Sunday, February 26, 2012

Leapin' Lizards!

Wednesday is February 29.

Ladies, start your engines.

Tradition has it that during Leap Year, the woman does the chasing. And the proposing.

In other words... All the single ladies: Put a ring on it!

Sounds kinda quaint and whacky here and now in the 21st century year 2012, what with equal pay for equal work (Oh. Wait) and women's right to choose and protect herself no longer at issue (Oh. Oh. Wait. Wait.) But still. When she can rent out the Jumbotron and hire a plane to write words of everlasting love across the sky... not to mention pick out something to nestle in that small, pale blue box... it hardly seems necessary anymore.

But, oh, what fun!

It's unclear where or when this singular phenomenon arose.
Some say St. Patrick, annoyed with impatient women, started the tradition in 5th century Ireland. I'm not sure about this. Although the wearin' of "Kiss Me, I'm Irish Buttons" on St. Patrick's Day might, in fact, lead to well-oiled propositions.

Another tale has it that Queen Margaret of Scotland passed a law in 1288 that levied fines ranging from a kiss to a silk gown if a man refused a woman's proposal of marriage. This seems unlikely since Queen Margaret was only five years old in 1288 and was living in Norway at the time.

Personally, I love the idea of compensation to ease the pain of rejection. While a broken heart is not so easily stitched together, Finnish men are supposed to buy the woman they've refused enough fabric for the sewing of a skirt. And Danish men are supposed to spring for 12 pairs of gloves if they otherwise refuse to take the leap.

And, speaking of skirts, by the early 20th century, when the idea seems to have taken hold in the United States, women were supposed to wear red petticoats to give fair warning. Not sure about the warning aspects of this, but sexy scarlet lingerie to this day acts like a cape waved in front of bull.

Then there is Sadie Hawkins Day. This was popularized in 1937 in Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip.

In Li'l Abner, Sadie Hawkins was "the homeliest gal in all them hills" and the daughter of Dogpatch's earliest settler, Hekzebiah Hawkins. So when Sadie turned 35, and her father feared he'd have her living at home for the rest of their lives, he declared "Sadie Hawkin Day."  All the unmarried men of Dogpatch would engage in a foot race with Sadie as They were to start running when he fired his gun. Sadie started running when he fired again:
"Th' one she ketches'll be her husbin."

This became a yearly tradition in Dogpatch (although it first occurred in the comic strip in November), but became so popular schools and organizations began holding "Sadie Hawkins Dances" and other activities.

On, you guessed it, February 29.

Happy hunting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


"You will wait for me," she’d ordered him.
He’d dropped to a knee, leaning toward her until mere inches separated his face from hers. A dark eyebrow lifted like an elegant black bird drifting into flight formation.
"What do you mean, poppet?"
"You will wait for me to grow. I will marry you and be your lady."
He hadn’t laughed. Instead, he’d regarded her with wry solemnity.
"Of course, I will, poppet. You’ve stolen my heart. I will wait for you forever."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Some sentences : Super Bowl edition

Go, Giants! All in!

First, a little recipe to get you in the mood.
 Big Blue Berry Jello Shots

Prepare Jell-O according to instructions on the box. You know: Boil water. Stir 1 cup of boiling water into Jell-O for a couple of minutes. Then stir in a cup of cold water. (Or, you know, a cup of Stoli Blueberry Vodka instead. )  CHILL. Pour into shot glasses. Ice cube trays. Whatever. Toss in some blueberries. CHILL until set. PUNT.
Blueberry jello shots my prayers been answered!!

So now that you're all loosey-goosey, I thought I'd throw some sentences out there.  Surfer Dude's eldest brother Aidon was -- among other things -- a football hero back on Old Earth before he guided his band of elite refugees to New Mycenae. Now the Lord of the Underworld's memory has been zapped and he's been hidden away to recuperate in Elysium. His competitive edge is the first thing to return.

They race.

I suspect I can beat the fastest of them. I know this, not in my mind with

its stark, blank patches. But in my body, the way one feels the throb of a wound.

             Hard muscles knot my legs, like braided cords of line looped over belaying pins. When I bend, my taut belly ripples like cresting waves slapping a jetty. No sooner do those images come to me than they are gone, ghost ships that arrive in mist and vanish into twilight fog.
            But as I watch the man-boys run and jump, my heart leaps and burns with fierce competitive fire. I know these things. They are tattooed deep, deep within me, someplace too unfathomable, too ingrained to bleach out.

I don’t recall winning, I don’t recall losing, but I sense I’d be cutthroat and ruthless, relentless as a close-hauled sloop beating course upwind.

Even damaged as I am and toned as they are, these fellows are not in my league and I’m hesitant to approach the track as a contestant. It would be wrong to show them up.

Their perfect bodies fly past me, slick with oil. I watch, fully clothed, a less taxing endeavor than my frustrating attempts to reclaim words, like yardage given up to a penalty call. If they’d toss footballs instead of the flat discs and long spears they hurl, I might join them then, . to be a part of a team, one of eleven, instead of an object of other men’s marvel. Yet, I couldn’t tell you the rules of the gridiron or even what a football looks like. Or why I'm so certain I’d succeed.

If I try to capture thoughts, pain sears me. Answers are beyond my grasp. Except my certainty that once I was a substantially different man. A man whose strength, even under the best of circumstances, was action not words.

A man who flew.

         The cinder track encircles the field like the garter on a bride’s thigh. An image of the woman’s thighs suddenly pops unbidden into the desolate expanse in my head. Sweet silk. Interstate to the pleasure casino.
         My gaze returns to the track. When the athletes quit the course, I move toward the ring of cinders and stand on the chalk streak that divides the lanes. The dusky light of late afternoon grays the sky. The tang of pomegranates tarts the air. I am alone save the trees in a nearby orchard, thick with red fruit, and the cows lowing softly in the pasture beyond. There is no one to see me.

I drop to a knee and touch the ground. Dust paints my fingertips as I sift the cinders through my hands. Familiar but unfamiliar, my worsted and wingtips jarring in this place where naked bodies run.

Hands planted on either side of me, knees bent, forward leg raised to my chest, rear leg lightly grazing the track. My cordovaned toes are poised, heels reaching for something that isn’t there. My center of gravity shifts forward as I lift my hips and balance in a tight, fixed zone, ready to spring. A phantom report echoes in my ears. Exploding from my crouch, I run.

Faster and faster. Faster still.

           My heart thunders as if it might burst from my chest, Chuck Yeager at Mach 1, whipping past sound in Glamorous Glennis, Pete Knight booming through the barrier at Mach 6.7 in an X-15.

            But I cannot escape myself or the prison of my mind. Or the tangled ball of survivor’s guilt that grows within me like the rolled yarn of an unraveling scarf bridging all the worlds I inhabit. I bend over, drawing great, ragged gasps of air into raw lungs.

The athletes meandered back to watch my performance and now they cluster at the edge of the field, gaping at me in slack-jawed silence. I’ve covered the distance between us in the time it takes a rocket to leave the earth.  

            But once, I think, I was able to do better.