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Monday, February 18, 2013

Ride of a Lifetime: The Rotor by Dawn Nevills

Due to popular demand, I am sharing, once again, a copy of "The Rotor" with you.

For those on vacation, or those with children...I hope it makes you giggle...just a little. (You may even recognize yourself....or feel uncomfortably close to possibly being very much like one of the people on it.....!!!!!Smile. )

Have Fun. xo

.......until I have "a moment or two away!!!" Smile.

(Impending retirees beware: you may smile inappropriately, and perhaps feel a need to cough at an awkward time. Grin. lol.)


Barf Moment #1: The Rotor

Ah, yes; my two famous barf stories:

The first happened when I was in my early years. My family and I had travelled to a local theme park amusement camping location, and I had longed - for days - to be able to go on a ride called "The Rotor". (This led later to nine consecutive rounds on Marineland's Niagara Falls, Ontario roller coaster with my two younger cousins, while my grandmother stared, amazed, at us from a nearby bench - but I digress...)

"You'll throw up", said my second cousin Barb, matter-of-factly, with a kindly pat on my arm. I was several years younger than her, and had had to endure endless "fun for the older kid" nights of hiding in one of their bedroom closets, just so I could overhear their forbidden goes at the Ouija Board - which was, of course, banned - and accompanied by severe and dire warnings from my God-fearing grandmother.

"You'll go straight to hell", she intoned, ominously. They all risked perpetuity, and scared the crap out of each other on a regular basis, anyway.

But I have forgotten the vomit...let me resume.

The first foray into culinary projectile as an art form came, as I said, whilst visiting a theme park, with extended family members, and I - despite the kindly warnings of aforementioned cousin Barb, (who has been a nurse for many years now, God Bless her) - became intent on riding on "The Rotor", despite the full breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs, and several bags of red coated candied peanuts which I had nervously ingested, while mentally preparing for what I knew would be just another notch in my bravery belt.

My mother and I approached the ride, and I strode confidently up to the attendant.

"We're here for the Rotor ride", I said smoothly.

"You'll throw up", said the attendant, looking at me shrewdly. He yawned; he had practiced this routine before, I knew. I appealed to my mother, who, standing several feet back, was looking down at the pit that was the Rotor, and knitting her brows concernedly. (My mother has made knitting her brows into an art form. At times they have almost become, as a result, one very long unibrow, looking rather like a stern linear furrow above her eyes, aka Spock, she has knit so prodigiously.)

"I thought it was up in the air", she said, warily. (Rides up in the air didn't seem quite so Satanic, somehow. This one looked positively vampiric, to her mind.)

"No", I replied, comforting her with this wondrous reality. "That means you can't fall off!"
(In strange children's logic, being buried alive seemed, somehow, less dangerous than being flung through the air and into a passing car.)

Mistakenly, I was under the assumption that parents trusted rides that flung you about, as long as you didn't suddenly fly off into space. This one was sort of like gardening, really. Surely they'd go for it! I pressed my case...

"See?It's not scary at all! It's like jumping into the tub, or something. I'll be fine!"

"The sides don't look very sturdy", intoned my Mother. To her, it looked like a pineapple upside down cake pan being primed for implosion. No one was going to bake her kid.

The attendant added helpfully, "Well, it does go up, Ma'am." (Too late, I frowned, trying to signal desperately to him to stop with the airborne information. I waved, frantically, but he continued, while I groaned silently inside....) "Then the floor drops out." (My mother drew in her breath, sharply.) "Then you sort of get mashed up against the wall, by centrifugal force, when it goes around and around a lot."

"Wow!"" I said. "That sounds great!Does anyone get a nose bleed?" I was ecstatic.

"Like mashed potatoes", whispered my mother, horrified.

"Nah", said the attendant. "They mostly just throw up. But only the little kids." He looked at me suspiciously, through narrowed eyes, trying to measure if I was tall enough to reach the cutoff line which was painted on the pole beside him. I stretched out, celery-like, into the afternoon sun, craning my neck in what I hoped was an example of my very TALL maturity, and suddenly developed an overwhelming need to walk, dancer-like, on the balls of my feet.

"Hmph", I said, bored, prancing around, stilt-like. "Don't seem to be any little kids around - or too many people on it, Mom. Maybe it's boring." The attendant glared at me.

"Do you have to go to the washroom?", asked my mother, staring intently at my strange walk. Perhaps I had let go, in my excitement. She continued to stare, worriedly.

"It goes forty miles an hour when it's at full speed", he shot back at me, frowning. "Make sure you empty all your pockets, too." I sniffed, in what I hoped was an aura of great unconcern.

Just then my Dad walked up beside my mother, chewing on his lip, and staring at me worriedly, too.

"Do you have to go to the bathroom, Nibs?"

I shot him a look, standing flat foot, and placed my hands on my hips defiantly. He didn't believe the "gardening I'm a vegetable shooting towards the sky" pose for a second, and the strange stiff-legged walk had him deeply concerned. He thought I had accidentally sat on a nail, or something. I tried to bend my legs slightly, walking around, and almost fell over. I got up, dusted myself off, and vowed never to try walking as if I was on stilts, simply to look taller. My knee hurt. There was a large smudge of dirt on my nose, too, which I did not see, but I could feel. My nose tickled.

"I don't know, Nibs," he said, gently, relenting. "It's only been about an hour since breakfast, you know." Sensitively, he did not add the baleful words, "You'll throw up." He was kinder than that, always. Good old Dad; always understood the pride issue.

"It's like swimming!" I replied, matter-of-factly, reassuring him, with my sudden burst of adult information. "Didn't you know, Dad? Really!!!" (I rolled my eyes, remembering Carol Burnette.)For rides it's more like, er, forty-five minutes...." I sighed, in what I hoped was a longsuffering exhale of breath, which showed I was trying to be patient with them. "I thought parents knew that stuff."

......Surely, that would end it. My parents prided themselves on knowing everything - includng exactly what time I tried to sneak back into the house after secretly sneaking out earlier to go bowling at the all night Lucky Strike Bowlerama Emporium, with two of my friends who lived in the townhouse complex across the park from our house.

Cool parents: they just gently locked the window, put the coffee on, and sat in the kitchen, talking with each other, while they waited for me to have to knock on the front door, when I couldn't get back in, the next morning. These were VERY cool people. They knew the bowling attendant would call the police if we stepped out of the alley. People just did stuff like that, in those days. It was an understanding they had with each other; adults, secure in the knowledge that existed, regarding us kids, somewhere between making a living, and knowing that anyone would understandably suffer serious damage if anything happened to us -  and, as a result, feeling confident that we would all get grounded for three months afterwards. Everything cost something. Everyone liked their limbs where they were. No one messed with your kids - at least that we knew of - and when they did, they suffered serious damage. All of us kids knew that.

"We-e-eee-ll...." he said, doubtfully. I pounced.

"Dad, you know I would never do anything silly to bring harm to myself," I said, easily."That's why you and Mom trust me to babysit, right?".....I knew I had him, with that one. He did, too, because he looked at me, trying very hard not to laugh, and raised one eyebrow, Spock-like.

"Hmmm...." He looked at my mother. "You're not going on that, are you?" he said to her, concernedly. Her eyes went wide at the thought. Both of them started speaking at the same time. "Do you think one of us..."

I stopped them, waving my hand dramatically in the air, silencing their fears, I hoped. You couldn't go on with your PARENTS. How completely embarassing....

"I will go myself", I said, statesmanlike, pausing between the words, for effect. They looked at each other.

"Well, she didn't eat that much," said my Dad, helpfully. Yay, Dad. He made great bacon and eggs: not one speck of grease on the bacon. My stomach gurgled reassuringly.

"Okay," sighed my Mom, holding his hand. "I guess you can go on." She bit her lip.

I leapt into the air, affecting my celery stalk pose, in mid jump, and the attendant, sporting a Punk haircut, suddenly looked interested. "Hey! Cool nosh move!" He blinked, like a mentally challenged owl, and made various signs of approval with his fingers. Not being cognizant of sign language of any kind, in those days - including gang movements - I thought he was having a small motor skills problem with his hands, and shot him one thumb, airforce like, as encouragement, in simplicity of communication.

"I thought you were about to have a seizure", said my Dad, glaring at the attendant."Watch that control stick, young man. If you're going to fling my daughter about in a large tuna can, you had better be prepared to stop, if she starts yelling."

"I won't!" I shouted, thrilled. I wouldn't be caught dead yelling - even if I went flying off into space. Now THAT would be cool... I wondered, suddenly, just exactly how far I COULD fly, if I just held my hands together at my sides, made myself more streamlined, and pretended to be Evil Knievel. I would, I decided, do a somersault at the end, prior to landing, (since I did not have a helmet), and land on my feet, like a gymnast, before flinging my hands into the air in a "V for Victory" sign, like Nastassia Kinski. Of course, I had never actually DONE this before, but it seemed of little consequence. Logistically, it was doable. Silently, I congratulated myself on my superior skill in aerodynamic movement, which I planned to begin practicing, forthwith.

Quickly, I emptied my pockets of my raspberry lip gloss, thirty nine cents, and three sticks of chewing gum - all of which had begun to melt, and were precariously stuck to the insides of my pocket lining. I wrung my hands, trying to get them unstuck, and my mother gently pried the foil paper off of my hand. I licked my fingers, not wanting to waste the mint flavour, clutched the gum, and then handed it to her.

"You can have them, Mom", I said, generously. I knew Doublemint was her favourite. I was feeling generous with the world, all of a sudden. She coughed, struggling desperately to regain control, but narrowly avoiding laughter - which would certainly have made me feel less confident.

I wasn't sure if that sort of Doublemint was her favourite, suddenly, and thought of apologizing for licking my hand first. No; I had cleaned any offending dirt off of the gum - and my hands. She would be fine. I, of course had heard the adage about it taking " a pint of dirt" to actually kill you, and had never actually gone beyond that exact measurement, even when being dared to eat worms one summer, by my Uncle Wayne - who would not eat them himself, of course...Thus, I knew, due to past experience, that I, too, would be fine. I had only actually swallowed about a quarter of a cup of dirt, all told, so I still had a ways to go before I exploded, according to the theoretical measurement criteria.

"See you in a while", I said to my parents, easing past the line on the pole, and waving over my shoulder, nonchalantly. The attendant was nervously checking the speed throttle on the control mechanism, and shooting glances at my Dad. I pointed to the stop button for him, and smiled cheekily, walking past. He glowered.

I stepped down into the pit, and placed myself, Marine-like, feet apart and hands splayed wide, against the wall, daring centrifugal force to attack my stomach, and waited. As I stood there, sardine like, the sun baked the sides of the wall, time passed, and I wondered when there would be enough people to run the ride. The heat in the pit rose to approximately ninetyfive degrees. Sweat began to form on my brow and upper lip, and my shirt stuck to the back of my torso. I looked at my parents, hovering above. My Dad began shifting concernedly from one foot to the other, and looking at his watch.

"You okay, Nibs?" he called, gently, worried. "You look kind of overheated." Kids were like cars, he knew. He turned to the attendant. "Can't you just run it for a couple of minutes?"

"Have to wait for the ride to be full, sir", said the attendant, triumphantly. He knew his job. Little kids did not go on this ride for a reason.

I wiped the sweat from my face. My hair was soaked, and stuck to the front of my forehead, now, in a straight line which revealed my mother's deft touch with a mixing bowl, and the scissors with which I had accidentally cut paper one too many times, secretly. I was sure I looked like a mad brownie - and equally determined that no one would see me melt. (I had actually been kicked OUT of brownies, after the Brown Owl had caught me swearing. Her daughter had peed on my badge project, after all, and I had worked darned HARD on it! SHE had not been kicked out - even after I tried to tell her mother why I was swearing at her, and I defended myself vociferously, much like the group of men who had been working on the roadway, when one of the machines had dumped asphalt over an undug portion of the roadway. It did not help: my parents were called, and after I explained, my father said, quietly, after staring at the Brown Owl, that "obviously I should have been in Girl Guides", with rough comfort. "You'll just have to find something else to do until you're old enough", he said, gently. My father was a real master at appropriate profanity, and I had proven to be a star pupil, when under great duress. I knew he had struggled mightily not to call the Brown Owl's daughter a "little shit". I knew he understood my sadness at the ruined project - which no one but he and my mother seemed to see. I knew that the stupid kid knew where the bathroom was, too, darn it, and it was really WEIRD to pee on people's things when you were a person! Even I knew that. I sighed, persecuted, and exited Brownies.

"Nah, I'm great Dad!" I shot back, trying to breathe in the heat.

"It's not that bad. Are there any people coming on the ride with me?" I sounded astoundingly brave - even to myself. He chewed his lip again.

"Do you want a kleenex?" he said, encouragingly. My Dad was a real trooper. Also, he helped with the laundry, unlike other kids' fathers I knew, and I also knew, that he knew, that I had not yet wiped the cotton candy from my face, and onto my clothes. Soon, I would be tempted to do so, as the moisture poured down between my eyes, and accumulated on my upper lip. He would avert this tragedy, and prove to my mother, once and for all, that I could, indeed, manage to stay clean for more than two hours at a stretch, with the kleenex offer.

"No way, Dad. I'm pretty clean, still!" I yelled, hopefully. (If worse came to worse, I could always use one of my socks, before anyone got on the ride with me. My parents had introduced the "socks and sandals Pierre Trudeau" look, by dressing their children like that, and, as the years passed, people gradually got used to the slightly odd "resemblance to German tourists on holiday" look we all had. Silently, I congratulated them on their wisdom: boy, I had smart parents. My brothers had both ditched the sandals, in favour of various variations in leather and athletic craftsmanship - but not me. No. No; I had proudly carried on the "Got them on sale and they're almost like those really expensive kind, but only last for five months" tradition of fashion prowess, complete with socks - sometimes even in winter, which some people still found truly disturbing. I even made friends with a Korean immigration officer, while in my thirties, while I was teaching there, based solely on the fact that our fashion sensibility matched almost completely, which made the fact that I needed a Visa four minutes before the office closed on a Friday afternoon a very real miracle. But I digress.....

Suddenly, from above, several young people began filing down the tiny step stairs, and into the ride. I was ecstatic, if slightly lightheaded. It would be soon, now, I felt sure.

"You okay?" said one, kindly, looking at me. "Your face looks kind of funny."

"Oh, yah," I replied, scrubbing at the sweat with my forearm. "Great. Kinda warm in here, though." She nodded, feeling the heat envelop her like a warm fog.

She did not need to know that my stomach had begun a sort of moan, in the midst of gurgling, deep in its recesses - and there was no other band member keeping time with the orchestra in there, while Salome and the stomach acid did a slow tango, guided by Satan and his fiery minions - or onions. At that point they were both enemies. What I needed was some major Glenn Miller and a water bottle, or there was going to be some kind of parting, or imparting, and not alot of it, I knew, would contain any known pearls of wisdom, or water........This was no dance, either: this was a basting.

I knew about basting; I had had to do it - at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the other major holidays and special days, where "being able to stand the heat" was a direct reaction to the celebrations that followed this most sacred of tests: the kitchen oven door blast, as you leaned over and squirted something that wasn't quite animal or vegetable over the steaming sacrifcial bird. I knew, instinctively, that that was exactly what was going on in my stomach - and the darned bird was not dead yet, to boot. I cleared my throat, keeping my mouth shut, for safety, and began breathing only through my nose, like a blow whale.

Steam was rising slowly from the floor of the tuna can ride, like a hot springs: so this, I mused, was why mechanics made thirtyseven dollars an least the ones who worked in open garages, with no air conditioning, like the Italian kid's Dad, down the street from us. I wondered if that was why he always waited until after dark to eat, and crossed himself, every time it was sunny, as he went out the door. My Dad just plugged in the fan - which seemed logical to me, at the time, as long as you weren't standing in a body of water. I had paid attention in science class, and learned a thing or two about why my mother stuck those flat things over all the plug outlets. I had only ever tried to jam a fork in one once, that I could recall, and the mild shock seemed just a pleasant, yet gentle warning, about impending death.....

Later, I wondered if my friend's Italian Dad was thanking God for being able to leave the house, to go to the garage, or if it was just his way of counting to ten, and not swearing, as the frying pan came flying past his head, and lodged in the tree beside their side door.

This was my very first introduction to inappropriate sign language, and it was an interesting one, too, when the crossing was quickly followed by his middle finger shooting straight up to the ceiling. Somehow, he and my Dad seemed to bond, in that special, solemn moment of complete disregard, while still being amazingly polite about it. The entire ritual, to be honest, still has a kind of aura of mystery to it, for me, even while waving around my own middle finger, but I felt renewed, somehow, when I was younger and did it; astoundingly strong, and really proud that I had not ruined my singing voice for choir by yelling needlessly at someone. Also, I avoided getting into a huge argument, and yet, managed to make myself feel better about my secret sense of superiority over my own current circumstances. Ah, yes; the finger sign, and its unique therapy.

Anyway, the basting had created its own kind of volcanic mass, at that moment, and it was in MY digestive system. I continued, whale-like, as little bits of spittle flew out of my nose. It made breathing a real challenge. I most certainly must have resembled a possessed poached fish of some kind; bravely fighting the steaming, like a lobster at a fine restaurant, saying its prayers, before the dousing which would prepare it for its ultimate, honourable, destiny. I wondered if Joseph Smith and the lobster had had an understanding - which was also probably why I had gotten kicked out of confirmation class, for asking something like that, once - or if it was just because the plates had landed from space, or something. The pastor said, somewhat acidly, that I was not to take things literally - at which point my rejoinder was that "I was not eating anyone's legs or elbows then, either, that I knew of, anyway, because I understood the difference between taking something LITERALLY, and when we were discussing something in SPIRITUAL terms, and did he think I was stupid, anyway, just because I was ten?"

This happy episode - over tea and wonderful homemade cookies - had the Canon wiping tears away, as I recounted it to him, at twenty-six, whilst gently telling him why I had no intention of taking confirmation classes again; I either got the blessing, or I was history. As he handed me my cookie, while trying not to laugh, he noted that "host" had taken on a completely new meaning, for him, now. I nodded, wisely, and asked him if this was why they called it "checking out", at the final curtain, of if maybe Heaven was really a big hotel spaceship in the sky, and that that was why there were so many rooms in it for everybody - like Star Trek. This would explain the "higher Plane" thing, anyway, to everyone's satisfaction - even Einstein, or Joe Esposito, who still seemed to need to "stick handle" his way there...

He did laugh then - very hard, as I recall. I just ate my cookie, thankful for both hosts, and mindful that I had given myself no longer than three hours in which to negotiate my everlasting safety: this was a Union man, and he would understand, I felt sure. After the basics, a few shared deep thoughts, and my explanation of why I thought I qualified, we were both out of there in one hour and fifteen minutes, with time for a ten minute break. (This is why they keep calling him out of retirement, I feel certain....)The Mormons would have been proud, if somewhat confused.

Anyway, I knew I liked him a lot. He was the only man I knew at the time, who wrote his own Christmas cards - besides my boss, and that really deidn't count, since the secretary kept his list of names up to date for him. He had the worst hair cut of anyone I knew, because he let the secretary's daughter - who was in hairdressing school - practice on him, just to be a good sport, and she cut it so short it made his ears stick out like a garden gnome. I secretly loved him, anyway, like most women in the office at the time, which made work very complicated - especially when my fiance left the country indefinitely to "make something of himself." Plus, he was married, which made life, and work, extremely complicated, yet again. Not wanting to wreck anything for anyone, I left. Unlike my cousins, I was not going to get blamed for ANYONE going to hell - especially a Catholic. I already had the Ouija board guilt to deal with, and I knew I would burst into flame instantly, like a Buddhist, if I ever caused that to happen - even inadvertently, just by being nice. It still didn't count. It would always be your fault, no matter what. Really miserable clerical workers figure that one out really early on.....Plus, the idea of getting more than three hours of sleep at night truly appealed to me, suddenly, as being rather reasonable a concept, and the fact that his wife had asked me to be her personal assistant, too, had my brain - and my heart - in a really screwed up mess. We couldn't very well all marry each other, now, could we? I wasn't gay, and people would have talked. They did, anyway, and all I ever did for a social life was go to church twice a week, as it was. In retrospect, I probably should have had a bit more fun, thanked them both, and asked for a transfer, but such was the life of a contract employee whose contract was extended YET AGAIN, while they waited to "belong", and doomed to train yet another group of "permanent" employees, while they sunk further into dire feelings of employment inferiority....
In between getting post cards from the guy I had hoped to marry, from such stellar locations as Guam, and the North Pole, while he measured the hole in the sky which I sincerely hoped was just a brief opening into the Big Hotel, (which I prayed mightily was not going to expand and burn us all to a crisp)I had a serious lack of outside activities, as a result of dedication to employment. Even now, I find myself crocheting circles, remembering my experience (and loss) with the fight against the OZONE hole. I mean, how do you say to someone, while trying to deal with the sudden death of a car accident, after so long a wait, "Well; it's a tragedy, really. He lost to the Big Hole in the Sky." It's just kind of a weird sort of statement to make, and people look at you in that kindly way that they get, when they think you have temporarily lost your mind, or forgotten your address, or something, just before they pat you gently on the hand, and walk very quickly in the other direction, after offering you soda crackers, or a stale Arrowroot cookie. You just know they think they might catch it, and forget their password to the phone, or their bank card code, or the twelve passwords in various degree of sameness to Passbook, My Face, and various other body parts masquerading as communication forums on the internet. Remember when you called people?

But back to the lunar gardening pit adventure.....

Other kids had begun to file into the tuna can, slowly, as the attendant held his hand across his chin, to see if they would bang into it. (This collision with greatness assured their entrance into the can, and he would make sure they were up to the standard, darn it.)

One stick-like girl, with tufts of blonde hair which stood up outside of the two pigtails into which her mother had tried very hard to cram most of her straw-like hair, had gangled her way into the can while picking her nose, and wiped the found treasure on the wall beside her, as she banged her bottom against the wall, impatiently, waiting for the ride to start. Her matching check patterned top and stretchy polyester shorts - both in a kind of green colour, with several wild, unexpected flowers splotched across the plaid - matched the colour of her nasal treasure exactly, but did not help how I began to feel as she examined it, and then began to spread it out gently, like a science experiment, or seaweed, to dry in the sun, as if it was a bug, or a piece of fine art which had accompanied her, on this most auspicious of adventures. My stomach did not approve.

Turning suddenly, she saw me watching her, grinned conspiratorially, wiped her finger on her shorts, and stuck it back into her nose, determinedly. I put my hand over my mouth, and closed my eyes. I would NOT mess up my outfit by wiping my sweaty face on my shorts, and I would NOT allow myself to imagine the buried treasure dancing with Satan's onions in the pit of my stomach. I felt a drip of sweat fall off of my nose, and onto the floor in front of me, creating a little puddle, which dried immediately.

Suddenly a huge boy with brown hair and a piece of stick candy clutched in his hand, fell into the tuna can, as he missed the last step on the ladder into it, and careened onto the floor. He swore, as the candy fell out of his hand, and smashed onto the ground - and I suddenly liked him a lot. He picked up a few of the pieces, stuffing several into his mouth, and shoved the rest into his shorts pocket. His tummy peeked out for a second, as his shirt rode up and over it, and his belly button appeared to be an "outie", like mine. I liked him even more. I decided he was probably Scottish. I hated wasting stuff, too - and when were you going to get to a place like that again, to be able to buy another one of those things, anyway? Better a piece of it, than nothing. You could pick off the lint later. The friendship was assured when he stuck out his hand, and offered me one of the larger pieces, with a piece of shorts lint stuck on the top, like a little hat.

"It's not dirty", he said, kindly. "There was only a little piece of dirt, and I ate that one." I took the candy, and smiled at him.

"Boy, your face is all wet!", he said. "Did you go swimming?"

Guarding my stomach, and clutching the lint candy, I shook my head, scattering sweat from my hair onto the kids on either side of me. "Ummm mmmm," I said.

"Cool", he said, standing against the wall across from me. I suddenly wished he would stand somewhere else. He could be my friend, I felt sure, if I was just a little stronger, and managed not to throw up on him.

"How ya doin' in there, Nibs?" called my Dad.

"MMMMMMMM", I said, loudly, waving my new friend candy proudly. My Dad squinted, trying to see what I had in my hand. He hoped it wasn't a rock. Maybe I was getting delirious, or something. He said something to my mother, and they put their hands over their eyes, straining to see, like birdwatchers. Suddenly, the engine started up on the ride, and the attendant's hand began to shake, as the throttle began to vibrate with the the sudden rhythmic combustion.

"Last call for Rotor Riders", he bellowed into the hot afternoon summer sun. "Last call for Rotor Riders".

The walls of the tuna can began to hum and vibrate, like a massager - but not in a good way. My teeth began to vibrate against my skull, while I maniacally tried to keep them jammed together, my jaw clenched defiantly. "MMMMMMmmmmmmmmm." I began to blink rapidly, the spittle flying out of my nose, in true blow whale fashion.

"Wow!"said my new fat boy friend. "THAT is cool!" He was looking at my nose.

I smiled a kind of clenched jaw grimace, proud of myself for being interesting to a boy. Boys usually just threw stuff at you, or pulled your hair. Sometimes they stuck worms in your school bag, if they wanted to be friends with you, but that was a test, really, to see if you'd scream, or throw up, or run screaming to the teacher. I just could not let this boy down by losing it, now. I had put crayfish on hooks, and no worm had ever scared me. I had even eaten one, on a dare, once, and one of the other boys on the street - the Minister's son, a hot brunette guy named Brett, with whom I jumped into my Nana's rose bushes while pretending to be a character in Robert Wagner's "It takes a thief" - had even said I was more fun than a boy, and that he might marry me, if I didn't try to kiss him, or something stupid like that. I had to promise not to tell his Dad that we had run through the sprinklers with no clothes on, one time, though....

He had figured everything pretty much looked like that, anyway, so it hadn't been much of a surprise, and I hadn't seemed shocked at the extra equipment, so what was the big deal, anyway? I promised, and we continued to run daring missions through the brambles of my Nana's roses, appearing as if we had fought our way through the fiercest jungles, and tangled with huge long-clawed creatures, from whom we had emerged, victorious, after a long and arduous battle....

One time I got a flower stuck in my shorts, and almost ripped the stem off of one of the roses, until Brett picked it off, so I wouldn't break the flower - and we always covered up our footprints by smoothing out the dirt with our hands, too, adventurers that we were. Jumping off of the porch, and over the rose bushes, was a real challenge - especially off the porch, when there was only a small patch of grass in front, on which to land. The Airborne unit would have been truly impressed at such skills, honed in ones so young. I only broke my arm once, and I think maybe it was just cracked, because it only hurt for a couple of weeks, so I didn't even tell anyone!Who wanted to wear a frigging cast in the summer!? As long as you didn't hit it against anything, it would befine, after a while...Sylvia Zimmerman down the street had said that, after she fell out of a tree, and she hadn't told anyone, either, because she had getten into trouble twice already for doing it. I celebrated feeling better by cutting my own hair with the garden shears, just before we were supposed to have our pictures taken, for Miss Begg's kindergarten class. I could not understand at all why my mother had burst into tears. I thought I had done a really good job, considering my arm was probably broken, plus I saved her money, too! Yay!

Stupid rose. I'd never miss again, jumping over the dumb thing. I would celebrate by cutting my own hair, so my mother would see how grownup I was, now that I was able to at least partly use my arm again, without it hurting. Brett just yelled "higher" or "lower" when the blades went off kilter a little, when my arm twinged, and I couldn't really reach properly. What a friend!

I missed him. We had moved, and I sometimes got mixed up with the streets, walking home from school, without him to walk with me. One time I missed the turn, and had to walk all the way around Ramsgate, past people with a scary dog, which reminded me of the one who had knocked me backwards, while sitting on the the front step of my nana's, and then eating my popsicle off of my face, while I laid there, temporarily unconscious. It was a Dalmation - as opposed to "damnation", which was what my Boppa had said when he waslked out onto the front porch and found me there, laying on my back, with the dog sitting on my chest.

I got over it by going to see the Disney movie, which was a cure-all for everything you were afraid of, including guns and large roosters, in those days, and I liked dogs, but my head still hurt, sometimes, if I hit it hard, like I did the day the dog sat on my head. When I hit it again, after flying through the air while running down the street and tripping over the upturned and broken sidewalk, my Boppa threatened to sue the city, when my head grew a large egg in front, my eyes swelled, and big black circles formed under my eyes, like a football player. Brett said I looked like an alien, and I had weird dreams sometimes, after that.

Eventually, the egg flew back to heaven, but my head still did weird things sometimes, and when people felt bad, I could always tell. It made me sad. Also, I was a little worried that lmaybe what Brett had said was true, and that I had turned into an alien, as punishment for jumping over (and into) my Nana's rose bushes, and running through the sprinkler naked with a Minister's son. I hoped being an alien meant that he would not go to hell, as a result. It seemed fair, if I was an evil temptation. He had just felt bad for me, and patted me on the shoulder, because I didn't have a boy pee thing - plus, my face made me look like a large bug, which was really kind of cool, and he was still genuine about taking me to school to be his show and tell exhibit for one day. I couldn't figure out why I had suddenly turned into an evil alien, but I guessed I would just have to deal with it, that's all. I could still pee standing up, too, but I had to be more careful about the aiming part, since I didn't have as much equipment. You had to compensate.

...thus, when I streaked out of the whirling can, having looked around bewilderedly, like everyone else, at the various remnants of bacon and egg pasted on to the wall, like bizarre artwork at a food fight, following the final and cleansing intestinal exhale which was the result of ...oh, so many things, that day.....all I could think of was my parent's intuitive love, when my mother looked at me, and said, very quietly,

"It was you, wasn't it?", Dad handed me a tissue for my face.

I nodded, looked up at him, painedly, and intoned, "It is finished", while spreading my hands apart. Then I sighed.