Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Happy 30th

Today is my parents' 30th wedding anniversary. You may recall a couple of weeks ago when they suddenly renewed their vows at Lupo Lama's wedding (he's still honeymooning by the way. I can't wait for the stories when he returns). I can't believe it's really been 30 years and that it all started at Denny's back in the winter of 1979.

I want to write a novel about all this one day. I think it's the best story ever how my mom lost custody of me and became a drug dealer to get the money to hire a lawyer to get me back. Then she ended up in Florida during the heydays of Disco, met an Israeli, fell in love, converted to Judaism and got married. My parents' story is one of the best stories I've ever heard, but for some reason, no one else I've spoken with about my idea to turn it all into a book thinks it's a good idea. I took a novel writing class and the teacher thought the story was ridiculous and when I told him it was all true he said that I should change the story. I said that I couldn't change the story and that it was fantastic as it was. The teacher said that I was too committed to the truth to be a writer. Now come on. I thought this was so stupid. But at the same time, the rest of the class didn't really like it either except the two girls who were my friends, so I got discouraged and sad and gave up on it. The whole experience in that class really pissed me off, but deep down I know that my story is good and that it would be a best seller and if it isn't, well, I'll just write it in installments here and there for you all because blog readers definitely appreciate these tales.

But all that aside, I love the story of how my parents met. I love how all my life whenever I've begged my mother to tell it, she has. Over and over I've heard the story like a fairytale. I never get tired of it. Some people (writing teachers ahem) may think this isn't believable, that this could never happen the way it did, but it's all true and I think a lot of the reason why I love this story so much is because it makes me feel like there's a such thing as fate, that true love is real, that we all have a true love. When I was alone and sad I would think of this story and it reassured me that there has to be a higher power out there somewhere and that the way love and the Universe and everything works is beautifully, magically mysterious.

So here's the story. Now my mother hates when I talk about her drug days. I wish she didn't because the drug stories are the absolute best and of course she hasn't done or seen or even thought about drugs for 30 years, so I think it makes her ashamed. She shouldn't be ashamed. She should be glad she had a writer for a child because I can appreciate good, wild stories when I hear them without thinking she was a bad person. My mother wasn't a bad person. She was simply the creator of great stories.

My mother was 23 and Aunt Kiki was 18. The two of them were a mess. They lived in Millpond and my mother had established a veritable drug selling empire all in the name of making enough money to buy a house and a car, and a canopy bed and a Snoopy Snow Cone maker for me along with a full length fur coat for herself. Once she had those things in place she could also hire a team of lawyers to regain custody of me. She believed that with money her problems would be solved and in a remote, rural place like Millpond, where the best paying jobs (which were still low income) were both seasonal and miserable, the only way to make enough money to get these things quickly enough was to sell drugs. I will gloss over the part about how this plan didn't exactly work as she'd imagined it. I guess I'll put all that in the novel one day.

Due to the booming drug trade and a disdain for Millpond, my mother escaped Millpond for the key lime pies and Coppertone of Florida. She took Aunt Kiki with her and the two of them got makeovers, partied in Discos, shopped and generally had too much of a good time. In fact, it was the best time either of them had ever had. It was like when Pinocchio went to Pleasure Island. They started off living at a beachfront motel, but quickly made friends here in South Florida and ended up staying with them, where they'd sleep all day and party all night, every night. They were having the life, rolling in fast, easy cash and spending up a storm. But no matter how much they spent, they still had more because that was just how lucrative selling drugs was in 1979 (I guess it still is, but I have no idea as I know no drug dealers now thank heavens).

One morning my mother and Aunt Kiki stopped at a Denny's in Hollywood, Florida to make a phone call. Drug dealing must have been a pain in the ass back then, before the advent of cell phones. Everyone had to constantly stop at pay phones and scrounge up change to make a call when away from home.

I don't know whom my mother had to call. I've never had to ask. Maybe she was calling her fiance Sal, whom she'd abandoned back in Millpond. I don't know. What I do know is that she had to call someone and that she couldn't figure out how to use the phone.

Right when she was having trouble getting the phone to work, a small, scrawny guy with gigantic sunglasses, a shaved head and a velour leisure suit, rolled up in a big, flashy car, got out and helped her. He asked her why she was barefoot. She thought he was the most ridiculous looking man she'd ever seen in that outfit with that shaved head. She must have imagined what people would say if anyone came to Millpond looking like that. People in Florida were so crazy, I bet she thought.

But the man showed her how to use the phone and then left. She made her call and went off on her way.

A couple days later in an entirely different part of South Florida, quite some distance from the Hollywood Denny's, my mother stopped into a 7-11 for a Pepsi. A couple minutes later in walks the stupid looking guy who had helped her use the payphone at Denny's.

"You must be following me," he said.

This annoyed her.

"You're obviously the one following me, because I was here first," she said.

She bought her Pepsi, he bought his cigarettes and they each left.

Now, the very second, the very instant, that they step out the door of the 7-11, the sky opens up, unleashing a monsoon. My mother ran and jumped in her car and the guy ran around to the other side and jumped in her car with her!

Well it poured and poured and poured. It did not stop raining and my mother was so stunned that this strange man had jumped in her car that she obviously didn't go anywhere. She couldn't just pull out with some weird man that she didn't even know sitting in her passenger seat.

The first thing he asked her was why she never wore any shoes. Then she began to tell him about Millpond and how in Millpond most people went around barefoot. He couldn't imagine such a place, so he asked her more about it. Then she wanted to know why he had an accent and he told her about Israel. Before long that had sat in a parked car, in front of a 7-11, in the rain for seven hours.

"I have got to go," she said.

He begged her for a date. She said no and explained about her fiance Sal back home. He begged some more. Finally he asked for her phone number at the place where she was staying and she relented and gave it out.

"Just to be friends," he said.

"Just as friends. I am not dating you. I am an engaged woman."

He called her for six weeks and begged her to go on a date. She refused. She'd see him out here and there, but she wouldn't go on a date with him.

"I told you! I AM ENGAGED!"

By March, he broke her down. She agreed to one date. Just dinner. AS FRIENDS though.

They haven't been apart since and on January 19th, 1980 they were married.


Melanie said...

The people who poo-poohed your parents' tale are insane.

dissed said...

Love this. What did he mean, you should change it? Doesn't he have a family? No one HAS TO make this stuff up.

Calamity Anne said...

I LOVE your stories...and yes, I'd buy your book if you published one!

Corrinne said...

I think this story is completely believable! Not much different from me and my fiance's story. Fate kept putting us in the same place until we finally smartened up =) I love your story, to hell with the teacher hehe

Corrinne said...

Oh, I would also buy a novel if you wrote. I love your writing and your stories.

Anonymous said...

Few crazy stories actually make good novels. And sometimes I'd rather someone edited/changed a "true" story to make it a "better" story. However, that doesn't mean the essence of a crazy-true story needs to change.

And then there are unlikely stories that become best-selling novels and have movies made of them. Not a true story, but Billie Letts' "Where the Heart Is" comes to mind. Abandoned teen lives in and gives birth in a Wal-mart. Baby is abducted and found again. Friend is killed by tornado and leaves insurance to main character. Father of baby becomes a country singer who writes a song about baby's heartbeat. Main character wins national photo contest. Etc. That is one unlikely crazy story.


staticwarp said...

aww! that's so sweet. dont listen to your ridiculous classmates and instructors. write what you love! you do a great job of it.

Anonymous said...

I think your mom's story sounds like a Carl Hiaason novel, or an Elmore Leonard one. Florida has a rich history of wild stories like this. I'd buy the book!

Sinclair said...

I love the story and would buy your book. In fact, feel free to charge for more details... did your father buy her a first pair of shoes?

Wide Lawns said...

I don't know if he bought her shoes or not. She certainly has a lot of them now and definitely doesn't go barefoot anymore. I know he bought her a bunch of elephant statues and made a parade of them leading to her front door. She still has all of them.

Hilary said...

Don't give up on the idea of publishing this story. I strongly suspect you'll be a bestselling author one day.

Happy Anniversary to your parents. :)

Anonymous said...

That was very sweet.

See...your writing stand up well all by itself. It's your voice - narrating the story ...gosh sometimes you remind me of "To Kill A Mocking Bird" and Kate Chopin. Hope you get that, it's hard to explain, but your "signature" is all over every tale, sad ...happy ...adventurous...the entire spectrum.


Life in the mom lane said...

That is a great story- your teacher was an idiot....

sha said...

I don't think some people can handle true stories. I'd like to know what he thought needed to be changed.
I would buy this book, and I would definitely go see this movie when it's made.

Yankee said...

Thanks for sharing!

Wide Lawns said...

The teacher thought that the main character (my mom) was stupid and that no one would actually think she could get her child back by selling drugs. Of course it went a little deeper than that with her. It wasn't JUST to get her child back, but a lot of her other motivations were subconscious and she didn't understand them herself. She was really young. The teacher also had a very big problem with the fact that she met and married an Israeli and that religion came into the story and that it became a huge issue. Personally, I thought that made the whole story even more interesting and gave it more depth and more conflict. He said it was too strange and confusing and that I should just have her meet a regular, white American guy who wasn't Jewish. I can't even imagine changing something that big in the story. I was honestly horrified at the thought.

kerry said...

Your teacher wanted you to change your dad to an ordinary, boring guy? No, no, no! I love your story! Happy anniversary to your parents! Hurray for them having thirty great years!

A parade of elephant statues? Awesome!

Raven Davis Chitalo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

AWESOME! I want to hear the rest of it! You ave got to figure out a way to talk to a book agent about getting this published. your life story (and your parent's stories)are SO fascinating! I love reading these stories!

DITTO about that teacher being a complete IDJIT!

Laurie said...

I love you and your family! Definitely write your parents story in a novel some day. I'm seeing a movie too! That was Fate, pure and simple, and should never/can't ever be changed. You don't need anyone to tell you how or what to write. You have it all right there in your heart. :)

KT said...

Aw, what an amazing story! Your teacher clearly didn't know what he was talking about (um, who wants to take a great story like this and make it boring?, and I would totally buy your book if it was full of great stories like this :)

Albany Jane said...

Awww! I can't wait to read the completely true and un-tweaked story!

jenmoon said...

You had a sucky writing teacher. I have tons of weird stories and believe me, it's all the more awesome when it's true.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I love your stories. Agreed. Teacher was a doofus.

Look, you've already got us hooked for the the next story of the elephant parade.

amysue in austin

carolyn said...

thank you - now i will have your same smile - i have always believed destiny turns on a dime - and now we know fate believes in florida thunderstorms,

Raine said...

That is super sweet! Write the book!

Me. said...

I love the way you write such fantastic tales so matter of factly. It reminds me of (and don't take this the wrong way, I know he writes crazy things) how Chuck Pahluniak writes, and you can't help but believe it because it comes out so honestly and pragmatically that there's just no other way for your brain to go except to think 'of course they did that, that makes total sense'. Like your pony story. Not a doubt in my mind. Now get writing on that novel. And make it a series. You've got the material.

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