I Don’t Plan I Plot Journal Sold HERE 15 Minute Read
I’m going to be honest with you; I’m not as smart & creative as you think I am. Sometimes, I need a little bit of help. Tonight, my help comes from a book called, 642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto. I got my copy at Target, but here is an amazon link.
You are a loser who lives alone with a cat and have for quite some time. One day your cat can’t take it anymore and starts talking. What does he say?
At 7:00am the alarm goes off, and my eyes pop open. It’s dark, I can’t see anything, and something is covering my mouth! I can hardly breathe! Am I being kidnapped? Suddenly, there’s light and I can see again. My cat, Mr. Muffins, just stepped on my face. He’s been sleeping there a lot lately. Sometimes, I think he’s secretly trying to kill me! No, I’m just kidding! He could never do that! He loves me too much.
Time to get up and start the day! While walking to the bathroom I take a look in the mirror. I don’t see anything special. Just me. I’ve got the body, and the complexion of a woman who eats entirely too much fast food. Mostly, because I am a woman who eats entirely too much fast food. My hair is short, and brown. Not the shiny kind of brown, but the dull, starting to gray, brown. I keep it really short so I don’t have to fuss with it. As for fashion, I’ve pretty much been rocking the same wardrobe for the last 20 years. I wear a uniform to work, and I keep good care of my play clothes. I do replace the occasional sock that Mr. Mittens has shredded, but other than that, there hasn’t really been a reason to get anything new.
My life is pretty simple. I get up at 7, get to work by 9, come home at 5, eat dinner with Mr. Muffins, watch TV, then go to bed. I do that everyday. Except for Saturdays and Sundays. I replace work with hobbies like knitting, crocheting, and weaving. My full time job is being a Toll Booth Operator, but I sell my fiber art on Etsy. I haven’t made any sales yet, but I’m hopeful! My stuff is good! Mr. Muffins fully supports my ambition. He loves my weavings. He’s always trying to bat at them. I’m so glad we have something we can enjoy together. My entire house is decorated with my art. It’s just Mr. Muffins and me at home. We live in the house I grew up in. I was an only child, so when my parents died, they left it to me. Not that I wasn’t already living here when they died, because I was. I’ve always lived here with them. They died about 10 years ago. Nothing tragic though. They lived for a long time. They found each other late in life and had me when they were close to 50. Dad got sick, and was never able to recover. Mom died pretty soon after. I think it was because her heart was broken.
I miss them, but that’s just how life goes.
I used to have a boyfriend, Tony. We met through the Prison Pen Pal Program. I got involved with the program after my parents died. I was feeling lonely and wanted someone to talk to. He was incarcerated for running a scam on a bunch of old ladies. He conned them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I thought, he must be smart at least! We wrote letters back and forth to each other for 2 years, and I fell head over heals in love. When he got out, I told him he could come live with me until he got back on his feet. I was secretly hoping he would never get back on his feet, and we could get married, and live together forever. Just me, him, and Mr. Muffins. When he got here, he took one look around and left. Well, first he asked for 20 bucks, and then he left.
I miss him, but that’s just how life goes.
Mr. Muffins is the only man I need in my life anyway. He’s a big orange tabby cat. I rescued him off the street after my parents died. Or rather, he rescued me. I was knitting on a park bench, when some teenagers came up, and started picking on me. Getting picked on was something I was used to, so I was just letting it happen, when out of nowhere I saw this orange flash. It was Mr. Muffins! He jumped on one of the teenagers and started clawing at his face! He was hissing like crazy! They were all so scared they ran away! He came to my rescue! He was my little hero. I took the McMuffin I was saving out of my bag and we split it. That’s how he got his name. He followed me home, and the rest is history.
It was a pretty easy day at work. No one threw their change at me, spit at me, or shouted anything vulgar at me. So I chalk that up to a win! After work, I went straight home to make a healthy dinner for me, and for Mr. Muffins. I was thinking, a Greek salad for me, and smoked salmon for the Mister. No, you know that’s not true! I drove straight to the McDonald’s drive thru, and ordered a Big Mac, (okay, 2 Big Macs) and large fries. When I got home I called out for Mr. Muffins while I fill his dish with canned tuna. I would have picked up a Filet-O-Fish sandwich, but he’s starting to look a little chunky, and boy is he heavy! After a few minutes of waiting, he finally jumps through the kitchen window. I always keep it cracked for him. He likes to come and go when I’m at work. He sees the McDonald’s bag and starts purring. “No, no Mr. Muffins. You know you’re on a diet. If you want to continue to sleep on my face, you need to lose some weight. I thought I was suffocating this morning!” I know it’s impossible, but I’m pretty sure I saw him roll his eyes. He’s such a special cat.
The Evening News just started when I shoved the last handful of fries in my mouth. I don’t know how it happened, but I start choking! Full on red face, eyes watering, slapping my chest, choking. I look down at Mr. Muffins to see him staring at me with no expression on his face. What is he doing? He’s supposed to be my hero! I try yelling at him, but nothing comes out. I’m about to pass out, when finally Mr. Muffins makes a move. He takes a running start, then leaps right into my gut. Thank goodness he’s put on so much weight because it worked! The fries fly out of my mouth, and they go everywhere, and I mean everywhere! But I’m alive! My hero saved me again! Now I feel bad I didn’t get him the Filet-O-Fish. It’s not that late, I can still go get him one. “Oh, Mr. Mittens! Thank you so much! I thought that was it for me! Wouldn’t it be ironic if I died choking on something I love so much? How about I get back in the car, and go get you a celebratory Filet-O-Fish and maybe another Big Mac for Momma?”
For a second I think maybe he has brain damage from hitting me so hard, because he’s making the strangest sound. It’s a different sound than his usual hairball sound. This was more of an internal screaming sound. He’s turns and look me dead in the eye, and he says (yes, SAYS), “Bonnie, baby, you’re a mess! How can this be your life? You do the same thing day after day, night after night, Big Mac after Big Mac! Have you given up?” His voice is so deep, and hip, really, really hip. It’s not at all how I expected him to sound. Not that I really ever expected him to have a voice. “Don’t you have any friends? Anyone to talk to, to go out with? I can’t be all you’ve got! You’re not even all I’ve got! There’s a pretty kitty up the street named Jinxie. We’ve been going together for awhile now, things are good, they’re getting serious.” I don’t know what to say. I literally do not know what to say in response to my cat. MY CAT. All I can squeak out is,
“Mr. Muff…” He cuts me off. “I prefer to go by Fins.” Fins? That’s not fancy at all! Cats names should always be fancy! “Okay, Fins. First, congratulations on your relationship, that’s awesome for you. Second, did I actually die when I choked on those fries, because this can’t be real.”
“No, you’re alive, but not well, doll face. As for the talking thing, well, I’ve always been able to talk. Most People are square, so I’ve never felt the need to, until now.” He’s actually talking to me! This is the best day of my entire life! “You’re sad, Bonnie. You’ve lost your spark for life. You used to do things, see people, bathe regularly. I’ve tried subtle ways to shock the life back into you. Mostly by trying to suffocate you, and then stopping right before you pass out. I thought if you came close to death you would feel inspired to live. But just now, when you looked like it was time for you to move towards The Light, and you want to go out for a Filet-O-Fish and ANOTHER Big Mac? You need to change, Bonnie. Get yourself out there again. And maybe not with a prisoner this time. You deserve better than that.” I’m shocked. This is simultaneously the nicest, and meanest thing anyone has ever said to me. And it was said to me by my cat. I try to speak, but my mouth is dry. Suddenly, I’m feeling very lightheaded.
I must have passed out because now I’m on the floor and it’s pitch black outside. There’s a blanket on me. Mr. Muff… I mean, Fins does usually puts one on me when I pass out on the couch. Wait, Fins! He can talk! Where is he? I look around for him, but I don’t see him anywhere. I can hear a noise coming from the kitchen. I get up and peek around the corner. I can see Fins at the window with a cat I’ve never seen before. Is that Jinxie? No, it can’t be. This cat looks big, and mean, and they look mad at each other! Big, Mean Cat lets out a hiss, and takes a swing at Fins, but he dodges it. He counters the move with a harder, faster swing, and makes contact. It turns into a full on cat fight on my window sill, and then onto my kitchen cabinet. They are rolling around howling and hissing, and knocking stuff onto the floor. I turn the light on, and that stops them in their tracks. They look over at me, and Big, Mean Cat leaps out the window. I run over and slam it shut behind him.
“What was that?” I shout at him. His ears go flat, and he’s trying to make his body small. He’s guilty! He gives me the same look when I find his little presents he leaves in my slippers. “Don’t give me that look Mister! Why are you inviting cats into my kitchen, and why are you fighting them?” He doesn’t answer me. “I know you can talk! Why are you fighting cats in my kitchen?” He still doesn’t say anything. Am I crazy? Was he not giving me some grand, Get it Together, Oprah kind of speech earlier? I wait a second longer for a response before deciding that I must be the one with brain damage. “Okay fine, have it your way.” I turn to go to the fridge. I need some cheese after all this.
“No! No not the emergency cheese, Bonnie! I’ll explain everything if you promise to not eat anymore cheese tonight.” He shouts at me. Alright, so he can talk!
“Okay, no more cheese, tonight. Pinky promise.”
“You might want to sit down for this.” I sit. “What I’m about to say might shock you, but then again, you do need a good shock. What you saw, Bonnie was we in the business call, a bad deal. That cat you saw, he was coming here to buy something from me, but he didn’t have enough for a payment. He got mad at me because I wouldn’t fork over the goods. I tried to settle it with meows, but he wanted to get physical. I’m a catnip dealer, Bonnie. And no one messes with me. I’m well known around the alleys. That’s why I go by Fins. Mr. Muffins is cute and all, and it worked for me and you, but it’s not a name for the streets. Speaking of, this diet you have me on is killing me! All this “fat” you think I have, it’s pure muscle, baby! You have to be able to take care of yourself when you run a business like mine. Not to mention, I have to protect you. That’s my full time job.” I’m overwhelmed with all this information. I have so many questions. I just start firing them off.
“Why do cats need a catnip dealer? It’s not illegal, is it? Are you also a user, or do you just sell? Where are you getting the catnip, because I’ve never bought it before? Are you being safe? Does Jinxie know? Is she the one who got you into this?” I say all in one breath.
“Whoa, slow down, Bonnie, baby. It’s alright. Take a deep breath. . And yes, I’m being very safe. I mostly deal to local alleycats. They don’t have a way to get the nip on their own. I do have a few house cat customers as well. Not all People allow their cats to have nip. Jinxie does know what I do, and she’s been a big help in expanding my business, but no, she didn’t get me into it. Your scumbag boyfriend, Tony did. Right before he left, he tossed me some nip from his pocket and said good luck. I enjoyed it so much I thought my friends in the alley would too. I grew up on the streets, remember? I know what it’s like to have to fight for every meal. They deserve to go nuts from time to time.”
“Okay, I can rationalize all that, i think, but you left something out. Where do you get it?” He sighs at me. I didn’t know cats could sigh. Well, I didn’t know they could talk either.
“This is the part you’re not going to like. You know Old Lady Kowalski next door? She has a nip plant in her garden. I don’t think she even knows what she’s got. I seem to be the only cat around who knows about it. Late at night, I hop over the fence, and harvest it the best I can.” He looks sort of ashamed. And he should be! Dealing nip, fighting Big, Mean Cats in my kitchen, and STEALING from Mrs. Kowalski! She already doesn’t like me. When Tony left, I went through a rough patch. She said my loud middle of the night crying kept her up. She’s been cold to me ever since. If she finds out what Mr. Muffins is doing she might call animal control on him.
“So you’re nip dealer AND a cat burglar? Wait, what are they paying you with? It can’t possibly be cash!”
“That’s the thing doll, the pay, the pay is the best part. It’s the reason I do all this, for us. They pay me in…yarn. I love it, you love it. It works out perfectly.” He purrs when he says perfect.
“But you’re stealing! It’s not right! As much as I love yarn, I love following the rules even more! We don’t do this kind of stuff Mr. Muffins! We have a routine and we follow it. Wake up, work, dinner, TV, then bed. There’s no room for crime!” That’s when it hits me. This is how I get out of my rut. I go into business selling catnip for yarn with my cat, Mr. Muffins. No, excuse me, my cat, Fins.
We’ve been in business for almost 2 months, and things couldn’t be better. I’ve got a few catnip plants growing in my own garden. My part in all this is to grow it and harvest it. From there, Fins takes it and sells it to our clients. I’ve been learning so much about gardening. I’m thinking soon I can grow my own strain. Then we can see exactly how many cats are getting their supply from us. We pulled Jinxie in for help too. She’s dealing at nights at the west side Alley. Fins is wanting to recruit more dealers, but the game is so dangerous. It’s hard to trust anyone. I can’t complain though, I’ve got enough yarn to wrap around the sun! My Etsy shop has become pretty popular too! Jinxie had a brilliant idea of having the house cat clients take their Person to my site, by walking across their keyboard. I haven’t been able to quit my day job, but I might if we keep it up! I’ve got Fins back on his high calorie diet, while he has be sticking to a low calorie diet. What he doesn’t know is that I stop off everyday to get a large order of fries on my way home, and eat all of them before I get there. We’re really making this work!
Isn’t that the way it happens though? Just when you think everything is right in the world, something happens and it all comes crashing down. It’s 3am and a furry paw just hit me in the face. I open my eyes to see Fins sitting on my chest staring at me. I’m startled, but thankful he’s not trying to suffocate me anymore.
“Bonnie, come quick. We need your help!” He sounds so serious. I get up, throw on my robe, and follow him into the kitchen. He jumps out the window, peeks his head back in, and says, “Get your shoes on. We’re going to the Alley.” This must be serious because People aren’t welcome in the alley. We hustle down the street, and as we’re going all these other cats are starting to follow us. They’re all howling and hissing. We turn the corner to the Alley, and I see even more cats. They see me coming with Fins so instead of fighting me, they scatter. That’s when I see her. It’s Jinxie and she’s laying in the middle of the Alley motionless. Her breathing is shallow, her eyes are bugging out, and she’s making a strange gurgling sound. What is going on? Fins runs over to comfort her. He looks up at me and howls, “I think it’s an overdose! I don’t know how to help her!” I need to act fast.
“Okay, let’s get her to the animal hospital. They can help her there.” I go to scoop her up, but Fins stops me.
“Aren’t they going to ask a bunch of questions? Is it safe to take her there?” Fins shouts.
“At this point, if we don’t get her some help she’s going to die!”
We get to the animal hospital in record time. The doctors take her back, and leaves us in the waiting room. It’s just us in there, so Fins feels comfortable to talk with me.
“I didn’t think cats could overdose on nip.” I say quietly.
“You are learning all the time, aren’t you Bonnie? When you’re around it as much as we, you’re bound to get too much. Oh Bast, I hope she’ll be okay!” He looks so sad. The saddest I’ve ever seen him.
“Maybe it’s time for us to retire, Fins. The Etsy shop is doing well, and I have plenty of yarn now. When she gets out, Jinxie can move in with us. We can get you guys clean, off the streets, and be a family again. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
“I can’t give it up now, Bonnie. I know I made it sound like I’m in it for the yarn, but I’m not. There’s so much more. I love the power it gives me. I love how the other cats respect me. They get out of my way when they see me coming. I’m loved and feared all at the same time. Growing up I was always the scaredy cat. It wasn’t until I took on those teenagers in the park for you, that I realized I could be tough, and dealing nip has only made me tougher. I feel like I have 18 lives instead of 9!”
“It’s so dangerous though! Look what is happening to Jinxie! She may not make it! None of this would have happened if we weren’t dealing. You’re willing to risk the ones you love just to stay in the game? Just to feel powerful? I can’t understand that, Muffy.” He’s breaking my heart. Jinxie was nearly dead in that Alley, and he doesn’t see how it was our actions that put her there? I’ve learned a lot over the last few months, but I never thought I would learn that my cat was a true thug. This business is bigger to him than I thought. “What if I stop growing it for you? You’ll have to stop then, because i forbid you to steal it.”
“Bonnie, doll, I’m Fins. I have connections now. I can get it if I really wanted to. And I really want to. We can go back to how it was before, me dealing, and you having no part of it.”
“No, it has to stop! I don’t want to find you in the Alley overdosing on nip, Mr. Muffins. You know you’re all I have!” I feel like crying.
“Bonnie, don’t do this. Don’t make me pick between you and the business. It will tear me a part.” Now I am crying.
That was the last time I saw him. We waited together until Jinxie was released from the hospital. She was going to be fine, just needed a few days rest. After that, we went our separate ways. That almost was a year ago. I’ve pretty much gone back to my old routine. I don’t weave, or knit anymore. It makes me too sad. Instead, I’ve taken up kickboxing. I spend every Saturday and Sunday in the gym. I’m taking care of myself now. I got a letter in the mail last week from Tony. He’s back in jail. He is looking to start things up again while he’s in there. I was going to respond, but I dropped the letter in the shredder instead. Sometimes, when I’m out, I’ll walk slower in front of the Alley. At times I think I catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye, but when I turn to look, he’s not there. It took a long time to get over what happened. I still don’t think I’m completely over it. I still leave the kitchen window cracked, just in case.
I miss him, but that’s just how life goes.
10 Minute Read
This is a story about my friend, Jen. I use the term, friend, loosely (you’ll see why later). She was a legend in our school. Something wild was always happening to her. We went to different elementary schools, but I heard kids at my school talk about her. How so many kids from my school knew about her, I’ll never know. I heard so many wild things about her. I heard she was an extra in the movie Spy Kids. I heard she had a new outfit every day for the first 100 days of 5th grade, and I heard John Stamos told her she was pretty. No, I’m kidding about the last one. That’s from Mean Girls, but honestly she had big Regina George vibes, before Regina George was a thing.
I finally met her in 6th grade English class. She sat behind me, and to the left. I remember being excited when I found out I was going to be sitting so close to her. Maybe she would want to be friends with me, and I could be popular like her. Maybe she could get me a part in Spy Kids 2! However, I quickly changed my mind. I thought she was the worst! She wouldn’t shut up! Everyone in class seemed to really like her, and I was having a hard time understanding why. I thought she was absolutely full of it. She had these really wild stories! One of the first ones I ever heard her tell was about a ghost that lives in her house. A ghost! She said he lived in the walls, and only came out when she was sleeping. She said every night they would talk, and his name was Fred, but she called him Freddy. He was only around for a short time after they moved into the house, so she thought maybe her family scared him off. I couldn’t believe it, but the other kids were eating it up. Did they really think she was friends with Casper, or were they just being nice? I mean, when a kid tells you something like that, it’s hard to believe anything else they say. It bothered me so much that she was getting away with it! So, when she would go off on one of her stories I would question her to see if she would get confused, or mixed up. I would poke holes in her stories to try and get her to admit she was lying to us. She had the memory of an elephant, and had an answer for everything. It was so frustrating! I was starting to believe that maybe this 11 year old really did have a wild life.
Then, I thought maybe she was an embellisher, or an exaggerator. That maybe her stories were mostly true, but she adds lots of fluff to make the story seem really impressive. Like, maybe she was an extra on Spy Kids, but just because her mom knew someone, who knew someone else, who got her on set for the day. She knew exactly how much detail to add to make the story crazy, yet still seem believable. Everyone knows a person like this. You may call them, Pathological Liars, or Habitual Liars, but I call them Fancy Liars. Fancy Liars aren’t always bad people. In fact, most are harmless. They don’t lie so they can get something out of you. They lie so they can impress you. A lot of people get fooled by Fancy Liars. You hear them tell these wild stories that you want to be a part of, but when you go along, you end up on the couch at some strangers house watching Ratatouille while everyone around you is doing Whip Its, and passing out. You have a terrible time, but end up going out with the Fancy Liar another time, because maybe, just maybe something wild will happen. But no, just more strangers, and more Whip Its.
The first time I encountered one, I was in 2nd grade. I was standing in the lunch line when a girl (not Jen), turned around and told me that when she went to the bathroom earlier, it was all blood. My jaw literally dropped. I could not believe what I had just heard. She didn’t seem scared at all! At the time, I was 7, and I didn’t know what a woman’s period was, so bleeding from that area was a thought that shook me to my core. And I honestly don’t think that’s what was happening to her because she was even younger than me. I think I said something like, wow that’s bad, you should tell the teacher. Then she shrugged at me, and walked off. She shrugged at me like she didn’t just tell me the scariest thing I had ever heard. She walked right over to the salad bar, and started making a salad. Why wasn’t she telling the teacher? I was so confused and scared for her! I thought about it for the entire day. I wasn’t about to do her any favors, and tell the teacher for her. I was that kind of kid. I could have witnessed a murder, and never said a thing to anyone about it. Not my murder, not my problem. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even though I was scared she was going to give me more details, I just had to ask. The next day at lunch I tapped her on the shoulder, and asked her if she remembered what she told me yesterday. She said she remembers that she told me her pee was red. My jaw dropped again. That’s NOT what she told me. She specifically said BLOOD. Then, she told me that she takes medicine sometimes that turns her pee red. That’s how I coined the term, Fancy Liar. I thought she was kind of a liar, but I also thought she was fancy because she liked salads. I’ve met many Fancy Liars since.
Two days after meeting Jen, she was no longer just Jen to me. In my head, she was Fancy Liar Jen. And I needed to get to the bottom of all of Fancy Liar Jen’s lies. Side note: I was obviously very jealous of Jen, but at the time I couldn’t see that. I don’t know what I thought I would get out of “exposing” her, but I wanted it so bad. I spent a whole Saturday watching Spy Kids over and over again, trying to find her in the background. When I called her out on not being able to see her in the movie, she said that it was just a rumor. She wasn’t in the movie, but she did audition for it, and made it to the final rounds. I learned how to roll my eyes that year.
A few months into the school year, she invited me to her birthday party at the skating rink. I know, I said I couldn’t stand Jen, so I bet you’re wondering why I went to her party? It’s because I was a preteen, and I would have rather died, than let anyone know I didn’t like the popular girl (don’t you dare judge me!). It was October so the place was decorated for Halloween. Spider webs everywhere, skeletons posed to look like they are skating, and ghosts hanging down from the ceiling. That’s when it happened. That’s when I got the idea. I was going to ask Jen to tell the story about her ghost friend in front of everyone, everyone including her mother. Since it was Jen’s party, her mom was there to be the adult. I figured she wouldn’t want to tell the story in front of her mom because it was a big, fat, LIE! It wasn’t a great plan, but I was 11, cut me some slack.
When we sat down to open presents and eat cake, I sat next to Jen at the head of the table. Her mom was standing next to her cutting, and passing down slices of cake. The time had come. I picked up the ghost centerpiece that was on the table, and did the whole “Booo!” thing to Jen. She laughed and played along. So that’s when I decided to ask her.
“Wasn’t your house haunted by a ghost?” And then Jen said,
“No, it wasn’t haunted. We had Freddy, the nice, friendly ghost! Do you remember him, Mom?”
I want to pause here to repeat myself. I don’t know what my end game was in catching Jen in a lie. All I knew, was that I had one thing I wanted to say to her when it finally happened. It was, “How can we believe anything you say?” I liked it because it sounded really dramatic, and it would make people think twice about the stories Jen told. I didn’t hate Jen, and want to ruin her life. I just didn’t want her to be the coolest girl in school anymore. What happened next still haunts my dreams. And it’s not because of a ghost.
Jen’s mom gives her a strange look and says,
“Freddy? Do you mean Fred Boyle? He wasn’t a ghost, he was that man we found living in our crawlspace!” She says it so matter of factly that I nearly choked on my cake. I wasn’t alone. Everyone stopped eating, and looked over at us. Jen immediately turned red. I turned red. What did she just say? A man, living in the crawlspace, talking to Jen every night through the wall? She looked completely drenched in fear. Just like I did when that girl told me that she peed blood. We all begged to hear the whole story.
So, Jen’s mom tells us that Fred was a homeless man that wandering into the neighborhood, and saw that their house was empty. It was right before Jen’s family moved in so technically, it was empty. He snuck into the house, but when they started moving in, he made camp in the crawlspace that shares a wall with Jen’s room. One night, Jen heard him moving around, and knocked on the wall. Fred didn’t know what to do, so he pretended to be a ghost. He said he was a nice, friendly ghost, so there was nothing to worry about. What he meant by nothing to worry about was, nothing to tell your parents about. He thought he had a good thing going, especially when she started leaving out cookies for him. One night, while Jen and her siblings were spending the night at their grandma’s house, her dad heard strange sounds coming from Jen’s room. He eventually finds Fred in the crawlspace and calls the cops to have him arrested. She said it was in all the papers. By then, Jen is totally embarrassed, and she’s crying. At that moment, Jen did stop being the coolest girl in school. All the boys started calling her Ghost Lover (which honestly, doesn’t make sense, but kids are mean).
It’s pretty clear to me that Jen had no idea Fred was a real man. Her mom swears up and down that they told her, but then lands on the idea that, maybe, because she was so young, they did let her keep believing he was just a ghost.
Jen may have been a Fancy Liar, but I’m a Real Jerk.
20 Minute Read
Thank you for stopping in tonight to read B - sides: It's My Party. I just want give you a quick explanation of what I mean by a B - side story.
Back in the day, songs were recorded onto vinyl records and later, onto cassette tapes. They had two sides, an A - side & (you guessed it!) a B - side. Normally, the A - side had the "hit" & the B - side had the weird stuff. I'm into weird stuff. When I listen to a song enough times I start thinking about what happened to this person to make them write this. Sometimes it's obvious, like Ariana Grande had a few relationships not work out, but she was grateful about it so, Thank U, Next. Some songs though, are left up to the imagination, like who really did let the dogs out? Or maybe he really wasn't so vein, and Carly Simon is just a jerk (I doubt it).
I wanted to write stories about just that. The events that lead up to, happen during, and/or happen after the song. The B - side of the story.
Tonights tale is about the song It's My Party by Lesley Gore.
If you haven't heard it;
You can look up the lyrics here.
You can hear the song on youtube here.
My life is over.
When did Judy and Johnny become friends? Does he like her? She’s a total square! She’s only been going to our school for a few months. Up until 15 minutes ago I didn’t even know she was in this class. I’ve sincerely never noticed her and she sits two tables over. She has icky hair and smelly feet. Okay, I’m not certain she has smelly feet, but she looks like a girl who would have smelly feet, and I’m usually right about these things. She’s tall too. Almost as tall as Johnny. That’s really going to mess up their wedding photos, unless she wears flats. And those flats probably smell really, really bad.
When I got to biology today Johnny was sitting with Judy. Johnny always sits next to me during class. Johnny is my steady guy and he has been for the last 6 months. Sure he’s been distant and moody the last couple of weeks, but he’s turning into a young man, that kind of stuff happens! I thought maybe he was just asking her a question, (Is there any homework due today? Are your teeth naturally yellow or is it caused by your breath?) then he would come sit down next to me. That didn’t happen though. He just stayed sitting there - two tables down and away from me. Two tables down, away from me and with Judy!
I’ve been glaring at them for the last 15 minutes. Not one single word of Mrs. Smith’s lecture has reached my ears. There is no other explanation other than they are in love. They fell in love and he forgot to tell me. There is a very small possibility that I’m jumping to conclusions. He could just be sitting with her because he’s a nice guy and making the new girl feel welcomed is something a nice guy would do. They are sitting awfully close to each other. Doesn’t he know how this makes me look? I feel completely made a fool of! All the other girls keep shooting me looks of pity. I put on a fake smile to let them know nothing is wrong, but everything is wrong. This can’t be happening. My sweet 16 party is tomorrow night and I need to have Johnny on my arm. I already have the perfect party dress, the perfect band booked, and the most perfect cake made by my grandmother Rose. Daddy even sprang for the big room at the Country Club. All I need is the perfect date and I have that in Johnny. I need to know what’s going on, and I need to know now. I’m going to write him a note. Something nice and breezy. I rip out a sheet of paper and start writing. I quickly veto nice and breezy. I write:
Why are earth are you not sitting next to me? People are starting to talk.
The girl you are going steady with.
I pass the note to Linda, who passes it to Barbara, who passes it to Danny, who passes it to Johnny.
I watch him read the note and then I watch his neck and ears turn red. I watch as he writes something on the back of my note. Then I watch the note go from Danny, to Barbara, to Linda, who then drops it on my desk. Finally, an explanation or maybe an invitation to their wedding. Either way I have to know. When I open the note, I see the 4 words no girl wants to read:
We need to talk.
Meet me after class.
Instant lump in my throat. Everyone knows what, “We Need To Talk” means. It means he wants to break up. Is he crazy or something! A day before my Sweet 16 party! I need him at that party! Who does Johnny think he is? He was a nobody around here until I started showing interest in him. I’ve always been more in the groove than him. What can I say, people are just naturally drawn to me! Like Marilyn Monroe. Johnny has always been in our class, but no one really noticed him. He was one of the smart kids. You know the type; pale, skinny, and really into books and schoolwork. This past summer Johnny went to work on his uncle’s farm and came back looking like a total hunk. The sun tanned his skin and lightened his hair. All the manual labor he did on the farm turned his scrawny arms into solid muscle. I laid eyes on “New and Improved” Johnny at the corner store the day he got back into town. I hardly recognized him, but I knew once the other girls got a look at him, he would be snatched up. So, I batted my eyes and touched his muscles until he asked me for my phone number. Boys love that kind of stuff. Ever since then, he’s been mine and only mine. Now he wants to talk? The day before my party? I have to fix this. I need to fix this. I can fix this.
When the bell rings i practically hit the ceiling I jump up so fast. I see Johnny whisper something in Judy’s ear and then start walking toward me. I need to control this situation. I need to speak first.
“Hi Johnny. What’s going on? What did you want to talk about?” I asked confidently. He won’t look me in the eye. This is bad.
“I want to talk about us.” He says. I swallow hard. Okay, I can do this. Talking about us means I can remind him how he needs me. How he wouldn’t be sitting at the popular table at lunch without me. How because of me, he gets invited to all the parties, or how he can’t drive Daddy’s Thunderbird anymore if he breaks up with me.
“That’s my favorite subject!” I say with a giggle. He smiles, but his eyes look sad.
“Can we go talk in my car?” He asks.
“Sure we can.” I try to sound hopeful. As we walk through the hall I try and grab his hand. He keeps it balled up in a fist so I just hold that because I don’t want anyone to see us and think something is wrong. I think he feels sorry for me because he lets me hold onto his fist until we reach the door that leads to the parking lot. We don’t even make it all the way to his car when he stops and turns to me.
“I have something I have to tell you!” His voice cracked. “And it’s not going to be easy.” He bites his lip. He’s so gorgeous.
“Well yes, I gathered that much. I don’t think we walked all the way out here just for the fun of it.”
“I don’t want to go steady anymore.” He confesses.
“But what about my party?” I blurt out.
“What about your party?”
“You promised you would be my date! You know how much this means to me!” How could you do this to me? You want me to show up to my own party without a date? How embarrassing! After all I’ve done for you?” I am not handling this as poised as I thought I would. Words just kept coming out of my mouth. Finally I bite my tongue. Johnny takes a deep breath and looks me right in the eyes.
“I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to ruin your party, but I’m just not feeling the same way anymore. I don’t think it’s fair to you.”
“You don’t think it’s fair to me? You think breaking up with me a day before my party is fair? I don’t have time to find another date. The band already learned to play Johnny Boy for my first dance!” More words kept falling out.
“I just don’t have the same feelings anymore.”
“Well, what are you feeling?” What does he mean? I never thought boys had feelings.
“I just feel differently. I miss my old life. I miss spending lunch in the library. All we do at lunch is sit with your friends and make fun of people. I like schoolwork and I’m sick of pretending that I don’t. Since we’ve been together my grades have gone down.” Since when doesn’t he like making fun of people? It’s one of my favorite things. “I’m spending all my free time with you which might be fine for some guys, but not me.” I wait a second before responding. He is making a fair point. All of my grades are awful. All of my friend’s grades are awful, except for the football players. Nerds like Judy and Old Johnny usually do their homework for them.
“Is that why you were sitting with Judy today? Do you like her because she’s smart and I’m not? You know everyone thinks you’re into her because you sat with her instead of me, and you know her feet smell, right? I haven’t actually smelled them, but I’m usually right about these things.” In your face Judy.
“Smelly feet? What are you talking about? But yes, I sat with Judy instead of you because she takes really good notes. She was helping me catch up. You shouldn’t care what other people think. She doesn’t like me. We’re just really good friends. You wouldn’t know that though because you don’t take an interest in me or my friends.” He sounds frustrated or maybe even disappointed.
Is Nerd Johnny still alive in there and I’ve never noticed? I feel relieved though. He’s not leaving me for boring Judy. He just misses his books and wants more attention. I can fix that.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. We can compromise. Once a week you can have lunch in the library and we can do our homework together everyday after school. You don’t even have to wear the suit I got you that matches my dress for my party. You can pick your own outfit. Please Johnny. Give me one more chance. I need you.” I pled. His eyes narrow.
“You need me to be your date! You don’t need me. It’s stuff like this that makes me want to break up! You make me feel like I don’t matter. Like I was put on Earth to be your boyfriend and nothing else!” Someone being mad at me is such a new thing to me. I want to cry!
“That’s not true Johnny! The last 6 months have been the most fun I’ve ever had and that was because I was with you. Not just because I had a date to everything.” I say back to him. He can’t accuse me of that. I mean, having a date to everything has been wonderful, but it’s because Johnny is that date. He’s the grooviest boy in school right now.
“I’ve had some really great times too, but like I said don’t feel like the old Johnny anymore.” He says breaking away from our eye contact. Okay, time for the waterworks.
“I’m so sorry.” I say with the biggest frown I can make while forcing a tear to roll down my cheek. “I never meant for you to feel like that. You’re my first boyfriend and I like having one so much that I must have forgotten you also have feelings. I can change! We can do more things you like instead of just what I like. Please just give me one more chance. Please don’t leave me without a date to my own party.” He doesn’t say anything. He looks over at the school then lets out a giant sigh. I’ve got him right where I want him.
“I’ll go with you to your party, but after that we need to have a serious talk.” he said defeatedly. This must be how Mother feels when she wins an argument with Daddy. I did it, I have a date for my party! I go to kiss him and he gives me his cheek. I hope no one saw that. As we walk back inside, I let him know he can have lunch in the library today, but to promise to not talk to Judy until I can explain what happened to my friends.
“Why was Johnny sitting with Judy in biology? Word of the bird is that he’s sweet on her.” Jenny asked practically pouncing me as I walked up to my usual lunch table. Was that sass? She’s my best friend. You get get sass from your best friend.
“Judy asked him for help with the assignment. Johnny is really smart you know. Not everyone thinks school is a drag. He’ll probably be a doctor one day.” I sass her right back.
“Then why are they talking right now?” She points up to the door of the cafeteria. Johnny and Judy are huddled together talking and smiling. Jesus Johnny! What did we just talk about? I’m about to go break them up when I see him leave to go to the library. Judy comes into the cafeteria to have lunch. Alone I bet.
“They are probably just discussing the biology assignment.” I say matter of factly.
“More like chemistry!” She says which gave everyone at the table a big tickle. I’m so mad I could spit! Judy is still making a fool of me. Something must be done. I look down at the table. My eyes go right to Becky’s chocolate shake.
“Watch this.” I get up from the table with shake in hand. I can hear Becky squawking about me taking it off her tray, but she can put a sock in it. As I’m walking past Judy’s table I pretend to trip which makes me toss the whole shake onto Judy. It covers her entire face, drips down her front, and gathers in her lap. Everyone is looking at us and laughing.
“Judy, I’m so sorry! I tripped on accident! Let me help you!” I’m trying so hard not to laugh with everyone! I grab her arm to pull her out of her seat. Everything that gathered in her lap fell onto the floor so as soon as she takes a step she slips in it and falls backwards. She slipped so hard both of her feet went into the air. A-ha! She’s not wearing socks! There’s no way her feet aren’t smelly. Jenny then runs over and tries to help her up too, but she’s on my team. When she has her almost to her feet she drops her, and Judy lands in the puddle. Judy screams and I burst out laughing!
“Leave me alone! You did this on purpose! You’re awful girls!” She carefully gets up, grabs her bag, and tries to walk away. She’s slipping all over the place and the cafeteria is roaring with laughter. For half a second I feel bad for what I did. But just for half a second. She did something that caused me embarrassment so I was just getting her back.
I slept like a baby last night! I don’t know if it was because today is party day or because of how satisfied I feel. I spend the entire day getting ready. Mother had her hair dresser come to the house to fix me up. I feel so special today. My real birthday was a month ago, but Mary, Katherine, and Margaret all have their birthdays around the same time and my party needed to stand out. Today is the perfect time to have it. There isn’t another party for 3 weeks. Mine will be talked about for nearly a month!
Johnny gets to my house 10 minutes late. I was beginning to think he stood me up. Mother had to pat down my armpits I was sweating so much! He looks so handsome tonight. He isn’t wearing the suit I picked out for him, but the one he’s wearing looks fine. I don’t think we’ll clash in pictures. I go to kiss him, but again he gives me his cheek. I see he’s holding a little box. A birthday present! I knew he really cared about me. The box is the size of a ring! Is he giving me his ring? I’ve always wanted to wear a boy’s ring! I’m so happy he decided to wait until right before my party to give it to me. All the girls are going to go wild! I snatch it out of his hand before he can stop me.
“Johnny! You’re the sweetest boy!” I gush.
“Oh, no it’s not…”
“How did you know this would be the perfect time to give me your ring?” I open the box and my heart shattered. It’s not his ring, it’s the cufflinks I gave him to wear with the matching suit. I want to cry, but instead I bottle it up and choke out a laugh.
“Oh, of course it’s the cufflinks! I should have recognized the box!” Why didn’t I recognize the box? That would have saved me a lot of embarrassment.
“I’m returning them. I was going to return the suit, but my mom really likes it on me. She wanted to know if I could wear it to my cousin’s wedding next weekend before giving it back to you.”
“I’m sure that will be fine.” I say still fake smiling. “Come on, we better get going. Everyone is probably already there.”
Daddy is letting us drive his Thunderbird to the Country Club for my big arrival. It’s only a few blocks away so riding with the top down won’t frizz my hair up too bad. We sit in an awkward silence for about a minute until Johnny says something.
“You know I almost broke my promise and didn’t come tonight because of what you did to Judy.” Oh no. I didn’t think he knew about that. He was in the library during lunch.
“How do you know about that?” I ask.
“How don’t I know about it? The whole school won’t shut up about it. How could you do that to her? She was so upset and embarrassed.” He sounds mad.
“It was an accident! I didn’t mean to do it. Why are you taking her side? You weren’t even there to see it!”
“I didn’t have to see it. She told me what happened. She said your “trip” was as phony as you are! She thinks you did that to her because I was sitting with her in biology.”
“Well revenge is a dish best served cold, but I wouldn’t do something like that. What kind of girl do you think I am?” I don’t want him to answer that.
“You don’t want me to answer that.” He said.
“Look, I am not threatened by a girl like Judy. It was an accident and that’s all I have to say about it.” This has to end. We have to look like a loving couple when we pull up to the party.
“I’m not sure I believe you. Let’s just get through tonight.”
At that moment we turn into the Country Club lot. So much for a loving couple. Everyone is waiting outside for us to pull up. They are all clapping and cheering. Even my parents are here. Johnny parks the car under the carport and comes around to open the door. I wrap my arm around his and hold on tight.
Once we are in the party room the band starts playing Johnny Angel. I can tell he doesn’t want to, but I guide him to the dance floor and we start to slow dance. This is right where I belong. In the arms of my guy with everyone watching. I guess everyone includes Judy, because I see her standing at the back of the crowd. What nerve of her to even show up here! I didn’t invite her. Why is she smiling so much? She looks like a crazy person. I look up at Johnny and he’s smiling like a nutty person too, but he’s not looking at me. He’s looking at her, at Judy! Is she here for Johnny? Are they plotting something? I need to let her know that it’s not over between me and Johnny. She can’t have him. Not tonight, not ever.
As soon as the song ends I make my move. I pull Johnny in and dip kiss him. Sure, it’s strange for a girl to dip kiss a boy, but obviously I’m not great at making rash decisions. It’s working though. I take a peek over at Judy and her dumb smile is gone. I try to un-dip Johnny, but I don’t have enough muscle to get him up and he falls. Everyone starts to laugh and I can’t help but laugh myself. As soon as he gets to his feet the band starts playing The Twist and the dance floor is packed!
After about 15 minutes of dancing I notice Johnny isn’t by my side anymore. Where did he go? Maybe he went to get us refreshments. I start for the punch and see Sue and Nancy are leaned up against the table chatting. As soon as I walk up they stopped talking. Were they talking about me?
“Were you talking about me?” I blurt out.
“No!” They both say in unison. Well now I’m certain they were.
“What were you talking about then?” I ask with a sense of urgency. It’s my party! My friends shouldn’t be gossiping about me. It’s so rude. I tap my toe waiting for an answer.
“Well, I guess we were sort of talking about you.” Nancy confesses.
“We were talking about Judy and Johnny.” Sue cuts in.
“What about Judy and Johnny? Do you know where Johnny is?”
“No, nobody knows where he went, but we did see him leave holding Judy’s hand.” Sue says, but she says it quietly like she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. The coy little smirk on her face tells me otherwise. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Isn’t he supposed to be mine? I can feel that lump in my throat again. There’s no way they left together. They couldn’t possibly be planning a fun surprise for me, could they? It’s best not to get my hopes up. Nancy breaks my train of thought.
“It’s probably nothing to worry about. I heard Judy has smelly feet. I love that dress on you, by the way.” She’s just sucking up.
“Thanks, and you’re probably right.” I say while trying not to roll my eyes. Now it’s Sue’s turn.
“And your party is just wonderful! I’m having so much fun! I think Danny might finally ask me to dance.”
I can’t even say anything to her. I just smile and walk away. I want to be left alone. They can play all the records and dance all night, but until Johnny is dancing with me, I’ve got no reason to smile. Suddenly, I hear a loud gasp, then dead silence. The band is taking a break so when I say silence I mean silence. Everyone is looking towards the door. There are too many people so I can’t see exactly what they are looking at. Next thing I know everyone is looking at me. The crowd starts breaks up and that’s when I see it, the thing everyone was looking at. I can’t believe my eyes. Judy and Johnny just walked though the door, like a queen with her king. Oh, what a birthday surprise, Judy wearing his ring!
The lump in my throat is back again, but now tears are falling down my cheeks. I run into the bathroom and lock the door. How can this be happening to me? I hear a knock and it’s Jenny so I let her in. She give me a big hug and wipes my tears.
“You can’t be crying like this with makeup on, sweetie.” She sounds like my mother.
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” Stating it made me feel powerful. It IS my party and I CAN cry if I want to. “How could he do this to me?”
“I know you’re sad, but it’s not ladylike to sulk. Bottle it up, honey” Now she was really sounding like my mother.
“When did he even have time to give her the ring?” I’m so confused about what is happening. Was he really that mad at me that he would do something like this? Obviously, he is because he did do something like this to me.
“They left together after you dropped him on the dance floor. He looked so mad, but it was so funny! I saw him grab Judy’s hand and they split. I’m not sure why they came back. Surely it’s not only to embarrass you. Do you want me to see if they are still here?”
“Yes, please.” I whimper.
She leaves the bathroom and I try and clean up my face. My life really is over. My first boyfriend just paraded through my Sweet 16th Birthday Party with the squarest girl on Earth AND she’s wearing his ring? The ring I was never good enough to receive?
I hear another knock on the door. What now?
“What now?” I yell.
“Honey, it’s your mother. We spent lots of money on this party so get out here, now! He’s just a silly boy!”
Mother’s always know the right thing to say. I can only think of one response to her.
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to! You would cry too if it happened to you!”
First, thank you for stopping by! I hope I can entertain you! Second, I'm someone who uses a lot of exclamation marks. I sincerely mean it when I say thank you for stopping by because blogs are weird, right? Why, in this day & age, would you ever pick to read something over watching a video or listening to a podcast? So yes, thank you for time traveling.
I feel obligated to make this first post about me. It is my website & my blog, so if there was any place to write about me, this is it. Here goes nothing...
I'm Emma, but to my family I'm Little em. If you ever meet me in person, please don't call me little em. I'm a perfectly average sized girl, so that would just be ridiculous. The first thing I ever wanted to "be" was a stand up comedian like Fozzie Bear. I love making people laugh. Unfortunately, I turned out to be a very shy person. Painfully shy, actually. I couldn't summon the courage to order at a drive-thru window until I was 18. In school half the kids knew me as Emily (my real name) and the other half knew me as Emma because I was too shy to correct them. You'll be happy to know that I can easily order at a drive-thru, & after 3 weeks I finally told the guy I'm dating to call me Emma.
That's not enough, though. I turned TWENTY NINE last week and I still can’t seem to put myself out there. So I’m going to take some baby steps by sharing my funny thoughts with all of you (you being the internet). You know, the safest & nicest place in the world for a person's opinions. That's sarcasm.
I started Little em. by designing super fresh & totally cool air fresheners. (Shop Now!) It’s time to do something a little bit different. And by a little different, I mean totally different. It may not work out, but nothing ventured, nothing gained! My goal with this blog is to post a story every week. I have some stories about me, about people I know, some are inspirited by songs, and some are totally made up. So, please keep in touch by following me on social media to let me know what you think.
Smell ya later, or see ya never,