Sunday, August 13, 2017

Toothsome







This story was published in a couple of anthologies. Remembering Mom:



In her thirties, Nellie wore miniskirts and go‑go boots, false eyelashes and hairpieces, and seemed oh‑so with it, up‑to‑date, and modern. Her small square teeth gleamed in a perfect line behind a red lipstick mouth. She laughed and giggled weak‑in‑the‑knees through days where nickel and dime tips forestalled economic disaster. Her life was hard work and more work and raising kids, and sexual trysts on the sly. Nothing long‑standing, nothing lasting. 

         Even the children metamorphosed into upwardly mobile wraiths who disappeared, then reappeared with babies. But Nellie was strong, looked younger than her age, and then there were her teeth. Perfect. She had no cavities.

         In her fifties, she finally needed dental work. Nellie traveled to Juarez, Mexico to get the work done cheap.  The dentist suggested gold fillings for three of her front teeth.  He patted her knee.  "Special price for you."   

         Her children had only seen gold teeth on winos and the occasional rap music star. "Why?" they asked each other in disbelief.

         Nellie shrugged.  "He said gold would last forever."  

         She flashed her golden smile often, and the kids gave her $500 to get the gold taken out. Nellie bought a new water heater instead.  “I look fine,” she said. “You try taking a shower in ice cold water and see how you like it.”

         In her seventies, her teeth began to trouble her. They would have to be removed. "Give her the best dentures available," her children told the dentist, secretly relieved that the gold‑lined teeth would go. Nellie would look like every other senior citizen equipped with porcelain choppers.

         "Don't let the dentist keep that gold," Nellie warned her children when they took her for the surgery. "I paid a pretty penny for it!" 

         "Everyone wants their teeth blazing white these days," her children told her. "You'll look modern."      

         Nellie frowned.  "I don't want people to know I'm wearing false teeth.  Makes you look old." 

         The dentist fitted her dentures perfectly to her mouth and handed her a mirror. Nellie smiled at her reflection, turning her head to the right and the left. She ran her tongue over her small square teeth gleaming in a perfect line and nodded at the dentist, satisfied.

         Her children waited in the lounge and stood to greet her as she left the office. She gave the dentist a hug.  “You’re a genius!” she gushed. “I look better than ever.” 

         Nellie turned and smiled wide at her sophisticated children, gold now lining every single artificial tooth in her mouth.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Withdrawn




Withdrawn



synonyms:
introverted, Probably.

Fearful, I reject this.

unsociable, Like my cat. She has a strict schedule. Pretty much no in the day. Oh yeah, she’ll meet your car and roll around on the driveway playing pretty kitty, but she won’t let you touch her. 

She waits for me at night, curled up in a corner of the bedroom. I open a book. She meows and head bumps the book. No hb’s for humans. I scratch between her ears, her neck, under her chin, maybe we do elevator butt. Then, I push her down next to me and return to my book. She usually moves to the foot of the bed, right where my feet will go. 

Turn off the light. She makes her way up to me, lays down as close to me as she can get, but with her head facing out so she can make a quick getaway. I’m mostly not like my cat. Not so regimented. I hope.

inhibited, I can’t own this.

reticentreservedretiringprivate, Hell no! 

reclusive, I like the sound of this. It’s solitary.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely.

shytimid, Aw.

aloof, I wish.

indrawn, as in introspective, yeah.


Informal standoffish, Rube version of aloof. Oh yeah, baby.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Weekend Lover





The telephone rang twice before the machine answered. Lydia paused, fingers over keypad to hear who was calling before answering.

“Garry?”

“Hello. How are you?”

“I’m sooo happy to hear from you,” Lydia said, meaning every word of it. Garry had been her lover through three years of college and one year of graduate school thirty years ago. He lived 60 miles away and drove in on weekends, and usually midweek, as well.

“I left a message on your voice mail about a month ago,” she said.

“Oh, really.” He was flattered by her exuberance.

Lydia had dropped all pretense when she turned fifty. She never toned down her enthusiasm. People either basked in it, or thought she was faking.

“My home or cell?”

“You told me to call your cell,” she said.

He was married to his fifth wife. They'd met a year after his divorce from his first wife. During the weekend years, Lydia had thought she might become Mrs. Garry number two. They discussed it, but their timing was off. She went to graduate school out-of-state and they opted for an "open" relationship.

“Damn, I’ve been having trouble with my cell. Why did you call?”

“Check up on you, of course.”

They laughed. Garry was twenty years her senior. When he hadn’t returned her call, she’d worried that he might be dead, but she didn't say that.

“Probably something to do with politics,” she said instead. Garry and Lydia had always found it easy to talk with each other. Their weekends had been filled with lively political debates which added an unexpected sensuality to their lovemaking.

Their conversation now flowed from the presidential candidates to the economy to the environment to family, mainly the children: his and now, hers. They took care to avoid discussing their spouses. Garry’s wife was notoriously jealous. Lydia’s workaholic husband veered in the opposite direction.

Garry launched into a description of his latest entrepreneurial venture, something high tech. He was very creative, and extremely wealthy. He'd made investments in every state she'd moved to in order to write off his travel. While he spoke, Lydia imagined his head, now partially covered with silken white hair, bobbing up-and-down between her legs.

“So I just need to raise another million,” Garry said.

“Well, at least you have some,” she said, meaning hair on his head, not money.

“Yes,” he said, “but not enough.”

“But you’re sooo amazing with what you do have,” Lydia said, sounding like a love-struck nineteen-year-old.

Across the miles and years, they laughed again.


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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A Latina By Any Other Name

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Post-Truth Heroine: Miss Sloane



Oxford Dictionaries just declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international 
word of the year. The heart of the definition is how public opinion is
shaped less by objective facts and more by emotional appeals.

Which brings me to the movie, Miss Sloane, directed by John Madden
and starring Jessica Chastain. Billed as a political thriller, I prefer to call 
it a drama filled with plenty of edgy twists and turns, and, yes politics 
are involved. On its surface, the game is about the gun lobby and its 
opposition. The real story is about Power—its pursuit, the avid hunger 
for it, and who can play the game best. The movie is also a character 
study.

Enter Elizabeth Sloane, the Machiavellian heroine/villain of the movie. 
She’s a successful special-interest lobbyist on Capitol Hill, who is driven
to win and appears to give no empathy to the various causes she 
represents, or to the people she uses to achieve her goals. She 
manipulates not only the truth, but the emotions of the people
involved.

People in business cultivate a placid demeanor that reveals nothing
of what they might be plotting, I mean, thinking. Women generally 
have to work harder at this since we’re encouraged from childhood 
to be open, amenable, and cooperative. Miss Sloane didn’t get that 
memo. Jessica Chastain not only plays a brilliant, unscrupulous character,
but she manages to conceal all emotion while she’s scheming. Her private 
time is another matter.

I like my heroes and heroines to be a mixed bag of angel and devil: 
Miss Sloane epitomizes this, but it takes a while for the cracks to show.
She’s an insomniac who pops prescription uppers to keep going. So she’s
got a bit of ADHD. Who doesn’t?

She hires a male escort to meet her in bed—sex and no emotional 
exchanges, please. This humanized her for me. Don’t count on erotic 
scenes here, Miss Sloane is on a schedule and while she’s squeezed t
his interlude into her calendar, her orgasm only requires his cooperation.

She’s successful, but what will her next challenge be? For some 
inconceivable reason, she resigns from the most powerful lobbying 
organization in Washington. Her employer accepts the gun lobby’s 
appeal to get the female vote against a bill requiring background checks
for firearm purchases. She leaves to go work for the other side fighting to 
pass the bill, taking her crew with her, all except for Jane Molloy 
(Allison Pill). She remains behind and asks for a raise.

Is there some personal history that would explain Miss Sloane’s decision? 
The story turns on our lack of backstory. No flashbacks, folks. No gun
violence revealed in her childhood. But that doesn’t mean her crew might not
have experienced such barbarity. Miss Sloane is not only willing to use such
a personal history but she’s ready. She leaves no stone unturned, no file 
unread, no internet device unhacked. The most remarkable aspect of the film
is how viewers don’t question this pristine—no doubt Ivy League educated—
female’s access to back alley nerds, the techno-henchman of the 21st century.
The back alley scenes are dark, wet and dirty. No secret knocks, but Chastain
does look over her shoulder before entering.

She appears to be winning public opinion in the gun control battle and her
former firm calls for an “inquisition” into her tactics. Miss Sloane anticipated
this. The pressure mounts. A few more cracks appear in her façade: she throws
some stuff around in the privacy of her office. Still, Chastain makes it a 
momentous desk-clearing. A few exhausted tears, and more pills slide down
her throat while she plans her next move. Make sure you surprise them is her
motto.

Miss Sloane is in control of her future. She’s all about choices. Prepare for the
post-truth ride. You’ll be surprised.

Opens: Nov. 25 (EuropaCorp. USA)

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alisson Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston, John Lithgow, David Wilson Barnes, Dylan Baker, Raoul Bhaneja, Chuck Shamata, Christine Baranski

Director: John MaddenScreenwriter: Jonathan Perera

Follow Sandra Ramos O’Briant on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sramosobriant