Monthly Archives: January 2009


French fries, check; ketchup, absent, but I left.  Mallory refused to eat fries sans ketchup, that meant she’d hand them over to me, albeit a little bit bitterly; she might ask me, didn’t you ask to make sure, and I’d just say I asked.  “Ketchup?”  I asked the scrawny girl at the counter, just to cover my lies so I wouldn’t feel bad, and she answered, “No, would you like some?”  but I was already out the door, waving my greasy hand behind my head, like it weren’t no big deal, with two fries mashed between my molars.


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Oh, Hamburger.

We left Fran’s at around 1:15 that Saturday.  First thing we did on Saturdays, right after waking up late from staying up late watching movies and drinking forties, was breakfast at Dan’s or Fran’s, nevermind it was clear into lunchtime.

Dan and Fran were married for about 30 years and opened a modest chain of restaurants aptly named after Dan.  Towards the tail-end of the marriage Fran was consumed with their growing popularity and began caring about things she never thought of before, like introducing herself to the town’s civic leaders, becoming part of the welcoming committee, and sponsoring a float in the county fair parade each year.  The float itself took an immense amount of planning– the day after the parade, a meeting was held to discuss ideas for the next year’s concept.  Dan was a low-key sort of guy and if he didn’t go to all the social events with Fran he never saw her, and she didn’t seem to miss him.

“If you really wanted to spend time with me, you coulda come to the charity bake sale last night!  In fact, I asked you to come and bring the napkins I forgot, and you refused.  By the way– we owe Natalie $3 for napkins.  Can you pay her the next time you see her?”

There was a cook at Dan’s that was friendly enough; she didn’t talk much and it didn’t really matter.  Dan spent more and more time at work– he didn’t want to come home to an empty house.  Soon he announced that Dan’s would be open until midnight, every night.

Cook and Dan were cleaning up on the first night with new hours, and they were awake with excitement over the crowds– it was immediately popular with high school and young college crowds who were under 21, and hamburger buns ran out.

“Imagine that!”  Cook said.  “Too bad Fran wasn’t here to see it.”

The next morning, Dan woke up with the intention to tell Fran that he was leaving her.  She was already gone to a meeting.  He called her and asked her to come home now– that it was urgent, they needed to talk, it was serious.

“Just write it on a note and stick it on the fridge, or something.  I’ve got to go!”  And she hung up.

The only thing Fran wanted during the divorce was half the chain.  Half!  She never cared before about the restaurants!  It was all about her– all her activities, her status in the community– her important meetings.

Fran’s Dan’s were renamed Fran’s.

We didn’t care where we ended up.  Menu was the same, prices were the same.  We just went to whichever was closest to where we woke up.

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It happened again, two things:  1.  Forgetting the amazing idea I thought of while falling asleep, the idea I believed so amazing that there would be no possible way that I would forget upon awakening, but I have, as usual, and 2.  Going to sleep moody from saying mean things.  Why do I say such things?  I suppose these things wring themselves in my brain, quicker and quicker, like a washing machine, that finally there is no where else to go but out.  And they fly out of my mouth with no restraint.  I whimpered a bit in the night to get him to notice me, for him to awaken and ask me worriedly—“What’s wrong?  Are you having a nightmare?  It’s OK—I’m here!”  But he slept soundly, without a smidge of movement that I turned up the volume on my whimpers.  He slept lovely; nothing bothered him, he had a clear conscience.  Oh!  There you go, dangling my heart out of your mouth like a cigarette.

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Coffee and Pancakes easy.

Jack’s legs dangled over the long pier—he had been sitting there
For a while, since the sun traveled from one end to the other
Hovering over his pale legs and glassy pool of moss.
He always wanted to move to the city but he was there and there was not the city so he stayed.
Two cups of coffee never hurt no one, he thought– turned around to reach for
His pot and drank one more cup, straight up black, no cream or sugar
And he heard her– coming. He turned the other way and gazed into the glassy pool of moss. She sat silently next to him. Tossed her hair and dipped her legs into the lake. Until the sun reached its evening residence.

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I made imaginary plans to run away from home after Melinda did. It was unexpected. We were supposed to meet at the swings at the playground between our houses as usual, before going to Melrose to get matching tattoos, of monarch butterflies.

Even after 45 minutes, I wasn’t much worried. It wasn’t unusual for Melinda to take time wrangling from her mother’s grasp to teach her how to cook, to sew, to bake. After two hours of swinging I went home. While I was watching “Jeopardy!” later that night, I heard knocking. My dad went to answer it and I heard Melinda’s mom’s rushed voice. My dad came into the living room and asked when was the last time I spoke to or saw Melinda.

The previous month we had gotten our ears pierced without parental permission.

“I don’t care what she says or if she grounds me, I want to wear earrings! Who cares about some holes in ears,” Melinda had said, and we went ahead to the mall, got them done.

When I got home I tried to hide my ears behind my hair but my mother saw my newly minted ears glimmer and she pulled them out as I was swallowing a spoon of rice. Melinda got into trouble and her mother grounded her for rest of summer vacation, and I didn’t see any hint of her, except sometimes there would be notes in my mailbox. I didn’t know when she was able to deliver them, but they were my only link to her. When I tried to reply her mother intercepted them as contraband, and I’m sure she read them, so I wrote to her as if my letters had been unanswered.

Now she’s been gone for 10 months. I leave letters for her on the swing, but this time, they are sincerely unanswered. This was 1993.

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