buttered popcorn, at her side.

A royal blue velvet case. Just like in the movies. Just the right size for an engagement ring. Or a pair of emerald earrings.

How would she disguise her disappointment if they were those instead of the ring? She’d cross that bridge if she came to it and prayed it wouldn’t.

She and Sam had been dating, what, about 2-1/2 years now. Is he in or is he out? It’s about time he make a commitment. It’s about time he got SERIOUS about their relationship. Their future.

She ruminated on these thoughts a thousand times a day.

It’s about time they both settle down. Find a house. Start a family. All those things that people do. That you’re supposed to do. That’s normal to do, she thought.

How sweet he looks there, on his knee. Totally disregarding his slacks getting soaked by the day’s early showers resting now on the street. Just like in the movies. Just like in those romance novels.

“Marilou,” he said, holding the velvety box aloft and looking her directly in the eye. “You know I love you. You know I love you like I’ve never loved anyone else. Well, except for Rascal.”

Marilou smiled. Yes, he certainly loves that big goof. A motley mutt mix of, to the best of anyone’s guesstimation, muscle-y Rhodesian ridgeback, lab and boxer. That big goof goes everywhere with him. “Surprising he’s not here with us now!” she thought.

Her future fiancé — Marilou was just about that certain that a proposal was in the works — loved that dog to death. But that’d change once they were married. She’d teach him. She’d train him to love her more. Or at least to put her first. Put her before that dang mutt.

“I’ve been trying to give this to you for a while,” Sam said from their spot on the sidewalk in front of the cafe.

The cafe where they first met. He seated at a table with a cappuccino and his head buried in a magazine. A dog magazine of all things. “Figures,” she thought in retrospect. “He’ll outgrow that, once we’re married. He’ll learn to put me and family first, once we’re married.”

Marilou cheered her good fortune at a table emptying next to the man with the magazine just as she paid for her latte. Snagged the seat. Struck up a conversation. And the rest is history. Just like in the movies. Just like in the romance novels she devoured.

“I finally got the nerve,” he said, an unmistakeable bashfulness briefly sweeping across his face. “Here, I’d like you to have this.”

“For me?!?” she cooed. She even batted her eyelashes but he didn’t notice.

Sam glowed as she received the fuzzy box. With anticipation dripping from her every pore, she took hold, prepared herself to remember this very special moment and flipped the lid. Just like in the movies. Just like in the romance novels.

She was stunned. Incredulous even. “What’s this?!”

Grinning with all the pride of a 10-year-old boy presenting his mother a bouquet of wildflowers that he himself had picked from the nearby hills, he answered gleefully.

“That’s a rock … what’s left of a rock, I should say … that Rascal chewed. Down to the nib. It’s the first rock I ever threw for him way back when he was a puppy on our first walk.

“He carried that rock around in his jowls for that entire walk! Refused to let go. Except for me to throw it. Again and again! It was like his tennis ball, ya know?”

“No, I don’t know,” Marilou glared in her mind. She feigned ignorance with a shrug.

“He carried it home, so proud, this little goof with a rock half his size. After that, he’d lie around gnawing that thing down to the bone,” he reminisced lovingly. “What a guy. I kept it all these years. Sentiment, I guess. I just love that Rascal. Now I want you to have it.”

Marilous was speechless. Well, she was receiving a rock all right. But it looked nothing like the one she envisioned or that every girl dreams of. Such was her conviction.

“Definitely not like in the movies. Not like in the romance books,” she fumed.

Her impulse was to take that gnawed-down rock and heave it mightily against the sidewalk in front of the cafe where they’d met, cracking it into a million pieces. “THAT’D show him!”

But a blip of her higher self intervened. Stopped her. And thank God because it’d would’ve broken Sam’s heart in a million ways and he’d never recover.

She snapped the lid shut. Handed the box over. Smiled and said: “Perhaps you should give this to your dog instead. You two would make a very lovely married couple.”

Then she stormed off, leaving Sam dumbfounded, speechless and immobilized still on one knee.

Funny how most things do work out in time.

Marilou and Sam each recovered from their split.

She ended up finding her perfect dream man. Of course he was nothing of the sort. Marilou never truly knew or saw him at all. With her rose-colored glasses, what she saw — and married — was the dream man straight out of the movies and romance novels.

And Sam, he came out the real winner. He and his big goof.

He and Rascal shared a true friendship. They were the best of buddies. Genuine, soulful, unconditional love both ways, fun, playful and honest. Always there for each other. Always listening to each other. Never calling each other shitty names or making hurtful judgements, accusations, false statements and all the rest of the crap that comprises most marriages.

And just for sentiment, Sam placed that box, with the lid opened to display that chewed-to-the-nib first rock that he’d thrown, the rock that had begun a bond and lifetime companionship, on his dresser.

Time to time he caressed that rock, just a little with the tip of a finger. He never thought about the bitch who’d try to sink her catty claws into him — her projected image of him as husband straight out of the movies, out of the romance novels.

He and his dog had a bond that was healthy. Full of good and replete with joy. He felt like the luckiest man alive.

He would never be boxed in by a woman and her watershed illusions or delusions.

And he would never close the box that held the rock that to him meant more than any diamond from a jewelry store — be it inside or outside of a romance novel.

the kiss we remember isn’t always the first.

Write about a kiss.
February 1 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

He lay on the mattress. On top of a piece of plastic and a sheet. He hated that plastic. Only reminded him of his infirm state of body. Most days he was lucid. However, he slipped in and out of consciousness. Felt confused, disoriented, illogical. An effect of the drugs. Only God knew how many chemicals coursed now through his body. Except the man, clear-thinking or otherwise, didn’t believe in God. So no one knew how many drugs to fight off the cancer were in his body. The doctors lost count.

He was a proud man. A smart man. A severely stoical man. His was a life of severe abuse. He had survived it. Or had he? Yes. He lived through it. Came out alive. But at what costs. Many many many. Too many. He wouldn’t talk about it. He probably didn’t even known himself how many.

He shifted slowly from his back to his right side. The plastic cover crinkled. It pained him, the slight movement as much as that sound. Yet another reminder of his infirm condition.

Life was draining from his body. Cancer was taking it all away. Aggressively. Inarguably. The man who had dictated life, its ways and means according to HIM to so many — his children, his wives, sometimes even friends and relatives of his wives’ families — was now being dictated to. Ironic. A turn of the tables. A taste of his own poison, so to speak. Just as he had dictated to and forced his will upon others, he was now being dictated to by forces stronger than he. By a disease that refused to surrender. An illness that marched through the whole of his body and mind.

The illness was brutal. A half-million soldiers under the command of a cruel general. It took no prisoners. The man himself was captive to forces greater than himself. Was at the mercy of all the rage inflicted on others through his lifetime. Especially those he loved.

“That’s more comfortable,” he thought, once he accomplished that shift from his back to his right side. A seemingly simple move of considerable exertion for the sick, the elderly and the immobile. Even the seemingly simplest of turns in bed taken for granted by most people can take 5 to 10 minutes. A turn or two can mark a major achievement in a day for the debilitated and the demented.

Gratitude for having at least some strength left to move one’s self on one’s own with no help from a nurse or doctor or partner or caretaker? Perhaps.

Gratitude for still being alive? Perhaps. But what if it’s accompanied by crushing pain. Debilitated drugged-up existence. Muscles atrophied by cancer. No recovery in sight now. Ever.

Is the cost of “staying alive” worth the costs? The enormous costs of doctor and hospital visits and drugs and more drugs and medical tests and studies. On and on and on the list of expenses. Just to “stay alive.”

“This is not life,” he said to himself. The initial comfort of lying on his right side slowly gave way to discomfort. Stiffness. Immobility. He was a man of mobility. He HATED this immobilization. More than anyone could understand except his daughter, one of his two, who was just like him. Had inherited the Mobile gene. Take away mobility. Motion. And life for those two was over.

He felt it through his morphined-up body and mind. At least now he was relaxing. Experiencing some streams of peace through the torrents of ravaging pain of the months, the agony of cancer eating away at him. And eating him alive from the inside out.

Yes. The streams of peace expanded within. Like air they felt. Like the soft rides along the airstreams. His mind had last-minute recollections. Flashes from the life he was leaving behind. He would miss his wife. He would miss his dog. He would miss riding the airstreams as he had countless occasions in an airplane he no longer had.

Except that he was gliding on those currents, the winds that he loved, when death came to him with a kiss.

Yet another reason to hurl the heels!

The end of the day
January 29 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

About 10 seconds to get it together. Jump out of business attire — good riddance gray pencil skirt, button-up white blouse, matching gray blazer, hosiery and heels. Heaped on the bed, not even hung up. No time.

Slings herself into her real clothes. Baggy blue sweatpants, faded red T-shirt from a 1978 Van Halen concert and Adidas.

Hurry hurry! Veronica pushes herself. Quickly checks her phone. 6:58. I’m gonnna be laaaaaate! I’m gonna be laaaaate! I can’t be late! I’m gonnna be late!

Dashes out, handbag draped on arm. Slams the door. SHIT! Her car keys! Her phone! Visible through the window right where she’d left ’em! On the table!

Now what?! No hidden key. Landlord’s office closed.

Oh shit! Veronica’s shoulders slump. She’s late for the natural birthing class now! The second to the last class too. Can’t miss this one! It’s her lesbian friend Molly who’s due next month. Veronica’s her birthing coach and sidekick.

Shit! Like a kid at a candy store window, she gazes yearningly at the phone lying there so innocently, nakedly and seductively under the bright kitchen light.

She’s gonna be panicking. She’s gonna kill me! Molly’s already in Freak City with the baby due in a month! Less than a month! Weeks! She’s got practically no one! I’m it. Wondering where I am. Calling …

Phone rings. “… about now.

Defeated, back sliding down the building’s side and seating herself on the soil, Veronica tells herself: Plan B. Plan B. Need a plan B.

It’s a ways away but maybe I can still make it if I run. Jumps up and takes off sprinting the 6 blocks into downtown. Thank god I’m in Adidas instead of those hideous heels! Thank god for small favors!

Hand and wrist twisting high in the air. Where are the freakin’ cabs when ya need one?!?

Up and down main street she gallops, holding tight to her handbag. Just what I don’t need, to lose that on top of everything else gone wrong!

Rounds a corner. Spots a light on top of a cab. A block and a half away and heading west like her. At a stop sign. Fortunately a low-speed street.

Can I make it?! Can I make it?! The question of the night. Deep breath. She bolts. Faster than she’s ever bolted since high school track class! Like 12 years ago!

Run legs run! Run! Eyes riveted on the taxi. Closer closer. Legs and arms pumping and still grasping tight the handbag!

YES!!!! Veronica breathlessly pounds on the passenger side window. Startling the driver out of his seat but he lets her in anyhow.

To the hospital! Hurry! Hurry!

Right away, ma’am. Click. Meter on. Wheels turning. THANK GOD!

Traffic flowing, thank GOD! They hit every green light. Thank GOD! I’m late but I’ll get there! Veronica hops out, throws a $20 bill for a ride costing $7.

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! she pushes. And praise these Adidas! A week old and they’ve already paid for themselves, a costly $100 and way more than Veronica would normally spend on any shoes. She was sick of paying for low-quality Payless. Her track shoes were more than a treat, they symbolized her learning to take better care of herself, learning to regard herself with greater worth than she’d experienced in childhood.

Hurry! Hurry! I’m late! I’m late! I’m coming, Molly! I’m coming! Almost there! Racing thoughts and frantic pacing at the elevator. Pushing the button over and over. Like that’s gonna make it come faster!

Poor Molly, all alone in birthing class. No partner to work with. Three weeks from baby. She needs me there! I need to be there! I can’t coach without tonight’s class! I’m clueless! As clueless as Molly! Not like I’ve ever helped deliver a baby before!


Leaps into elevator. Molasses rise to the 5th floor. Hurry! Hurry! A year passes before doors open. Veronica rushes down the hallway. Past the nurses’ station. Past the snack machines. Past the natural birthing center. Rounds the corner. I’m coming Molly! Hold on! I’m coming! Okay, I’m here! I’m here! Two more seconds!

Throws herself into room 514, gasping.

A circle of 8 pregnant women and their partners, all men except for one gal as coach for her sibling, on mats on the floor practicing. Welcome, Veronica, smiles the teacher, calmly, peacefully. A natural birthing teacher.

I’m soooooo sorry I’m late! So sorry! Veronica hurriedly looks around. Where’s my friend? Where’s Molly!

You just missed her. Now, breeeeeeeattttttttheeeee. Deeeeeeep breath in, she guides the class in soothing voice.

Missed her?! Whaddya mean missed her?!

She went into labor about 30 minutes ago. She’s down in the delivery room. Now, exxxxxxxxxxxhaaaalllle, sloooooowly …

Veronica glances down at her Adidas. All right, shoes, here we go. Off they sprint to the delivery center and waiting room, where Veronica’s forced to remain. Because hospital staff are already tending to labor in progress.

Finally Veronica’s allowed to see her friend, new babe cradled in her arms. Such a beautiful sight! Tears, hugs, apologies, stories of Molly’s birthing experience and Veronica’s lockout and hurry to get to the hospital exchanged. Molly laughs through her exhaustion the whole tale through.

And what are you gonna name your gorgeous godsend little boy?

Without speaking, Molly gazes at her sweet baby’s face and looks up at her best friend.

And that’s how, at the end of the day, a baby boy came to be known as Adidas.