On and On
By Jacquie Roland
I’ve lived to be older than my mother. My most vivid memories of her are from when she was half the age I am now. Little girl stuff. (Memories are funny things, selective.) I didn’t know her as an old woman because I left home very young, moving to that far off country I had been struggling to get to since leaving her womb, I suppose. It’s what a girl does. What this girl did at least. Lately though, just in the past few years, I see my mother — the woman I remember — half reflected in my car’s side mirror, or a store window. Sometimes she’s just passing by as I gaze out the dusty windows of a bus in a town she’s never been to. It’s her. She’s still the same age she’s ever been. We’ve switched places in some way. She’s much younger than I am now, her hairdo charmingly old fashioned, her clothes much brighter than the ones I wear now, as I prepare for old age. (Or pretend to, at least) How strange. These glimpses of her — and it IS her — have made me realize that somewhere, in years to come, I’ll be seen shopping in another town, walking along a sunny beach, or standing on a street corner, under an awning, perhaps, protected from a sudden spring downpour as YOU go driving by. The windshield wipers will “whick” “whick” “whick” and suddenly, I’ll be there, younger than I am now, brighter . . . no longer grey. I’ll be like her — like my mom — always looking for smiling eyes in the rain. Forever. The woman who brought me into the world before I knew what the world was, has returned in some weird way, perhaps to help me leave as my time draws near. It goes on and on. She taught me that. She’s still teaching me.
Copyright © 2012 Jacquie Roland.
Jacquie Roland is a painter, assemblagest and cartoonist. Her past lives include Art Director, Graphic Designer, actor, jingle writer, playwright, photographer and clown. Lately she has been entering HALLMARK Card Contests. Her two wins so far, both of which were chosen to be sold in stores, are also available on their website. Two other submissions, one poetry, one prose, won a place in the Hallmark book THANKS MOM, which will be published next year.
Doodlemeister is looking for short memory pieces of up to 1000 words, on any subject, in any style — as long as it happened to you. We have a bias for the lighthearted tone, but good writing is more important. And if need be, we’ll help you to edit and/or cut your piece. If you’d like to submit a story, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I was married in 1960 and divorced in 1967. Since that divorce 42 years ago — except for one 15-year live-in relationship that was marriage-like (or, if you prefer, marriage-lite) — I’ve been happily single. When someone asks me if I expect to ever marry again (which happens pretty often even at my advanced age) I usually reply that I would at least consider it, on one condition. I may well marry for the second time, I say, but only if I can find a woman who understands me — and is willing despite that.
Copyright © 2009 Jim Sizemore.
By Maria Garriott
There’s no doubt that Barack Obama’s ascent to the presidency is an historic event—finally, after years of second-class status, discrimination, and dismissal, a basketball player has reached the highest office in the land. My Democratic friends are one step shy of hysteria, believing this is the Second Coming, if not of Jesus, than at least of Abraham Lincoln. My Republican friends are so gloomy they make Eeyore look like a Steelers cheerleader.
And except for a few appointee’s unpaid-taxes snafus (and really, it’s so easy to forget to declare a few hundred thousand or so), Obama has had no major missteps. But I’m having a hard time getting used to him in the Oval Office, whether he’s wearing a tailored business suit or really cool gym gear.
He’s younger than me.
How can the president of the United States be my junior? Isn’t the leader of the free world supposed to be a father figure—or, like Dwight Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan, a grandfather figure? Shouldn’t the commander-in-chief be someone you can look up to in a chronological way? Not your kid brother?
How can he be old enough to be president? He was born in 1961, when hula hoops were hot and skateboards had metal wheels. When John Glenn circled the Earth in a capsule the size of a port-a-potty, Barack was spooning in Gerber applesauce. When John F. Kennedy was shot, he toddled around in diapers. (I, on the other hand, was in kindergarten and got to eat in front of the TV and watch the Kennedy funeral, an unprecedented violation of accepted rules of dinner engagement.) When our cities erupted in riots in 1968 after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, assassination, he was seven, and just learning how to button his little bellbottom pants. How can he be old enough to have his finger on the button?
I knew it would come to this. My mother used to intone, “You know you’re getting old when the cops and doctors are younger than you.” I hit that milestone twenty years ago, and I’m still feeling the shock waves. When a cop stops me for a broken tail light or making a left turn that is a tiny bit illegal, I invariably look into his just-started-shaving face and want to say, “Hon, does your mom know where you are?” I remember the first time a gynecologist stopped being my father’s age. I switched doctors.
I got new glasses this week—just for distance and driving at night, but probably the last pair I’ll get without bifocals. “They make me look old,” I lamented. Then I realized that it wasn’t the glasses, but the clarity of corrected vision. There’s a reason retouched photos have that blurry look.
Obama, you’ll note, doesn’t even have to wear glasses.
Now that # 44 has been sworn in, millions of baby boomers—women as well as men, now, thanks to Hillary—look in the mirror every morning and say, “Well, chump, if you had studied harder, and laid off the Bud Light, it could have been you!” Boomers, who aren’t aging gracefully as a demographic, will wake up and smell the latte, and feel the sting of Missed Opportunities.
Still, I wish him well. We need fresh thinking, and someone to galvanize Americans into giving their best to our country. I just hope he brought his hula hoop to the White House.
Copyright © 2009 Maria Garriott.
Maria Gariott tries to find humor everywhere, including in her day job at Johns Hopkins University and her five (count ’em–five) children. In 1980, she and her husband moved into a struggling inner city neighborhood to start a multi-ethnic church. Her memoir A Thousand Resurrections: An Urban Spiritual Journey is what you might get if you cross Seventh Heaven with Homicide or The Wire. A preview chapter, bio, and ordering information are available on her website http://www.athousandresurrections.com, which you can reach by clicking her name in the blogroll link in the sidebar. I met Maria in one of the many writing groups I’ve participated in over the years. (My first such class—I do believe—began and ended before Maria was born.) As you see, she’s a very clever essayist for such a young person and I’m very, very proud to have her on this blog.
Jacquie Roland, a writer of wonderful blog comments on some of my posts—several of which we’ve turned into posts in their own right—has sent a short personal essay via e-mail this time, occasioned by the death of the 1950s sex symbol, Bettie Page. Miss Page (no “Ms.” in those days) was the “IT” girl for pre- and post-pubescent guys like me, and Jacquie thought that I might like to know about Bettie’s passing. She was so right, of course. In fact, when I received her e-mail I merely had to look over my left shoulder to see a favorite picture of Miss Page pinned to the wall. (I’ve reproduced it here.) Enjoy that image (click on it for a larger view) and the delightful word images Jacquie creates in her memoir.
By Jacquie Roland
Bettie Page died December 11, 2008, at the age of 85. For young men of a certain age she was the most beautiful, exotic, woman they had ever seen. She filled their every fantasy. Those boys—men now— must have felt a certain pang, a loss, when they saw her obit in the New York Times. They couldn’t have forgotten her. How do you forget your youth?
In recent years, Bettie had become a cult favorite. Websites, books and calendars were devoted to her. In her 80’s, she again had fans who remembered her heyday, when they were all living high. A movie THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE, starring Gretchen Moll was well received , as were several books, telling her life story. I hadn’t given her much thought until I saw the listings in BUD PLANT’S ART BOOKS catalog. It was then I remembered the woman in the fishnet stockings and the whip that had been taped inside notebooks, and on the back walls of gas stations when I was a kid. No thought of “PC” in those days. Ladies would just look away.
There always seemed to be two pinups, now that I remember… Bettie Page and Jane Russell… one in little or nothing, and one in the most incredible sweater. Both were sex symbols, both world famous. Although I wasn’t sure about the sex symbol stuff, even as a child, I understood fame. Jane Russell was a famous movie star, Bettie Page a famous model, or “Pin-up”, as we called them then. Her claim to fame was her body and , for their day, her provocative poses. And they were provocative… enough so that she was called to Washington by no less than Estes Kefauver to testify in his anti- pornography campaign. Both women went through what could be termed ” a bad patch” as adults, but came out whole on the other side. Both became Born Again Christians. Read their biographies.
Ms. Russell had a more secure upbringing than Ms. Page, to say the least, but both ended up being married three times. Neither woman could conceive a child. Bettie had no children, while Jane had three. She adopted two boys and a girl. I never met Bettie Page, but because Ms. Russell was an adoptive parent, and because she founded WAIF ( World Adoption International Fund), I met her in Washington, DC during the CHILDREN GROW BETTER IN FAMILIES adoption initiative, under President Reagan. A staunch Republican and adoptive mother, she would be the perfect keynote speaker. Would she come to Washington, and help out her old friend Ronald Reagan? I hung up the phone happily… she would.
The day she was to speak, however, I was panicked. The “green room” was full, the Great Hall of the Health and Human Services building was as well… and no Jane. The other celebrities were waiting to go on, and time and celebrity waits for no man ( or woman) but she was nowhere to be seen. When I rushed out of the green room one last time, I saw guest Art Buchwald look at his watch. The kids from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE , Melissa Gilbert and the Laborteaux boys, were getting restless. Will Sampson, the American Indian actor who was so good in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST was talking to baseball great, Steve Garvey. They were all wearing that ‘lets get this show on the road’ look. Time was, in fact “a-wasting”. I literally ran out of the elevator into the Great Hall. Nope, none of the greeters had seen her. My god… a no show… I was about to lose my job. …. But then…In the middle of that vast room stood Ms. Russell, (to this day in my mind’s eye) in a sunbeam, surrounded by a nimbus cloud. A perfect angel in a belted, print, no nonsense dress and sensible pumps. She was older, of course, but who could miss her? She was a queen… a real celebrity… every inch a star.
My greeters, sweet, lovely and handsome youngsters had each been given her bio, so that they could answer intelligent questions and in fact were looking for the Jane Russell of THE OUTLAW, cleavage ‘down to there’, or at least a Madonna look-a-like. No official greeter was near, in any case… they were still craning their necks out the front doors. I feared that “my “star was not prepared to be swept up by some small, panicked art director, but that is how it was. I said the first thing that came to mind, to put her at ease… I may have been less than truthful, but I was quick. “Ms. Russell, Mr. Buchwald was just asking about you… may I take you to him?” Which I did, when I got her downstairs I opened the green room door and said “Mr. Buchwald, it’s Ms. Russell, sir, she’s here.” Art Buchwald, Pulitzer Prize winner, took his cue like a man from Central Casting, and introduced her to the others. Perfect.
I spoke to them both several times that day, saw to their welfare, took care they were both filmed and interviewed… and though I don’t remember a word of her speech… I do remember that it was spectacular. Years later, I heard that Art Buchwald was ill. While still working for the Reagan White House I had the opportunity to call on Mr. Buchwald now and again for small favors. He was always gracious. I wrote him, reminding him of those days on Capitol Hill. I finally asked if he remembered what he and Jane Russell talked about that day. He wrote back July 20, 2006:
Dear Jacquie, thanks so much for your nice letter and reminding me of my tete-a-tete with Jane Russell. I cannot reveal what we said to one another, WOW, was I living high at that time. Love- Art Buchwald
I could almost see the twinkle in his eye, as I read the words. Yes, Mr. B, we WERE living high, weren’t we? Mr. Buchwald died January 17, 2007. Ms. Russell, now 87, lives in California. And lest you feel mislead by this post’s title—to me, there is nothing sexier than a kind, intelligent, witty man. That gets me every time. And I’m willing to bet that is why men were so drawn to Bettie Page… she was intelligent, and had the twinkle in spades. The leopard skin helped, though. I do so wish I had also met Bettie Page back then, but meeting two out of three iconic sex symbols in one day…not shabby.
Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.