Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh Caroline, No

Where is the girl I used to know?

Jan was my mother's best friend. They were cousins. Jan had a hearing people and battled a speech impediment. I don't think that ever mattered to my mom.

I lost my mom in 1986. Jan died in 1970. I think sometimes I could scream loud enough for it be heard in 1986, but '70 is a reach. My parents had only been married two months when it happened. I'd venture Mom and Jan hadn't seen each other for a few years, but she was there at the funeral. Her life was just beginning and Jan's ended abruptly on an August afternoon.

It's funny - trying to reach out and yank at the bottom of the pain it caused the family. They still speak of her in hushed tones. There are raw nerves.

How could you lose that happy glow?

I went to the library once to read about what happened. It was on the front page of the Daily Progress, so different then from the paper I read today. How do you begin to understand something so horrific laid out on a microfiche screen?

Jan wanted to be a gym teacher. She loved sports and horses and music. She wrote all over my mom's yearbook in blue pen, warning her best friend about North Carolina boys. In the end, there was no worry, because in North Carolina my mother met a boy from Virginia. I have no doubt she wrote Jan about this, then their breakup and then the eventual engagement in Kansas.

My Uncle Dan is Jan's father. He's in his eighties now and cried when he saw me at a family funeral. "My God, I thought you were Georgie," Dan told me, wiping his eyes. "My God, they're both gone."

People thought I left early because I had to work. I actually drove to Montford and sat in the car crying for an hour.

You 'd never change but that's not true...

By chance one summer I met my mother's ex-next door neighbor. They grew up together on Belleview Avenue in Orange. Joanne and Jan later became college roommates. Jan had been engaged in early 1970 and her parents weren't happy about it. The engagement ended and Jan started drinking. Joanne told me all this and changed the subject.

Mom and Dad were married that June. For whatever reason, Jan wasn't at the wedding. It had been four years since Jan did all the scribbling in the senior yearbook. My parents moved to Northern Virginia and Jan stayed at Averett College.

July passed and I guess things were beginning to settle into an even keel for Georgia and Stu. Jan kept arguing with her parents, and came up to Charlottesville to spend some time at home. Her family bought a house off Barracks Road.

Who took that look away?

As August drew to a close, there was a heat wave that settled over Virginia. Tempers flared and Jan got into a terrible argument with her mother. I'll never know what the fight was about, but Jan was drunk. She stormed out and took off down the driveway in her father's little truck. I imagine Aunt Jean listening to the wheels crunching on the gravel and the sound falling off and dying in the summer air.

We don't know what happened. I can theorize that she was going too fast on the slight curve near the Georgetown Road intersection. It's really not much of anything, just a slight rise where 250 dumps out.

But she lost control and truck flipped. Somehow. There was an out of control moment.

There was an explosion. Jan was thrown out. Passersby rushed to her, but she was smouldering, bloody and unconscious. She died on the soft shoulder of Barracks Road on a late afternoon. The future teacher and my mother's best friend. Burnt to death.

I wish I knew how Mom reacted. My father doesn't remember, but hell, it was 37 years ago. They buried Jan in the little churchyard in Unionville. Maybe my 21 year old mother was shaken by the sudden death, or wrote it off with her typical surface practicality. I imagine she would have dwelled on it, like I would.

It's so sad to watch a sweet thing die...

When Mom died, my father sought out Aunt Jean and had a long talk with her. He came away sad, realizing that you don't so much get over these things. You deal with them in different ways over time. Jean did say that not long after the accident, she was in the kitchen putting dishes away when she heard Jan's voice. "I'm okay Mom," was all she heard. That was the first and last time anything like that would happen.

There's so much I don't know about Jan. I know she used to listen to the "Pet Sounds" album because her copy's boxed up in some of my mother's belongings. They gave it to Mom a few years after Jan died. That's about it. I drive by that intersection every once in awhile and sometimes I think about it. Other times, I don't.

I've given up on looking for familiar faces around Orange. Almost everyone's gone. There are some Sunday mornings, though, I'll drive up there before the mist has cleared out. In my mind's eye I can see all of them. They wouldn't know who I am, but I know them. And Jan's always there, smiling at me.

She knows.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Flight 514

I'll tell you

one day
about my
last breath

It came



Sunday, September 23, 2007

More Kramer Contest Fallout

Chips Chain and Convention Center Sued

Roanoke, VA - Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips LLC and Roanoke Civic Center Auditorium are being sued by contestants, audience members, judges and hosts of the 2007 Stepfanie Kramer Look-Alike Contest.

The contest ended in shambles due to an uncontrolled sewage leak and an appearance by Loretta Swit.

The winner would have been spokeswoman for Treacher's for the upcoming year. The flailing chain has been a long-time sponsor of the prestige event, providing catering and cash incentives to the community.

Host Bob Saget has been discharged from Western State Mental Hospital and is now being treated privately. He's named in several of the suits.

"We're pretty sure one incident is tied to the other," said Roanoke police chief Barry Derryterry. "Swit's known to leave a mess in her wake, but we've had the darndest time finding her."

A citywide search of Portapotties and public bathrooms with so-called "glory holes" has proven unsuccessful.

Actress Stepfanie Kramer has released this statement:

"I have never been connected to this pageant and wouldn't set foot in Roanoke, Virginia unless the streets were paved with gold and donkeys shit Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream. "

A motions hearing is scheduled in Roanoke federal counrt for November 12.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Circus Fire

A silver shield protects the beating heart,
Like the gas-soaked canvas protects the rings
The unmarked grave under the birch tree
is covered with the dry leaves of autumn
colored like candy apples.

Snow scours the top of the grave in June
and the world turns upside down
as the flaming tent turns inside out.
Animals roar as the flames lick the corners
and humans are animals as well.

She stood looking down, contemplating jumping
her heart beating silver against her chest
No one noticed her until she was under the white sheet
one arm sticking out, lost of promises
long after the animals deserted.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Melee Caps Kramer Contest; Hundreds Flee Civic Center

Buzzing, Vibrating Box Frightens Capacity Crowd

(AP) No winners were crowned at this year's 6th Annual Stepfanie Kramer Look-Alike Contest. Instead, Roanoke, Virginia hospitals were crowded with patients trampled and covered with crap.

Contest host Bob Saget is currently seeking psychiatric treatment.

Things started to wrong when a stained, buzzing box was delivered backstage. Contestants were evacuated and the Metro bomb squad had to be called in. It was determined by authorities that the box contained one "Lil' Honeybee" vibrator covered in a viscous, sticky fluid. The box also contained a clipping from National Enquirer, detailing actress Loretta Swit's recent release from a sexual reprogramming center. The contest went on as scheduled, with Stepfanie Kramer lookalike Misty Blue Rosenberg of Blue Ball, Pennsylvania taking the lead.

Halfway through the "Pin the Tie On Fred Dryer" segment, a strange scent began to fill the auditorium. It was written off initially as an overflowing toilet and no one thought anything else of it until a crack appeared right in the center of the Civic Center's floor. What was thought to be mud began seeping out. At closer inspection, the substance turned out to be raw sewage.

The crowd rushed toward the auditorium doors but was blocked by knee-deep sewage that had spilled into the lobby. The torrent of waste also flowed through a Food Clown grocery store next door, killing several potted plants. The rest escaped with minor injuries.

Host Saget and judges Irlene Mandrell, Billy Mays, Markie Post and HR Pufnstuf all ran for the 1984 Dodge Daytona that was supposed to be given away as the grand prize. Instead, they discovered Loretta Swit in the back seat, naked and talking on a Star Tac phone that wasn't turned on. The smell inside the car is reported to have been worse than the stench of the Civic Center. Mandrell passed out and had to be carried out on Mr. Pufnstuf's back. Saget was rendered catatonic at the sight of Swit's body. He later described her breasts as looking like "tennis balls in tube socks".

Swit was arrested for indecent exposure with other charges pending. Cleanup is estimated in the millions. Several lawsuits have already been filed against the Civic Center and Almost Stepfanie LLC.

When asked for her reaction to the incident, Kramer just shrugged and said, "Well, it works for me."

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Unbearable Sadness Of Vegetables

It wasn’t until much later, when they caught the First Lutheran Church standing over the body of another housewife over in Cass County, that they realized that the spire had been stalking and murdering women for years. This explained why so many women got that creepy feeling that someone was watching them - and when they turned around, they just saw a church. Later, they’d think: wait a minute. There’s no church in our side yard. And by then the church would be gone.

Hurray for James Lileks!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The 6th Annual Stepfanie Kramer Look-Alike Contest

If you're a woman between the ages of 15 and 60, keep reading because this could be your ticket to Hollywood!

Each year, the Roanoke Civic Center and Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips are proud to present the Stepfanie Kramer Look-Alike Contest. Contestants have a chance at winning fabulous prizes and get to meet some terrific celebrities.

The rules are simple: just look like Stepfanie Kramer. This involves a lot of makeup, preferably Wet-N-Wild from your local Dollar General Store. Make sure the emphasis is on heavy, heavy eyeliner. Miss Kramer told us she used to use Magic Marker.

Now that you've got the makeup, how about that hair? A half bottle of mousse will keep your bangs sticking straight up in the air and lots of cheap, flaky hairspray will "heighten" the effect.

Top this off with some big earrings, pleated pants that practically ride up under your armpits and a Kmart silk shirt. That's a smart look for the young woman on the go!

This year's celebrity judges represent the tops in the entertainment field. Irlene Mandrell, Billy Mays, H.R. Pufnstuf and Markie Post will rate and review the contestants. There will also be a tribute to longtime judge Charles Nelson Reilly, who passed away this year and is now mincing away somewhere in heaven. Miss Mandrell will sing a version of her sister's hit "If Loving You Isn't Right, I Don't Wish To Be Incorrect" as the choir from the Church Of the Golden Fried Prophecy sings "Don't Ride On the Lord's Bus If You Ain't Got Correct Change".

We apologize to contestants for the absence of longtime judge Loretta Swit. There was an unfortunate incident last year when she threw a used Depends on the stage, tripping Miss Stepfanie Kramer Look-Alike Betty Sue Bojangles of Crump, Tennessee. Swit is not allowed within the confines of the Star City anymore.

Aside from makeup, clothes and running in high heels, contestants will be judged for how they react when a male bursts in on them taking a bath. This scene is in the "Hunter" credits. If you can't find a willing guy to surprise you, how about Dad?

Contestants will compete for a date at Bennihana with Fred Dryer (who always likes a happy ending!), the complete 4th season of "Hunter" on VHS as recorded by someone in Springfield, Massachusetts, a ten dollar gift certificate to the Bonanza restaurant of your choice and the grand prize, a semi-mint condition 1984 Dodge Daytona.

Good luck, and knock them dead!

Note: Pageant is not endorsed by Stepfanie Kramer. $1,000 entrance fee due at audition day. Winners are chosen solely on their blowjob skills. Void where prohibited by hygiene laws.