Monthly Archives: July 2018

Dogged Ma; chapter seven, part two

“Is this Margaret?”  It was definitely Alan.  “It’s Alan.  Look, love, I just got out of the meeting, and I’m on the way to the hotel to change.  My driver tells me I should be there by six, six-fifteen at the latest.  I’m looking forward to seeing you.”

“Me, too,” I echoed, clutching the phone to my ear.  I held it there long after he hung up.  Alan Rickman.  Dinner.  My landline rang again, but I ignored it.  I was not going to let my mother ruin my mood, which she would do in a heartbeat.  I went into the living room and flipped on the television to take my mind off my nerves.  It seemed like forever until my buzzer rang.  I glanced at my watch and saw it was six-fifteen on the dot.  I turned off the television, jumped to my feet and raced to answer it.

“Hello?”

“It’s Alan.  I just made it.”

“I’ll be right down.”  I was touched he actually got out of his car to buzz me when he could have just called me on his cell from the car.  I grabbed my purse and a wrap and flew out the door.  I almost dropped both wrap and purse when I saw Alan looking natty in a black sports coat and slacks with a brilliant blue shirt.

“You look lovely,” Alan said, offering me his arm.

“You look very handsome as well,” I replied sedately.  What I wanted to do was drag him upstairs and have my way with him.  I didn’t, however, and contented myself with stealing sideline glances at Alan who looked so damn hot.  The car, which was a black Cadillac, looked great, too.  I was glad it wasn’t a limo; I found them to be too pretentious.  Alan ignored the driver who was standing by the back door and ushered me into the car.  He went around to the other side and settled in besides me.  A feeling of unreality crept over me as I sat next to my favorite actor.  I gathered my thoughts so I could add something to the conversation.

“So, what play would you be doing for the Guthrie next season, or shouldn’t I ask?  Wait, don’t tell me, all I really want to know is if you get the girl in the end.”  I cringed at my flippant tone, but it was how I dealt with uncomfortable situations.

“Yes, I would get the girl in the end,” Alan said, a slight smile on his face.  “Why is that so important to you?”

Thus emboldened, I plunged into a narrative of how I felt it a shame that British actors were used primarily as villains unless they were stereotypically hot such as Jude Law or Kate Winslet.  I went on to say how much I preferred foreign films because the actors were usually people who looked like normal people, albeit good-looking normal people.  They were people I could meet at a pub, perhaps taking home for the night.  When I watched American actors, I could only see them for who they really were.  Actors.  Grossly overpaid actors.  Some who couldn’t even act and were liked more for their looks than their abilities.  In addition, American actors were so overexposed, it was difficult to get past their images.

“But I ramble,” I said, screeching to a halt.  Alan had been scrutinizing me as I talked, making me feel as if what I had to say was of the utmost importance.  “I tend to do that when I get heated.”  I wished I could take back that last word as it gave the sentence a double meaning, but Alan chose to respond to my surface statement.

“It’s a good thing, I think, the ability to care deeply.  It’s also rather refreshing to talk to someone who cares more about substance than the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.”

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Dogged Ma; chapter seven, part one

Dogged Ma: Chapter Seven, Part One

“Mom, I’m telling you the truth.  I was never engaged to Ned.”  It was Wednesday afternoon, and I had just arrived home from work.  My mother must have a sixth sense about these sort of things because she always managed to call me the minute I walked in the door.  Of course, she refused to call me on my cell phone because she didn’t want to distract me from driving.  Besides, she didn’t trust that my cell wouldn’t give me brain cancer.  As a result, I had to rush to get the phone the minute I entered my place.  As usual, I ended up wishing I had let the machine get it as my mother was venting her spleen about my supposed broken engagement.

“Mom, would I lie to you?  I mean, out and out lie?”  I infused my voice with as much indignation as I could muster, but it didn’t slow down that train.  She berated me at the top of her lungs for making her the shame of the entire Taiwanese community.  She told me she couldn’t even go to church on Sunday without everybody talking about her.  She knew they were talking about her because they would suddenly hush up whenever she was around.  And poor Pastor Wu!  Did I even think about what I’d put him through?  I had no idea what my supposed engagement had to do with her pastor, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  It turned out that the ‘close friends’ of Mr. and Mrs. Chang couldn’t wait to spread the word about how abominably I’d acted Saturday night.  When they found out I broke off the engagement, well, they had a field day with that bit of information.

“Mom, I never was engaged to Ned,” I interrupted, feeling more frustrated by the minute.  If I told her the truth, I’d have to suffer through a diatribe about ‘homosexuals’, but I didn’t know if it’d be any worse than the tongue-lashing which I was currently receiving.  “It was a misunderstanding from the very start.  Believe you me, you’d be the very first person I’d tell if I ever did something as stupid as get engaged again.”  That made her switch tracks to how I would never keep myself a man with my negative attitude.  I was tempted to tell her about Ted, but I knew that’d be the kiss of death as far as any hopes of having a normal relationship with Ted was concerned.  Maybe I could mention that plenty of otherworldly beings seemed to want me.  No, that might give her a heart attack.  Just as I was about to make another snarky comment, my buzzer rang.

“Mom, someone’s at the door.  I have to buzz them up.”  It didn’t matter that I had no idea who was downstairs; I would rather face a burglar than my mother when she went into full wrath mode.  God could take a few lessons from her.  More squawking from the phone, and my buzzer rang again.  “I gotta go.  I’ll call you back.”  I hung up the phone and pressed my intercom lever.  “Hello?”  I wasn’t totally stupid.  I’d ascertain who it was before doing anything as rash as letting him/her up.  Now that I was off the phone, it didn’t really matter who was on the other side.

“Hello?  Sorry to bother, but I’m afraid I’ve been given a wrong address.”  The voice was definitely masculine, but it was diffident in tone.  British in pronunciation, and there was something very familiar about the voice.  Something about the way he pronounced ‘address’.  Suddenly, it hit me.

“You’re Alan Rickman.”  Instantly, my stomach went aflutter.  Alan Rickman was downstairs, talking to me.  I was glad I hadn’t changed out of my black skirt and blouse.  I scolded myself for thinking of such trivial thoughts when I had Alan Rickman on the other end of the intercom.

“Yes, I am.  If you could just give me directions to the Guthrie, I’d be ever so grateful.”

“Hold on.  I’ll be right down.”  I let go of the lever and grabbed my purse before flying out the door.  I could hear the phone ringing as I locked my door, but I ignored it.  I knew it would be my mother, and I had much more important things with which to deal.  When I reached the ground floor of my apartment, I saw Alan Rickman waiting patiently outside the door.  He was wearing black slacks and a white button-down, looking damn good.

“Hi, I’m Margaret Wang.”  I stuck out my hand, and he shook it with alacrity.  “You’re Alan Rickman.”  I was aware that I sounded like an idiot, but it wasn’t every day that I got to meet Alan Rickman in the flesh.  Speaking of the flesh, he looked much better in person than on camera, if that were even possible.

“Yes, I am,” Alan said, smiling affably.  “Look, I hate to be a bother, but I’ve got an appointment with the director of the Guthrie in—”  He checked his watch.  “Twenty minutes.  I would hate to be late.  The worst thing is that my driver took off before I could figure out where I was.  It must be a conspiracy to make me late for my meeting.”

“I can take you there if you’d like,” I said, holding my breath.  “It’s not very far.”

“That would be fantastic,” Alan said, looking relieved.  “I can’t figure out for the life of me how my agent screwed things up so badly.  Wait until I get a hold of her.”  He was smiling as he spoke, his demeanor belying his words.

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Dogged Ma; chapter six, part two

Chapter Six, Part Two

“You know, that stuff is bad for you,” God said, leaning against my refrigerator.  I sighed as I turned to face Him.  He was in chartreuse this time, which was hard on the eyes.  Immediately, He muted it to a dusty rose.  I surmised He had chosen the chartreuse simply for effect.  How like Him.

“I hope You’re not planning on doing this after Gwen is born,” I said sharply, realizing the stupidity of my statement as soon as it escaped my mouth.  Of course, He wouldn’t stop visiting once His child was born.  If anything, He’d probably increase the frequency of His unplanned visits in order to meddle in Gwen’s affairs.  It pissed me off to no end that I no longer had a modicum of control over my life, and I voiced my displeasure to God.  “You know, You’re working my last nerve.  Couldn’t You at least have the decency to stick to a schedule so I don’t have to worry about You showing up unannounced?”  God didn’t answer, which ratcheted my irritation tenfold.

“This shit has got to stop,” I shouted, my hands on my hips.  I didn’t know if it was my hormones going in overdrive, but I’d had enough of the Almighty and His highhanded ways.  “Get the fuck out of my kitchen.  Now!”  God still didn’t speak, nor did He move.  Without thinking, I picked up a pan and hurled it at Him.  It hit Him in the pecs and bounced off harmlessly.  It fell to the floor with a loud thud, causing me to jump.  God slowly turned translucent as I hauled another pot His way.  This time, the pot went through Him, hit the fridge and slid to the floor.  Past caring, I hurled pot after pan after plate at Him, some smashing in bits when they hit the floor.  Some minutes later, I finally ran out of gas and sagged against the counter.  Eyeing the carnage with distaste, I grabbed the broom and the dustpan from the closet.

“You done with your little snit?”  God asked, having the audacity to sound amused.  He remained transparent, which greatly bothered me.  I didn’t like being able to see through God, but He didn’t give a damn about my feelings, or so it seemed.  “Or is there more you’d like to get off your chest?”

“I’m through,” I sulked, tossing the debris into the garbage can.  “What the fuck do You want?”  I knew my mouth was going to get me into trouble with God one of these days, but I couldn’t help myself.  Something about Him brought out the worst in me.

“I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be receiving a visit from My son shortly.  Ignore everything he says.”  God smiled suddenly, nearly knocking me over with the dazzle.  It was spooky looking at a pair of gleaming teeth set in—nothingness.  Just like that, He was gone.

“Shit,” I muttered, cradling my head in my hands.  When I had recovered from His visit, I picked up my cell phone to speed-dial Pie-A-Plenty, the nearest pizza shop.  As I was about to punch the button, a portal appeared in my kitchen.  Great.  It was Lucifer.  At least I was still in my work clothes, which meant a slim red skirt and a black blouse.  I chided myself for giving a damn and punched the button on the dial.  Lucifer was going to have to wait until I ordered my pizza before telling me whatever it was he wanted to say.  I was too damn disgruntled to deal with him on a partially-empty stomach.

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Dogged Ma; chapter six, part one

   Chapter Six, Part One

“Margaret, may I talk to you?”  Susanne Timmons, my supervisor at work, poked her head into my office during my prep hour Monday morning.  Fortunately, I was prepared for the day so I didn’t have to panic about chatting with Susanne.  I nodded and motioned her in.  Susanne was a middle-aged woman with salt-n-pepper hair who didn’t wear any makeup.  She had a homey look to her which the kids loved.  She was like the grandmother many of them never had, but she was much stricter than your average grandma.  She cared about them, but held them accountable; it’s what made her so good with our population.  I was learning by emulating her, but empathy was something that didn’t come naturally to me.

“What’s up, Susanne?”  I asked, setting some papers aside.  I had asked my kids to write an essay on what they would tell President Bush if they ever met him, and as usual, they’d surprised me with their insight and passion.

“Margaret,” Susanne hesitated, fiddling with her pen.  “I’ve noticed that you’ve seemed preoccupied the last couple of weeks.  The other teachers have commented on it as well.  You’re more forgetful, and you’ve been late to two meetings.  That’s not like you.  Is there something you want to tell me?”

Caught, I didn’t know what to say.  I still hadn’t figured out a cover story for my impending pregnancy as I didn’t want to use the ‘one-night stand’ tale with my coworkers.  However, I couldn’t say that I had a partner, either, because they knew better than that.  I supposed I could say it was Gary’s, but even pretending that lech was the father upset my stomach.  Come to think of it, I couldn’t even say I was pregnant because I wouldn’t know yet if it were a normal pregnancy.  Damn.  Could I get away with family issues?  Maybe.  Or generic dating issues?  I hated lying, mostly because I wasn’t very good at it.

“Susanne, it’s not something I feel comfortable discussing at work,” I said carefully, not wanting to offend my boss.  “However, I sincerely apologize that my personal problems have spilled over into my work performance.  I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“It’s your fault for being so superlative the rest of the time,” Susanne smiled, standing up.  “If it were anybody else, I wouldn’t even have noticed.  I’m here if you need to talk to me.”  I nodded as she left, dropping my smile the minute she was out the door.  I knew I’d have to be more careful, and I knew I’d have to come up with something soon.

My college friends couldn’t understand how I could be a teacher, for at-risk youth, no less, when I didn’t want children.  It’s a common misconception that all women who didn’t want kids didn’t like them or weren’t good with them.  Not true.  I liked kids a great deal, and they liked me in return because I treated them like adults—no matter the age.  I didn’t pat little kids on the head or talk down to them, nor did I lord my authority over my students.  That didn’t mean I didn’t set boundaries because I did.  I just didn’t automatically assume I was better because I was older as so many adults did.  So why didn’t I want to have children?  There were many reasons, but the number one reason was because I didn’t want them.  Period.  I didn’t see why that wasn’t enough of an answer, but most people needed something more.

While I was in my first serious relationship at age eighteen, I came upon the realization that I didn’t want children.  Not only that, I realized that I didn’t have to have them.  There was no law saying to a woman, ‘Thou shalt bear children’ except for the social stricture, but I was adept at ignoring those.  People had varying reactions to my statement of not wanting children ranging from condescension—‘oh, you’ll change your mind later’—to anger—‘you must think I’m an idiot for wanting them’.  Most of all, however, people just didn’t understand how a woman could be so sure she didn’t want children.  I’d been ask time and time again how did I know I didn’t want children.  I was always tempted to ask how they knew they wanted them, but I never stooped to their level.

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