Friday, January 2, 2009


Hot dogs on an open fire
As a New Year treat, here's a little lagniappe portion of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. This day occurred when Margie and Gillam were 11 and 8, and was just written, not part of the earlier chapters. 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.

July 1999

It was a warm summer weekend. When Margie found out Truitt and Carly were staying over Saturday night, she asked to invite Amy and Myra drove them to pick her up. However, boy-girl tensions ran high from the moment of Amy's arrival. Amy refused to go swimming, and Margie began making fun of the boys' legs, which mostly bewildered Carly and Gillam. Truitt was stung, however. Finally Ginny ordered Margie and Amy to find something constructive to do. They wandered into the house where Myra was wrapping potatoes to bake for dinner.

"Can we get on your computer?" asked Margie.

"What for?"

"Just to look at stuff."

"You can go in under your password" said Myra. But after a whispered consultation with Amy, they declined.

"Can we play music in the living room?" was the next question.

"Be my guest. Volume is under my control, however." Margie stomped upstairs and came back with her boombox. Amy had pulled magazines from her pack and already littered the living room with them.

Ginny joined Myra in the kitchen. "What else besides potatoes?" she asked.

"I thought I'd drag out the round grill and set it up like a firepit, let them roast wienies. Maybe veggie-ka-bobs with that?"

"I'll make those" said Ginny.

"Then I'm going to start some ice cream in the electric maker. Vanilla; they can add in fruit as toppings" said Myra.

"Truitt blew his nose in the pool and Gillam immediately followed suit" said Ginny.

"Barbarians" replied Myra. "They can clean out the damned filter tomorrow morning, then."

"What on earth is so fucking hilarious in, that is that, Mademoiselle?" asked Ginny sotto voce. "And when did Margie start laughing in that fakey way?"

"She's eleven" said Myra. "Insincerity should be the name of the nail polish they market for that age."

"We're rich" said Ginny. "Let's ship them all off to camp and take an extended Alaskan cruise. King crab for every meal, calving glaciers, and rocking ship motion at night."

Myra stopped scraping vanilla seeds from the interior of a pod for a moment to allow herself a belly laugh. She put pod and seeds into a saucepan of cream and said "Did you go to camp every summer?"

"Only if Mother wasn't punishing me" said Ginny. "She couldn't keep me from the Gulf Coast, but the threat of making me stay home with her the rest of the summer was a serious motivator for my behavior."

"I used to read about camp in Mad Magazine and daydream about how great it'd be" said Myra. "The most I ever had was three days of Vacation Bible School. I won a prize for being the first to memorize all the books of the Bible in order, though."

Ginny stared at her, trying to imagine that girl. "What did you win?"

"I don't remember. Probably a Bible." They laughed again.

At dusk, they were all on the deck jostling for space to put their hot dogs over the best coals. The boys had changed into shorts, and Truitt's were baggy, hanging down in the back to where the top of his crack showed when he leaned forward to twirl his coat-hanger wiener roaster. Amy nudged Margie and whispered something, and they broke out into machine-gun giggles.

"Knock it off" said Myra. "There's nothing hilarious about partially revealed segments of the human body."

Margie glared at her. "You don't know what we were saying."

"You were certainly rude enough to whisper about people present, you're right, but the fact is, I find it tragically easy to read your mind" replied Myra.

"Oh yeah -- " began Margie, but Myra cut her off.

"I'll prove it. Do this in your heads, all of you, and don't say anything to each other. Pick a number from one to ten. Okay, now multiply that number by nine. Gillam, if you're going to do it in your palm, turn it up so we can't see what you're tracing. Ready? Your number has two digits. Add them together -- like, if it's 10, add one and zero. Now, from that number take away five. Then, take that number and find its corresponding letter in the alphabet. Hang on, I'll explain. A equals one, B equal two, and so on." Myra paused to give them time, and saw that Ginny was playing as well.

"Are you all set? Okay, the letter you came up with, think of a country that begins with that letter. Now, think of an animal whose name begins with the last letter of the country you thought of. Last letter, Carly. Okay, now, take the last letter of that animal and think of a fruit whose name begins with that letter. Everybody on board?"

Myra turned to Margie and said "I don't think kangaroos eat oranges, do they? And there are no kangaroos in Denmark."

Margie's nostrils flared in shock. Gillam and Carly said in unison "Whoa!" She heard Ginny beginning to laugh. Amy muttered "Pathetic" under her breath and Myra ignored her, sliding another hot dog on her skewer in triumph.

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.