Friday, July 11, 2008


I've written a little snippet of my novel-in-progress Ginny Bates that occurs back in 1997, a treat for you all from the children's past. If you are not yet a reader of Ginny Bates, you can begin by going to the right column and finding the heading which will give you background and instructions on how to read the novel in order.

Early October 1997 -- Margie is eight, Gillam is six, Truitt is nine, Carly is six

As Myra ate her granola, Ginny sipped tea and said "I've had an idea." Myra's pulse accelerated instantly.

"I was looking through one of those obscene yuppie kids catalogues that keep coming to our door, despite the fact that we never order anything from them, just to see what passes for upscale these days" said Ginny, "and they have Halloween costumes of the Teletubbies! I thought maybe our two plus Carly and Truitt could all dress up for the Lowell Elementary carnival, they're the perfect size range."

Ginny was wild about the Teletubbies and actually taped shows to watch over and over. The kids watched them with her -- any TV was a treat -- although Margie frequently said it was dumb. Ginny loved to explain, at length, why certain motifs were used, how brilliantly the producers were reproducing the world-view of infants and toddlers. Myra had watched them once and decided it wasn't her thing, although it didn't creep her out like Mr. Rogers or make her homicidal like Barney.

Myra said carefully "How much are the costumes?"

"Oh, they're ridiculous, no way I'm going to buy them. But I found a place in town that has them for rent, even in Truitt's size" said Ginny. "Won't they be adorable? I already mentioned it to Patty, she loves the idea."

"Are you sure Margie doesn't have another costume in mind?" asked Myra.

"Tank Girl? Not a chance" said Ginny. "We could get bunny ears for all us adults to go as the rabbits, and I could make a sunburst for Juju to wear as the solar baby."

"Well, run it by the peanut gallery" said Myra. She couldn't imagine Truitt agreeing to be Tinky Winky.

But Patty and Ginny coordinated their pressure, and Truitt's request to go as Vanilla Ice this year was soundly vetoed by Pat, so the costumes were held by a deposit. Ginny's ruff for Juju, made of gold foil in pleats, was truly beautiful and wrapped around Juju's head with a concealed band. However, either the shimmer in her peripheral vision or the sound of the metal freaked out Juju utterly. When it was put on her, she would not move an inch, breathing shallowly and trembling enough to make the ruff vibrate. Finally, exasperated, Ginny placed it around her own head where it was rather tight, giving her a post-facelift visage. She chose an outfit of bronze brocade, and instructed the other adults, including the aunties, to wear a solid color ensemble matching their particular set of bunny ears.

The night of the carnival, Myra emerged in white velour which she was certain made her look gigantic, a fear confirmed by Allie's muffled giggle. Chris had pearl grey ears, but arrived in her black leather jacket, jeans and boots, one ear bent rakishly. Myra said she looked like a character from Slaughtership Down, and everyone laughed except Ginny.

Gillam as Laa-Laa was cute enough to eat, Myra thought, but it was short little Carly as red-cheeked Po who stole the show. Once everyone was assembled, Truitt suddenly rebelled, saying "The boys in my class are going to laugh at me, I'm too old for this." He had already succeeded in getting Pat's backing to ditch the purse, and he looked to her now for help.

Pat got a glance from Patty, however, and she said, without conviction, "It's too late to change your mind. At least you're the king of the Teletubbies, the biggest and smartest. Act like their leader. And this is way trendy, you'll be cool and the center of attention, I promise."

Ginny's face was solar disgust. Margie immediately said "I should be Tinky Winky, I'm the smartest, I hate Dipsy, I have the stupidest head!" She began trying to rip off her cowl. Gillam and Carly stood at a safe distance, holding hands, their exaggerated bottoms almost touching.

Myra expected all-out confrontation between Ginny and Margie, with a wretched evening no matter who won. However, Allie grabbed Margie's hand and pulled her into the alcove by the carport door, bending over to whisper in Margie's ear. After only a minute, they returned, Margie grinning and saying "It's okay, I want to be Dipsy, after all."

Pat's cynical prediction turned out to be correct: The Teletubbies were the hit of the Carnival, winning best group costume and having countless photos taken of them. Ginny made two toddlers weep when she burst into maniacal baby laughter at odd moments, shaking her unearthly head and sending reflected light flashing in all directions. Gillam got chocolate frosting rubbed into his yellow fur, and Myra predicted it might never wash out, they could kiss that deposit goodbye. Margie ate so many orange candy pumpkins that she vomited on the lineoleum floor of the school entryway, a vile persimmony mess which sent Myra into full flight.

Once they were home and the children were finally in bed -- although Margie had declared her intention to stay awake all night and Ginny remarked she certainly had the chemicals on board to accomplish it -- the grown women, minus Pat and Patty, settled down in the living room with tea. Allie was still wearing her bunny ears as she leaned back and closed her eyes.

Myra nudged Allie's knee and said "All right, give it up. What is it that you say to our crazed daughter which turns her docile?"

Allie grinned before opening her eyes. "Different thing each time. Tonight, I just pointed out that Dipsy was the Teletubby of Cullah. Which of course made her the most important one, the one who the rest would follow into the future. That why her fur green, the symbol of growth."

They all burst into laughter.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.