Mismatched Misfits-Part Two …

Once again, I combine the hilarity of Maxine and my own brand of funny.

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Credit for all Maxine Cartoons

For years I had the habit of watching a particular type of TV show just before rolling over. The programs included Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and reruns of The Odd Couple and Murphy Brown. My all time favorite was Faulty Towers with the comic genius of John Cleese.

My daughter once commented, “Mom, I could hear you laughing all the way down the hall.”

“It’s good for your mental health to laugh just before going to sleep.”

Of course, I never told her that her father always gave me a good laugh before sleeping.

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On to a darker comic side of Viola and her cast of misfits.

From “The Human Gnat” …

Fifty weeks a year, Josephine Napoli  lived in a strange place called Brooklyn. The other two weeks each year, her parents sent her and her siblings to spend time in the fresh air of the country. Because it was good for them, because they wanted their children to get away from the bad influences on the streets of their neighborhood in Brooklyn, and because mom and dad needed a rest.

Not caring for this forced exile from her home turf, Josephine, or as most of the family called her, Josie, made it her mission each day to be as erasable and annoying as humanly possible without any of the adults in her life causing her permanent physical damage. Josie was a kin to living with a small gnat, who for some un-Godly reason never settles on any hard surface so you can happily squash it, is fond of flitting in your peripheral vision, and the moment you turn, the damn thing vanishes.

She was a small, spry girl with a long ponytail and crooked feet, crooked feet that could run faster and longer than any boy in Bath Beach, and could peddle on any bike from the endless supply of bikes left in her cousins’ garages..

Up and down the Hudson River, Josephine’s extended family totaled, twelve first cousins and forty-two second cousins. Five of them were within her age, and not a one shared her desire to escape the open fields and the sloping hills near their houses on the right side of town. Unlike their Brooklyn cousin, they rode their bikes along safe country roads, never rode to Main Street without adult supervision, and to a one, never rode the length of Main Street, careening down other hills on the wrong side of town.

On this sunny summer day, Josie skipped out on lunch with the folks and pointed her roadster towards Main Street. Without a single thought and absolutely no guilt, she rode her bike to Lucy’s store looking for Viola. Aunt Lucille was on her perch behind the counter, her chubby fingers busy stacking quarters.

Josie shouted in the door. “Aunt Lucille, where’s Viola?”

She looked over her glasses and barked, “It’s long past lunch and she ain’t here.”

Josie backed out of the door. “Mind me, you little pest. When I get my hands on that girl, she’ll be as sorry as sin; that I can tell you.”

Not ready to tangle with the big lady, Josie closed the door and took one spin around the block. On the return, she saw her cousin and Billy Conway in the doorway of a house across the street. Billy was rubbing himself against Viola, their lips locked. As Josie glided by and found a better angle for snooping, she saw Viola’s skirt was up to her waist and her panties were around her ankles. She had seen all the pictures of the thing in the books her brother hid under his mattress. But to see it up close and personal, and standing, was more than she ever believed possible.

She put her foot on the ground to keep the bike from rolling and watched as Billy continued pushing up against Viola’s body. Viola had a big smile on her face and kept running her hands through his long blonde locks.

Josie thought Billy wasn’t much to look at but she guessed Viola really liked him because she kept smiling and meeting each of his movements. He pushed in and then back, then again back and forth getting faster and faster, until he finally stopped and put his head on Viola’s shoulder. In the next instant he did a quick check, zipped his pants and patted her cousin on the head. Josie let the bike fall and bent down behind a parked car.

When she looked again, Billy was gone and Viola was pushing her hair back. Then she hoisted her panties, pulled down her skirt, and checking in both directions, came out of the doorway into the sun with a big grin on her face. Josie was certain it wouldn’t be a good idea for her cousin to see her, so she waited until Viola was down the hill and around the corner to Lucy’s before she moved again.

She counted one-Mississippi ten times before she pulled into the back of the store. Beyond the back door, she heard a slapping sound. And after each slapping sound, she heard the sound of her cousin yowling in pain. Josie guessed Viola was getting a bad licking.

She crouched low and inched towards the door of the first storeroom to get a better view. Viola was bent over, her bare bottom exposed, and Aunt Lucille, actually on her feet, stood behind her wielding a thick barber strap.

Josie registered that Viola’s panties were once again around her ankles, but this time she wasn’t having such a good time. She remained frozen in place as again and again the strap came down on her cousin’s bottom. When Aunt Lucille could no longer lift her arm, she threw the belt and yelled. “Hang it back up so it’s good and handy for the next time.” And she waddled out of the room.

Viola wiped her eyes, pulled her panties up for the second time, fixed her skirt and picked up the strap.

She counted to twenty this time and then pulled her bike out of the storeroom. After one more revolution around the block, she went into the store. Aunt Lucille was back at her post busy with a huge platter of food.  Josie wiggled her fingers to her cousin. “Hi, Viola.” Then to her aunt. “Hi, Aunt Lucille.”

“If it isn’t the pest again.” Lucille wagged a finger behind her. “One of these days I’m gonna tan your hide.”

Jose spied the barber strap hanging behind her aunt and grinned. “You’d have to catch me first, Aunt Lucille.”

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What classic movie or TV show is a sure hit to make you laugh?

And who … pray tell … is your favorite comic writer?

fOIS In The City

 

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Mismatched Misfits Ride Again …

I am the original mismatched misfit, tripping down the road of life, doing  prat-falls on God’s little green apple peels.

The truth is … I can’t go for too long waxing nostalgic prose without my snark giving me a head slap. And the last three weeks whilst I rummaged through my virtual trunk of black and whites to bring you some captioned delights, my alter-ego was pitching a bitch.

“Give me a damn break,” she snarled. “It wasn’t all that.”

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This link is for all Lucille Cartoons. 

Today, to uphold my love of the snark, I combine my current alter-ego … Maxine … with two snippets for your reading pleasure.

And because I have this thing about trilogy postings, we will finish up the month of July with more comic relief.

Viola, Aunt Lucille and the pesky Josephine, are three characters I so love to play with.

I give you the first snipped from a piece I haplessly titled “The Human Gnat.”

Smoke flumes curled from her lips as she pulled on a filter-tip cigarette and tapped her foot impatiently. Viola Gambone leaned on a parked car outside her parent’s clapboard house, fluffed up her hair, and turned out her wrist to check her watch for the third time in less than a minute. Five more minutes and he’d be history.

Viola didn’t believe in waiting on any of them. She made it her business to get around town, in the way people knew getting around got young girls into trouble. In the way to remain a moving target and not get nailed by the narrow glare of her mother’s eyes.

The front door clamored open and Lucille Gambone emerged. Gravity and corrosion had tilted the front steps at such an angle that anyone not steady on their feet might fall over or trip. Knowing this, Viola enjoyed waiting each morning for her mother to negotiate the three steps leading to the sidewalk and trek three doors down to Lucy’s Candy Shoppe.

Lucille was sallow and blonde with pale blue-gray eyes. On her face her daughter saw the same expression she had seen her whole life. Lucille was miserable. Most people thought she was miserable because she was as wide as she was tall, that her unfortunate glandular disorder had affected her brain and she was no longer capable of smiling. Others who knew better, understood Lucille didn’t need a reason, she was just plain miserable, first thing, mid-day, and the last minute before she lumbered to her side of the bed at night.

Each morning she made the short trip from their house to her tiny establishment on the corner of South Bradley Street. Viola knew it was there her mother would remain ensconced until late evening, waiting on her daughter for lunch and a late supper. For her frequent mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, Lucille relied on her spouse or one of the Bradley Street regulars.

Because of her size, Lucille went down each step sideways, the effort causing her weight to shift like a jello mold when shaken. On the last step, she lunged, enertia flinging her headlong toward the parked car and her daughter.

As a precaution Viola stepped aside as Lucille slammed into the car, kicked the tire, and yanked on the waste of her dress. She turned to her daughter, “Why are you standing there like your planted in concrete?”

“Been waiting on a ride to meet Sandy at the diner.”

Her mother gave her a long fierce look, “Stay away from that trash Billy Conway.”

Pretending to fix her skirt hem, Viola rolled her eyes. “Yeah Ma.”

“You’d better not bring my lunch late again today or I’ll lay into you with the strap.”

Viola blew out a long stream of smoke, let the cigarette fall to her feet, and crushed it with a slow circular motion. “I won’t forget, Ma.”

With that Lucille took one long breath and toddled down the street. After she  disappeared around the corner, Viola stood perfectly still and watched the empty space where her mother had been. The old adage filled her mind with a flutter of apprehension. If you want to know what you’ll look like when you grow up, just take a good look at your mother.

She took out a tube of lipstick, bent into the rear view mirror of the parked car, and applied another layer of Wild Passion.

Viola, the third in birth order, and the only female, had been more on the chubby side until adolescence. Her looks came from her father’s side, with dark hair and eyes, her skin a beautiful olive. The baby fat she had fretted over daily melted, and now a fully grown eighteen, Viola was tall and slender and took pleasure in the curves of her body.

With one shake of her head to eradicate the sight of her mother, Viola made her way up the long hill towards Main Street. “Bullshit. I’m not like either of them.”

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This one is my current profile pic on FB.

I use Gail, the main character in a romantic comedy, as a vehicle to poke some fun at romance novels. I apologize in advance to any of my readers who write romance. All I can say in my defense is that I’ve read at least sixty of Nora Roberts and another couple hundred others. As Joan Rivers once said (I paraphrase of course) … “You can’t make fun of something you don’t know about.”

From Gail and Once More Around the Block. At least this time Gail is not in the snares of another failed blind date.

It’s not like I don’t care where my sister goes for her anniversary. I care. I care dearly for my sister. For instance, I would care if her hair turned into mousy blonde frizz and her narrow, athletic frame puffed up like the Phillsbury Dough Boy. It’s just that I’d rather sit with my latest Silhouette novel, shovel in about ten pounds of Chinese and slowly lick a half gallon of ice-cream.

You know? Straight from the carton. No little dishes with manageable portions. The whole gallon, slowly, spoon by creamy spoon, until the melted ice-cream at the bottom is the consistency of a milk shake and you can drink it. Lick your lips and wait for the rich ranch owner to notice the poor cowgirl who struggles to help her aging grandfather run his failing ranch.

I’m crying and blow my nose, happy the little cowgirl married the rich ranch owner and will live happily ever-after.

That’s the other part of romance novels, fairy tales and Disney cartoons. You never have to see what happens “after.” I mean, do you want to know what happens to Cinderella after?

Does she blow up like a blimp and turn into a shrew, complaining that Prince Charming spends too much time-out with the Knights of the Round Table?

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 Writing is a serious business, and I hasten to add, a difficult and serious business. So how on earth do I have the time to “play” with my characters?

Like this blog, playing games with my mismatched, misfit characters is fun. It’s like a water sport. You can do almost anything in the water. Just don’t try to do any of it on dry land.

Tell me please, do you ever get bored and need comic relief?

How often do you put your main characters into compromising positions

because you can? 

fOIS In The City

 

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Summertime-Part Three …


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One view from Sunset Park

Moments we keep …

He was my buddy, my confidant … my best friend. In real life he was the Petie I’ve often use in other street stories. He was “the only boy I didn’t hate.”

The friendships we forge in childhood can last a lifetime. We talked about a month ago, two aging boomers, two kids who took different routes out of the park, who grew to raise families and become good-law-abiding citizens. The sound of his voice threw me back to those few precious years before his family moved to Long Island, before we lost touch, before time and space left its mark and childhood ended with a stinging slap.

Playing with my good buddy was an all-season event. We thought nothing of frolicking for hours in snow, relished rolling in autumn leaves down the hills of the park, became enchanted by the new growth of spring, and best of all, we lived for summertime.

Summertime was for street games, the pool at Sunset Park, the beaches,street skating, and flying kites along Shore Parkway.

In the book Sunset Park, his name is changed to Michael, and as I often wished, we were fast friends through high school. In real life, he lost his mother in third grade and moved away two years later. In real life, my family also moved to a new place in Brooklyn.

Naturally, writing fiction gives us license to rewrite history, to have those moments we might have missed, to embellish and to pretend.

In my snippet from Sunset Park today, and the last installment of Summertime, there is little reason to embellish or pretend. This one day is an amalgam of countless days of street play.

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From Sunset Park

Through no fault of her own, there just were not many girls to bum around with, not girls that were as cool or as much fun as Michael. Snooty Irene next door and Teresa Rosario around the corner were like foreigners to Antoinette and she never ventured to their doors. Slow Rosie was, poor baby, much too slow for the likes of Antoinette Gallucci.

Waiting for her friend Michael to return from the mountains, Antoinette contented herself on her alone-days riding on her skates, and with her parent’s permission, chasing around the block helping Mario complete grocery deliveries or just reading in her bedroom. She was reading more of her Nancy Drew and a few other books Joey had found for her at the library.

Antoinette sat back on her pillow at night and imagined sleuthing murder mysteries, being the only daughter the prominent Carson Drew, and doing a host of things she could only dream of doing. Joey laughed listening to her tell of the latest tale of her new found heroine, and when he found the time, read more of Mark Twain to her chapter by chapter.

When Michael came back from the mountains they were off and running, skating, and tearing up the streets in fine kid-fashion.

They had been skating in Sunset Park for hours. “Wow Toni, you’re really fast on those skates.” He flopped down near the circle by the flag pole.

“Yeah, it was great Joey gave me these skates for Christmas. Of course my mom nearly jumped into the stove. She thinks I’ll kill myself.”

“Why ‘cause they’re speed skates?”

“Yep.” She gazed longingly down the hills and tried to imagine how it would feel to finally go all the way. Perhaps today was the day. “Michael, could you do me a favor?”

He pushed out his lower lip. “You gonna get me into trouble the first week I’m home?”

“Naw, of course not. I just want to know if you could go to the bakery and get my father’s bread.”

“I thought that’s where we were going now?”

She spoke the words she kept to herself, the words that gave her a secret thrill. “Yeah, but I want to go all the way down.”

“Like I could stop you.” Then he relaxed his stance and shrugged.  “Sure, I’ll go.”

“Don’t forget to tell Josie it’s for me or she won’t let you have it.”

“I won’t forget.”

“See you by my airy way.”

Antoinette tightened her skates and waved him off. The wind pushed her hair back and felt cool against her face. Nothing else compared to the feeling of being wide open and free on speed skates. She thought hard steel against the asphalt and wind buzzing in her ears was more exciting than racing down the hills on the bike.

Standing high on solid steel Antoinette jumped the curb and made the light on Fifth Avenue. Ignoring the blare of horns she weaved in and out of traffic. Her body curled for speed, she took the second hill as the houses, the trees, and pedestrians, all blurred in her peripheral vision.

As luck was on her side, she made the next light, and doing several spins across the double wide of Fourth Avenue, waved to cars halted for the red.

When she got to Third Avenue to make the turn towards the corner bar and back home, she saw a clear and empty road ahead. No traffic on Third Avenue.

She kept going!

Once across Third Avenue she continued towards her final destination. Her excitement grew as she thought of the possibility of skating to the end of the dock and screeching to a halt just before lunging off the dock into the Narrows.

Second Avenue was ghostly vacant for the middle of a work day. With a tickle of laughter, she did three more turns and headed for the docks.

Unfortunately, the side street off Second Avenue was cobblestone and she almost took a header.

She paused for a moment to enjoy the sight of two tugs entering the harbor, turned the corner, and skated over to the Trolley House. “Hey Tim! Can you drop me off on Third?”

“You bet I can. Hop on.”

Toni took the trolley to the far side of Third Avenue and skated the rest of the way. She spotted Michael standing in front of her airy-way, waiting. She raced faster, breathless, lest Carmela lean out of the window and see Michael holding the family bread.

“You been here long?”

“Naw, just got here. Whered’ya go?”

“I almost went straight into the bay, but the side streets over to the docks are still cobblestone and I couldn’t skate.  Wow, I didn’t hit one light all the way!  That was from Sixth town to Second without stopping.  Wow!”

He poked her middle, mocking. “O h   W o w.  Ohhhhh.”

“Cut that out. It was great.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m just jealous.”

They sat on the steps while Antoinette took off her skates.

“It’s late. Don’t you have to give your mom the bread?”

“I know. I just don’t want to go up tonight. I want to stay out and watch the sun go down and sit by the water and think about stuff.”

“You know? I think your mother dropped you on your head.”

“Yes, sometimes I think so too, Michael.” Carmela was leaning on the windowsill in Antoinette’s room just above their heads.

Antoinette leaned her head back, wiggled her fingers and grinned. “Hi Ma.”

“Don’t you hi me, young lady. Get up here now.”

She was on her feet in an instant. “Aw nuts.”

Michael looked worried. “You in trouble?”

“Naw, that’s just the way she talks.” She slung her skates over her shoulder and tucked the bread under her other arm.  Tomorrow we go to the beach!”

“Yeah, see ya.”

And as always, they said in unison, “Not if I see you first!”

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He asked me if I had grandchildren. I told him my son has three and my daughter was expecting, expecting the little bundle who arrived three weeks ago this Monday.

We exchanged retirement stories, promised to stay in touch, promised to hook up when he comes to Florida for his winter vacation.

We won’t. Not because we don’t want to … but maybe for the same reasons we look back and see things differently than the way they really happened. We would not want to ruin the magic of those few precious years.

Memories, so fleeting, never meant to be paired side by side with reality, memories we alter for the sake of our ego or to preserve those dreams we might have lost along the way to growing up.

 Who was your best buddy?

Are you one of the few fortunate ones who keep in touch?

fOIS In The City

 

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