Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Well, it started snowing about midnight or so and did not let up for over 24 hours. We got about a foot, but not all of it stuck because the temperatures have been so spring-like. Still, I had to clean off the jeep twice and dare not drive anywhere. This has curtailed the planned sheep hunt.

I bet they are sorry now. Sheeplies get extra shelter and food when it snows here, but they are on their own. Not that they care, they are Shetland sheep and used to weather like this.

Knoxville had footage of everyone sliding all over the interstates. It’s a big mess.

Today's story is :


My best friend for the entire year of 1969 was towheaded with curly hair--the sort I wanted. I wasn't exactly sure why my mom let me be friends with Katie. There wasn't anything specific; I just knew they weren't like us. Maybe that was the point, them not being like us.

The day before Halloween, we both went into the Mercantile, where Mrs. Rosenstein sat behind the candy counter with her swollen ankles sheathed in elastic support hose that never stayed up. I dragged my Mary Janes through the thin layer of sawdust and smiled shyly at Mrs. Rosenstein over the candy selection and the big jars of pickled eggs, hogs feet and dill pickles.

My Mom got a quart of milk and we picked out ice cream. I got an orange pushup and Katie got an ice cream sandwich. We stood on tiptoes to slide the door of the soda cooler open and got cokes, mine was a Ne-hi and Katie's a Crush. We put everything on the counter for Mrs. Rosenstein next to the quart of milk and dozen eggs.

That was when I saw them, the best edible wax horse teeth ever and I knew I had to have them. I convinced Mom, saying it could be part of my costume. I was going as a surfer. Katie picked out a candy necklace since I was getting the best horse teeth ever.

We piled in the back of the station wagon--seats covered with plastic slipcovers that stuck to our thighs--with our ice creams, drinks and new treasures for the ride home, flashing our orange and purple tongues at each other. Katie lived a block away from me and I was spending the night at her house so we could plot our trick-or-treat strategy.

Katie lived in a ramshackle rental house on the marsh. There wasn't a dock or anything and it looked onto stretch of mud crawling with fiddler crabs and waterlogged remnants of marshgrass. The house smelled of toasted pumpkin seeds, incense and what I later identified as bong water. Thrift store furniture slouched, covered in India print bedspreads. Katie didn't have a dad, but she had a gang of uncles who drove VW microbuses. They listened to The Dead all the time.

My family--well--we were Episcopalians.

Her mother met us at the door, stringy hair caught up in a beaded headband. She had made her skirt out of the same fabric she had draped the furniture. I think she was a Vista volunteer, but I never actually knew what she did for a living. Katie said they moved around a lot. We tore through the house to Katie's bedroom where I was going to borrow some of her peace sign jewelry. We took a running jump and dove onto her bed all squeals and giggles. Katie's mom brought us a big plate of toasted pumpkin seeds.

"So what are you going to be for Halloween?"

"I'm going to be a surfer!" I could tell from her face she wasn't too impressed--she had that polite smile adults give children. I thought it was a capitol idea and it was the first year I deviated from the standard gypsy, princess, scarecrow or cowgirl the other girls dressed up as.

Katie had been keeping her choice a secret and chose to reveal it then, "I'm going to be a flaming Buddhist monk!"

Katie's mom petted her head and said, "Of course, you are."

When we went trick or treating the next night, Katie wore a peach colored bed sheet, her candy beads and lots of sooty makeup and I wore my brother's swim trunks, the best horse teeth ever, a pair of flippers and carried a Styrofoam paddle board I'd painted "Hang Ten" on. Everyone laughed and said, "Aren't you cute," when they looked at me and would ask Kate what she was.

"I'm a flaming Buddhist monk!"

The doors slammed shut right after the candy went in our bags. I thought Katie's costume looked good, even though I didn't know what she was supposed to be.

Katie and her mom disappeared a week later. My mother broke the news to me that they had gone, her mother having finished "her tour". I was hurt I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. Katie was the coolest best friend ever and now she was gone.

I sat curled up next to my mom on the sofa, waiting for the news to finish when I looked up and saw Katie on TV. She wore her flaming Buddhist monk costume, and was perched on the shoulders of her Uncle Mark, laughing. Everyone at the peace rally in DC looked like they knew exactly what Katie's costume was.

I was surprised she had not eaten all her candy beads.


  1. Autumn said...
    Great story! I was 15 in 1969, what a magical year that was. I remmber those candy teeth, and those beads!
    Jbeeky said...
    I love the ending. Really wonderful.

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