Monday, January 5, 2009


Photo of bright green door (Green door photo by Barbara Rossi at Los Zacatitos, Baja California)

It's shorter than usual, but here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. -- I don't want to keep you waiting too much. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

May 2018

Myra discovered she was hungry again, despite having had breakfast. She went to a diner, ordered hash browns with her patty melt, and asked for cranberry juice instead of a Coke. She read a newspaper slowly, sitting on a stool at the end of a counter, through the lunch rush. Her mind was working on another level, she could tell.

When she got home, Ginny was putting together a salad with endive and baby carrots. “You want some of this?” she offered.

“No, I ate. But it looks good” said Myra. She felt like it was an effort to make normal conversation.

“Margie just left. I had another long cry with her.” Myra noticed Ginny's face color was more normal that it had been in – well, however long it had been. Ginny continued “There's a message on the machine from Claire. She wants to know more about our anniversary party” said Ginny. She and Myra looked at each other, and to Ginny's relief, Myra laughed.

“Well, fuck if I know” said Myra.

“Same here. Maybe we can send out a general e-mail saying that due to personal demands, the party has to be cancelled this year” said Ginny, with a grin.

“Personal demands, huh. We could say in lieu of an anniversary gift, they could contribute to our couples' counseling fund” replied Myra. At least they could laugh about it.

She joined Ginny at the table while Ginny ate. “When the grandkids come tomorrow, what shall we do with them?” she asked.

“Well...what do we think others have not been doing with them?” said Ginny.

“Dance Class” said Myra instantly. “And – we could make bread with science experiments thrown in, like altering ingredients.”

“With those mini loaf pans you got them” said Ginny. “They can take home anything that tastes awful.”

“Which reminds me, I probably need to make a grocery run” said Myra.

“I filled the crisper. But yeah, we're out of milk, eggs, a lot of fresh stuff” said Ginny. “This is the last of that Jarlsberg.” She was wolfing her lunch. Myra got up to look through the fridge and pantry.

“I can vacuum and mop later, too” said Ginny. She carried her empty bowl to the sink and rinsed it. “I know you're not complaining, but first I'm going to wash myself, a long soak in the tub.”

Without thinking, Myra said “You want me to scrub your back for you?”

There was a long silence. She met Ginny's eyes, which went smudgy as Ginny said “I'd love it.”

While Ginny started her bath water, Myra called Claire back and left a message. She sent a brief e-mail update to her family, then rolled up her sleeves and went in the bathroom. Ginny was just stepping into the tub. Myra looked at her ass, a different shape now than the first time she saw Ginny naked but inexpressibly familiar and beautiful to her. She closed her eyes for a moment against the longing that roiled her stomach. When she opened them again, Ginny was seated and watching her.

"At least we both miss each other" she said. "That's better than not missing."

Myra closed the bathroom door against breezes and pulled over the footstool, sitting on it beside the tub. She picked up the plastic cup in the corner and said "How about if I wash your hair first?"

Ginny leaned forward and Myra filled the cup with hot water, then poured it slowly over Ginny's thick white cap, repeating until Ginny's head was soaked. With the hair flattened by wetness, Myra could see pink scalp underneath. She rubbed her thumbs along Ginny's hairline and temples, loosening the muscles as she went, then traveled her hands across the bowl of Ginny's head, pulling very gently on the short hair to increase blood flow. She finished with her thumbs inside the tip of each of Ginny's ears, and swirled the pad of her thumb down the ear curve and onto the stirrup before the canal.

She poured a handful of apricot shampoo into her palm, spread it into the other palm, and began tenderly rubbing shampoo into Ginny's hair. Ginny closed her eyes, her face flushed and intent. When Ginny's head was a tight cap of suds, Myra coaxed her backwards slowly and lowered Ginny into the water until just her face was exposed. Holding her with one hand, she used the other to rinse Ginny's hair until it floated in clean snowy spikettes in an arc around her head. Then Myra pulled her back up, wiping water away from Ginny's eyes and cheeks.

"You look a little like a baby fur seal" she said, kissing Ginny's forehead. She tugged Ginny toward her so Ginny could lean her arms on the side, her head on her arms, and began soaping Ginny's back, using her thumbs and the heels of her hands to explore every muscle and vertebrae. She took a long, slow time about it. When she finally said "You can lie back in the water now and rinse", the water had cooled off enough to need a recharge from the hot faucet.

"Thank you, Ginny" she said softly. Ginny's eyes were begging her not to go. Myra stood up, with an audible creak from her knees and a wince of pain, and dried her hands on a towel. Ginny said “Don't go to Pike without me, okay? I want to go with you.”

“All right” said Myra. “I'm going to start some laundry, if you won't be needing more hot water.”

For dinner, Myra ground hazelnuts into meal and coated two big fillets of sole with it before frying them. Ginny made anchovy butter, and put together a bulgar salad with various steamed veggies from the garden. As they were sitting down, Gillam appeared at the back door.

“Are you hungry?” asked Myra, noticing what a reflex that was for her.

“We're going to eat in ten minutes” he said. “David is crying because he doesn't want to eat chopped steak, he says it makes his teeth feel ooky.”

Myra and Ginny laughed. He stared at them, drinking in the sight.

“Listen...Margie called me on my cell as I was taking the bus home. She told me what happened.” His shoulders were stiff, Myra noticed.

“Are you here for confirmation?” asked Ginny. “Because I'm sure Margie got it right.”

“No, I – I just wanted to tell you how very sorry I am, what you've been through, and that I love you. Both of you.” He bent over Ginny and she pushed her face against his chest, her eyes leaking tears. Myra patted his arm. Of course Mama would have chosen him to be our first she thought suddenly.

“I also want you to know – after dinner, after I get the kids settled into a game at the table with Jane, Margie and I are going to talk with Carly. And Eric, of course. We want to be the ones to tell him.” Gillam's eyes were very somber.

“Oh, boychik, that would be ever so much the best” Myra said. “Only, let him know he's not to avoid us or feel like he can't ask for help from us -- “

Ginny was noticing that use of “us”. Gillam said “I'm sure he knows it, Mom.”

“We're planning on having the aunties to dinner tomorrow night, for a group talk. You're all invited, of course. The issue is what to do with the kids while we try to have a serious conversation” said Ginny.

“Well...We could plop them in front of a video. I mean, technically Charlie's not a year old yet, and we said no TV for any of them before that age, but he's almost there” mused Gillam.

“I have that set of old Reading Rainbow episodes, they're not much different from reading a book” ventured Myra.

“I'll talk it over with Jane. If we do come, should we invite Carly and Eric, too?”

“Absolutely” said Myra. “But let me know, so I can plan the meal accordingly.”

“Can I have a taste of that fish?” Gillam said to Myra. “It looks incredible.”

Myra held out her fork. “It's a winning recipe. I'll bring it to the next singing Sunday.”

There it was, a commitment to the future thought Ginny.

After dinner, awkwardness returned.

“What – you've not been painting, right?” asked Myra.

“God no” said Ginny.

“What did you do with that painting?” Myra's voice was hesitant.

“I put it away. The thing is – it was a portrait of you. So I'm reluctant to scrape it down, you understand.” Ginny managed a grin. “But...I don't know what I'll do with it.”

“Well, I know Allie would bitch at me, but all I want to do right now is go watch television” said Myra. “I'm worn out. I'll try to not choose crap, I'll do that much. It helps me go to sleep.”

Ginny couldn't fill the silence that ensued, all that was going unsaid. Finally she said “I'll vacuum and mop now, then. Shut your door so the dust doesn't bother you.”

Myra moved her arm, stopped herself, then came forward and hugged Ginny, slowly and closely. “I wish it was as easy as waiting for a test result to come in from the clinic” she whispered.

“Sweet dreams, Myra” Ginny whispered back.

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.


Nancy Wechsler said...

I wanted to thank you for mentioning me when you wrote about the movie they made about Harvey Milk. I think Harvey was a great Council member, but he was most definately not the first gay/lesbian to be elected to office in the United States--not even the first gay man. I ran for office in 1972 from a Third Party in Ann Arbor, Michigan (The Human Rights Party) and won that election. I came out publicly during the first year of my two year term. Jerry DeGrieck also ran from our party (HRP) and won an additional seat on the Ann Arbor City Council. We both came out at the same council meeting in 1972 I believe. That makes Jerry the first gay man to come out in office in the US, and me the first woman. Kathy Kozachenko, who you mention, ran for my seat when I decided not to seak re-election, and she ran as an openly lesbian candidate from HRP and won. She, not Elaine, is the first openly lesbian woman to run and win. People say that Elaine was a state representative and that makes her more important than Kathy or myself-- who were city councelors-- but I actually received more votes in my ward than Elaine did when she won her State Rep race. I think they like to forget Jerry, Kathy and I because we ran from a radical, progressive Third Party and those parties aren't supposed to exist and certainly aren't supposed to have elected anyone to office.

Anyway, thanks again for mentioning all of us. In case you want to know-- we are all still at it- still politically active and working for peace and social justice. Nancy Wechsler

Maggie Jochild said...

Nancy, absolutely wonderful to hear from you, to hear REAL history/herstory, and especially to hear you are all still at it. Same here.

I mean for this blog to be a place where stories like this find a permanent home on the web. Thanks for letting me know.