Friday, December 12, 2014

Chapter 3 Going Higher and Higher

Friendly readers for review you can find:
 Chapter 1: http://livinglomed.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-ocean-is-mine-chapter-1.html
Chapter 2: http://livinglomed.blogspot.com/2014/11/chapter-2.html

Chapter 3 
Sitting in the back of the black Mercedes, Marjorie pressed her forehead against the cool glass window and closed her eyes to keep down the carsickness rising in her stomach from the meandering road.

Conversation about children, travel logistics, the colors of the sky, and the warm weather were quickly being used up. "My parents," she reported to Fred, "called long distance, left a message at the desk. V is as happy as a clam. She always is, doesn’t need more than her soap operas and a book. But, Hal is having trouble sleeping at night. My mother has to lie on the floor until he falls asleep. Eight years old- more like two."

 "Give him a break Marge, he misses us," Fred said.

"He misses you. If you were around more, he wouldn't be so, well..." She didn’t want to fight, so she swallowed the rest of her sentence.

Fred changed the subject quickly. As a teen, he had mastered the slight of hand trick. “Hey look over here, so you won’t see what’s right in front of you.” The kiss with Irv, in his mind, required a rabbit out of the hat, especially since it had come on the heels of Marjorie finding Polaroids in his shoebox. Irv and Fred, standing arm in arm wearing matching bikini bathing suits was explained away with the details of a bet with drunk dental buddies at a conference. She and Evelyn seemed to buy that their kiss was a joke too. How many magic tricks could he do? It was draining.

"I have another surprise for you Marjorie. You won't believe where we are going for dinner. I promise it will blow your mind." Dinner was the last thing she was thinking about. Fred had researched this trip two years ago, keeping the itinerary as the perfect thing to distract Marjorie if he ever needed a major magic trick.

Sunlight was pirouetting on the water’s surface. Their driver was taking them from their Hotel, The Negresco, along the azure coastline, lined with palm trees that reached for the floating clouds.  


Women from the neighborhood would call it a dream come true to be whisked away on TWA by your husband, who looked more Rock Hudson than someone who stuck his fingers in people’s mouths every day. Site seeing in Nice, Monaco and Cannes should have left Marjorie feeling like Grace Kelley, from the Main Line to the Rivera. But, being pampered by a man, and managing the schedules of two children were never part of Marjorie's dream.

A gallery opening was her real wish. A review in the New York Times "ground breaking evocative paintings by Marjorie Borden" was her dream. Even as a young girl, when her mother was telling her she had to get a degree from a good school in order to meet someone studying to be a doctor or lawyer, she had imagined herself living alone in the Village. Her paintbrush would force the canvas into submission, revealing what was waiting for her alone to discover.  In her dream, she was chatting with the likes of Susan Weil and Lee Kasner, women who had moved out of the shadows of their husbands, Rauschenberg and Pollack, to become artists in their own right. Marjorie could ask these women,  “What’s it like to hold on to your dream, no matter what any one else thinks?”

     It was this kind of conversation she desperately wanted to have, but couldn’t have with the women who played tennis every morning and got their hair and shopping done in the afternoon. The next sale at Bonwit Teller would interest Evelyn. How could she say to Evelyn “I feel like a freak dressed up like Pat Nixon with pearls and a zombie smile?” 

Marjorie opened her eyes to see that the rolling coastline had given way to ugly factory towns with graffiti walls. Fred was holding on to the handle inside the car to counter the motion of shifting gears. She grabbed her handle too, wishing the drive would end very soon. 

The landscape changed again as the car climbed higher and higher moving upwards to country roads and tiled-roofed chalets with cascading magenta flowers. She cracked her window. Fred offered her a Virginia Slim. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” was the tagline of the commercial that drew her to this brand. His silver cigarette case was stocked half with camels and half with her thin filtered choice.

The higher they climbed the more the landscape beckoned a bottle of wine, and a baguette. What did Fred have planned, a wicker basket picnic in the hills?

The mountainous road looked just like the scene in the movie To Catch a Thief where Grace Kelly removed the scarf from her hair, pulled out a chicken leg from a basket and sprinkled it with salt to entice Cary Grant into a love affair. Every actor in that movie played an elegant liar, or a thief. Maybe she was both.

Philippe, their driver, had taken them as far as cars were permitted.

 “Allez, allez.” He pointed beyond the stonewalls. Adroit, adroit, gauche, Fondation.”

Between the two of them, Fred and Marjorie’s French was limited to knowing how to count from one to twenty, order white or red wine, ask for the bill, say hello, good-bye and then say thank you, waiter.

“You look a little green Marge.”

“I need to take a breath.” She tried, but couldn't get a full inhale. She threw her cigarette on the ground and stamped it out with her shoe.

“We’re up in the Alps. The air is thin. Take a minute. Let’s sit before we climb up all the way.” Fred rubbed her back until she waved him off, “I’m good.”

 Not sure exactly where the driver had directed them Fred took the lead. “Come on we’ll just follow the path that is the most flat. I’m no boy scout, but if the leaves have been flattened it means other people have walked this trail recently.” Fred guided her up the winding dirt and pebbled path, not sure which was the right way, but taking hold that logic would get them to where they were going. When they finally reached the clearing Marjorie saw a small sign: Fondation Maeght.

“This is for you Marjorie. I’ve been eyeing it for you since you showed me that article. I knew this would make you happy.” Standing more than a half a foot taller than Marjorie, he bent over to kiss her cheek, she bent her head down and his lips touched the top of her head.   

Two years ago she had showed Fred an article in Apollo, The Magazine of the Arts, about the Foundation, in Saint-Paul de Vence, a medieval village high in the hills of the South of France. The article described how the Maeght couple had come to their neighborhood, in the town adjacent to theirs, Merion, to figure out how to turn their massive collection of art into a public space. They had come to learn how Dr. Barnes had done that with his own collection in his creating the Barnes Foundation. Just minutes from their house, the Barnes Foundation, had the largest private collection of impressionist art in the world. Aimé and Marguerite Maeght went on to build their foundation in St Paul de Vence to be just like the Barnes to foster learning and community. They had been adamant, this was not just about exhibitions. It would be much more, the article had said, than just a museum. Aimee and Marguerite were acting a bit like Grace Kelly, from the Main Line to the French Rivera.

Fred bought tickets with his American Express Card, “deux, s’il vous plait.” The woman in the ticket booth handed Fred two maps and explained in beautiful English where to take the path, and walk through the iron gate.

They entered the gardens that sprouted Miros and Calders as abundantly as a field of daisies. The sun warmed and the garden path turned into an alcove with a dozen jutting Giacomettis. Each sculpture stretched the human form to more than twelve feet high and shrank it's width to 2 inches. They were stretched and compressed beyond what might be imaginable. Yet, each of the twelve sculptures stood straight in the rain and the wind and whatever nature doled out; they didn’t topple over.

“How is it possible?”

“Majestic.”

“Horrifying.”

“Real.”

“Trees, without leaves.”

“People? Objects?”

"So cold."

 Marjorie reached up to touch the hand of one of the sculptures. She had seen one that was very similar in the Philadelphia Art Museum, but it was just a foot high. And if she had tried to touch it there, a man in a uniform would have prevented it. Here in the garden, the sculpture said, "Come touch me. Explore me. Here it is not forbidden."

They spent hours strolling through the exhibitions. It had been a few years since the two of them had taken a Saturday at the Barnes discussing in detail Dr. Barnes’ collection of Renoir, Degas and Chagall. Chagall, was here too, hanging on the walls, and actually living in the town of St Paul de Vence.  They saw many new artists, like Hans Hartung, whose abstract paintings Fred favored because they were “free and wild.” The Nazis had put Hartung in a cell painted from top to bottom in red because they had learned he was an artist. The intense color, they thought would distort his vision. Maybe they had done him a favor, he saw the world uniquely, boldly making red, and blue and black dance off the canvas. His work lived in this light filled space, daily being witnessed by people from around the world who opened their eyes just a little wider because he didn’t let the Nazis or any of his life misery, like losing a leg, deter him.

Stopping at the gift shop before leaving, Fred bought Marjorie a silk scarf made from Chagall’s La Vie. She wrapped the colors and the images around her head as the afternoon light receded into the hills.

“I said I had a dinner surprise for you, Marjorie.”

“This was grand, really grand Fred. I don’t think I need any more surprises.”
Marjorie was satisfied. This very rare and wonderful day didn’t require another thing.

“Phillipe,” he said to their driver, La Colombe D’or s’il vous plait.”

In less than five minutes, Philipe was opening the door in front of a cottage that was the restaurant of choice for the artists of St. Paul de Vence. Chagall, Picasso, Braque, Matisse. “Oui,” the waiter wearing a long white apron said, “They all dine here.”

“If you like, I’ll choose for you,” said the waiter after seeing that they couldn't understand what was written on the very large menu. "You trust me?" "Oui," they chimed in unison.

Hanging on the wall behind Marjorie’s head was a Picasso. The waiter had explained Picasso paid for his meal with the drawing like many of the artists do.

“Do you think I could do that one day, Fred? You know be well known and have my work hanging in such a beautiful place? Or just hang some place where people would care to look?”

“You don’t let me see your work Marjorie. I’d like to say, but I haven’t seen it in ages. You've always had talent, really, it's in you. You have a special eye for color. I remember when we met, your fields of flowers, so vibrant.”

Painting flowers now seemed trite to Marjorie. She abandoned those studies a long time ago.

Truffle salad. Champagne.

“I destroy more than I keep. I’m not sure, maybe I’m in the attic studio hiding. I don't want to find out I only thought I was good. Not sure I can manage knowing there is nothing there. I haven't been able to talk to anyone about it, Fred. I just don't know."

Fred wanted to say what he was really thinking, and then stopped.

"Sometimes I think I'll go mad. Ideas and colors come bubbling up in me and then they gush out. I can't stop them. When the rush is over, I stand back, then the canvas says nothing that hasn't been said. I don't have my own light." She laughed, "Sitting on the floor in the attic crying I know isn't going to help me find it either."

 He listened to every word of Marjorie unburden what she had been mulling in her quiet, brooding times. This is  what she was thinking when she disappeared for hours. With the help of champagne, maybe the thin air on the mountain, the liberating paintings of Hartung or the true compassion he was feeling for Marjorie, he thought, just maybe he could say out in the open his bottled-up-tapped-down truth. He and Marjorie, were so alike in a way he had never realized before this trip.

"I know what you mean Marjorie, I know what you mean. The hiding part, the yearning to..."




The waiter interrupted, returning with great fanfare to present their main course under a silver dome. He placed the tray on their candlelit table and announced the speciality of the house “filet de boeuf en croute,” La Colombe d’Or’s version of Beef Wellington, looking an exact replica of the one that Marjorie had made, fleur de lis and all.

Marjorie and Fred let out loud raucous laughter. It was laughter starting from the belly and then rolling through the body. Fred actually banged the table with his fist, and Marjorie snorted, once and then again. 

 Every head in the restaurant turned to look at the vulgar Americans who had broken the etiquette of French dining to never disturb people at adjoining tables. To raise your voice above a whisper in such a place was a true offense. Their Michelin guidebook had even warned, “speak softly in restaurants while dining in France.” The waiter leaned over, "Please, please, the guests, Monsieur."


Marjorie reached her hand over to Fred’s. He thought she was going to quiet him. Instead, she gave him a double tap of her finger, inviting him to bang the table, a bit more loudly, this time, along with her.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Working My Way Up the Greased Pole

There's a new Normal in Jewish Education. Ten years ago, we scrounged around to find 5 congregations willing to try to re-imagine the conventional model of religious school. Today, new models are spreading across the country.
 Isa Aron's recent summary, "Upending the Grammar of Conventional Religious School," shows that re-modeling has produced a range of changes, from "project based learning," to more dramatic re-design like "home-havurote-with-skype-Hebrew-led-by-a-counselor-based-on-questions-of-the-learners-with-with monthly-family-social time."

Personally, I've spent over 30,000 hours of my life supporting the creation of new models that foster learning that has rich content, is relational, enables inquiry and meaning based, and speaks to every day life. I devoted my waking and even sleeping hours to this work because I believe the classroom alone could never convey powerful Jewish learning. I've been driven by an almost evangelical conviction that we needed alternatives like Shabbat family models and camp-like models so learning would move to real life.

To all of us in the "re-modeling business" I say:  Keep the ball rolling.
Kol Hakavod! A great wave is sweeping the country. Yes, a lot more work has to be done.

And, I'm ready for what's next.
I need to move on because I believe no matter how we re-model those four to six hours, even with extremes like  the "learning-on-trampoline-while-your-personal-spiritual-coach-helps you-recite-Mishnah" model, it will not be enough to grow a Jewish child.

So I'm asking, where will I commit the next 30,000 of my work life?

I'm energized by ideas from Harvard's Family Research Project "Anywhere, Anytime Learning."

They say:
     "Children and youth learn anywhere, anytime, not just in classrooms during school hours. How can families, after school programs and community organizations work together to offer children meaningful learning opportunities outside the school setting? What is the role of families in                 anywhere, anytime learning? How can we make quality after-school and summer learning  opportunities accessible to all children? "

LOL. Their project bemoans that children are only in school six and half hours a day and that is not enough.  I've been using 30,000 hours to work my way up the greased pole of four six hours a week.  I'm laughing  and I'm seeing the opportunity for what's next.

If this is where children learn, then what is our work, to create Jewish Anywhere, Anytime Learning?
Folks around the country are already starting to re-position the role of the congregation, of cultural centers, and after school programs to create aspects of Anywhere/Anytime Learning.
Examples include:
*Schools and camps building partnerships that result in a 12 month curriculum & more kids in camps
* Educators using secular spaces for Jewish learning  like, in museums,  and the park --spaces where families are, become Jewish spaces
*Engage the real needs of families  like Jewish parenting & home enriched time
* Pre-schools, congregation, and teen engagement programs working together to usher folks from stage to the next...the list goes on.

So for me what's next?
1 Learn from the successes in the Community.
2. Find partners who believe in building the bridges to somewhere
3. Learn from the learners-as promoted by Design Thinking-Do some Wild Empathy
4. Try some stuff out

Ok I have my next steps to get off the greased pole. And, Hello Harvard. Deuteronomy 6 had this idea of Anywhere, Anytime learning, a long time ago. We just haven't figured out YET how to do that for the liberal Jewish community of America in the 21st century. By the way, how do you get grease stains out?


 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chapter 2


Chapter 2        Bessie

 (Chapter 1   http://livinglomed.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-ocean-is-mine-chapter-1.html)

Five days a week Bessie’s routine included making her own home spic and span before leaving for Mrs. Marjorie and Dr. Fred’s house. Once in a while she worked for them on a Saturday when they needed her to babysit Hal and V. Sundays, however, were off limits. Even when Mrs. Marjorie called in a fast and frantic voice, like she did yesterday, she’d stick to her guns and say, “God called first, off to church. See you Monday morning.”

A chirp curled up from Bessie’s throat whenever she spoke her tiny lies. She wasn’t off to church. She was praying her own Sunday way by reading piles of magazines and soaking in a hot tub with Calgon—just taking her away.

She lived alone in a narrow row house with a big floppy lilac tree on 4908 Baltimore Avenue West Philadelphia. Bessie planted the tree when Loretta was three, the year Whitey took the 44 bus to work and never got on the return bus. Maybe he got killed, or just kept taking buses until he passed the city line, passed the big suburban stone houses, then made it clear cross to a place where there wasn’t any work to be done, where no old woman complained about her back, and no baby girl cried. Bessie thought maybe Whitey lived in a cabin on a mountain with a river and lots of fish, and a Spirit cleaned the fish for him, fried them, and then scrubbed the pan. God, she  imagined, didn't do that kind of work, but could have, in all His mercy, sent a Spirit to do that for Whitey, a good hearted man just trying to find his way in the world.

 “Life keeps on no matter the comings and goings of any man,” Bessie had said to her daughter encouraging her to stop that crying and help dig the hole for the lilac tree.

Now, since her mother had died, and Loretta, was in New York City enrolled in business school, she had only one bed to make before heading out to work. In eleven months, Loretta would be getting a job in a lawyer’s office as a stenographer. She’d go to work in high heels, a patent leather belt and a gold pin with big colored stones on her lapel. Women didn’t wear gloves or hats anymore unless they were headed to church, but Bessie imagined Loretta dressed for work with those matching accessories. She warned Loretta about her hair.
“No lawyer with a fancy office is going to hire you if you look like you’re going to raise your fist  for ‘Black Power.’ Bessie thought the afro that young woman were wearing was a ticket to trouble. “You have to buy the new hair relaxers by Johnson and Johnson. I saw in Ebony Magazine they don’t have lye so your hair won’t be getting thin like mine.”

Bessie shook out her blanket in search of the other side of the bed. With no one standing across from her to help it lay flat in one toss, she went back and forth until she got the bed just right.
A few men had come in and out of her row house, in and out of her her double bed, since Whitey. She was only thirty-five, but someone who didn’t know her would have guessed that she had ten more years on her. She didn’t have the time to be looking for a man. And not too many men come looking for a woman whose hands smell like bleach and feel like a scrub brush.

Before, shutting her bedroom door, Bessie straightened the two portraits of real men hanging over her bed. The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the late President John F. Kennedy watched over her nights' sleep.




 If it hadn't been for them, Loretta would be putting on a yellow uniform with an apron like she did every morning heading out to clean up rich people’s shit. 

Most men, according to Bessie, were too pumped up by their mamas’ praise. “You are so wonderful,” boys are told for just for taking a dump and wiping their own asses. Little boys grow up to be bigger boys wearing men’s shoes expecting women to treat them like the Christ child himself, serving up compliments, cold beers, and clean underwear. And when you are bending over to pick up their newspapers they want to lift your skirt and bang you hard till they are satisfied without a care for what you might be needing. Bessie buttoned up her fall red coat, turned the key on the top and bottom locks, walked past the lilac tree, and stood in the fall breeze with the other women waiting to cross the city line on the 44 bus.

Marjorie’s brown Continental was third in line behind the other big cars in the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant Chopsticks. The women were waiting to pick up their “girl.” Most girls came two days a week. Bessie came Monday through Friday.

“I really needed you yesterday Bessie,” scolded Marjorie. Marjorie cracked her window and took a big inhale of a Virginia slim tucked into the black cigarette holder while she waited her turn to drive down Montgomery Avenue through Wynnewood, past Bala Cynwyd and down toward Bryn Mawr. The Welsh had been the earliest settlers in these tree lined acres, leaving behind names that could only be pronounced by people in the know.  The 44 bus didn’t go as far as Bryn Mawr. 

“Sorry,” Bessie couldn’t help that little laugh from curling up her throat, “Church and all.” It’s not that Bessie never went to church. She’d been baptized in a river as a girl.

She could rise to her feet from listening to Pastor Moore preach at Mt Olive Baptist. He was the one who baptized Loretta, a giant in the ministry, a teacher extraordinaire preaching the Word so you could witness God  move in the congregation. By time most Sundays came, Bessie needed her feet soaking in a tub more than Pastor Moore’s message of judgment and even his promises of hope.

“We had a dinner party Saturday night.” Marjorie said as she pulled her coat tight covering up her terry cloth pink bathrobe. She inhaled again and announced like she was saying "Hal has baseball practice after school," that  “Dr. Fred and I are leaving on a trip tomorrow. You won’t have to come after today for two weeks. The children will be at my mother’s.”

Two weeks of not working meant not making one hundred and sixty dollars. Loretta’s rent would be due. Bessie counted in her head how short she'd be. Loretta wouldn't like it if her rent check was late.

“I can come and dust, water the plants. The curtains could use some ironing,” Bessie tried. "I could get up in your studio and give a good going over." Marjorie shot her an eyebrow, Bessie was not permitted in the attic. The children weren't permitted up there either.

“Won’t be necessary. Take a vacation too, Bessie. It's always good to restart your engine.”

Coming up the driveway of the house, Marjorie pushed the electric garage door opener. Bessie was amazed every morning how Marjorie managed getting that car into the garage with barely any room on each side, but she did most days without a scratch.

Just as promised the kitchen and dinning room were a mess. There was enough food left out on the counter to feed a whole family and instead she'd have to throw all that meat down the garbage disposal. 
Marjorie threw her coat on the white silk sofa in the living room and headed up to the attic to paint. She didn’t come down all day while Bessie scoured the pans with brillo, washed and ironed the tablecloth, and polished the banister with brass-o. In a few hours the kitchen and dining room looked as if there had been no party Saturday night.

It was the bedroom that was the real challenge. Miss Marjorie’s bottle of Interlude was broken on the rug. Glass was scattered across the floor and the perfume had soaked into the powder blue shag rug. A martini glass was broken at the other end next to Dr. Fred's  armoire.  This one must have been a real doozy. Dr. Fred was prone to slamming doors as was his right. He did his fair share of "go to hell" but Bessie never saw things flying across a room. Mrs. Marjorie was more like a sulking cat when she got mad. Who  did the throwing?  She windexed the powder blue wall to get rid of the streaks of liquid that had left their mark.

Bessie picked up the broken pieces of glass carefully in her hands. The Hoover upright vacuum got the rest. She made a baking powder paste to soak up the perfume. Her mother had taught her how to use baking powder to clean up almost everything. It even takes the bite out of a bee sting.

Dr. Fred had already started packing. He was a real man, Bessie thought. Not in the same way as Dr. King or President Kennedy. It's not like he is undoing the  injustices of her world. But, he always has time to talk. He is a healer and that's what God wants, healers. He'd never walk out and leave Mrs. Marjorie alone to raise the children. Dr. Fred would never get on the 44 bus without making sure to buy a return ticket. 

In his leather suitcase that had double G initials, Dr. Fred  had packed two bathing suits and beach shoes. His tuxedo and white dinner jacket were already in the suit bag. They must be going somewhere warm and formal Bessie ventured.  Florida? A cruise? Europe maybe? Once Dr. Fred had told her all about their trip to Rome, Italy with beautiful sculptures and the best food. Loretta might get to Rome one day. 

When Hal and V came from school the house was ordered. She hung up their book bags and gave them oreo cookies and milk. Just like she did when Loretta was young, she sat them down to do homework before they were allowed to watch the television. V was the smart one. She finished off her assignments without asking for any help. V had red hair like her mother but they didn't seem to have much more in common. Every one of V's greetings had a smile attached to it. Bessie could imagine V as a healer like her dad. She could grow up and go to nursing school so she wouldnt have to worry about the comings and goings of any man.

 Hal needed Bessie's attention for homework help. Poor kid couldn't keep his multiplication tables straight. Bessie had made him a big chart from the one's to the nines and put it up on his closet door. No one was telling him he was so wonderful. So Bessie did even when he missed 7X8, 8X8, and 9X8.

Marjorie, still in her terry cloth bathrobe, came down stairs at 4:30 ready to drive Bessie back to the 44 bus, then head out to pick up Fred. The best you could say about Marjorie's efforts that day would be an incoherent color mash from her experiment with a kind of portrait that blurred the line between faces and windows. By mixing abstract and realistic approaches Marjorie thought she could convey in a new way, her way, what Goya had done with his masterful traditional strokes. She  was reaching for a new kind of portrait that acted as a window to a life story. At the end of the day there was no life and no story on her canvas. 

Saturday night was playing and replaying in her head. She hand't meant to sound so jealous. She totally got  that Fred and Irv spend lots of time together because of their work. But there was a time when Fred turned to her about important things. Irv and Fred were debating about the next painting to purchase for the office collection which they shared as a investment and a tax write off. For God's sake, she was an artist. Wouldn't they ask her opinion?

They all had  a laugh about the kiss. As Irv had explained, they were trying to figure out how two of their teenage patients managed to come in with their braces locked. It was the fight after Irv and Evelyn had left that had turned things upside down. Fred had screamed at her like a child, actually calling her a "spoiled brat."  And sometimes she felt that way, like when Fred handed her the weekly allowance for the house expenses. Or when he was in deep conversation with Irv, as if she weren't even at the table. Or when Fred told her to be ready in 48 hours. They were going on a trip. He was trying to make up, but really he could have asked.

Marjorie walked into the kitchen with paint smeared on her sleeves. Some baking powder might get that out, thought Bessie.  Whitey had gotten his name from paint. He was as black as any man she ever saw, but because he always came round with white paint all over him from his odd jobs, folks just got to calling him Whitey. What could you call Mrs. Marjorie? Rainbow didn't seem to fit. Colored? Bessie got a good tickle out of that.

 Counting out an extra ten dollars, Marjorie pushed the bills into Bessie’s hand. “Sorry things were such a mess. I’ll call you when we come back from our trip. You take some vacation too.”

“Maybe I’ll go visit Loretta, I’ve been wanting to do that,” Bessie said buttoning up her red fall coat, a little chirp came up her throat.


“Sounds good,” Marjorie said. It was no surprise to Bessie that Marjorie didn’t know who Loretta was.
I wanna come too,” Hal popped up from his G I Joes on maneuvers.

“Stay with your sister. I’ll be back in an hour.”

V didn’t even look up. She was watching One to Life to Live and on this soap opera Viki Lord was the lord of her castle in Lanview, Pennsylvania.  In one of Bessie's magazines, V read that Lanview was supposed to be just like Bryn Mawr.  Viki was a character written by Agnes Nixon to copy Tracy Lord the star of an old movie The Philadelphia Story. V watched that movie with Marjorie once. Marjorie was crazy for the Bernie Herman Show on channel 48 with all the old movies and she would try to pull V in to watch with her. That time V gave in. She hated it. Tracy Lord, Katherine Hepburn, was a rich girl who went from man to man because she wanted every one to treat her like a goddess. That was just dumb. V was going to grow up to be more than someone who let a man shove his hand down her face and push her to the ground and  then wind up marrying him. Black and white movies were off V's to do list, she was going to live in color and be like Viki Lord, the head of Lord Enterprises, even if it meant she might have bouts with multiple personalities.


 V was glued to the television. "Go over it with a mop," the woman says to the man in the restaurant, "Spic and Span wouldn't leave all that dirt." He looks at the dirt after a second going over and says, "Thanks lady if there is ever anything I can do for you." V was working very hard not to notice her mom. Why should she, she didn’t seem to notice her.

"See ya tomorrow Bessie," V called. Marjorie hadn't yet told the kids that she and Fred were headed for two weeks vacation and they'd be staying with their grandparents.