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