So I did say that part of this blog would be my own writing.
I have been a super slacker in the last year and haven’t worked on my novel or any new stories. So I’m posting an old story I wrote about five years ago. Trying to get my brain back in the game.
Hope you enjoy it 🙂 Still not sure I love the ending but I do like the premise….
Fat Free Freckles
My first rebellion was accidental- 2% rather than fat free. The Kevlern family believed children needed fatty milk.
“Why would you drink that stuff?” my friend Lauren asked as she wrinkled her nose at my request.
I envied that nose. Covered in freckles it upturned slightly at the end and was commonly referred to as adorable. My mother abhorred freckles. That’s what she would say, “I abhor freckles. They are common.”
Never being quite sure what common was, but sensing its wrongness I followed her directions and never developed any. I was constantly covered with SPF 45, kept in the shade, and if even one freckle dared to show itself I was covered in more paste and goop than a clown at the circus.
You see, I have a pageant mom.
Not that I participated in pageants, not yet. She is not a mom who dresses up her little girl to compete in pageants. Not a stage mom. She was a pageant queen. She is a pageant queen she would be quick to remind anyone.
Once a queen always a queen… a queen doesn’t forget who she is.
This queen theory makes me a princess, which seemed like fun until I was five when the preparations for my ascension became serious. My mother wanted me to be a Queen too – Homecoming Queen, Prom Queen, and eventually Miss Seminole, Miss Florida and Miss America or Miss USA basically she’d accept anything with a “Miss” title and a crown. She thought winning children’s pageants was degrading. Aim for the stars she always said. So for the last four years my mother had tried to mould me into a future Miss Something-Or-Other.
So in answer to Lauren’s question I mimicked my mothers rhythmic lecture voice, “Well, fat free milk has all the calcium my body needs to grow but none of the fat that will look unsightly in a bathing suit.”
Lauren rolled her eyes, “Who cares about bathing suits? Unless you have a crush?” She grabbed my arm and continued in a sing-songy voice, “I bet it’s Jimmy. Cara loves Jimmy. Jimmy and Cara sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-“
“Stop it,” I shoved her and we wrestled around before deciding to play dress up with her mom’s clothing and make-up. The rest of the afternoon was uneventful. I did earn the nickname “Princess Perfect” from Lauren for my expert make-up. Mom had made me practice since I was six while Lauren looked more like a normal nine year old playing with lipstick. I wondered briefly if mother would be happy with my “title.”
On the way home I pondered the differences between types of milk. Why did it matter? I wasn’t fat, I knew that. I began to think of my mother’s other rules. We lived inFloridaand I had never been to the beach, ever. She did take me to Disney World so that I could see the princesses and have a cultural experience. Every night I had to check my manicure and pedicure, exfoliate, cover my body in lotion, check my face and apply whatever lotion it required, put on my chap stick, wrap up my hair in curlers or a silk scarf and go to bed in time to get at least eight hours of sleep.
For the first time I wondered why I had to be Miss Something. At school weren’t they always telling us that we could be anything we wanted to be? What if I wanted to be something else?
At dinner I asked my mother.
“What?” she put down her fork, lettuce still attached. “Why wouldn’t you want to be Miss United States? It’s every little girl’s fantasy, Princess. And you have the edge, the secret weapon…. Your momma!”
With that she flashed me her thousand-watt pageant smile and drank her sweet ‘n low flavored ice tea.
I tried to continue the conversation, “But Momma what if I want to be something else?”
“Like what little darling?” Her smile never wavered but I could tell it had dropped to a 995 wattage.
I scrambled for an answer. Princess and beauty queen were the only things I’d imagined were on the list. Suddenly I knew, “A ballerina.”
Momma did not respond as I imagined. Instead she swooped down upon me. “You are the most brilliant little thing ever! I’ve been racking my brain for your talent and here you go finding it. Whoo hoo, I’ll sign you up tomorrow. You’re sure to be the prettiest Miss United States ever!”
I sullenly finished my dessert, half of an Oreo (with the cream mostly scraped off) and a glass of fat free milk.
The next day I found myself in The Prima Dona School beginner’s class. Momma had gone to run errands and pick out all my new dance costumes. So after all my new positions were learned we found ourselves released early and I found myself unattended.
I stood outside. At first I obediently waited in the shade but the sun began to beckon me and soon I stepped out into it. I turned my face and immediately I could feel a thin veil of sweat over my face and neck. I imagined I could feel the freckles developing. I licked my licks and tasted the salty sweat trickling from my upper lip.
The sun didn’t hurt me, it warmed me, it felt right.
The rebellion felt so good I began to think of another way I could disobey Momma. I looked around the strip mall and spotted a 7-11. I knew at once what I could do.
After spending my ten-dollar allowance I had Snickers Bars, a six-pack of Coke and one container of full fat milk stuffed into my dance bag with my ballet slippers.
Momma found me smiling sweetly in the shade where I belonged. The whole way home she chattered about my genius.
“I have been struggling to find the perfect talent you Princess. Singing has been done so often, the judges are looking to discover something new. I won’t have you twirling those flaming batons you might singe something and ruin your chances. Signing to a song makes you look too liberal. But ballet,” she smiled over at me fondly. “Ballet is just perfect you can show off your grace and figure while still being a classic beauty.”
That night to celebrate momma agreed to make my favorite dinner; grilled salmon on white rice with steamed veggies. And since I had surely worked so hard I would be allowed to have one Sara Lee slice of sugar free, low fat, cheesecake. Every nine year olds dream.
Before dinner momma decided we should dress up to celebrate. She spent forty-five minutes picking out my dress, fixing my hair and giving me a lesson in make-up before she jumped in the shower herself.
While she was there I snuck out into the garage and pulled my dance bag from the spare fridge that momma kept the veggies in for all her health cocktails. My heart was pounding as I carefully poured all of the fat free milk down the drain. Next I slowly poured the full fat milk into the fat free container and placed it in the fridge. I could still hear the water running upstairs so I believed I’d have time for Phase Two. Momma kept her two-liter of diet coke in the fridge. She carefully measured out one serving a day because, as she lectured, even though it only had one calorie it had tons and tons of teeth rotting, figure warping sugar. I was pouring it down the drain when the water stopped. I froze but calculated that I had at least twenty more minutes before she wanted me to come up and observe her make up application.
As I poured each can of coke into the container I began to worry that she’d be able to tell the difference in taste. I’d never had either but I imagined they were very different. I could only hope that since it had been so many years since she’d had real coke she wouldn’t realize there was the difference. I managed to get the bottle back to its original level and still have one can left for my own before I heard momma calling me from upstairs.
At dinner that night I watched her very carefully as she sipped her coke. Once she made a strange face but simply took another deeper drink from the cup and smiled at me.
“Enjoying your salmon Pumpkin?”
“Yes I am mama. Could I have more milk?”
She frowned for a moment but than shrugged. “It’s a celebration after all. We’ll just have to be more careful that you don’t grow too tall to be a proper ballerina. In fact I think I’ll have another glass of diet coke, it tastes wonderful to me tonight, I must be dehydrated.”
I smiled to myself as I took a drink from the thick full fat milk I had in my cup.
Over the next few weeks my weight or appearance changed little. I did attempt other small rebellions against my mother. I only drank four glasses of water a day rather than my full eight. I tried sleeping on my side even though mama told me it created premature wrinkles and lopsided breasts. I only flossed every other night and did not actually put on all my lotions before sleep. Outside of the house I tried the French fries that my friends offered me at school. My first French fry ever was beautiful. Ketchup was another wonderful discovery. Plus I learned that mother had lied. There truly was a difference between fat free frozen yogurt and real ice cream. It was breathtaking.
Mother on the other hand actually seemed to put on a few pounds. Who knew Diet Coke and Full Fat Milk had so much effect? Of course after a while I also made her ice tea with real sugar instead of sweet’n’low and other fatty substitutions. This weight gain sent her into a frenzy of exercise and dieting. Soon anything that was not lettuce or water disappeared from the house. I even found a way to sabotage that…. A simple replacement of full fat dressing for fat free. I thought she’d catch on to that one as the fatty dressing is much thicker but she simply looked at the bottle and continued eating.
“And that ladies and gentlemen is truly how I achieved the independence necessary to compete and ultimately win the Miss United States pageant. You see it is important that you learn to respect and listen to your mother, and I did eventually stop rebelling, but it is important to learn to think for yourself. To question authority. To strike out on your own and learn who you are and what you want out of life. And, ultimately, my mother was right and I stand before you Miss United States. Thank you”
With that I handed the microphone back to the emcee. The girl scouts in the audience all applauded and beamed up at me. I imagined there would be more than one mother who would have her fat free milk replaced with the natural variety very soon.
As I left the stage my mother stepped into rhythm beside me.
“I hate it when you tell that story. MissUSshould set a good example for little girls not brag about their rebelliousness.”
“You fail to listen to the point of the story, momma.”
“I listen very well. You on the other hand went out by the pool yesterday didn’t you? I see a tan line here….” With that last comment she pulled on my gown and pointed.
“No momma it’s just the lighting,” But I smiled to myself to think that the true lesson in my story was to learn how to listen, smile, and do what you want anyway.
She continued to lecture me on the dangers of ultra violet rays and the consequences of premature aging. I didn’t mind knowing that soon I’d be leaving my mother behind to enjoy a large ice cream cone out by the pool – wearing SPF 45 of course.
She wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t right either.