Girls Without Shoes

April 4, 2009

Steaming up the Kitchen

I just want to know why when it is 100 degrees outside, why oh why, would John-Wayne want me to cook for him instead of going to dinner? It was hotter than the hubs of hell outside and if I cooked dinner it would be hell inside the house also. Hell for me, I can’t take the heat anyway. Our old house had a crazy old swamp cooler in the living room that worked great for that room. It was basically a fan with hay around it and a garden hose screwed into the side. The cool air never reached the kitchen area. So on this particular day, after a day’s work, no I did not want to cook, with a passion. It was against my law, against my being, against all of my beliefs.

Like I said before, I did not drive in those days, so just jumping in the car and taking myself and the kids to dinner was not an option. Damned John-Wayne, he just wanted to sit in front of the cooler, in his boxers, drinkin’ a beer and watchin’ the t.v. and have me serve him. How could he be so cruel? Did he not know that it would kill me to cook tonight? I told him. He just wanted me to cook. Damn.

I really did not think he cared about me, he surely could not love me. There was no brutality required here. I was a princess, darn him, did he not realize that? Maybe I would get my princess crown out and remind him of that fact. I mean geez, I was once Miss Tomato Queen in my teen years. Well that was an idea, why not? Maybe he would realize just what a prize for a wife he had and then he would take me to dinner.

I went up stairs to the hot bedroom and rummaged around in the back of my closet finding what I was looking for. Ah, there it was, the Tomato Queen dress and banner, along with the crown I kept in a box on the top shelf. I put on the dress made of red taffeta and green lace. It still fit, though barely. The skirt was so short, right up to my behind. Geez, it did not seem so short in my Tomato Queen years. The bodice was low cut showing cleavage. That’s alright, I thought, I still got it, why not shake it? I slipped the green satin banner across my shoulder and under my arm. The crown went on my head. I looked in the mirror, not bad for a twenty something wife and mother. On went the red high heels and down the stairs I pranced, sweating all the way.

J.W. just laughed and said, “Hey look at Ma”. Sally-O chirped, “You look pretty Mama”. I went and paraded in front of John-Wayne and the cooler to see the effect it had on him. “Well?”, I asked him. “It is such a shame to have to go cook dinner in this outfit, but off I go!” John-Wayne’s eyes got big and his mouth dropped open and he said, “hey baby”, but I just sashayed into the kitchen to begin the stupid dinner he wanted, thinking he might just stop me . Revenge is sweet sometimes. Even revenge on a big jack-ass like John-Wayne.

I pulled out pots and pans, sweating more and cursing under my breath, but trying to look and sound sweet, like the princess I knew I was. I began by filling up a big pan full of water and setting it to boil on the stove for iced tea. Next followed 2 more pans with water set to boiling for hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. I’d show that S.O.B., he could make me cook, but he would be miserable right along with me. Soon, the pans of water broke into a boil.

Steam filled the air as I added tea bags, hot dogs and macaroni, making a green salad on the side, ( I had to eat something cool didn’t I?}. I boiled that dinner at the highest levels possible, sweating like a porker as I was cooking, sweating all down the front and back of my Tomato Queen dress. At least the skirt being short was cool there, but that was it. The taffeta was sticking to my body. What an ass I was, thinking that the princess crown would make John-Wayne see me in a different light. All he wanted was a full belly, a beer, an cool area to watch his favorite shows, and maybe a little fun under the Tomato Queen’s skirt. He did not really care that I was killing myself in the kitchen with the steam and all.

Well if I was gonna be miserable, then so would he, though I felt sorry for the kids, none of this was their fault. Oh well, they were kids, they could handle it. It must have been 150 degrees in that blazing inferno of a kitchen, as I set the table. The ice in the tea glasses was melting faster than I could fill them. I slapped the sugar bowl down and went into the living room and announced sweetly, “dinner is served”. I would give him what he wanted, an obedient lovely wife. Haaa!

They all came in to fill their plates, the kids sitting down at the table while I helped them. I put some food on my plate, and turned to hand John-Wayne his iced tea. He said, “hey that looks good baby, but I don’t know why you wanna do them kids that way, making the kitchen so hot and all.” Instead of sitting down at the table, he turned and walked back to his swamp cooled couch with his plate of food, leaving me with my mouth hanging open and on fire at the kitchen table.

That is when I learned what passive-aggressive behavior was. I also learned that the revenge was wasted on John-Wayne, all it did was make me and my kids miserable. I finished up the dishes and traipsed upstairs to take off the Tomato Queen outfit and take a cool shower, thinking that I had tried more than one way to steam up the kitchen and John-Wayne both, but I was the one who ended up being steamed.

March 30, 2009

Confessions of a Motel Maid

This is not what you think, not that kind of confession. Definitely not an X rated confession, don’t even get that idea goin’ round in your head, I’m not that kinda girl. I had a job for a few summers at the local R.V. park/Motel Cabin place in our little town. It was called Shady Acres and had quite a few R.V.’rs and year long fifth wheels there . They also had 12 little cabin type motel rooms. Very clean, very cute in a 1940’s kinda way.

Since we were a river town, lots of tourists came through, and other than the K.O.A. , there was Shady Acres. It was their busy time of year and the owners needed part time help cleaning the rooms. That’s where I come in.

My husband John-Wayne (yes John-Wayne) had been out of work for a little while. After we moved down to the town from his folks’ mountain home, he had to look for an everyday job, rather than doing the stuff mountain families do for a living. He was in between jobs and we had run out of money, so our water bill did not get paid. The water of course got shut off.

For a while John-Wayne hauled water in a big old tank he had on top of his Chevy truck. I would fill the bathtub with some, to use for flushing the toilet, and store the rest for other uses. It worked, but I hated it. Mountain girl I was and could do laundry by hand in my tub if I had to, but dang this was not the dark ages. Action was needed here.

I walked down to Shady Acres and talked myself right into a job. I got the water turned on after a few days work as the owner paid me cash each day. Cool, I was a career woman. My next door neighbor Mimmi, babysat my baby girl Sally-O each morning for 3 or 4 hours while I cleaned motel rooms.

Each morning after dropping my baby girl off at Mimm’s house, I rode my bicycle down the couple of miles to Shady Acres to do the rooms with the owner’s wife Margie.

Margie showed me how to make the beds, tucking in the sheets and folding them down over the blankets so they looked nice. We did not always have to change the bedspread unless it was dirty, but sheets always. Nice to know that in case you ever stayed there, huh?

There was a certain way Margie cleaned the rooms, quickly and efficiently. She showed me her tricks, down to folding the end of the toilet paper in a little triangle. It made me feel that I was doing a little something extra and luxurious for people, kind of like putting the little mints on pillows. I should have made way more in tips than I did, as I put my heart into the job wanting everything to look perfect. Maybe the tourists thought that Shady Acres was not a tippin’ kind of motel. I mean there were no bell hops or room service, though we brought clean towels daily, made beds, and carried the trash out.

Margie and I would stop once in a while for a smoke outside of the laundry house. As we got to know each other, I liked Margie more and more. She was in charge of the motel rooms. Her husband Freddy was in charge of the R.V. Park. Every couple of months Margie would re-do one of the rooms. She would paint and change the curtains etc.. She always managed to keep the rooms fresh and cute with each one having a different color and sort of theme. I think No. 9 was my favorite, as it overlooked the river. I really liked the painting in that room also. It was of a huge pink flower. Later on I took No. 9’s painting home in my bounty of furnishings from their yard sale. I bartered by working for the furniture that I got from their sale. Me and John-Wayne slept on that old motel bed for about 10 years without a frame, right down on the ground. When we finally upgraded to a pillow-top mattress and frame we felt like we were sleeping up so high that we giggled about it. We had a lot of class John-Wayne and I.

Once when Margie and I grew tired of waiting for people to leave No. 8 cabin, she finally knocked really loudly on the door. The woman did not want to be disturbed. Margie finally knocked and used her key and later told me “that was really weird, she is so strange, I went in there and she was hanging upside down just like a bat”. I asked how in the heck she did that and Margie said she had a special kind of boots that made her do that for her health. I was just glad she wasn’t a vampire. The woman left behind a jug of Aloe Vera Juice and I took it to John-Wayne’s Uncle thinking maybe if he drank it his shingles would go away. All that happened was a bad case of diarrhea.

Still, there were some interesting things left from time to time in the rooms. Usually I was afraid I would find something gross or nasty like a condom. Thank God, not on my watch. One day someone checked out and left a brand new bottle of Mescal Tequila straight from Mexico. You know the kind with the worm in the bottle. Gross. I threw it in the dumpster, even though it had not been opened. John-Wayne and his brother Jiggs made me go back and fish it out. We all got drunker than a bunch of monkeys on that stuff. I can’t remember who ate the worm, I know it was not me though. Man those Mexicans made some dangerous booze. John-Wayne said it was ‘cuz they peed in it. I did not believe him.

Freddy and Margie had a little golf cart that I drove around from room to room with my cleaning supplies and linens and such. I loved driving that stupid thing as I did not have a driver’s license. I had driving phobia. Scared to death to drive a car. The one time I did drive, I got in an accident and got a suspended license. I did not drive for 13 years after that. I did like that little golf cart though. I would zoom around from room to room, cleaning, making beds, then hauling the dirty laundry up the hill in the cart.

One day when doing my rounds with the golf cart, the throttle got stuck. I don’t know why, it just stuck. I was zipping along one minute and then found I could not stop the darned thing. I went flying by the office yelling for Fred . “Help the brakes went out!” Luckily I pried the throttle up by leaning down with my hand and yanking it. I was very careful after that to not go so fast just in case.

Once in a while Margie would have a special job for me. Good chance to make extra cash. There was this long, older silver trailer. It needed cleaning badly. I got my friend to help me and we split the money. Margie forgot to mention that this trailer was from hell. The man that had lived there had chain smoked inside for 20 years and never once cleaned his oven. It took us days to finish. What a nightmare. Kenja and I could never look at one of those silver trailers again in the same way.

When we were done for the day, Margie would bring out a popsicle. She said it would cool us down. We’d talk a little more, have a smoke and I would head for home and my little girl. I’d pick up Sally-o at Mimmy’s house, pay her a couple of bucks and go fix Sally-O and myself some lunch. Then it was naptime. I always lay down with my baby girl. I would sing her songs and we’d both nod off. Ahhhhh, being a career woman could sure wear a person out.

March 22, 2009

Cowboys, Not Injuns

“Nah, aah, I gotta be the cowboy and you be the injun  John-Wayne”  said my little brother Jiggs. Dang, I thought, here we go again.  If I told Jiggs the color black, he would say white. I know this to be true. He was used to getting his way.

“Okay, Okay Jigsy”, I said, then spotted some smoke over at the edge of our neighbor’s land. They were using their burn barrel to burn their trash. I got an idea ‘cuz I really wanted to be a cowboy, not an indian. The cowboys always wore white hats and chased the indians around. I got tired of Jiggs being the one to chase me around all the time, it got kinda boring, ya know? Besides, we didn’t have any toy bow and arrow, but we did have a toy cowboy gun and hat. Not that we could not make a bow and arrow, but enough with the indian thing already.

“Hey, Jiggs, we can both be cowboys today, see over there, see that smoke from the indian camp over there?”. Jiggs saw the burn barrel smoke and said, “oh yea! Let’s go get them injuns capytan!”

He kept the straw cowboy hat on and gave me the toy six-shooter and away we galloped our pretend horses to the burn barrel. Our neighbor’s who owned the cornfield, had quite a little fire going in there, you could almost see the indians dancing around the fire if you only imagined it. We snuck up quietly on their war party, planning on circling them first to see how many there were.

The flames shot up a little more, and Jiggs and I looked at each other and said, “Cool man!”. We forgot about the indians for a minute and went closer to the fire to check it out. It looked like a little cardboard was causing it to flare up , and toilet paper was trailing over the side of the barrel. Jiggs grabbed a stick and started messing around with the toilet paper. “Hey, be careful!”, I warned him, “you don’t want to cause a fire!”.

Jiggs of course did not listen and started flinging the toilet paper around with the stick, causing little sparks to drop in the dried grass. “Stop, Jiggs!” I yelled as I saw the sparks turn to tiny flames.

Too late as tiny flames gave way to a little bit bigger and snaked over to the neighbor’s cornfield. “Holy crap!”, I yelled as I started doing my own war dance jumping up and down on the flames trying to fight them and stomp them out. I kicked dirt on them, glanced wildly around for water nearby, none to be had. Jiggs’ hem of his jeans caught fire and I leaped on him rolling him in the dirt before he could get burned.

:He was scared, crying by now, “You stay put, don’t move an inch or I’ll clobber ya!” I was hollering at him now. I took off trying to stop the flames by beating it with corn shucks. The fire was bigger by me and I felt little burns on my body here and there happening.

The fire trucks came and put out the fire. About half the cornfield was saved, the other half, well, history.

Our mother tended to our burns, Jigg’s was not bad. I had blisters all over, but other than being scared to death, we were basically okay. That is , until the Old Man came home. He had over heard the news at the general store.

Our mother tried pleading with him, saying , “don’t spank them, they are burned!!”. He whipped me pretty good anyway, causing my blisters to break. We were in huge trouble, the neighbors would probably sue us for everything we had, that is what the Old Man kept saying.

We spent the rest of our summer doing odd jobs for those neighbors to try and make up for our mess. This was just one of the first of many messes that Jiggs and I got into……………

larry-rise-1951

March 15, 2009

Secrets of a Mountain Woman

Filed under: fiction,Humor,John-Wayne Stories,short pieces,Yarns — girlswithoutshoes @ 5:14 am

0803090952191secrets_sSecrets? Hmmmmm, got ya goin’ don’t I? Let’s see now, secrets. Oh yes. Well, everyone has to have some secrets, ya know? And just because I am a mountain woman, does not mean I am any different than the rest. Some secrets we take to the grave. Some we share only with our Friends and Sisters. Some even with our Mothers. There are those only between us and our God. Finally there are the secrets between us and the Devil…… those are the ones that we really did know we were doing wrong and went ahead anyway.

Women have secrets about their age, their weight, their jean size and their hair color. Some even keep these types of secrets from their closest friends. No big deal, little white lies, white secrets, no one gets hurt. Dumb if you ask me. Who cares? I cannot imagine having a friend that I could not trust with this type of secret, I would not even want to hide such a silly thing from her. A true friend can be trusted with all of your secrets. Now, I would not go and wear a t shirt or anything stating, “Hi I am Ireney and my current weight is __________”, oops, sorry that is a secret! No sir, more important secrets than that kind.

We share secrets about our feelings, hopes and dreams with our friends, sisters, maybe if we are lucky enough, our husbands.

We hide secrets about how much our telephone bill is, how much we spent on clothes, or that new Mary Kay makeup that makes our skin look so good. Usually this information is kept from our husbands. It is just too bad we could not keep this info a secret from our bank also. Darn those overdraft fees.

I believe you are pardoned for not sharing your underwear size, especially if it goes up past the two digit mark, man alive, don’t tell anybody! Sacred stuff, that there. Be sure and cut out all of the size tags just in case you get in a wreck. That is something your Mama forgot to tell you.

Recipes are something that can be kept secret, even an old family secret. I mean look at Colonel Sanders, his recipe is still a secret and he got rich from it! I probably would share my fried chicken secret with friends and family, no problem, am honored to be asked.

There are definitely the secrets you keep from your Mother and with good reason. Number 1 reason, you do not want to go to hell for breaking your Mama’s heart when she finds out you were in the back seat at the drive in movie with Billy Boy. No, no, don’t go breaking your Mama’s heart.

Now your Father is another one altogether. You would keep the above secret from him also, but for the protection of yourself and Billy Boy. You would hate for Billy Boy to wake up to your Daddy’s shotgun in his face. Ugly way to wake up in the morning.

Speaking of ugly, I would keep a secret if I had plastic surgery, not that I would. Again, I would not shout it from the mountain tops. “Hey, everyone! I got a nose job, come see !” Nah, don’t think so. Now a boob job might be kinda nice to show off.

Your income is kept a secret, at least from the I.R.S. The last thing you would want is the Tax Man coming after you.

A Mountain Woman will not usually keep a pregnancy a secret. I suppose there are some that have had a baby out of wedlock, or by someone other than their husband that has kept it a secret, but usually not. Not this woman. On our mountain it is usually a time for great rejoicing. A new baby is considered a gift from Heaven.

When I was first pregnant with J.W., John-Wayne and I had been living in sin for a few years. We were going to get around to getting married, but you know, it was the 70’s and all and shacking up was cool. I would not do that part of my life over in the same way if I could. I believe in the holiness of marriage. We were dumb though in those days. Secretly I really wanted to be married all along, but didn’t want John-Wayne to think that I had “trapped him”, so did not push it. I was waiting for him to get down on one knee and ask me.

We did keep the pregnancy a secret from the Dukes’ family for about 4 months. John-Wayne decided to wait until Polly was in the hospital recovering from the “woman’s surgery” to tell her. He had a lot of class. He did not mean any harm, but his mother was so sick from infection, I think he was afraid she was going to die without knowing he was going to be a father. We were visiting Polly in the hospital where she looked like death warmed over, if there could be such a thing. John-Wayne announces the baby . Polly just looked at us and said weekly, “Are you going to get married?”.

I don’t remember what John-Wayne answered, but we did get married. A few years later. We finally sent j.w. over to Polly’s house and called the Justice of the Peace in. We got married in our living room, no frills. Well at least J.W. was legal. Years later he jokingly said, “I was a bastard”. For crying out loud. At least it was not in the days where it was a scandal.

When Salli-O came along, we had been married for years. She was quite a surprise as we were a little older than most folks having their 2nd child. She was a gift from heave. We were pretty excited. J.W. just said, “If it is a boy, don’t name it nothing dumb”. We said we would not name it nothing dumb.

So, secrets………………., nothing so bad, nothing so scandalous, just a semi- secret pregnancy, and secret underwear size. Nothing too big up here on my mountain. Funny thing is, I realized later that J.W. should never have been kept a secret at first either, as both of my babies were truly a gift from above.

March 1, 2009

Call Me Mrs. John-Wayne

Believe it or not my name really is Mrs. John-Wayne. You heard me right. It is Mrs. John-Wayne Dukes to be correct. Every one always called my husband John-Wayne, like it was one name. I Guess Mr. and Mrs. Dukes really liked John Wayne or something. I know my husband idolized him, good thing since he kinda shared his name.

We met through a mutual friend of ours named Daniel. We teasingly called him Daniel Boone. So Daniel Boone introduced me to my future husband John-Wayne. How do ya like them apples? Life is sure funny sometimes. Especially if you see the humor in nearly everything, like I did.

Me and John-Wayne got married young and moved up to his folks’ mountain home. We didn’t have kids for a few years , not for lack of tryin, just didn’t happen right away. That was okay by me for now, plenty of time for kids later on.

We had crazy fun in those days. We once had a little blue falcon for our vehicle. We were driving down the road on a Saturday night, smoking joints and listening to country music on the radio, just relaxing and driving to nowhere in particular. We were pretty comfortable with each other at this point. We did not feel the need to talk all the time, we could just be quiet and it was okay.

Small raindrops began to hit the windshield. “Hey looks like rain comin’ our way,” I say, and then “I thought our windshield wipers don’t work?” John-Wayne just glanced over at me and the corner of his lip curled up Elvis style. He said “Don’t worry, see that rope over there?” He pointed to the corner on the passenger side of the car. “Grab it and hold onto it.” he told me , which I did. He then grabbed for a rope on his side of the car kind of by the wing window and yanked on it. Then he looked at me and said “Okay now pull on your side.” I obeyed and watched as the wiper on my side of the car moved some. For crying out loud, I thought, I married a freakin’ genius!

John-Wayne pulled his side of the rope a little harder and instructed me to do the same. “You gotta get a rhythm going to it.” He tells me. “Yeah, that’s cool, that;s working good!”

We continued on down the road with John-Wayne letting out a whoop of glee every so often at his invention. I was not sure whether to be impressed or embarrassed, then got myself so tickled at the idea of what we must look like, going down the road pulling the ropes to make the wipers move. I started to giggle, (remember I was kinda stoned yet), and the giggles got louder until I was laughing so hard my belly hurt.

John-wayne joined in with his bigger voice sounding a little like a jack-ass braying to me, probably because he was loaded too. I laughed so much harder that I could barely keep hold of the rope and the tears started pouring down my face. We were so hysterically laughing that he had to pull the car over for a minute so we could catch our breaths.

I looked at my husband and he looked at me, and I said, “You are a bona-fide inventor sir and you are the man of my dreams!”. We kissed and sat there enjoying the rest of our Saturday Night, just sitting there with our arms around each other listening to the radio and I knew if I was ever stranded on a desert island, this was the man I wanted there with me.

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