“Bea, get your ass out there,” Lydia (formerly Linda before she changed her name) Wilkerson barked at me, poking her head in the tiny dressing room. “You know your shift started at eight.” She’s a friend of sorts who has higher aspirations. I didn’t feel very friendly towards her when she pulled her mother superior act on me, I’ll tell you that much. Fortunately, she usually mellowed after a good dressing down, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to even tolerate her.
“In a minute,” I snapped, procrastinating the degradation of pulling on my giant Maisie Mouse head until the last possible moment. The heads were basically football helmets with gigantic outer shells attached. There was so much padding in one of those things, it felt like sticking your head in a basket of towels. I looked in the mirror at the appalling taffeta skirt sticking straight out from my body. It had red polka dots sprinkled over a white background and matched nicely with my red t-shirt. I wore black tights and black patent-leather Mary Janes as a final insult to my dignity. Yes, my character was patterned after the more-famous mouse who shall remain nameless for litigious reasons, and yes, I had a ‘mousefriend’. His name was Marvin Mouse, and he looked just as ridiculous in his costume which matched mine except he didn’t have taffeta or polka dots.
“Now, Bea,” Lydia stared meaningfully first at me, then at her watch before pulling her own head back on. She’s Daphne Duck, but liked to pretend she was the stage manager or something. Most of the time, we got along just fine. Once in a while, however, she really chapped my ass.
“It’s Trish,” I reminded her sharply. For someone who insisted on being called Lydia instead of Linda, she certainly didn’t extend the same courtesy to me even though I hadn’t changed my name.
My mother named me Beatrice after the Beatrice Quimby in the Ramona series. She loved those books so much, she committed each one to memory and would drive me and my younger sister—yes, named Ramona, but she calls herself Mona—crazy by quoting bits and pieces of the books to us in what she deemed appropriate situations. My brother Howie—he goes by Owen now—used to plug his ears when mother got on one of her rolls while Henry—Hank, please—would carol at the top of his lungs, but Mona and I were never that daring. A sunny-natured woman, my mother would explode in wrath if one of us kids dared to suggest that perhaps she could give it a rest.