Recent Work By Irene Zion

I made a huge mistake yesterday.  I looked in the mirror. Here in my mind’s eye, I am a crisp, shiny red apple, but in the mirror, I more closely resemble that cucumber you forgot about for two months in the back of the refrigerator.  Remember how it was swollen and foamy?  Remember how it collapsed in your hand when you tried to throw it out? Remember the little brown puddle it left on the shelf? Yeah. I’m closer to that cucumber now.

Frog

in

the house!

 

Victor loves road trips.  He finds serenity behind the wheel on a long trip, whereas I might could crawl out of my skin. The first day we drove north for about 14 hours.  It takes at least that long for my whining to manifest itself inside his tranquil bubble.

By the second day we were able to exit the car to check out Annapolis and Washington, D.C.  This trip coincided with a major heat wave.  It was 107° on the coolest day we were there. Victor likes to walk, meander, really.  The heat and the humidity don’t bother him. He’s soaking in the culture.  I’m soaking in sweat and learning just how long it takes me to develop a heat rash.  (Not long.)

I did see a wedding dress draped with a tartan plaid wool shawl and with lace epaulettes in a shop window. It looked perfect for Michael Jackson, if he had ever decided to get married in a gown.  I showed it to Victor, but he said “what?” Victor doesn’t always get stuff.

If you want to tour the Capitol, you can’t carry a purse bigger than 4 ½ by 6 by 8 inches.  You can’t hardly zip the bare essentials into something that small.  There’s a lengthy inventory of items that I really must have, because I am a prudent person. Victor says you only need your wallet and your reading glasses.  Men.

When we got to the Capitol Visitor’s Center, I really had to put my back into opening the doors. They’re blast-resistant.  Maybe we should put blast-resistant windows in our house, you know, for Armageddon. I imagine they’re quite pricey, though, and my discretionary cash is already going to replacing new sidewalks with newer sidewalks in Boynton, Oklahoma.

Quite a few congressmen and senators passed by us because they were doing that whole debt-ceiling thing.  All of them were shockingly impressive-looking people.  Way taller than regular people… stick-straight posture… lantern-jaws…quality designer suits… full heads of shiny, perfectly styled hair.  To be a politician, clearly you don’t have to be impressive; you only have to look impressive.

I do enjoy mining Victor’s head when I’m trapped in a car with him. For instance, he maintains that the most repulsive bad breath has two origins:

1. Keeping a small dead mouse between your teeth and gums.
2. Keeping a rind of a firm Swiss between your teeth and gums.

You can’t argue with him.  Just because you don’t know anyone who does these things doesn’t mean it isn’t nasty.

Victor also pontificated on the subject of prostitution.  He says if you are going to have sex with a stranger, it might as well be a rich stranger and that he hopes he taught his daughters that if they find themselves needing cash, they should not overlook this lucrative path to solvency.

To look at him, all rumpled in misbuttoned Hawaiian shirts and stained, saggy travel shorts, you just wouldn’t appreciate what a font of knowledge he is.   Victor is the anti- politician.


When our kids found out that we would be going to Amsterdam on our next trip, they badgered us not to miss the chance to smoke dope when we had the opportunity to do it legally.  We were called wimps for voicing doubt. We were reminded that we probably would not return to Amsterdam again, old as we are.  They pleaded with us not to be pussies.

A coffee house in Amsterdam is the place where you can buy and smoke marijuana, but not a cigarette.  That would be illegal.  Oddly, they do not have coffee there.  On our first day there, we had an Indonesian Rijsttafel near a coffee house. We passed it and it looked to be a pretty rough place.  There was an imposing bouncer-type dude outside wearing black leather and chains. We took him as representative of the clientele, and kept walking. There was no way we could walk inside that place.

We passed another coffee house the next day that had almost as alarming-looking characters outside it.  (I never knew people could pierce the backs of their necks and their breasts!) We left that place for people with a more powerful mission to smoke dope.

Two days later, we were in a very respectable part of town where there was a coffee shop.  Victor looked at me and asked what I thought.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I waffled.

Victor said that if we didn’t do it in this upscale neighborhood, we never would.  We didn’t want to disappoint the kids, right?

Victor walked inside and I followed.



It was located kitty-corner across the street from Rembrandt’s house.  It was as classy a coffee shop as we had seen.




The man at the bar gave us a drug menu.  We bought a marijuana cigarette and asked for matches. The joint was very narrow and conically shaped.  A third of it consisted of a filter of some sort. It was unimpressive. Victor lit it and we each took a puff and coughed violently.  We were out of practice.  I told Victor I didn’t think I could smoke it.  He said that it was now or never.  I didn’t want to disappoint the kids, did I?



We each took another puff and coughed like consumptives again.  We sat for a while and looked at the joint in the ashtray.  The matchbox was made in Sweden! I thought that was amazing!

Victor suggested that we try a really little puff and see if we didn’t cough so much.  So we took one or two wee puffs more.  About ten minutes passed.  I told Victor that I’d had enough.  He blinked at me.  He said he’d go get us cokes.

We sat over our joint. Half of it was still untouched. We drank some soda.  We looked at the joint.  We drank some more soda.  We looked at the ashtray.  I wondered where it was made.

Victor suggested he drop the partially smoked joint in the soda can. Then we could leave and walk home.  It seemed like a good idea to hide the fact we couldn’t finish it.  I guess we were embarrassed that we turned out to be minor league dope smokers.




I asked Victor if he could find his way home to the hotel.  I couldn’t have found my way in the best of circumstances.  It was my good fortune to have married a map-reading whiz.

My mind was meandering.  I feared I might wander away from Victor to follow my thoughts, so I asked him to keep checking that I was nearby.  He said I could count on him.

We were about two miles or more from the hotel as the crow flies, but the way the streets were mapped out, (do you remember the map I had you draw in an earlier piece?) it was about 100 miles.

I marched behind Victor carefully.  In most places it was impossible to walk next to each other because of the crowds and the swarms of speeding bicycles. After we had walked a block, Victor stopped and appeared puzzled.  He studied the map and then he turned around in a circle and, without speaking, started walking fast.  I tried to catch up, but first I had to explain to my knees that they had to lock with each step, or I would fall down.  If we had kept walking, it would have been all right, but when we stopped, my knees simply discontinued standard operation. Victor was totally involved in the whole map-reading experience and I didn’t want to interrupt him to ask if his knees were functioning normally.  I was anxious to get back to the hotel.

After a few minutes of walking, I stopped and yanked on Victor’s sleeve.

“We are in a hotel lobby!” I shouted.

He looked at me.

“Huh.  Well, it was a hotel lobby, but now it has turned back into a street again,” I said.

Victor patted me on the back.

While we walked, Victor peppered his map reading with mumbled responses to questions that I hadn’t asked.

“Thirty.”

“Yellow, I think.”

“Over there.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Possibly.”

Victor continued to stop, looking puzzled, at most corners to scrutinize the map. He invariably turned around 360 ° and then took off again suddenly.  I really needed to hold on to part of him.  It was quite congested and there were a surprising number of policemen staring at us, who subsequently morphed into tourists who were not actually looking at us. I tucked a finger in his waistband and trailed him closely.

“Victor, things are not what they seem,” I said.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“What we see is not necessarily there,” I said.

Victor blinked at me.

When I asked Victor if he remembered that I were with him, he did not look surprised to see me.  I took that as a good sign.

I was seriously thirsty, but I did not want to mention it, because I had no intention of stopping until we got back into our hotel.

In actual time, it took an hour and a half to walk back to the hotel.  Victor got us back without a single mistake. When we got to the steps of the hotel, I asked Victor if he thought my knees would be able to understand what a staircase entailed.  He didn’t hear me, but I needn’t have worried, because my knees were able to figure out just how to act when faced with both climbing and descending a staircase.

When we got to our room, I filled the hotel glass with water several times and drank each glass quickly.  It was good water!

“My mouth is dry,” Victor said.

I poured a glass of water for him and brought it over.  He took a couple of sips, and handed it back to me.

“My mouth is dry, but I’m not thirsty,” he said.

“Huh!  I always thought they were the same thing!” I said.

I didn’t like how my lungs felt.  It was as though they were still filled up with smoke.  I wanted to know if Victor felt the same way, but it was way too much trouble to ask.

I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes.Victor said that it was 5:00 and we could leave for dinner at 6:30, if that was all right with me.

“We’ll see,” I said.

“Aren’t you hungry?” he asked.

“Nope.  I just want to lie down and watch where my mind is going,” I said.

Victor got out his computer.  I went into the bathroom and noticed that the tiles were blooming with tiny blue flowers. I had not noticed that they had tiny blue flowers on them before. It appeared that being stoned made possible for me to see how pretty things were.

When I got back to the bed, Victor looked at me and popped up on his elbow.

“What are you eating?” he asked.

“I’m not eating,” I said.

“Then what do you have in your mouth?” he asked.

“My mouth guard,” I answered.

“Why are you wearing your mouth guard?” he asked.

“My teeth are grinding.  Using my mouth guard is only sensible,” I said.

He went back to the computer on his chest.  He was reading his email.

I lay down on the bed and after a while I took out my mouth guard and poked Victor.

“Don’t. Sell. The Farm,” I  said.

“All right,” he said.

“I mean it,” I said.

“Okay,” he said.

I was impressed that he was doing his email.  Victor has terrific powers of concentration.

I poked him again.

“Don’t make any big decisions,” I said.

“I won’t,” he said.

“This is not the time for making big decisions,” I said.

“I understand,” he said.

After a while, I began to say something to Victor but stopped.

“What?” he said.

I started to laugh.

“I just realized what I was going to say doesn’t make sense,” I said.

“What were you going to say?” he asked.

“I was going to say that I was happy that there were no bicycles riding around our bed,” I said.

We laughed a lot about how hard it would be for me to get to the bathroom at night if there were bicycles speeding around the bed all night long.

Victor was also laughing about something he was reading on the Internet.He tried to read it to me, but he was laughing too much for me to understand anything he was saying.

Victor remained obsessed with eating.  He asked me every few minutes if I was ready to leave for dinner.  I finally gave in and we walked to a restaurant. Victor took great pleasure his meal.  My meal was good, but I could have skipped food and just stayed in the room to think some more.

Later that night I was truly disappointed to see that the tiles in the room were just plain brown.  They were far prettier covered with tiny blue flowers.

We had no trouble driving from Brussels to Amsterdam, except for that one time the police roared their bright yellow motorcycles around our car frantically waving at us. I thought they were pulling us over, but they were simply indicating to Victor that if he planned to continue driving like an old fart, he had to move out of the faster lanes.  Victor said not to worry.  Our license plate was French.  Anyone who objected to our driving just assumed the French were bad drivers.

Then we arrived in Amsterdam. 
Please go get a pencil and a blank piece of paper.
Now do the following:
Close your eyes.
Draw a spiral on the paper. 
Then draw lots of Xs through the spiral. 
(Keep your eyes closed, now!) 
Crumple the paper up, flatten it out again and turn it 90°.
Now draw several happy faces. 
Okay? 
Now open your eyes. 
You just drew the actual map of Amsterdam!

When we entered Amsterdam we were immediately trapped in a maze. Canals randomly intersected the roads and swarms of speeding bikes appeared from nowhere. The street signs were small and illegible, however, they could have been enormous and it would not have helped us at all. The names of the streets were impossibly long. Most of the vowels were doubled up and the consonants were huddled together like little bouquets.

Eventually, we found our hotel. (It took about the same length of time as it took us to drive from Brussels to Amsterdam.) We bumped our bags up the stairs to our hotel lobby and Victor got instructions to the garage.

Our room was not yet available, so I sat in the lobby with the bags and read my book.  I read and I read and I read.  An hour passed and Victor still wasn’t back.  The room was finally ready, so I bumped all the bags down a flight and up a flight and then to the elevator in a different building.  I settled our bags in the room and unpacked.

An hour and a half after Victor drove away from the hotel, he returned.  The “parking surcharge” listed in the hotel information turned out not to be for a hotel garage, but actually for a public parking garage, which was a considerable distance from the hotel.  It took him a while to find it.

Victor walked in and explained all this. I asked him if he remembered my broodje which I had forgotten in the pocket of the door.  (A broodje is a Flemish or Dutch sub, or hoagie, or po’boy, or hero, understand?)

Well, was Victor annoyed!  We had to walk all the way back to the garage to retrieve my broodje, so the car wouldn’t smell like rotten meat after six days parked in Amsterdam.  When we got there, I noticed a sign that said that you must retrieve your car after four days.  We were staying six days.  Aha!  That was something Victor didn’t notice when he parked. In order to enter the garage to collect your car, (or your broodje, as the case may be,) you need to scan your parking card.  Unfortunately,Victor had left the parking card in the car.  We were stymied. So we illegally walked down the driving ramp to the car.

I told Victor that we should ask the guy in the booth whether we could leave the car for the six days we were staying in Amsterdam, or we actually had to take it out, pay, and park it again on the fourth day.  He thought it was ridiculous, but we asked.  The guy in the booth said we did indeed have to unpark and repark our car before four days were up or we would be charged a great deal of money when we finally took the car out of the garage.

Then he handed us tram tickets.  The guy in the booth said that each of us had to take the tram twice or we would have to pay more to park the car.  We had to use the tram chip cards and make sure that they dinged both getting on and off the tram.  If the chips did not record that we used the tram twice, all bets were off.

We found a tram stop and waited. One came quite quickly and we got on, making sure both our cards dinged.  The cards said “One Hour” on them. Since the rest of the card was in Dutch, Victor asked the driver if we had to actually stay on the tram for one hour.  The driver said we did.  We sat down and wondered where the tram would take us in an hour’s time.  We looked at our watches.  (Um, okay, 4 o’clock, we have to ride until 5.) Then a young woman interrupted our thoughts to tell us that we didn’t actually have to stay on the tram for an hour, we just had the option of doing so.  We thanked her and got off the tram at the next stop and wound our way back to the hotel on foot.

Victor thanked me for forgetting my broodje.  Parking ended up costing us 8 € per day.  If I had not forgotten my broodje, we would have paid 50 € per day times six days, plus a few hours more, (which would count as an extra day,) equals 350 € which translates to about $490…just for parking!

Victor was very happy with me for being forgetful, which was a nice change of pace for me, since being forgetful usually gets me in Dutch, so to speak.




The little girl is five.

She has fine blond hair

in two narrow braids.

She is delicate and

bony

in her flimsy sundress.

She wears

little

pink sneakers

that light up

in back

when she walks.


She is petting my dog.


I love your dog,

she says.

She is so soft.


I do too,

I say.

Her tail is so pretty,

she says.


The fur

on this kind of tail

is called

feathering,

I say.


My sister

stabbed my brother,

she says.


Oh,

I say.


That must have

upset you.


Were you

frightened?


Oh no,

I was happy!

she says.


Oh,

I say.


You were happy

that your sister

stabbed

your brother?



She used a steak knife,

she says,

My sister is so smart.

She hid it in

our bedroom

under the mattress.


She did?

I say.


Yes,

she says,

she stabbed him

hard

over and over,

one!

two!

three!

four!


There was

blood everywhere.


He screamed like a baby,

so

momma heard him

and

she came in

and

she called the police.


Momma was

angry.


Now my

brother

can’t hurt us

anymore,

she says.


My brother is in

jail now

because

my sister is so

brave.


We have to go to

court,

then he will go to

prison.


Jail and prison

are not the same,

you know,

she says.


Prison is better

because they

keep him away

a long time,

she says.


What do you do

in court?

I say.


I don’t know,

she says,

the lady here

is going to tell me

about court.


She said not to

worry.

She knows

because my sister is brave

that now

everything

will be okay.


My brother

can’t hurt us

anymore,

she says.


I love your dog,

she says.

She is so soft.



I was painting, so Victor went to the grocery store without me.  At our Publix, we drive up a winding ramp to park on the second or third floor.  The supermarket itself is on the ground floor.

After you buy your groceries, you push your cart on a moving sidewalk, which is at about a 45∘ angle to take you and your cart back to your car.  The carts have brakes on them, which employ when the cart is on the belt, so that it can’t roll back toward you.



Victor got on the moving sidewalk.  Twenty feet ahead of him was a woman, also with a cart, about 30, wearing a very short skirt.

(This is a picture of where she would have been in relation to Victor. This woman is a stand-in for the short-skirted one in the story.)



She turned and looked right at Victor, my retired, 65 year old husband.  Then she turned back around and bent over and touched her toes.  She remained that way for about ten seconds.  She was not wearing underpants.

When she got off the ramp, she turned and looked at Victor.
Her face was blank.  She just looked at him and then walked away.

When Victor told me about this, I asked him what kind of car she was driving.  (That particular Publix is well known for having lavish cars like Bentleys, Austin Martins and Ferraris in the lot.)  Victor said he didn’t look.

I fully understand that there are peculiar people in Miami Beach.  I do.  But how could Victor not watch to see what kind of car a female flasher would be driving?  This is information anyone would want to know.  I will never understand Victor.

December 7
night time
dark as dark can be

37,000 feet up in the sky
565 miles per hour

past Amsterdam
past Dresden
Ankara
Bucharest

Dinner clatters
in the carts
on tiny trays

Victor sleeps
with a blanket over his head

Kirkuk
Basra

Minus 68 degrees
570 miles per hour

No lights
along the border
between
Iran and
Iraq

At the bathroom
I give four Tums
to a woman looking frail
who has a stomach ache

turn at Amman

December 8

Victor sleeps

Kuwait
Bandar Abas

Minus 70.6 degrees

Bahrain
Tabriz

A young girl
on the plane
is remarkably
beautiful

I wish I could
paint her

Teheran

Cabin attendants pass out
water and juice

Victor sleeps

Baghdad
Isfahan
Mosul
Kirkuk

Woman in white silk burqa
prays in the back of the plane
by the bathroom,
shoes at her side
up and down
up and down
up and down

Minus 70.6 degrees Fahrenheit
559 miles per hour

Dubai

My birthday in the sky


Victor knew that Christmas was important to me.  None of the kids could come and they were really too busy for us to visit.  I asked Victor to take me on a trip.  Maybe away from home, I wouldn’t feel the pull of Christmases past.  That may have been where I made my mistake.  It turns out that it’s Christmas wherever you go.

The trip could’ve been flawless, but someone in Dubai gave me the evil eye. I didn’t see it happening, but I know when I get smacked by a witch.  My eyes and eyebrows started itching.  Before long my eyes were all but lost in a sea of red swollen skin.  I looked like I had been mugged. I scratched out almost all of my eyebrow hair.

My ears began swelling next, itching and also turning red.  My earlobes looked like individual testicles, dangling next to my face.  I’m here to tell you that turning 63 was enough to face, without looking hideous as well. (If you thought I’d provide a picture here, you certainly don’t know me as well as you thought.) Over a two-week period it gradually got better, so it appeared that, thankfully, that evil affliction was not a permanent one.

Then we got to Singapore and I looked almost normal, although my ears still felt a bit funny and, of course, I didn’t have much in the way of eyebrows, which is an unusual look. Now you would think that the evil eye had finished its dastardly work, right?  That’s what I thought.

I took what was supposed to be a soothing bath the first morning of our week in Singapore and threw my back out.  To be more precise, I threw my butt out.  I don’t know how.  Nothing whatsoever happened.  I just felt this shooting pain and that was it.  I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying Singapore with Victor, though.  It is a wonderful place, I’ll tell you about it another time.  We walked all over Singapore.  Seven days of walking and being enthralled.  I was okay walking.  Walking only ached.  What I couldn’t do was sit.  Sitting hurt.  Getting up from sitting to standing was agony.  But after being up for a few minutes, making the quietest whiney noises I could, the worst of the spasm would pass and I could walk pretty much normally.

As the wonderful week in Singapore was coming to an end, the hotel rules were that we had to leave the room at 10:30 am.  This was reasonable, however our plane was not due to leave until 11:30 pm, so we bought time in the hotel until 6 pm and also another day of Internet access, in case there was an emergency back home.

We went to the airport at 6pm and checked in, five and a half hours early for our flight.  Our actual trip home was 27 hours, in steerage, of course, counting the wait for the second plane at Heathrow.

They make you sit on planes.  I kept trying to stand up.  I tried to explain.  They don’t care what your reason is; they want you to sit.  It was a long time sitting.  Flight Attendants do not provide drugs.  I asked.  I think that is a glaring hole in their passenger service.  Flight Attendants should provide drugs.  It would be better for the passengers and also better for the Flight Attendants.  Where’s the down side?

Thankfully, the flights were just about on time and we got home when they said we would.  When I got in the house, I called the doctor’s office.  This was Wednesday afternoon.  I couldn’t get in to see him until Monday.

I stood for days.  I had “compulsory TV watching with Victor” while standing at the bar in the TV room.  I stood all the time except when in bed.  I can be in a lying position, but only on my side, with a pillow between my knees. (That reminded me of how I had to sleep when I was pregnant.  That was a nice memory.)

I had an MRI because the orthopedist wanted to see inside my lumbar region.  (That is the polite way to say that he wanted to see what was cooking inside my butt.)  The MRI was fun.  You are cocooned and you wear earplugs and they send you into a cylinder.  It’s very comforting.  It is surprisingly noisy though, so I kept waking up thinking how bad the music was.  I was sorry when the 30 minutes were up.  It was very relaxing.

Unfortunately, my orthopedist just went on vacation for two weeks, and although they said that I would find out the results overnight, they didn’t really mean it.

Well, it’s been a week since my MRI and I finally got the report.  The problem is that I have no idea what it means.  My discs are “desiccated throughout the lumbar spine.”  Now aren’t we all wet inside?  How can my discs be drying out in all that blood and bodily fluid?  I have cysts here and there, some going off to the right and some off to the left.  I have at least four discs that are “bulging.”  And this one is my favorite: “At L4-5 there is facet arthrosis and a disc bulge with central/right paracentral disc extrusion extending inferiorly 1.2.cm, contacting the descending right L5 nerve root as it exits the thecal sac.  There is mild bilateral neural foramina narrowing and mild spinal canal stenosis.” Now that is just one sentence in a tightly typed four page report.  I have not a clue what it means.

Victor says that he only did retinas so all he knows is that I’m getting shorter.  My back hurts and I’m getting shorter?   I think this evil eye is stuck to me.  I need an evil eye remover.  Anyone got any ideas?

The day before Ben and Kate leave for Miami Beach for our family get-together for Thanksgiving, I get this text from Ben:

Clothes for the family picture?

I answer:

Yes.

Ben:

Yes?

Me:

You would stand out were you naked, but we just want you to be comfortable.

Does Kate want to be naked also?

Ben:

That answers my second question.

~Lenore grabs my phone from me and assumes my identity.~

Black tie.

You did rent one, right? 
If you don’t have time before your flight,
we can rent you one here.

Ben:

Bah.  I demand pastels.

Lenore pretending to be me:

Dad will be going to rent his own tux tomorrow. 
He can get yours.
Need measurements, please.
Kate’s too.

Ben:

No way.  I defy you to get dad into a tux.

Lenore pretending to be me:

Lenore is mad because she wants all black,
but  you can wear pastel because
I love you more than I love her.

I love Tim more too.

Ben:

K. Three colors. 
Hat pink,
shoes purple,
jacket and pants green with orange trim.
Same palette for Kate.
Four colors.

Lenore pretending to be me:

I love Kate more than Lenore too.

Ben:

Yeah, Kate’s pretty great.


Are you taking account of how gross Lenore is though?

You clearly find that charming. (Dad)


Kate wants to know what we are supposed to wear.
You may discuss this among yourselves.

Lenore pretending to be me:

Whatever we wear,
it has to get the message across to Lenore
that we love her least of all.

Ben:

We could make her wear a tutu. 
Then we don’t need a dress code. 
Brooklyn and Kimchee too,
so it looks like we’re monsters.

Lenore pretending to be me:

God I hate her.

~I struggle with Lenore for phone.~

~Lenore is very strong.~

~Lenore won’t give it to me.~

Ben:

Oh hush.  Have fun.  It’s family week!

~Ben is the sensitive kid.~

~He’s getting rattled.~

Lenore pretending to be me:

It will be easier to have fun when she’s dead.

~Long silence ensues~
~I beg Lenore for phone~
~Lenore finally relents and returns the phone to me.~

Me:

Lenore has been writing this since I said “yes”
waty backj after you asked
whether you should wear clothes!!!!!
I didn’t say that horrible stufff!!!!!
She is so creepy weird.

~Long silence~

Ben:

I say we keep her in a tutu anyway.

Me:

Everyone just should wear what he is comfortable in.

Ben:

Cool.

Me:

I myself will probably wear a tutu. 
A pink one with greed edges.

Ben:

Sounds fancy.

Me:

Oooooooo yeah.

~Lenore is evil-giggling.~


I flew from Miami to New Orleans last weekend. There is a gallery there showing some of my paintings and I wanted to go to the opening.  Victor came along because he really likes the food in New Orleans.

At the same time as the opening in New Orleans, there was a huge on-line auction of outsider art.  We had previously sent in some bids, but you could also bid live, on-line, with the people on the floor who were actually physically at the auction.   Before we left the hotel for lunch, we bid on a wax replica of Tiny Tim from the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  He was around about three feet tall and wore a little suit, complete with bow tie.  It appeared that we won him and we were ecstatic.




We walked to meet Ronlyn Domingue and Todd for lunch at Galatoire’s.  I had Victor practice their names.  By the time they came, he had it down as Toddlynn and Ron, having gone through many other permutations. (One was Scrodlynn and Dodd.  You get the picture.  I really can’t take him anywhere.)

When they arrived, they were just so young and happy. It lifts your spirits to be around people like them.  They told us that they heard that only the hoi-polloi are given seats upstairs, so we were relieved to be seated downstairs with the hoity-toity people.  Oh, and they were genuinely impressed that we now owned the three-foot wax figure of Tiny Tim in a suit!

I learned that I had been mispronouncing Ronlyn’s name forever.  I was saying  “Dominique” as though it were French, but it actually is Domingue which rhymes with Meringue, the dessert, (not the dance.) Victor is not the most patient photographer.  Here is a picture he took of Ronlyn and me:



When we got back to the hotel we got back on the auction web site. We then won a seven-foot tall, three- foot wide wooden door painted by Molly Proctor.




We were really doing well.  Then we bid on something and the bid came up green and then it said that we won the item, also in green.  Then we realized that if someone else on line clicks the next bid on his computer a fraction of a second before you do, they win the item.

Tiny Tim didn’t come up green.  Molly Proctor’s enormous door didn’t come up green.  We hadn’t won them.

Bummer.

But now we knew the rules.  Coming up soon was a repulsive pair of wooden carved figures: one of a crouching naked man and a matching one of a woman with three breasts and, um, a hoo-ha.  I really didn’t want this item, but Victor really did and he promised to put it somewhere where I’d never see it.

When the picture came on we were ready to click to raise our bid if we had to, but nothing happened for a while and then they said they couldn’t find the figures and went on to the next item.

Well, after losing Tiny Tim and a seven-foot wooden door, we were livid.  Someone had actually stolen those two repulsive wooden statues!

That evening we flagged a cab to take us to St. Claude near Spain.  It’s just Southwest of Treme, made popular to the rest of the country by the recent TV show by that name.  The Gallery was a madhouse.  Andy Antippas is the owner of the Gallery and I think he’s always been in New Orleans.  The show was very eclectic and wonderful. The gallery was filled to bursting with interesting pieces of art.  Some pieces were beautiful, some were shocking, some were kind of nasty; there was something there for every taste.

There were so many fascinating people there of all ages, each with his own idea of appropriate dress.  Some of the attendees had piercings and oddly shaved hair, and others looked like ordinary businessmen and women.  It was really fun to be there among all of them.  The weather was perfect.  I felt good seeing some of my paintings lined up on their very own wall.

(This is the web site for it:  http://www.barristersgallery.com/
in case any of you feel like buying three creepy weird paintings.)



It had been a wonderful weekend.  The weather forecast called for rain, but it hadn’t begun yet. This was a good thing because the taxi taking us back to the airport only had one windshield wiper, and it was on the passenger side, and that lone wiper didn’t come near to touching the windshield, it just shook in the wind as though it had taxi windshield wiper Parkinson’s.

A few days after we got home, we got an invoice for the Molly Proctor door.  Victor forgot that he had previously sent in a bid for it, so we were bidding against ourselves!  (HA!)  Pretty soon an enormous door will arrive that will have the power to make me smile every time I look at it.

The Crucifixion

By Irene Zion

Memoir

It happened when
she was five.
She went to a convent school
in Italy.  
Her teachers were nuns,
shrouded in black habits
with white wimples.

It must have been a holiday. 
Her brother was home 
from school in Switzerland. 
He was eight and a half. 
Her father was home too
and that was rare.

Her mother was there,
but she didn’t see her very much.
The little girl ate meals inside
and went to school,
but otherwise, she stayed