Toast Points for the Week of February 27th

Wheeee, Friday. It’s still too frigid for the frozen snow drifts in our yard to melt, and 50% of my household is once again ill. I’m ready for the weekend, is what I’m saying, and House of Cards Season 3, and — some blessed day — the experience, now almost forgotten, of stepping outside my house without snow boots. Still, I am grateful for this week, the week that brought Nicole back into our midst!

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The Bilingual School: A Short Story

So we sent our kids to the bilingual school. It was Mrs. Eagle’s idea. She’d found it on her morning walk. Turned down Milwood Ave. instead of cutting across Crescent Ct., looked up from her steaming cup of Starbucks, and there it was, a school inside a tall blue fence.

On the fence were bright paintings of charming and childish things: airplanes, flowers, tigers.

“L’école bilingue,” read the sign above the doorway. “English and French.”

All of this was written in a fancy white script.

Inside the fence she heard the happy sounds of children. She pressed her face to a knothole and saw children playing hopscotch. Children swinging the tetherball. Children clutching leather-strapped books and nodding smartly to each other. All of them in perfect black berets.

Across the street was the public school, the middle school where we would have to send our children when they got to be that age. Outside, there were children lazing on the steps. Children smoking cigarettes. Children practically fornicating with other children. At home Mrs. Eagle called the rest of us. A meeting for concerned parents, she said. Mothers who are concerned about the education of their children.

We ate madeleine cookies at the meeting. Dipped them in tea and talked about how exciting it would be for our children to learn French.

French is the language of love, said Mrs. Davis.

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Carnival of Souls: A Coming of Age Story for Queer Women?

It was only a few years ago that I curled up on my parents’ brown leather couch during a holiday weekend with a glass of Riesling and a plate of pork chops and gravy to watch an eerie B movie with my aunt. My aunt, a lady who loves old horror movies and wins every trivia game ever made, insisted that my family watch “Carnival of Souls,” a 1962 film by Herk Harvey, whose name I wasn’t cool enough to know at the time.

It is a movie that inspired David Lynch’s style, and depending on your opinion of Lynch that may or may not be a good thing, but the point is that I was completely ignorant to the context behind the movie I was about to watch. For me, that was probably a good thing, because watching it as an anonymous ‘60s horror film allowed me to see some things I ordinarily wouldn’t have.

At the time I was aware of being bisexual (I enjoyed The L Word too much; I sometimes yelled, “I told you so!” when a female character hit on another female character in a television show or movie – hey, I called it on House of Cards, for what it’s worth), but I was repressed and still in denial. I tried to compartmentalize and put it aside as an inconvenient truth. So I was pretty taken by this story of a cold, defensive young woman trying to make sense of the world, while feeling completely disconnected from it.

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Second Chances: A Short Story

Ignore for a moment that two years out of grad school I’m old enough to buy my own bed and shouldn’t ask my father to chip in on a mattress so that he shows up with my mother, who looks like she’s stepped out of a photograph, and she tries to charm the salesman, something she was never good at, but it somehow works this time and he takes off 20 percent. Ignore for a moment that she is wearing an outfit I haven’t seen in eighteen years, not since Nigeria, when she was pregnant with my younger sister, not yet showing, and had fallen down the concrete steps to our house, ripping the dress from hem to thigh. Ignore that she flits from bed to bed bouncing on each one like she hasn’t sat on a mattress in a while and the salesman follows her around like he’d like to crawl in with her. Ignore all this because my mother has been dead for eight years.

My father avoids the look I give him and I’m glad there are beds around because I stagger into one, unable to stand. When I grab my father’s wrist—I cannot at this juncture imagine touching her—he twists away from me. I follow him, but he refuses to be cornered, so I walk up to my mother and ask “What the hell are you doing here?”

The salesman looks at me like I kicked her and she looks pained, like I might as well have. But shock leaves very little room for guilt.

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Link Roundup!

Well, it’s Friday and that is good. February also draws to a close and that is even better. Some llamas were on the run in Sun City, Arizona and Twitter had fun with it. Folks even got “Lorenzo Lamas” trending. Fine work, all around. Llamas. Speaking of ON THE RUN. Hail Beyoncé. I hate being reminded […]

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