Do you prefer eating foods with nuts or no nuts?
It depends on what type of food we’re talking about. Grilled cheese, probably not. Almond Joy, definitely. Grape Nuts…I’m conflicted.
If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?
My life is a soap opera/dark comedy; no doubt about it. Always has been, always will be.
Who talks real sense to you?
Do you have a favorite board game?
Scrabble. My mom & I used to play. It was our signature game.
Here’s my entry for Becca Givens’ Sunday Trees.
New Britain, CT
Until the day I die, I’ll never forget them glassy, unblinking eyes.
You know, I’d made that gris-gris—what you all call a Voodoo Doll— myself. Mawmaw taught me how when I was a kid back in Bayou Lafourche. She said that since we were direct descendents of Marie Laveau, it was our legacy. My mama died giving birth to me, so Mamaw was the only one left to teach me.
“Ma chère petite-fille, you have to know,” she said.
Shoot, Mamaw didn’t have to twist my arm! Even then, I realized the benefit of such a skill.
Daddy flipped when he found out. Pooyie, it was bad!
That’s when we moved up to Gentilly and I never did see Mawmaw again.
Sonovabitch, I still miss her.
It was damn lucky for all of us (
most some of us okay, me) that there’d been enough time for her to teach me before I had to go.
Anyway, Daddy got remarried to a snotty broad who claimed to be related to some artiste named Albrecht Drürer, which caused my life to go straight to hell in a handbasket. Wouldn’t you just know that Daddy and my ol’ bitch-faced stepmom started having kids of their own—little blonde brats with washed-out blue eyes and freckles.
Clearly, I was the odd girl out. To Daddy, I was just an unpleasant reminder of a past best forgotten.
Guess that meant he wanted to forget Mama, too.
Well, I’ll tell ya right now that ain’t happenin’.
So…I made the gris-gris.
Last Saturday I followed Daddy to the barber shop. I waited across the street in my car until I saw him come back out.
Then, I beat it in there before anybody had a chance to sweep up his hair.
I will have you know, that, the hounddog barber made me give. it. up. before he’d let me have a lock of Daddy’s hair.
Don’t you worry–he’ll get his.
Just like the rest of ’em done did—
them & their glassy, unblinking eyes.
There are three over-sized concrete steps to navigate before I reach the threshold of the doorway that I always trip over. It’s been there every day, just like me, for the past 30 years and I still trip over the same wayward chunk of rubber. This skid-clunk is my trademark. Snickers here, pockets of chuckles there; they blend nicely with the Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black, vibrating from the jukebox.
I try not to take it personally.
Jimbo is playing video poker to my left, and he gurgle-grunts his welcome to me while slurping his beer—probably a Bud Lite draft since the time is 6:00am: the early-bird happy hour is under way. Bud Lite on tap is cheapest buzz in Mug-Z’s. There’s a stale-beer-musk quality to the air, leading me to believe that it’s time, and been time, to clean the taps.
The soles of my Nikes stick to the tile flooring as I make my way toward the bar and the bartender, Frankie. I know it’s Frankie for two reasons: 1) He always works the midnight shift. 2) He’s the only bartender who marinates himself in Obsession cologne― like a cherry in a Manhattan.
My bar stool is the third one from the left. I like it because it’s one of the few with its vinyl seat intact. Others stools I’ve been forced to sit in when mine was occupied were ripped, causing the foam poof out. It’s uncomfortable because when the foam isn’t evenly distributed my butt can’t get a proper grip. Plus, I can’t help but pick at the stuff because it’s there.
Frankie is right in front of me when I sit down: there’s no mistaking the combination of Obsession and Camel cigarettes. For whatever reason, the Camel manufacturers are proud of their tobacco’s “Turkish blend.” In my mind’s eye, the stench is comparable to the olfactory assault of a garbage truck morphing with a gardenia plantation. Frankie chain smokes; one after the other. The gravel (more like pebbles with a sand-chaser, these days) blends with his Jack Daniels voice to create a crunchy gurgle. When his sister stops by to visit, she’ll yell at him about both the cigarettes and the booze. The tears in her voice are loud. Their father died of cancer, as did most of their other deceased relatives. Although one uncle was shot to death—right here in the bar! We’ll never get the real story on that, which is fine.
The chrome arms of the chair are martini-chilled to perfection: the AC is always on full blast during Frankie’s shift. When I finally scoot up to the bar and get situated, Frankie commences to build my breakfast: a Southern Comfort Old Fashioned with extra fruit. I figure that even though the orange slices have likely been in the fruit tray for well-over 20 hours, the possibility exists that they may still contain a dewdrop of Vitamin C, which is beneficial for me.
Frankie’s muddling the cherries, soda, sugar, fruit and bitters now. He’s on the eleventh muffled thump of twenty-seven. A person can screw-up an Old Fashioned if they muddle too much, or not enough. Frankie knows what he’s doing, but I count anyway. I’ve often wondered if Frankie counts his muddles, or if his wrists and hands are on auto-pilot.
So, I lean my elbows on the bar (mother would not be proud) and wait. The person who sat here last must have been drinking Margaritas: my left elbow is sticky and embedded with grainy pellets. Rose’s Lime Juice is the gummiest goo an elbow can encounter in a tavern—especially when it’s half-dried onto the varnished wood.
There’s the ping of the ice cubes tumbling into my glass, then the glug-glug-glug of my Southern Comfort: My insides grow warm and fuzzy with anticipation.
The first sip of the first drink of the day is the best: sweet, cold fire that sets my tongue a-tingling like the Fourth of July sparklers of my childhood—before the accident that blasted my brother’s arm into the air and smoldered my world black.