Friday, January 10, 2014


During a visit from my cousins from Minnesota this past Christmas we sat down to watch a couple of DVD's my brother had put together using family photos and video taken when we were kids; the kind of thing that warms your heart, especially during a holiday reminiscent of those past.

At some point during our DVD frenzy and having viewed some footage of myself at about 4 or 5 years of age climbing into a T-bird and onto the lap of a kind looking gentleman who I can only recall as Fred, a friend of Auntie Camille, I retold my story of how I remember Fred as being such a nice guy and how he had given me my Bear.  How I remember that, I do not know.  In fact, I now doubt whether I actually do know.

Bear has been with me for such a long time.  Of all the toys my father slipped past me and into the arms of other children or more likely the trash bin, Bear managed to stay.  He's had the honor of sitting on many a new bedspread or off to the side on a chair or nightstand. I'll admit there were times he quietly sat in the closet just waiting for me to take him out, brush him off and find him that special place in my room again.

He's been subject to the drool of many a baby whose mother arrived at our home without a toy in hand.  And when I was much younger, I assure you Bear found himself battered and thrown against the wall for the sick pleasure of my brothers who never considered the effect on Bear whatsoever.  In fact, I can tell you that about 5 years ago, one of my brothers upon visiting me, came across Bear and felt it necessary to re-enact the crimes of his youth by throwing bear to the wall full force in an unforgiving display of immaturity!

My poor Bear.  I fear I have, in my confusion, lied about your story for so many years, it's time to come clean.  You see, I have been sorting through photos for some time now and today came across a photo that I have seen many times but never really studied at length.  

If you take just a moment to analyse this photo, you will see for yourself how one brother emotionless holds me down while the other is red handily pulling bear from my grip; his tongue hanging out of his mouth is proof of how difficult a task it was for brother. I have no doubt this was the beginning of the many abuses Bear would be submitted to but also explains how he never complained when I stuffed him in my closet, sometimes months, maybe even years at a time.

I apologize Bear and admit, the story I fabricated about Fred giving you to me was never meant to strip those years of faithfulness away from you.  This photo was taken in 1956, probably years before Fred ever arrived on the scene.  I suppose I was trying desperately to forget the years you were silently subjected to the two hoodlums who are probably at fault for the eyelashes you are missing and the bite someone took to remove the end of your tongue not to mention how often they threw me to the ground, tickled me until I begged to be freed lest I pee on them, jumped from behind doors to scare the living daylights out of me and found pleasure in tackling me to the ground in the backyard treating me as if I were one of the guys. Poor us, Bear, poor us.  

As I look at you today, you seem to be at peace with the fact that much of your fur is missing.  I hope you forgive me for leaving you with such ugly scars from an inexperienced hand at 
unstitching you, throwing you in the washing machine and putting you back together without the least bit of concern of whether you wanted your tail refilled or not.  

Ohhh, that you could talk to me Bear.  But then, who knows what you'd say...what you'd tell...WHO you'd tell!  For now Bear, enjoy your spot of honor resting in the comfort of my pillows.  And just remember, silence is golden...One bad word and it's back to the closet!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Love the color Purple

Many, many, moons ago I worked at a reception hall on Pine Avenue in Long Beach.  This wasn't any ordinary reception hall.  This place had gone through major restoration as have many of the old buildings in Downtown Long Beach.

The owner had gone through great pains to keep it's original decor and color.  The expense, I'm sure, was huge but the new owner in his determination to keep the building as original as possible worked long hard hours working with the city and all their demands.  Indeed, it was beautiful inside and out but required constant maintenance.

How I landed a job there, I don't recall but my duties were to see that the place was kept clean, deposits were paid in advance, the caterers followed strict rules, wedding parties were set up and cleaned up within the proper time limits and of course, anyone renting any of the rooms were to be kept under control.  The latter could prove to be one of the most difficult tasks by the owners standards of control which, in my opinion, was too controlling.  I did my best without completely ruining the parties fun.

Some days, with the constant running around, I'd be near the point of taking my heels off to get myself up and down those two flights of stairs.  But the only time the shoes actually came off was when I was seated directly behind my desk with no one in sight.

One day I decided to wear a heel a little lower than normal as I knew I had a lot of tearing down/setting up to do and thought they might prove to be more comfortable.  On days when the schedule was as heavy as this, I worked very closely with our head maintenance guy, both of us running up and down the stairs together, apart, crossing paths and sometimes bumping into each other.  So this day it was no surprise that he and I met at the top of the first landing had a quick chat and decided to head down to the office together.  Being the gentleman he was, he allowed me to take the lead.

To this day, I still don't recall what our purpose was in heading down those 2 flights of stairs but I can tell you, the 'trip' was one of the fastest I'd ever made in reaching the bottom.  As I took the lead in my usual chatty manner something in those shorter than normal heeled shoes caught hold of the top stair. What followed next?  Let's just say I could probably teach Slinky a thing or two about how to take the stairs.  I literally rolled and rolled and rolled, came to a small landing, attempted to get up...but quickly discovered I hadn't yet recovered my balance and began the second set of rolls. Barnum and Bailey, here I come!  I could hear the fellow behind me screaming 'Marie! Marie! Marie!' and trying desperately to stop me by grabbing my clothes, hair, arm...well, anything he could.

I'm sure you have great concern for me at this point in my story so let me assure you, there is no need.  I was in hysterics.  Not from fear, or desperation.  More that of someone who had just witnessed the funniest stand-up routine ever.  I just could not get my own image out of my head. My thoughts ran to the Tasmanian devil and Bugs Bunny.  Those crazy cartoons where someone is rolling down stairs and appears as a ball of string.

I get to the middle of the second flight and start to slow down.  The thought quickly comes 'at last, I've stopped' but oh, how wrong I was.  My encore performance is a repeat of the earlier; 'Marie! Marie! Marie!', grab, grab, grab (we've now got this down without the boring rehearsal period except we failed to run through the final bow).  I finally stop sitting straight up, ala Raggedy Ann, with legs wide open.  After a few seconds of uncontrolled laughter I hear the sigh of relief of the poor gent who made every attempt to rescue me, look up and realize I'm facing straight out to Pine Avenue at the biggest window known by man, showing the world my purple panties and tousled hair. 

I get up, check myself for blood and find none.  I think, my nylons must be torn to shreds; nothing. I move around expecting something to hurt, not a pain.
My would be rescuer asks 'why on earth were you laughing so much?' to which I respond 'haven't you ever seen Bugs Bunny?'.

Later that day and through the days that follow, I'm asked by many people who work in the building if I'm ok and how I survived such a crazy fall.  To this day, I don't know how I made it without any sign of injury.  I have nothing to show for my spontaneous, never to be repeated, performance.  My only response then and now is that laughter can get you through just about anything.

Now, I wonder what ever happened to those purple panties??