Friday, March 06, 2009

Blog Party 5

The party rolls on - Don't forget you have till the end of Saurday to enter the cats versus dogs contest. Also every single comment throughout the week is automatically entered for a door prizes draw on Monday.
Now I'm thrilled to introduce the first of my Little Black Dress guest authors
First up is the lovely Caprice Crane and she's got a great excerpt from her Little Black Dress book - Forget About It

Forget About It

Being run over is not generally considered to be a good thing, but for Jordan Landau, desperate to escape her nightmare family, her dead-end job, and most of all her lying cheating boyfriend, it's the perfect opportunity to start over. Coming to in the hospital, Jordan realizes she has a perfect excuse for a "do-over"; she vows to fake amnesia and totally reinvent herself. And it works. It's goodbye to Jordan the pushover and hello to the life she always dreamed of--until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly Jordan must start over for real, and figure out what really makes her happy--and how best to live a truly memorable life.

my first marriage

I got married when I was seven years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. I married my next-door neighbor Todd Beckett. Typically male (though atypically unaware of the delights of conjugal benefits, as that wasn't in our second grade curriculum), Todd was against the whole affair— totally commitmentphobic—but he went along with it since we had nothing better to do that day. My best friend, Catherine Parker, presided over the ceremony.

It was the middle of July, but it was perfect wedding weather: breezy, seventy-five degrees, and a clear blue sky. I felt lucky that I could wear my best outfit—cutoff Jordache jeans shorts and a rainbow-striped bathing-suit top. Cat wore her favorite color-patched Dolphin shorts and a hand-me-down Van Halen T-shirt that wasn't handed down as much as appropriated from her older brother, and Todd wore a Hang Ten shirt and cords. The ideal weather was lost on him; Todd always wore corduroy pants and Vans no matter what the outside temperature was.

The ceremony was set up in my parents' backyard right under the swing set, where we stood before Cat, who eyed us gravely and began: "And do you, Jordan 'Jordy Belly' Landau, take Todd Beckett to be your awfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?" I forgave Cat for invoking the jelly bean? inspired nickname my stepfather had given me—I knew she was mad that she had to play justice of the peace rather than bride.

"I do," we each said.

"I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride. And you have to hold it for three Mississippi seconds."

And then we kissed. Well, our lips touched, and we didn't move a muscle as Catherine counted out one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. And that was that. Me, barefoot with flowers in my hair. A simple ceremony. No family arguments. No stressing over having invited too many people. No registry nightmares. No problems. But there was cake. We'd always seen couples in movies smearing cake all over each other's face, and we thought that was an integral part of getting married.

"Time for the cake!" Cat shouted, and we geared up to get messy. I had taken two chocolate Sara Lee cakes from the freezer and set them out to thaw about an hour before our ceremony. I'd placed one right on top of the other in an attempt to create the tiered effect of wedding cakes I'd seen in movies. I surreptitiously swiped at my confection's double-decker side and popped a sugar-coated finger in my mouth. They were thawed and ready. So I took a handful of cake and smeared it all over Todd. Then he took a fistful and smeared it back on me, careful not to get any in my hair. At first. Until he noticed how much I appreciated his keeping my carefully feathered bangs icing free. Good-bye, feathers, hello, frosting. Cat dared to laugh, so we both smeared a few handfuls over her. Partly for revenge, but mostly so she wouldn't feel left out.

I remember that we'd recently seen The Karate Kid Part II, and there was some kind of ceremonial bonding ritual in the movie where a Jap an ese couple drank tea from each other's cups, so we thought that maybe we should have a bonding ritual too. It was too hot for tea, so Todd and I each chewed a piece of grape Hubba Bubba bubble gum, blew a bubble, and then moved in close to each other so that our bubbles would touch and stick together—thus bonding the two of us for life. And as a wedding present Todd gave me a whole unopened pack of Watermelon Wave Bubblicious.

It was a hell of a day. What I remember most is how simple it all was. It probably took two minutes from my hatching the day's activity to "I do." That was before I had the chance to be scared I may have gotten pregnant from our three-second kiss. The more I thought about it, the more nervous I got, so I grabbed Todd and tugged at his arm.

"Do you think I could have just gotten pregnant from that kiss?" I whispered.

"I don't know. Do you?" he asked.

"If I knew, I wouldn't be asking." And we stood there and looked at each other for a moment, Todd's eyes blinking, eyebrows raised.

Then he shrugged. "Well, we did just get married, so if you are pregnant, I guess it's okay. I think it would be worse if we weren't already married."

"I think so too," I said.

Problem solved. The celebration resumed, and we consummated our marriage with a game of tag.

My marriage to Todd was perhaps my way of trying to create a union more perfect, or at least less disastrous, than my own parents' marriage. I remember the day my first dad sat me down and put a hand on each of my shoulders. He looked me square in the eye and said, "Jordan, I want you to know that I love you very much, and I want you to always remember that." I remember feeling a sense of dread, although I didn't know what the feeling was exactly—I just knew it didn't feel good, so I distracted myself by studying the hairs that were growing just a teensy bit too far out of his nose. "Do you know that, Jordan? Do you know that I love you as much as I'm capable of ?" he asked. I blinked and watched the one gray hair that was peeking out of his left nostril like a little mouse amid the other black ones, checking to see if the coast was clear. " Jordan?"

"Yes, Daddy."

"You understand that?"

"Uh-huh . . . ?" I said, with less certainty then he'd probably have liked.

"I may not see you for a while," he continued, "but that doesn't mean I won't be out there somewhere . . ." His words then drifted off with a theatrical pause. His nose hairs whistled slightly in the silence. I was mesmerized. Then he snapped back, ready to make his final point. "I just want to make sure you know that you are loved by your father, so that you don't grow up to be a man-hating lesbian."

I was barely five. A million thoughts raced through my head—a million questions that I wanted to ask him—but I felt paralyzed. Why are you telling me this? Where are you going? When will you be back? What is a lesbian? And most important, are you ever going to cut your nose hairs?

Nothing came out of my mouth. Well, none of the elevendy-million questions that whirled through my brain like a meteor shower, blasting through my mind until they'd exhausted their energy and faded away. The only thing I uttered was "Okay."

And he nodded, said, "Good girl," and then he was gone.

When my mom came in from the backyard a few minutes later, she didn't believe me when I told her that I didn't think Daddy was coming home. She got angry at me for saying such a terrible thing and asked me if I "thought I was a psychic." I told her no. I told her that I wasn't a psychic and I wasn't a lesbian—because even though I didn't know what either thing was, it just seemed like the right thing to say and I could tell my mom needed some reassurance.

"WHAT?" she yelled. And then I explained—told her everything he'd said, as nearly as I could recall it—and I must have captured the sense of it pretty well because afterward she went into the bathroom and cried for three and a half hours.

When she finally came downstairs, her face was dry and her head held high. She'd obviously spent some time in her fancy clothing closet; she wore a black dress I'd never seen with a double strand of pearls around her neck. The effect was classy with just a hint of sexy—and frankly this moment destroyed the little black dress for me forever. She took me into my room, put my fancy velvet party dress on me, and combed and fastened my hair with two ribbon barrettes. She then sat me down and told me that we were starting over. And that was exactly what we did.

Three years later I had a brand-new life, complete with a new house, a new dad, and a new baby sister. You'd think I'd be scarred from all this, and maybe I am, but at the time I really didn't suffer. Walter Landau quickly came into our lives, married my mom, and told me to call him Dad. My mom called him my "new and improved dad," but I didn't really see what had been so bad about the old one. He gave me Mrs. Butterworth, a brown mixed-breed mutt of a dog who had a white stripe on her head that looked like nougat. Mrs. B. was my best friend in the world. She sat under my feet at the dinner table, followed me everywhere— even if I was just going to the bathroom, where she'd wait outside the door—and slept with me every night. I had a happy family, my best friend, Cat, and my new husband, Todd.

Cat, Todd, and I were the three musketeers. We did everything together. Cat and I were polar opposites, lookswise. I had long brown hair, and she was blond. I was fair with freckles all across my nose, and she was perpetually tan. We were both about the same height, but she was always thinner than I was. We became blood sisters by pricking our fingers and holding them together. We were too young to know about AIDS and how that sort of contact might not be the best idea, but that was a simpler time when the first grade was considered early to be having unprotected sex and shooting heroin, so everything turned out okay.

My wedding had taken place a month before my birthday, and I remember that for that particular birthday I desperately wanted a metallic-blue Schwinn bicycle with a banana seat and a white wicker basket with neon flowers on it. I wanted that bike more than anything in the world, and when my dad told me to go outside to get the newspaper that fateful morning, I caught my first glimpse of my dream bike—the coveted Schwinn. I shrieked a joyous victory scream so loud it set off a river of tears from my baby half sister, kicking off a bitter rivalry that would last for two decades.

My memories of childhood are mostly pleasant up to that time, and I half suspect it's because they're not memories at all but stories built up around photographs and home movies I've seen. Because the truth is that after my father walked out on my mom and me, she cultivated a deep-seated fear of abandonment and destitution. She responded by becoming an abject materialist in every aspect of her life, and my new family would essentially become an uneasy alliance between a man who made a lot of money and two women who liked to spend it—those women being Mom and my sister, Samantha, who would grow into a carbon copy of my mother. And then there was me. I was in the mix with them, but more like a leftover ingredient from the failed family than a perfectly blended addition to the new one. Maybe that was all just in my head. Like the time Samantha told me that my father must have had some seriously powerful ugly going on for me not to have gotten any of Mom's good genes. Maybe that was just sisterly ribbing. If the issuing of cracked ribs is normal between sisters.

If our memories were true records of everything we've seen and felt, a lot of us would probably be overwhelmed or even horrified by what was going on. But I arrived at my eighth birthday in good spirits. Though I already had my first set of wheels, my first day of school, and first marriage . . . my first car, first job, and first sexual indiscretion were still years away.

Copyright © 2007 by Caprice Crane
Stupid and Contagious, (Warner/5 Spot, May '06)
Forget About It, (Warner/5 Spot, August '07)
Family Affair, (Bantam Dell/Random House, Coming Fall '09...)
My Thanks to Caprice for stopping by to share her excerpt, more Little Black Dress excerpts from other authors later today and a new prize contest!


Laura Hamby said...

LOLOL @ that kiss-induced pregnancy. What a fun excerpt.

Still stickin' with my "beta fish" answer for the cat/dog question.


Nell Dixon said...

I love this excerpt - great humour.