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Cold Enough For You?

The weather was gruesomely winter. Since the first of the new year, I have been afraid to remove all of my clothes for fear of catching pneumonia. The children have been taking quick baths and sitting on the heating registers to warm up afterwards. Steve seems to be enjoying the cold for some unfathomable reason and whistling a lot. I will never understand men. I bundle the children up in snow gear just to walk to the car, which adds a good 20 minutes to every trip. I planned on getting over to the college bookshop to round up my texts before the term began. I like to get a jump on the reading and reading ahead was key to success with Mr. Snow. I was hoping he would be happy to see me in class again. I thought that bringing the kids along might be a good idea. Exposing my children to higher learning is part of my overall plan. Junior and Daisy are both smart and excel in some subjects, but not all. I couldn’t figure out if it was just a case of not applying themselves enough or lack of natural talent. No one had ever encouraged me to go to school or do well. It did not seem to be anyone’s expectation for me. I liked proving to myself that I was able to do well in my classes.

There were few students on campus and the bookstore had stacks of texts ready for the term. The children thought that there would be books for them at the store and were disappointed with the thick texts and boring shelves of notebooks. I told them that we would also be stopping at Miesel’s and they gave me a puzzled look. I suppose going to eat ice cream in freezing temperatures seemed a little foolish but I assured them that the ice cream was actually warmer than the outside weather.

We slid into a booth and Junior decided that he was too big to order his regular ice cream and decided to order a banana split. I wasn’t sure he would be able to eat the whole thing but he has a good appetite and it sure looked pretty. Daisy ordered her sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top. I opted for coffee. Holiday eating had added a couple of pounds and I needed to work them off before school started. It’s strange how my year revolved around school now. Not just the children’s calendar, but mine also. I had picked up a new planner to get even more organized this term.

As we left the pharmacy, big flakes of snow started to fall and the children tried to catch them on their tongues as we walked back to the car. I wasn’t exactly crazy about snow with the cold weather but they do tend to follow each other. Maybe I could burn off a few pounds playing with the children outside. I am an expert fort maker. I could even help out with the snow shoveling if Steve allowed me. He gets very territorial with snow removal from the sidewalks. It’s like his lawn love in the summer. A blade out of place is noticed.

When we woke up the following morning, everything was covered in ice. Although pretty, like a wonderland, it looked frigid. The children stared out the window and blew on the glass trying to melt the little ice designs. I made hot chocolate and oatmeal to warm up our insides. We listened to the radio for the school closings and the when Junior heard them call out the name of his school, he ran to his room to start to layer on his play clothes. Daisy didn’t seem as interested in going outside yet. When Junior was completely bundled up, he headed outside and I could see him with the other boys on the block pulling each other on their sleds. The whole street looked like ice and no one was driving anywhere. As the sun rose in the brilliant blue sky, Daisy, Steve and I went outside. Steve was looking for something to melt ice with and Daisy and I slid on the sidewalks over to meet Chloe and Marie-Claire out front. Chloe was still surprised by really cold weather and her nose was bright red. I realized that meant that my nose was bright red also. Zettie Louise was pulling kids on a large cardboard box attached to the back of a bike. I was glad it was not her motorcycle. Eventually, the girls were brave enough to be pulled and Chloe walked along with me on the sidewalk. The men in the neighborhood were doing their snow removal thing.

The children finally got cold and headed home. As the kids changed out of their snow clothes, I started to heat up milk for hot chocolate and make a snack. Steve came in for a break and got some coffee for motivation. As we sat around the kitchenette, I remembered how much I liked these days that stopped us from automatically moving ahead with our lives and tasks. The children really were growing fast and were quite interesting at times. I could not recall a time when my parents ever sat at the table with me in my youth, just talking. Our generation was much more integrated with our kids. I focused on making memories for myself knowing that someday soon it would just be Steve and I alone again. I had never really thought about that before. I wondered what we would talk about besides the weather.

 

Two for Fore

Christmas had exploded onto most of the houses in my neighborhood. There were lights dangling from rooftops, mounted on trees, wrapping bushes and circling light poles. It seemed brighter outside than daylight. The blinking lights were multi-colored and gave a coloring book glow to the yards. Steve strung up lights across the front of our house and down the sides. I wanted boughs of evergreen around the door and he added lights to those too. The porch edging had lights and the bushes glowed under the windows. It was two bulbs short of garish. People walked up and down the block to enjoy each other’s displays and dogs were walked longer than any other month of the year as their owners stopped to talk to each other along the way.

The tree inside of the house was well decorated and I had moved the ornaments around enough to even them out after the kids got tired of hanging them around the part of the tree they could reach. The tinsel wasn’t too clumped despite the boredom of the task of putting each strand into place and increasing the amount of strands as the task wore on. I was able to go over to Mags’ house and rewrap the kids’ presents that I had stashed there after Junior found my closet hiding place. He still talked about believing in Santa even if he had his doubts. Daisy was upset that I had delivered the gifts to the orphanage without her because she wanted to see the orphans who got all the gifts I had wrapped. I felt so badly about lying to her that I did bring a donation to the orphanage to make up for my guilty lie.

I noticed that Steve had placed a couple of nicely wrapped small gifts under the tree for me but I was still wrestling with getting him something better than new clothes or pajamas. He smells good all the time and does not care for fancy cologne. I finally went out to the club and visited the shop for ideas. D.J. Thrush was the club pro and was there checking out some new clubs. I thought he would be a good person to ask for ideas. He mentioned that he had played a round with Steve back in October and noticed that he was hooking some shots. I asked him about lessons and arranged for some private instruction at Steve’s convenience. As an added gift, I signed us both up for couples lessons also. Steve often asked me to join him when he played at the club. In the past, I didn’t have a babysitter, but Junior is getting to the age where he can watch his sister for a couple of hours. Golf is a good sport for the two of us to enjoy well into retirement. My only worry is that I will probably be better than Steve.

On Christmas Day, the children opened their gifts with great happiness and held each one up to show us what Santa brought to them. Junior moved through his gifts quickly and Daisy took a few minutes to individually examine her new tea set, dolls and games, finishing well after Junior. Junior asked to be excused to listen to his 45s in his room and Daisy wanted to introduce her new dolls to her existing brood. Since the children were well occupied, Steve and I opened our gifts. Steve bought me a lovely bracelet and earring set; it was very glam. Another box had a long pair of leather gloves with fur trim. He opened his requisite clothing and made a fuss over the plaid pajamas. The last present he would open would be the envelope with the lessons. He fished around under the tree and pulled out another envelope and handed it to me. He opened his note with the lessons and was very grateful. When he saw the second certificate for the couples lessons, he chuckled and told me to open my envelope. I tore it open and saw a picture of a beautiful baby blue golf bag with new clubs sticking out of it. I guess we both had the same idea in a way. I read in the ladies magazine that every couple should have a game or sport they share. I guess ours might be golf.

Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

For our last card party before Christmas, Gail was the hostess and she wanted to have a pie party. We each needed to make a different kind of pie. I pride myself on being a great pie maker. My mom had taught me years ago how to make and handle dough; the secret was to use lard, touch it as little as possible and throw it back into the icebox when distracted during the process. I quickly signed up to make my specialty of the season, pumpkin pie. I called Gail and I was grateful that no one had signed up already to make one. I knew that Judy Anne would make her traditional pecan pie and I really wanted to learn how to make one that didn’t run as soon as you sliced into it. The ones I had attempted seemed too gooey and I wasn’t fond of that texture. To develop a smooth custardy texture in a pumpkin pie took time and I knew how to select small sweet pumpkins.

Chloe was going to make a quiche. I was thinking sweet and she was thinking savory. I had listened to Chloe talk about the beauty of the quiche many times. Virtually anything could be put into it and made into a small meal. I knew its origins came from the abundance of eggs Chloe had on her farm in France and the scarcity of other food to eat during the war. Surprisingly, it did not remind her of the hardships of the war and knowing that she did not like leftovers, provided a good way to use up food that she wanted to camouflage as something else for the next meal. Chloe had taught me a few life lessons and I counted this one as an important one.

The day before the party, I prepared the pumpkins and mixed my secret concoction of spices meant to add warmth to the pie. My crust took some time because I had to stop to answer the phone a couple of times, but I tossed the crust into the icebox while I talked to Mags and Gail. Mags was in the middle of making a French Silk Pie. I knew it would be spectacular. Gail was suffering through making an Apple Pie because two of her children had colds and needed attention. Gail told me that she couldn’t remember if she put all of the ingredients into the pie before she placed it into the oven. I have had that feeling in the past.

I finally finished the pie and wanted to do something special with the scraps to make a cool crust. I took a small cookie cutter and made little leaves and eggwash glued them onto the pie. I knew once I took the pie out of the oven, I would need to make special crusts moving forward. So much pressure.

The next day, we all showed up with our pies in hand. The spread was beautiful. There was plenty to eat and we didn’t play cards very long because we had our secret Santa gifts to pass out also. It was a lovely way to end the year of parties. My pie was pretty and there were lots of compliments on the special crust. But I was focused on that Pecan Pie. I took my time enjoying my sliver and sat down with Judy Anne to ask her about making it. She shared a couple of hints about getting the right consistency. But the real secret was the shot of rum she added. The rum explained why I really liked it. I asked her about adding chocolate chips to it and she got a funny look on her face. I realized that what I suggested was offensive to her thoughts on the purity of her Pecan Pie. I stammered a little about not wanting to copy her but I could tell that I had broken some kind of southern rule. I apologized and returned to discussing her pie.

The next day, I made another pie and served it to my family. The children loved it and Steve pronounced my crust crispy and delicate. So sweet of him; he’s a man who usually likes a good Apple Pie. I had added some chocolate chips to a pecan pie recipe, but left out the rum and it turned out better than any one I made previously. I was proud of myself but decided not to tell Judy Anne about it. Sometimes, pies have to remain secret.

A Large Pot of Grateful

Classes for this semester were finally over.  I was a little stressed at the end due to Lucy’s last assignment. The theme was gratefulness, which should be an easy one for me but I couldn’t make my words match my feelings. I have a lot to be grateful for. With such an abundance, how could I focus on just my top three or make a list and make it sound genuine. A litany of people or things sounded shallow and predictable. Choosing something obscure was too rebellious. How could I make the expected answers brilliant?

On top of that, Edie started dropping in unexpectantly a couple of hours each morning to review every pain and ache she felt. She didn’t want to call her doctor and bother him, or be embarrassed. I understood that. She definitely was showing and her feet were swelling. It wasn’t attractive. I put some epsom salts in pots of hot water and had her sit at the kitchenette and soak them. It relieved some of her puffiness but she said she was prone to cry at the smallest issues and when Artie was away, she was lonely and repeated the things he had said that made her feel unattractive. She knew he was with good looking stewardessess all day. I guess the changes in her body with her pregnancy were causing these troubles in her moods. I really thought that if she could see how hysterical she looked with her feet in my pots, she might laugh, but I tried not to focus on that in case she dissolved into tears again. To insure she felt better, we discussed baby names and writing. I didn’t know if Edie was going to continue her stealth career as a romance writer after the baby. Infants take up a lot of time and caring for the baby with a husband who was away sometimes would be a challenge. At least she wouldn’t need to bathe and dress every day if she didn’t want to.

Listening to Edie helped me figure out what to write about. Gratitude is everything. No list could contain it. No changes would stop it. It was in everything and every choice.

My theme on the choice of Gratitude was handed in and graded well. I could find most of the answers easily and the ones I needed to hunt for taught me something new, but they were all there.

This morning I went to school to register for my next classes. The advisor tried to steer me toward my next likely choices to get me checked off her list. I had some required classes to start taking more seriously and chose one of those first. I asked for a list of instructors and chose another class with Mr. Snow. What the heck, I was grateful for him too.

I stopped off at Edie’s house afterward to check on her and found her with her feet propped up on her chaise while she read. It was good to see her making such a good decision. I leaned over to check on the book title. To my surprise, it was a textbook. Edie was reading a book about mathematics. I must have looked a little surprised but when I chuckled it was really from admiration. Edie explained that trying to solve math problems calmed her. I told her that I had just registered for a math class and might need her to tutor me. I had underestimated Edie lately because I had only experienced one side of her. I looked forward to needing Edie. It would give us a chance to spend more time together this winter. I might even learn some math.

Count Down To Christmas

December is usually a well-behaved month. With Santa overseeing all behavior, I rarely have to raise my voice or encourage the angels on my children’s shoulders to provide the right direction. On top of that, a quick word of reprimand to Junior usually results in Daisy being a model child as a bonus. I don’t want her to fear me but it keeps me from yelling at her when I am on edge.

School in December is fraught with bake sales and cookie swaps and extra required baking events. I have always tried to keep two sacred cookie baking days aside also. The first on a Friday where I bake like there is no tomorrow and the second on the following day when I include the kids. It’s a slower process and the decorating of our sugar cookies takes time. I love these days. The warmth and smell of the kitchen, the wearing of my Christmas apron for two straight days, the counting of each type of cookie as I box and freeze for entertaining and gift giving makes me feel certain Santa really is coming.

Junior had been giving off vibes about the true existence of Santa, but like most mothers I was able to convince him to believe in order to still get presents. That is, until he found some presents behind my shoes at the bottom of my closet. While searching for a pair of sturdy shoes to wear to school one morning, I noticed that the shoe boxes were out of order. I’m no great sleuth, but I could remember how I hid the gifts. I didn’t say anything to Junior but there were a couple of presents that would obviously be his if he thought about it. I had to come up with a plan.

One afternoon while the children were at school, I took the presents out of the closet and wrapped them, adding tags that had a lone B or G on the tags. I packed the presents into bags and lined them by the door. When the children came home from school and saw the bags, Daisy asked about the gifts. I told the children that I had decided to buy presents for orphan boys and girls and had wrapped them. I told the children that I marked them for by placing letters on the tags. Daisy asked if the orphans would be coming over for Christmas and while I answered her, Junior quickly left the room. Later, I checked to see if the shoes I had left in a certain order had been moved and there were a few left out of place. Junior was very quiet at dinner and I told Steve about my discovery.

The next day, I took the bags over to Mags and she hid them for me until I could rewrap them and tag them for Christmas. Junior’s reserved demeanor continued until the weekend when we visited the department store for pictures with Santa. Usually these pictures are either hit or miss with one or both children with their eyes closed or a sullen look and they never smiled in unison. This year, the pictures were beautiful. Junior had a great big smile for Santa, a list prepared and even asked Santa to bring something for his favorite little sister. Daisy’s face at that moment was priceless. I look forward to a few more days with the great believer in our home. Peace on earth is wonderful.

 

Jailhouse Rock

Music has always been a part of our lives. Big band tunes helped us get through the war and when Steve and I first dated, I loved love songs and slow dancing. After the kids came along, I played some records with children’s songs every day as we sang and danced along. Christmas songs help us keep traditions going and every birthday has to have at least one version of the happy birthday song.

Today’s modern music is different. Called rock and roll, it has a much more upbeat tone and requires a whole different manner of dance to fit it. Stevie and his friends had started to listen to this music on their transistor radios jammed up against their ears. I am concerned that they are going to ruin their hearing. Once Stevie found out that his favorite songs were available on 45’s, he kept begging me to buy him some to play on our hi-fi. I really wasn’t sure he was old enough to play records on our fancy equipment and asked Steve to talk with Junior before giving our permission. I also wasn’t keen on having music blaring in the living room at all hours. I generally like things quiet at home.

After their chat, Steve asked about Junior having his own time each day for him to choose to play his records. It was an excellent compromise and since he only had a couple of records, he would probably tire of listening to them over and over. Turns out I was very wrong. On top of that, Junior has been inviting another friend over each afternoon so they can listen to their 45s also. Oh boy.

Now I have a different goal. Junior might need his own record player for his own room. I will have to do some investigation on this subject for Christmas. This became an important time to think about this project with Elvis’ newest release, a record called “Jailhouse Rock.” I’m not sure I am ready for hearing that multiple times every afternoon sung by two young boys. My living room has become a record studio with the boys pretending to hold microphones and sing as loudly as possible. By the time I had dinner prepared, I really understood the meaning of the name of the record.

I Can Read You Like a Book

With only a month left in the semester, I was grateful for a week off to complete the end of term papers and reading required. I was doing well with Lucy’s class, although the amount of work in this class was definitely more than last year. I felt a need to improve my writing based on her comments and tried to incorporate those changes in some manner into stories to show progress.

With my newfound attempts to not be intimidated by Mr. Snow, I was trying to remember that when I read the required work, I was ready for class. His writing demands weren’t tremendous but there was still an open book exam. I loved that idea. Since I did the reading all I had to do was find it again. The few papers he had assigned previously weren’t returned quickly but there weren’t many remarks on mine and they received fair grades. I don’t think Mr. Snow liked reading as much as he liked assigning reading assignments.

To prepare for the open book exam, I started back at the beginning of the text and started reading through each chapter, noting the items I had highlighted the first time they were read. Reading the text highlights again helped reinforce the important parts.

I really wish life had an open book. Many times I have learned how to handle a situation by going through it. Being an expert after the fact doesn’t seem to be the best way to make good decisions. I’m not against the school of hard knocks and have learned many lessons that way. But I would love to be able to consult an expert book on life in tough situations.

Junior was the baby I needed a good textbook to understand. Daisy  benefitted from being the second child. I was a proper mess with Junior when he was a baby and I read Dr. Spock’s book to figure out how to care for him. My book must have been missing a few chapters since there were many tearful times I thumbed through it trying to get a straight answer. The good news was that I was a better mother with more knowledge when Daisy was born. And I think I was more relaxed the second time around. I had already mastered the art of holding a crying baby and running the vacuum at the same time. Early on, I discovered that when I couldn’t get Junior to stop crying, I cried. If I vacuumed at the same time, the noise startled Junior and he stopped crying. Our carpet was very clean that year.

An open book in my life would include the answers to so many situations. I am sometimes perplexed by my husband and it would be great to have some man facts. Dealing with parents and in-laws seems to test everyone in life. As each relationship ages, the needs change. If I had a guide on my mother-in-law, Mother Jones, I would make less missteps.

As for my relationships with my friends, I feel pretty good without an encyclopedia. Seeing us all tackle life together is a team event. I learn from them and their experiences are closer to mine, giving me choices in perspective. I guess open books are great for some subjects but life wouldn’t be much fun without some random choices. I think Mr. Snow’s open book test will be a good challenge for me.

Je Vous Remercie Pour De Ce Délicieux Repas

It had grown to be a regular event to state what we were thankful for at each Thanksgiving dinner. Traditions are important and I didn’t want to change this one because the answers are usually centered around the joys of that specific day – food and family. Everyone takes pleasure in hearing little ones give answers that reiterate the values of the family.

But what makes us thankful on a random Thursday? Chloe was still getting used to our day of Thanksgiving. She probably had a lot of thankful days after the war when she was able to come to the states. Chloe told me that she wanted to see if she could cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal, so we made plans to have a pre-holiday dinner party for both our families. Chloe and I gathered lots of ladies magazines and Chloe searched for traditional recipes that sounded good to her and she looked through my recipe box. I had a few old cards from my mother and Mother Jones in with mine as well as enough cookbooks with fall favorites to make it easy to choose what to make. Chloe understood the turkey was central but a French turkey is usually a wild bird and a little scrawny. It didn’t need to be big according to Chloe because she didn’t want a lot of leftovers.

I had to stop when I heard Chloe speak like that. No leftovers? Chloe didn’t like to have leftovers unless they could be added to make a brand new meal, like an omelet. Oh mon dieu. So unAmerican. But this was Chloe’s Thanksgiving, so I shut my mouth as we forged on through the menu. Chloe insisted on an appetizer. I suggested a relish tray to nibble on with drinks. Chloe insisted on a cheese course. I suggested macaroni and cheese. Chloe insisted on some fresh fruit to clear the palate. I suggested a Jello mold with mandarin oranges or cranberry sauce. Chloe insisted on a root vegetable. I immediately suggested mashed potatoes with gravy. It was clear that my ideas didn’t translate into French well. I sat quietly and told Chloe that I would help her with any choices she made.

When our pre-Thanksgiving day arrived, Chloe and I worked feverishly all day in her kitchen. Steve and Francis played with the children as they raked leaves. Chloe’s table sparkled with crystal and china. I was hoping my children wouldn’t even dare to take a drink during dinner in case they dropped one of those beautiful pieces. Chloe let me borrow one of her aprons and the steam and heat of the kitchen flushed our faces. I was following the recipes chosen by Chloe and we would stop from time to time to check on our progress and check off items completed. Mid-afternoon, Chloe announced a break. Chloe took a bottle of wine from the icebox and poured two glasses. We took our glasses out the back door and sat on the back stoop to smoke. Chloe gently wiped her brow and clinked glasses with mine. She called me a true friend, vrai ami. After we got our second wind, we only had last minute preparations to complete. We gave the men and children a 30 minute warning for dinner and started to fill the table. There was a beautiful mix of French classics and American standards. Just before we went into the dining room to eat, Chloe went to light the candles. Inadvertently, I opened a small drawer looking for my lipstick. I felt a little silly but in all the heat and work, I forgot what kitchen I was in and followed my usual habit. I laughed when I saw that the drawer held the same things I stashed at my house. There were two tubes of lipstick, a comb and a small mirror at the ready. I guess no matter where we come from, we girls need to look our best. I realized I knew what I was going to be thankful for this year.

I Stumbled But I Won’t Fall

Food coma month began well. The weather turned noticeably colder and I started making hot chocolate for the kids in the morning to warm and spoil them. The trick was making it early enough to lower the temperature to the perfect drinking zone for when they sat down without letting it get cool enough not to be comforting. The slightly melted marshmallows were a bonus of this feat. I usually make oatmeal or cream of wheat a couple of times a week so everyone has a good hot breakfast.

It’s more fun to make dinner when it is cold outside. Pots of stew and simmering soups are my own antidote to the chilly temperatures and making hot casseroles not only makes dinner easy, it’s delicious. And it’s easy to add in everyone’s favorite hot casseroles. This year I started making two casseroles on some days to make it easier to serve dinner on time on class days. I was getting pretty good at this organization thing. Everyone sleeps better with a full tummy.

Chloe shared my love of fall cooking but the casseroles she made had exotic names like gratin and involved more cheese. She had fancier names for stews too. Chloe also shared with me that she drank more red wine in the cooler months. I had never thought about changing wines for the seasons and generally follow the rule for white wine for chicken and fish. Being exposed to foreign cooking had its rewards. Granted, I liked fruity cocktails in the summer and never passed up a highball in the fall, so I do acknowledge the change of seasons in my own way.

I was hosting card party this week, so organizing was a priority. I raced through my cleaning routine and finished the laundry early enough in the week to insure that everyone had the clothes they needed. I ended staying up late Monday night to finish a paper for Lucy’s class and finish Mr. Snow’s reading assignment. The reading was difficult and when I caught myself having to read a few paragraphs a third time, I went to bed. I was quiet at breakfast but every one got fed and took a lunch with them. I packed a couple of homemade cookies in Steve’s briefcase and considered bringing some cookies to Mr. Snow. I wasn’t sure if that was even allowed.

In Snow’s class, I must have looked as if I wasn’t paying attention and got called on. Although I knew the answer, I stumbled a little through my answer. Mr. Snow walked down the aisle towards me. My heart was beating rapidly as he stopped and looked at me closely. Neither of us said anything as he examined my face. I managed a small smile and he turned and walked back up front. I didn’t hear a word he said for a few minutes.

At the card party, we were enjoying some apple cranberry cocktails with a warm cheese dip and crackers. Sarah asked me about school and I told her how scared I was of one of my teachers. Sarah is quiet but wise and should talk more often. She told me that being shy made her feel powerless as a child. Everyone stopped and listened attentively. Good little girls did not make a fuss or grab attention according to Sarah. Sarah went on to let us know how she handled people who scared her. Sarah had learned that if she chose not to let them have power over her, she won the battle. So smart. When we’re afraid, it’s because we don’t have power. Sarah must be as tough as nails inside. Everyone started discussing times when they felt afraid and agreed that someone else had robbed them of something intangible. Sarah’s discosure was very helpful to me and my butterfly-filled stomach. When I prepared for classes, I did my best. I had no illusions about being an A+ student in all of my classes. But I wanted to learn.

It was good for everyone to see Sarah as powerful. It really changed our preconceived notions about how to get the upper hand in scary situations. I poured Sarah another cocktail and thanked her for the advice. Maybe Sarah should be teaching. Sarah summed up her thoughts by saying that her grandmother always told her a stumble might prevent a fall. Sarah thought that high emotions alert us to situations that might result in damage. That’s helpful to remember; I hope I can develop a way to explain that to my children. It is what’s inside that counts.

You Can Dress Me Up

Gail decided that we were going to dress up for Halloween for our card party. I confess that this is one of my least favorite holidays. I think that its fun to dress up the children and enjoy their experience but I have always felt that adults dressed up to make up for something in their own lives. If I dressed up in an outfit that told the world how I felt everyday, some days I would be a driver, or a cook, or a student or a maid. I wear a lot of hats. The occasional striped prison suit might communicate my feelings at stressful times. If we all did this, we would all know at a glance how everyone else was feeling.

I presumed others were having trouble with Gail’s choice too, so Mags stepped in and told Gail that we should all dress as the same thing. At least this plan would take the competition out of it. Until Gail announced we would all be Marilyn Monroe. Gail gave out the assignments for food and the choices were expected to represent food from a Hollywood party. I had chosen an appetizer, and started to consider what to make. I made little pigs in blankets with a bacon layer on the outside. Planning my appetizer would help me to put off how to make my hair platinum.

On the day before the card party, I hid in the bathroom with cans of dry shampoo and talcum and liberally sprinkled it into my hair. Repeating this technique a few times helped brighten my hair but real platinum blonde would be impossible. I brushed out the excess and started to make dinner.

Needless to say, the kids and Steve stared at my head all night. I excused myself after dinner to start looking through my closet for something to wear. I ended up wearing a white vest of Steve’s over a circle skirt with a wide belt cinched tightly around my waist. A well-placed mole and lots of black eyeliner helped. After putting more white powder in my hair, I tied a scarf as a head band on my head to hold the front wave in place. Marilyn would not recognize me as her doppelgänger.

Arriving at Gail’s, I was overwhelmed with Marilyns of all shapes and sizes. It was a good look on many of my friends but Edie had to be the best. Edie’s baby belly was sticking out under her sparkly dress she found at a thrift store. Edie looked strangely sexy as a pregnant Marilyn and walked around with a hand on her back due to the constant ache she was experiencing. Edie’s hair was hidden in a turban with a huge costume jewelry gem pinned to the front. Mags also made a good showing in a very uncharacteristic way. Mags had picked up a brand new mop head at the grocery store and took it apart and resewed it styled in long waves. It was quite lovely and went well with her long black gown. She sauntered around with a cigarette hanging from a long cigarette holder. Her long black gloves clung to her arms and her bracelets were sparkly. As usual, Mags was the epitome of Marilyn. Gail took some pictures of the group and we took turns taking pictures so everyone was in a couple of them.

The card party was more fun than I thought it would be. Even though dressing up wasn’t my favorite thing about the holiday, I enjoyed it once I got into the swing of it. I even began to understand the wisdom of Mags’ choice. Being Marilyn, even for a few hours, could be fun for anyone. It was a good choice. Dressing up takes us out of our usual selves and lets us pretend to be different.