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Listen To Your Mother: So I Did

March 18th, 2014


I knew Listen To Your Mother was coming. It’s a nationwide show, and surely one of the productions would settle somewhere near San Diego. I’d tried out before – in Los Angeles in 2011 – but had read something funny, which if you knew me in person, was an unwise choice. Writing funny and reading funny are two very different things, and my forte sits solidly in maudlin and angst anyway. Not to mention, the LA talent was amazing and worthy of the city and no, I didn’t make it.


I don’t want to perform, that’s too out there and visible for me, but because Listen To Your Mother is a live reading series of women and men saying their writing out loud and that action, that flying in the face of fear – for me at least – is an out-of-your-comfort-zone reversal to all the things I’ve thought about myself over the years (I’m good right here doing all the same things, thank you; I can’t speak in public; I have nothing to say), I challenged myself to be a part of it. 


I’d read my writing in front of large groups of people exactly three times. Once at a poetry slam I made myself go to in the late ’90s. In a fugue state of what-the-hell-am-I doing, I polished my 11-line poem, made sweaty copies of it, and drove to an Ocean Beach coffee house (Java Joe’s for anyone who knows “old” San Diego), and waited my turn. The man who organized the slam sat up front and had all the trappings of a literary snob despite the shabby outerwear – or maybe because of it – and paid me no attention. For one, I wasn’t on the slam circuit, for another, I didn’t wear ethnic-inspired headwear or a poncho. I was a blonde, fairly suburban, jeans-wearer who couldn’t stop shaking. Not his type.


I handed in my poem and waited. The performer just before me wore all the tribal wear apparently in poetic style in 1998 and read her words in a singsong voice with perfectly spaced “slam beats.” I definitely was screwed. Because here’s the thing: I’m a writer not a reader. So many people can combine those two things flawlessly, but I’m not in that group. I’m in the group of terrified.


I read my poem quickly and forgettably. I left just the same.


Ever since then, I’ve tried to undo that moment.


Twelve years later, I took some writing to the Creative Alliance conference in 2010 where the Listen To Your Mother creator, Ann Imig, had organized a salon. Along with 10 other women, I took my turn reading a short piece in a darkening outdoor rock amphitheater as rain hung in the air, and again ran through my words. The atmosphere was light years more supportive than the slam, but I still had work to do with myself.


One more time at a Creative Alliance, this one in 2012, I read an essay. I went first and after some confusion realized I’d brought the wrong piece, I read quickly and with no small measure of monotone.


But I did it.


Those four words speak years to me.




In early 2000, I visited Vegas with my husband and another couple. As Vegas is wont to do, it separated the women from the men to clubs and gambling tables, and my friend Mike’s wife and I ended up in a lounge drinking rum and cokes. Soon enough, one of those cheesy Vegas contests sprung up and the emcee glommed onto me because he needed more people to dance to cheers and jeers. I’m loathe to get up in front of people just in case you missed the hundreds of words I wrote before these, but I figured “while in Vegas” and also I wanted to bust through my fear. Let’s ignore the fact that Vegas is not the place to do that, ever.


Either way, I found myself participating in a dance contest with some bona fide hams and had to “wiggle” every time “my” music played. The audience was encouraged to clap for the dancers they liked the best and let’s just say, my wiggling did not have a clapping soundtrack.


I cringed my way through “Let the Music Play” and acted like not myself – the one who cared less whether people liked me and was entirely comfortable in her skin.


It was singularly the most red-faced experience I can remember in recent history.


My only consolation? Vegas. And that I got up and did it.





This year, as I received news that Listen To Your Mother show would be produced in Orange County, I let the idea of auditioning again take residence in my head. But I would be out of town during the try-outs and would have to submit a video and I wasn’t a tech and the whole thing probably just wouldn’t work.


I let the opportunity go until on a Sunday I decided to change my thinking or at least do something in spite of it and so I read a piece, figured out the video end, and submitted.


Here was my final thought, again: I did it.


I had smaller than little expectations of making the show. I’m not a natural public speaker, much less performer. I get too tied up in my words and read them either too emotionally or too removed so I don’t come across as caring so much about what I’m saying.


I also have a weird facial tic. It’s a cross between a squirrel wrinkling its nose looking for acorns and me chewing imaginary gum.


But I did it.


Later, I received a phone call while selling Girl Scout cookies at a local Albertson’s.


I made it.


I have no illusions, but I keep seeing this vision that I hope will carry me through the up-there-in-front-of-people: It’s a shaft of bubbly light sent down from the my mom and my Rebecca and it’s joined by the light sent by all the other people before me who were scared to read their words, but who did it anyway.


And two more words keep coming to me along with that vision: bust through.


I know exactly what they mean.


Time Savers from a Crazy Person

March 4th, 2014


I don’t know what it is exactly – but I turbo hate to waste time on food and person prep. It’s like I just need to get to the next thing, and pesky irritants like using a cutting board to dice vegetables or taking my clothes off to iron them are too distracting. So, I cut corners in the most dangerous and obscure ways I will outline below. Please avoid doing any of these time savers unless you are Houdini’s descendant or a voodoo master skilled in limb reanimation.


Time Saver #1:

Use your palm to cut food.

Don’t use a cutting surface that doesn’t bleed! Slice and dice onions and peppers and cheese and all manner of edibles like even steak and baguettes right in the crook of your hand! Getting out the cutting board take precious milliseconds you just don’t have today. If you get real good, you’ll barely miss chopping off vital artery conduits! Hey, that potato is worth it.

Real life example: I carve off tiny pieces of green pepper right into the pan cooking my scrambled eggs. I wear long sleeves, too. That way, when the fabric dangles into the stove’s fire, my face can blow up.


Time Saver #2:

Iron your clothes when they’re still on your body.

Why would you waste time carefully spreading your clothes on an ironing board or other heat-resistant surface? You’ve got skin, Jack, and while not impervious to temperatures above 200 degrees, your clothes are already on it. Just carefully slide the searing iron down your legs (wear pants for this one) or gently smooth the collar of your shirt still on your neck. Putting on and taking off clothes is so tedious. Also, just sleep and exercise in whatever you wore today.

Real life example: Upon ironing my shorts naturally still upon my person, I went too far with the iron’s tip, forever blazing a triangle scar on my upper thigh.


Time Saver #3:

Don’t fully put on your shoes. Or wear someone else’s that are too big so you don’t have to tie anything.

This works especially well when you’re taking the kids to school. It’s early, your palm is lacerated and your neck is encased in burn salve. You just don’t feel like getting all-the-way ready to drop the kids off in the morning. Easy solution: slip your feet into the shoes you wore yesterday, but (here’s the key): don’t completely put your feet IN the shoes. Let your heels hang out, shuffle your way to the car, and then try to properly situate the shoes at each stop light. If you do this right, your head will be below the steering wheel and at shoe-level when the light turns green and you’ll hit your head on the way up, careening you, the car, and your kids into the more prepared parents walking their children to school in effectively implemented footwear.

Alternatively, find your husband’s shoes that are four sizes too big preventing you from actually feeling the gas and brake pedals with your own toes.

Real life example: All the stuff I said above.


Time Saver #4:

Use a face mask to cleanse your face and take off your eye makeup.

It’s not my fault you ran out of cleanser and use a clay-based mask to shave your legs and remove mascara from your delicate eye area. I never told you that same mask could be used as a zit dryer, toothpaste, cold remedy, contact lens solution, multivitamin, and hangover remedy.

Real life example: See up there.


This seems as good as any place to stop before we all die.  For more helpful time-savers, visit Dumb Ways to Die. Or a pick up a Gray’s Anatomy.


PROMPTuesday #234: The Road

February 4th, 2014

I wrote this before, but am including it now – again – because I’m on a road. Slowly, inexorably putting one foot in front of the other, but there it is: a a foot and then another. For the on and on.


And so today’s writing prompt is: write about your road. What stretch of highway or ribbon of lane beckons to you or calls you to remember?


Add your post/comment/prompt answer below in the comments or write a post of your own and include the link for us to read!


Meanwhile…to bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.




It’s been a long time. A long time since I’ve made the drive alone from San Diego to Los Angeles and back again and vice versa. I’ve driven that stretch of road connecting two lives for more than 20 years. Some years I’m coming from Woodland Hills, or Encino, or Brentwood, and other years it’s Rancho Bernardo or Bay Park or Ocean Beach. For year upon year upon year, I’ve endured that painfully long stretch between Camp Pendleton and San Clemente, and another endless line from Irvine to where the 101 hits the 405 in car after car after car — a Hyundai Excel, Pontiac K car, Lexus SC300, Dodge Dakota, Cadillac Sedan DeVille, and a Chevy Suburban, which is the car I take today.


Some years I’m an editorial intern at a video game magazine housed in a peeling yellow cottage off Topanga Canyon; and I’m a nervous young thing, fresh off the lot of Marquette University, living with a self-absorbed auditioning actress who left me to sit in my rented room listening to the Indigo Girls most nights. I was 20 pounds overweight and alone. Each Friday, I’d load up the Hyundai and drive to my parents’ home in San Diego, navigating the Sepulveda Pass and the LAX congestion, willing myself home or at least not in that morose room anymore.


Some months later, I met a Marine and we started the first days of what would be nearly three years of lies and emptiness and a little girl heart shredded in the meat grinder of a cheat. I was wholly unprepared for that; “that” such an innocuous word for the worst emotional pain I’d undergone to that point. Again, I’m driving the Hyundai back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I lost nearly 30 pounds, mainly in naivete and tears. Most days, I drove alone. Even when he was beside me.


By then, I’d moved twice. I left the actress to her own vices and took a studio apartment in Woodland Hills, about a mile from work. And then packed up to my aunt’s house Torrance, so close to the airport, and nearer to “home.” But by that time, I’d decided to move back to the Midwest, so the house in South Bay was just a stop on my itinerary. I continued to travel to San Diego every weekend and was just half myself; one of me in another rented room with maudlin music, and the other somewhere in the amorphous ether of a future room or state or self. Six months after Torrance, I packed up my Hyundai with not much at all, and drove to Chicago with the Marine. We broke up in Wyoming at a McDonald’s. I was just glad I wasn’t in Los Angeles.


I was back two-and-a-half years later. This time, I lived in West L.A. and went back to the video game magazine as an assistant editor. And I was happy being alone. I didn’t plan to drive to San Diego much…that drive still evoked dark days…and so settled in a whirlwind life of discovering Los Angeles the way it was meant to be, entirely and openly, without the pull to be somewhere else.


It was that complete openness that led to The Rock, who of all places, lived in San Diego. A year of the back and forth followed, but it was simply a physical back and forth, not the soul-crushing metaphoric kind. This time, I was in a Lexus I couldn’t afford, the other cars long abandoned to broken timing belts and cracked engine blocks and thieves. There was a certain ribbon of road I particularly loved, the one where I could sense the lights of San Diego, but not quite see them yet. My stomach flopped and my heart flew at that yellow fuzz just breaking over a long asphalt hump in the road. I knew this time I was heading home.


And it’s been that way ever since.


So now I think of each trip down the 405 as etched tree rings marking my life, or a spine with each year a vertebra. When I go back, I still see the same smog obscuring the eastern hills, the same honeycomb condos perched on Sunset, the Target sign barely visible past the DeSoto Ave. exit, but emerged from the ether of what each trip meant or didn’t mean and where the car takes me now.

PROMPTuesday #233: Tell Your Story

January 28th, 2014

“I don’t think you love me!” She twisted and turned and flailed in her bed. She was tired, I knew that much, and a touch sensitive that day, but here it was again: questioning our devotion.


Many times I respond with irritation as if it should be obvious – of course we love you, you’re our daughter, now stop this ridiculousness. I’d walked in and out of her bedroom several times that night, not quite ready to stop the conversation because she still needed something from me, but refusing to indulge what was a ploy for attention.


Soon enough, my husband joined the fracas and tried as I did to shut the emotional outburst down and away, hoping like me that it would end with no indication it had ever been a thing, quite like it had started.


After a melange of raised voices and collective frustration, something stopped me from a third exit from her room. I saw her face – a red, exhausted, puffy, yearning reflection of my own and entered another room from 30 years ago. This one with yellow flowers papered on the wall, matching heavy curtains pulled aside to show a peeling blue swing set in the yard below, and a canopy bed strung with green chiffon. I heaved against the door.


“You don’t love me!” I shook a bottle of saline pills I dissolved in distilled water to rinse my contacts. “I’m going to kill myself and you won’t even care!”


My mom stood uselessly outside and didn’t say the thing I wanted to hear – whatever it was; but a thing nonetheless, more than strung together words, a monolith of meaning, or something. A thing to make it better that was ethereal and nonexistent.


She threw her irritation and parental despair back at me, not violently or even convincingly, more like you’d throw a snowball that fell apart in mid-air. “Open the door!” She yelled it, still a snowball.


She didn’t say the thing, because she didn’t know the thing.


I left that memory and entered another: another door, another bottle of pills. This time I was pregnant with my second daughter and upset with my husband. I rattled some Advil and threatened to take them all, a lie and a fake promise. It’s just that I wanted a reaction. And for him to say the thing.


My husband picked up the phone and called my dad. The one person who knew so well what I did, and although he would never be able to articulate it in soul words, why I did it.


Several refusals to open the door later, I took the phone. There was no recrimination nor judgment, although his voice shook a little. He’d witnessed countless play acts just like this one between my mother and I, and knew to wait it out and be there.


I could never be loved enough. I could never be loved enough. Why don’t you love me? Why don’t you love me? Say the thing.


These words shoot into my brain as I moved to leave my daughter’s room. A threshold, a line I could cross or not, and be the person who doesn’t understand when I know down to the molecule that I do.


I returned to her bedside.


“I love you.” I admit it was hard to say because I was so angry that it had to come to this, when I tell her I love her every day, and these outbursts demand another affirmation so irrationally and hard fought.


“No you don’t!”


I remained there, and said it with conviction because it was true, “I love you.” I saw her eyes and her face and her needing the thing. I didn’t look; I saw.


She looked ashamed, maybe, or just needful. “Really?”


“Really.” I ran my fingers under her eyes and along her nose with the seeing and the thing.


She settled under the blankets and my husband re-entered her room, safe now.


Something tiny and elusive had happened: I’d realized the thing wasn’t what you said, it’s how it’s believed.


The outbursts will happen again, a genetic deficiency of some sort, perhaps. Only now this beautiful and fragile mirror of my weakest self has someone who understands in soul words she can’t quite articulate. A person who always understood, but just finally discovered that the thing is real and big and just the same, easily knocked to the ground as brought up and given a hand.



What’s your story? 


Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.


To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


PROMPTuesday #232: Facing the Fear

January 21st, 2014

I’ve done an informal observation of the first few weeks of 2014, and have noticed many people moving past their old beliefs of themselves and pushing the boundaries. This might mean returning to the core of who they are, or fighting beyond self-imposed restrictions and self-limiting perceptions that keep them tied to the same old things. I’m not an astrology person, but if I were, I’m sure there’d be some cosmic planetary alignment anomaly going on that’s causing the collective unconscious to redefine itself.


I know it’s happening to me.


For the past many years, I’ve pretty much coasted along from thing to thing and allowed myself to get swept up in this or that, which defrayed my focus on the one true thing: the book I’m writing. I’m sure it’s unconscious and there’s a million reasons why I’ve distracted myself (I’m quite certain “fear of financial success” is not one of them), but whenever I’m speaking to someone about the this or that (blogging, let’s say; or my writing existential crisis), I hear: you need to finish your book.


Now I know that’s true, but there’s so many other things: making a living, taking care of the kids, worrying about why there’s so much dust in my house – and then dusting it. However, there are fears behind the lack of manuscript completion that I’m avoiding facing.


I promised myself I’d march past those fears this year. Then as if to cement my promise, I received an email from a mesothelioma survivor who told me that after she’d had her left lung removed eight years ago, she created “Lung Leavin’ Day” to commemorate the day that changed her life forever and tackling the fear of surgery and her disease head on.


To celebrate, she invites her friends and family over every year on February 2 and asks them to write their fears on plates and then smash them in a spectacular bonfire made of phoenix pixie dust (I made that last part up).


Smashing fears - PROMPTuesday


I’ll smash my virtual plates in communion.


Here they are:


1) I’ll finish my book and it will blow ass.


2) I’ll never finish my book and just keep writing posts like this saying how I need to finish my book.


3) My plotting sucks and my story ideas are ridiculous.


4) I’m nothin’ special.


5) I can’t write anyway, so why bother?


6) What if this is my only idea ever, and I finish the book and I’m dried up?


I’ve been stuck in the middle of my book forever.  I have 100 pages and 25,000 words written. Given that most middle grade novels are in the 40,000-word range, I’m more than half done! I mean, COME ON. Of course, there’s the revising and the editing and the culling and the curating and the darling killing, but I could have a shitty first draft in one month if I wrote 500 words from now until February 21.


I don’t know, like I said, things feel different this year. Sort of as if my fears and will to distract are being bowled over by the Universe’s intention.


So, I’ll go with it, and SMASH. Smash it hard.


What fear plates are you smashing this year?


Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.


To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


PROMPTuesday #231: My Weird Quirks

January 14th, 2014

It occurred to me the other day as I was triple-checking the locked status of every door in my house, that I have a series of mild OCD routines that may or may not be big-time OCD routines. I don’t particularly get freaky if I can’t perform these little “quirks,” but I just thought about it as I wrote those last few words and I’d get freaky if I didn’t perform these little quirks.


So in an effort to deflect and make my borderline nutso-ness fun, I’m listing my behaviors – those little things I do daily – and calling it the cutsey “My Weird Quirks.” Do you have some of your own? Add them to the party!


Meanwhile, those “things” I do are listed below:


1) Inspect my shoes:

Every morning before I return my slippers or shoes onto my feet, I must shake them first  in case any errant spiders crawled inside and are waiting to eat my big toe. Or poison my bloodstream with killer venom.


2) Lock the doors:

Like I said above, I check and re-check that my doors are locked. I want to say this all originated because I had a stalker, but he kicked the locked door down in the middle of the night, so I really should have a routine where I brick up all entrances to my home nightly. And I don’t do that, so I must not have PTSD!


3) Vacuum:

Sure, we all do. But is it that insistent, incessant vacuuming where you’re trying to cleanse the soul of your carpet? If the sight of even one crumb on the floor twitches your face, you can join my club. BYOB! (Bring your own Bissel.)


4) Hoard items in my purse: 

I have 72 purses and each one is filled with receipts, lint carnage, and paper straw wrappers. I’ve gone smaller and smaller with my purses so I am physically incapable of putting more into them, but I find ways, like taping “clean your purse” reminders to the outside. And if you saw my big purses, you’d pitch TLC to make a show about me, possibly titled “Can’t Get Enough Pursey.”


5) Keep the lights off when I go to the bathroom:

I just don’t like to see what’s in bathrooms. I have a toilet thing, too, so I pretend I’m not on one when I’m peeing and if I keep it dark in there, I can almost believe the “I’M NOT SITTING ON SOMETHING THAT’S WARMED 1,000 BUTTS BEFORE MINE” fantasy.


6) Touch my face:

You know how people tell you not to pick your zits? I don’t listen. If there’s anything looking even close to congested to my skin, I must let it out. Also, I love pus. Don’t tell anybody. (And for the love of spiderless slippers, don’t even Google “pus videos.”)


As for you, any weird quirks of your own that you can list to defray the blinding light of CRAZY I just shined on myself, write them down!


Here’s how!

Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.


To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.



I’m Staying

January 6th, 2014

I keep coming back here to write a response to the death of “old school blogging” and it’s all sounding the same: I miss how it used to be online; I’m not interested in marketing over making; and what happened to personal blogging for God’s sake?


I’m reading more and more people saying similar things and going so far as to close blogs down and sneak out of the social media space because apparently, stories have no place anymore over selling.


I’ve read these laments again and again and nodded my head and even crafted my own dirges, but my responses fall flat.


Because I finally realized: IT DOESN’T MATTER.*


If you’re here to tell your stories, tell your stories. Who cares if Blogger X sold out? Or Blogger Y isn’t as real as she used to be since she worked for Brand Z?




Why does it mean anything if someone OTHER THAN YOU chose to do what he/she chose to do? You might hate it, you might hate them, but that’s all sound and fury. Your seething doesn’t change what they’ll do. So give up the bellyaching and change (or keep the same) what you do.


I’m a master navel-gazer, believe me. But I’m sick of navel gazing. Do or don’t. Show up or leave.


But STOP complaining about the way it is now, and make it your own.


Or go. That’s fine, too.


And for the record? I’m sorry to see so many stop writing the words that heal or make whole or sustain just because the landscape around them has changed and they’re mad about it. Be tired, be over it, be done for now, go in a different direction. But bitterness never accomplished a thing. Sure, you must adapt. But if you’re here to tell your stories? Tell them and let the landscape around you do what it will.


Nothing can change what you’re here to say.


*In case it wasn’t clear? I’m talking to myself here.




PromptTuesday #230: The Surprise

December 10th, 2013

Deb at 21

Happy 21st!


I’d always been the youngest person in my grade, which didn’t particularly bother me until I made it to college. I transferred to a four-year liberal arts university halfway through my sophomore year, and by then everyone was well on their way to 21 (or had a fake ID). Most of the time, I did just fine – borrowing friends’ IDs, sneaking in the back door, paying someone to alter my ID for $45, or even borrowing a birth certificate for a phony driver’s license of my own. That is, until I got on the BullDog’s bad side. He took a disliking to me after he realized I’d been using a 35-year-old Irish immigrant’s ID to get into the Avalanche (the most fine and disgusting of all Milwaukee bars and home to the “naked beer slide”).


BullDog was a 35-year-old bouncer who always wore a black leather coat, jeans, and dirty white tennis shoes. Every weekend night, he sat with purpose on a bar stool outside the illustrious ‘Lanche entrance. He had sandy blonde hair, an aquiline (but crooked) nose and exhausted eyes. But he had a job to do, dammit, he had a job to do. After he confiscated Irina Irish’s ID, I went into desperation mode. The ‘Lanche wasn’t the only bar on the MU circuit, but it was the best and where everyone ended up after quarter shots night at Murphy’s or a more proper few drinks at O.D.’s a short distance away. Call it stupid hubris, but I really believed that I could get back into the ‘Lanche with the right phony credentials and so set myself to the task. I furiously soaked my existing California driver’s license in coffee, microwaved it, and applied white crayon to the “8″ in 1968, making it a “3″ in the process. He took it away the very first night of use. I again borrowed a birth certificate and went to the DMV with a thumping heart and guilty face, and procured myself an illegal Wisconsin state ID. He threw it in a bucket of other illegal IDs that sat at his feet. I had a friend let me in the dirty back entrance. He found me inside the bar, tapped me on the shoulder and made the “get out of here” international signal with his thumb.


He didn’t talk much, but I read shouts in his eyes. He wasn’t going to put up with me much longer.


So my nights began to end after my seven rowdy roommates made their way to the ‘Lanche and I sat outside the entrance bidding them farewell and making sad face at BullDog. Then I walked a few doors at the street to Amigos and drowned my lonely sorrows in deep-fried tortillas filled with meat. I called this time my “Fake ID Fifty.”


The months slowly turned into senior year. Most of my friends at that point were legitimately 21, and I was the last to celebrate the milestone. So, as my November birthday approached, my biggest goal of the evening was to triumphantly stroll up to the ‘Lanche entrance, present my real ID to BullDog, and play “I Shot the Sheriff” on the jukebox while pointing drunkenly at his fake ID bucket.


My roommates agreed to this birthday plan, but first they were going to a classy bar on the east side, while I would catch a movie with another more sedate pal. I remember my friends borrowing each other’s clothes, observing themselves in the mirror while trying them on, and crimping their hair. I felt a little hurt that they weren’t joining me early on, but didn’t belabor the point. Because I was going to a movie, I donned a comfortable two-piece pants outfit with a navy and white star pattern, and flats. I still recall the juxtaposition of my roommates wearing leather skirts and tight jeans with white pumps as I stood next to them wearing an ensemble my mom would have bought. I still felt like the “young one,” but figured I’d come home after the movie and change into more appropriate “I just turned 21!” attire.


I was ready. My friends planned to drop me at my other pal’s apartment on their way to the cool part of town, and take us to the movie. We drove the short distance to my girlfriend’s place and I hopped out of the car to get her. She opened her front door wearing a jazzy outfit herself and as I contemplated my obvious youth on the way back to the car, I almost missed the bottle of champagne and glass now sitting in the passenger’s seat of my roomie’s Nissan 240X.


As I stared dumbly at the bubbly, shouts of “Surprise!” came from all corners. Why, this was a surprise party! For me! A happy 21st birthday surprise party! My friends weren’t cold bitches who would let me go to a sad movie on my special day as they partied somewhere more better!


That night, truly, was the first time I remember being honestly and completely surprised by something.


I looked down at my pants suit and flats.


Oh well.


We made our way to Bermuda’s, a dance bar with neon lights, downtown. The rest of my roommates were inside and guess what? It was Chippendales night! And I was wearing the aforementioned pants suit with flats! It was so unChippendales! Not to mention, not at all formidable looking for when I pulled off my jukebox plan at the ‘Lanche later.


You can imagine what happened. There were many drinks with many straws, much Janet Jackson played, a spotlight on my outfit when it was announced it was birthday. Dancing. Chippendales underwear in faces.


Best 21st birthday ever.


Around 11, it was time to head back to campus and the ‘Lanche. I anxiously stood in the line to enter the bar, like I’d had in years gone by, but this time with the proper identification. Soon enough, I was flat-to-tennis-shoe with the BullDog, who gave me his best tired-shouty-eye look, took my ID, looked ready to toss it, then gave me a begrudging half-smile. And a wink.


The BullDog winked at me.


Forget my plan. He’d just been doing his job! He was a nice guy! He hadn’t been trying to ruin my social life all these years!


I entered the crowded, sweaty, pissy, amazing bar.


A few hours later, as the strains to the National Anthem began to play, partiers raised their plastic glasses full of Red, White, and Blue and threw them on the floor, and Slooch took off his clothes for the nightly naked beer slide, I looked over at the BullDog and raised my thumb in the international symbol of “awesome.”


And if he’s still around when my kids are trying to be 21 before their time, he better be the bouncer.



What was your biggest surprise?


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To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.