Tuesday, January 19, 2010
5:18 PM | Posted by Wide Lawns | | Edit Post
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.
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