Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bitsy by Jill Conner Browne

This is a photograph below of my only granddaughter, Mary Mace, who starts kindergarten Thursday. She's very excited about her big day. She gets to go to school with her Mama who teaches 5th grade Advanced Math at the same school and she's beside herself with excitement! Oh, how I loved to go to school, as did both of my daughters. I remember the smell of the erasers, the joy of those shiny new school supplies, the fun of having new clothes to wear and the dread of having to wear those damn new shoes which made blisters on my feet due to going barefoot all summer. LOL!

But thinking about little girls made me recall this short story below, "Bitsy" by Jill Conner Browne, of "Sweet Potato Queen" fame. She is hilarious and this is one of her early short stories. It's pure-dee fun and brings back the giggle-icious delight of being a small girl out on the town for the first time with grown ups. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Blessings, Everyone! ~*~Marion~*~

By Jill Conner Browne

When my daughter, BoPeep, was about six or seven years old, she went to New Orleans with her Godparents, Joanie and Buster, and their granddaughter, ('Peep's Godcousin?), Ali, who would have been about four. I figured Joanie and Buster had completely lost their minds to want to take not ONE but TWO (2) small children to New Orleans for a weekend---but 'Peep adores them and it also gave ME a free weekend, so I figured, "So what if they're crazy? They're extremely nice otherwise," and so, off they went.

On BoPeep's solid recommendation, they went to dinner at Mandina's on Canal Street. Mandina's is very similar to a restaurant we know and love in our hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, Crechale's---in decor, atmosphere, and food respectively zero, very loud, and so good you can't stand it. Mandina's has EVERYTHING but the gumbo is outstanding and the crab claws are my personal favorite. Actually, you could throw the crab claws on the FLOOR--it is the GOO the crab claws come swimming in that is The Best Stuff You Ever Sopped a Hunk of French Bread In---ever in the history of the world, living or dead.

Anyway, 'Peep and Ali were Acting Big and going to the Ladies Room without a Grown-Up and getting a major charge out of it. Remember how cool you thought you were when you could finally start going to restaurant restrooms without a parent? I wish I could feel that mature NOW---about ANYTHING. Anyway, Joanie and Buster had wisely selected a table that was in direct line of sight with the powder room so they could at least get a description of the kidnapper, should the need arise. This is why I trust them so completely and chose them to be Godparents to my only child---they think of details like that.

So dinner was pretty much over and 'Peep and Ali had made their sixth and final trip to the Facilities. Buster had gone dutifully to pay the tab, Joanie waited for the girls at the table. Well, they didn't come and they didn't come and so, by and by, Joanie ambles over to the Ladies Room to check on them.

The Ladies Room at Mandina's is designed like this: the outside door opens into a tiny, tiny, tiny---A REAL SMALL---space with a mirrir on one wall. Another door then opens into the actual space that contains the potty and the sink. This is also a very small area. As Joanie enters she is aware there is another person already crammed in there (it could not have escaped her attention, since they were practically forced to embrace in order to fit both of them in there at the same time.) She knocked on the door and made the usual Mom-type comments. You know, "Hurry up, girls, someone's waiting, are you all right, do you need help, etc. " The only reply she receives is GALES of laughter of the shrieking sort that is peculiar to Small Girls. She, of course, knocks more firmly on the door this time and DEMANDS that they come out RIGHT NOW. They open the door a crack and in that piercing whisper that is really more of a shout---that is also peculiar to small girls, they inform Joanie that they CAN'T come out because THERE'S A BOY OUT THERE!

This is the first time Joanie actually LOOKS at her very close neighbor in the very tiny room. She turns slightly, eyes downcast, and her gaze takes in two very large, FURRY feet---in high heels. Moving slo-o-o-owly up, she notices two fairly substantial, equally furry legs encased in stockings, emerging from a very short, very tight skirt. Climbing still higher she finds she is face to face (or would be were Joanie significantly taller or her companion significantly shorter; truth be told, Joanie is taller than most toddlers but a fair number of middle-schoolers can see the top of her head; however, as Buster can attest, one should never confuse her diminutive size with any corrresponding lack of power) with what is very likely the The World's Largest Transvestite, complete with chest hair, make up, five o'clock shadow, a bad wig, and a necklace that inexplicably reads, "Bitsy."

He/She had apparently knocked on the potty room door and asked if "anyone was in there" and his/her voice had clearly said "BOY!" to the little girls on the other side of that door, and they had stayed locked in there, howling with hysterical laughter at The Very Idea.

Joanie, however, is standing toe-to-toe with him/her and finds they have Nothing to Talk About. None of the usual stuff that Women Talk About in Restrooms seems appropriate somehow. She smiles weakly and turns once again to The Door. She raps sharply this time and speaks in that Mother Tone that Cannot Be Ignored. "Come out NOW," she says quietly, death threats dripping from every syllable.

At the first opening of the door, he/she pushed him/herself through, shoved the girls out, and slammed the door in a Decidedly Huffy manner.

Joanie and the girls exploded out into Mandina's in absolute convulsions of laughter to find an Utterly Bewildered Buster. They explained it all to him in the car.

Mostly they explained to him that this is the Very Reason that women Always Go to the restroom in Groups---you just never know WHAT will happen and you sure don't want to MISS ANYTHING.

From "Stories from the Blue Moon Cafe," Anthology of Southern Writers, edited by Sonny Brewer, pages 27 - 29


Rikkij said...

Marion- G'daughter's adorable. naturally. What a hoot. Nothing exciting like that never happens to me, but then I don't have a cool name like Buster! ~rick

Delwyn said...

What a cute little face your granddaughter has Marion and how excited she must be to now be a Big girl......

Happy days

Angela Recada said...

Congratulations to your adorable granddaughter! What an exciting journey she has ahead of her.

The short story was terrific! The short story has always been my favorite genre. And Southern writers are among the best short story writers. I love the way the look at the world around them. Thanks for posting it!


Kelly said...

Hilarious story!!! I was also rolling at the chicken comment you left on my last entry, LOL!!! My husband grew chickens before we were married as do lots of folks in these parts, so... that's not an usual sight for me. Still, I always kinda feel sorry for them when I see a truck pass.

I just know Kindergarten is going to be everything MM is anticipating!! I was always one of those that loved school, too. Especially all the fresh, new school supplies.

Pam said...

MMs a real cutie!!! How fun she starts K today! And will be at Mom's school.

We took Connor to pick up his schedule for middle school today. BIG transition but we're feeling positive after today!!

Sam's another story! LOL! He's still in Day Treatment at Children's Hospital. Trying to get him squared away before school starts on the 24th. I'll pick up his packet for 4th grade in the morning.

Renee said...

What a great story, but it is your beautiful granddaughter that I am swept away by.

Love Renee xoxo

Marion said...

Thanks for all the wonderful compliments about my beautiful Mary Mace. She survived the day, but her Daddy almost cried. Sarah called me and said they had to run Paul out of the school. He wanted to spend the day with Mary Mace! Bless his heart.... I have a brother-in-law in the hospital having heart surgery, so have to run. He's having 3 stents put in. Blessings...

Woman in a Window said...

Is it possible that your granddaughter is too beautiful. There is a woman there just beneath the little girl, isn't there? Uncanny how that happens.

I'd probably not have come out of the bathroom as a little girl. As a womanthough , I'd probably have talked up the waiting lady, that is, if she was pleasant.

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, what a beautiful granddaughter your Mary Mace is! May her first day be filled with excitement and experiment. May this first day be the beginning of many more beautiful days for the rest of her education. And may it be the beginning of a wonderful career. Many blessings to Mary Mace and those who love her.

Marion said...

Thanks, Erin, and Judith. She had a great time on her first day. She loves school and has been eager to start since she was about 4 years old because her Mama's a teacher and we know how little girls want to emulate their mothers (to a certain age, anyway!)

I talked to her on the phone last night, but she was distracted because I'd sent her two new "Fancy Nancy" books to celebrate starting school and she wanted to get back to her books. She and her brother, Warner, are both big 'readers'. Warner is two and a half and loves his books. One thing I did do right was instill a love of books and reading in my children and grandchildren. They always have books in their hands! I'm thankful for that. Blessings!!

Karen said...

Not even enough time to read this right now, Marion, but I'll be back when my grandchildren have gone home! They've come for the weekend. You have a beautiful little girl! Just wanted to say that.
Have a glorious weekend. See you soon.