Conversations with my mother

Published March 29, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

Saturday, 7:45 a.m.

Me: I have dance rehearsal from 2-5 tonight. If everyone’s going out after that I’m going with them.
Mom: Okay.

Saturday, 7:55 a.m.

Mom: I’m doing laundry tonight when I get home from work, so bring me any dirty clothes.
Me: I won’t be here.
Mom: You won’t be here at 3?
Me: ………

Saturday, 8:05 a.m.

Mom [on her way out the door] Are you going to be home for supper tonight?
Me: [dead silence]
Mom: You’re not gonna answer me?
Me: I already told you.
Mom: Excuse me, I’m old, I forgot.
Me: [muttering] No, you’re just not listening.

If she’s that forgetful about something I told her 20 minutes ago, I hope she remembered to put her teeth in. Or put on underwear. You know, little things.



Brandy Alexander (Warning: Contains Profanity)

Published March 22, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

I swear, I think Wendig and I are on the same wavelength. Tuesday on the way to work, I thought about a few story angles for a short story I wanted to write about a new character. I already had a name for her: Brandy Alexander. Possibly told in vignettes, the story would chronicle Brandy’s layoff from her job, which would later force her to move in with her parents until she got back on her feet. But how would life as a single woman work if she was living under her parents roof again? By Thursday, I’d already jotted down the path the story would take.

On Friday, Chuck Wendig posted this week’s flash fiction challenge: Write a 1000-word story, but split it up into ten chapters. While the story, Brandy Alexander, is not as vignette-y as I had originally planned, the story is told as I’d envisioned it on Tuesday. It clocks in at 980 words.

Chap 1 – Doomsday

Monday, April 10

Brandy Alexander sits in her boss’ office hearing only fragments of his words.

 “pink slip…cuts in all departments… by seniority.”

She blinks twice, trying to focus on his face. He looks uncomfortable, as if he just realized he shit his pants and is still sitting in it.  

The last thing she hears him say is “You still have three weeks, so if I were you, I’d use up any accrued personal days.” At least a full sentence registered in her brain that time.

She’ll start hitting the temp agencies tomorrow. Short-term jobs are better than nothing.

Chap 2 The Job Search

Monday, April 17

The hunt is on. Only two weeks left to go until she’s out of a job. There’s not one damn job in human resources. Ain’t that a bitch?

The Dairy Barn’s hiring, no experience necessary. Does she really want to work at a local burger-and-ice cream joint for minimum wage?  Sure, there’s a discount on the meals, but she’ll come home every night smelling like stale fries. Thirty years old isn’t supposed to look like this, right?

Brandy circles the job in the newspaper. It can’t hurt to apply. Work nights at The Barn and temp during the day.

Chap 3 The Doctor’s Office

Monday,April 24

“You can always move in with us.”

Yeah, as an absolute last resort, Brandy thinks. “Mom, I gotta go. They just called me in.”

Her doctor sees her on the examination table and notices her jeans are still on.  “No pelvic exam?”

“No way. You got your little tool stuck last time,” she gestures toward the speculum.  “So you’re staying clear of this area,” and she motions over her crotch with her hand.

She lies on the table. “Besides, this will be the last time you’ll see me for awhile. Let’s celebrate by keeping away from my cooch.”

Chap 4 Butch Tomboy, the Workout Queen

Monday, May 22

8:30 A.M. Brandy shows up for a three-week light industrial temp assignment.

“Help unpack desks and chairs then assemble them. Report to Tammy Dagneau,” the lady on the phone says. Should be easy enough.

By lunchtime, Brandy is on her way home. One morning working for Tammy, aka Butch Tomboy, is all she can take.  When you’re the supervisor of a worksite, it’s apparently necessary to stand around all morning, be bossy with the temps, sneer at their contempt for manual labor and talk about working out with your two minions.

Thank god she still has her weekend job at The Dairy Barn.

Chap 5 Is this the real life?

Sunday, August 13

Her savings is almost gone. Now is the time for the full-on panic attack.

Sunday dinner at her parents’ house. No visible signs that children ever lived here. Her old room is an office. Her brother’s old room is a scrapbooking room.

“When you move in next week, you’ll have to sleep on this,” her mother motions to the loveseat that, until recently, has been in the garage for eight years. Brandy leans in for a whiff. Gross. Rancid mildew. Mental note: buy sprayable deodorizer and a decent air mattress.

Chap 6 Moving Day

Saturday, August 20

Brandy drops her last box on the floor of the scrapbooking room, aka her bedroom. All her furniture and anything she won’t need for the next few months are in a rental storage unit. We’ll be back together soon, my babies.

Any day now, she’ll find a new HR job and Brandy Alexander will be back on top of the world. Until then, keep doing temp jobs. Office work only.

The smell of fried chicken wafts through the house. Bonus to an adult moving back in with the parents: Mom does most of the cooking and laundry.

Chap 7 The Tell-Tale Wand

2:00 A.M., sometime in September.

Her vagina is not happy. It’s been too long. Good thing she has her vibrators. Problem: how to use them without waking her parents. Bean-flicking on the air mattress will be loud.

This looks like a job for Rancid Mildew Loveseat.

Chap 8 Brandy Alexander’s Guide to Noiseless Masturbation

Open the closet door. Stay still for five minutes. Feel around in the dark for the box that holds the large black backpack. Take the backpack out of the box. Stay still for another five minutes. Take small green daypack out of the backpack. Take the Hitachi Wand out of the daypack. Hello, old friend. Plug the wand in. Lie quietly on the loveseat for five minutes. Lay a cushion on the loveseat, lay a towel on the pillow, then put the Wand on top of the towel.

Climb on and have the ride of your life. Just try not to make any noise when the orgasm hits.

Chap 9 Date Night

Wednesday, November 29

Brandy’s got a date with the new guy at The Dairy Barn. A little younger than her at 21 years old, but cute as a button. Problem: what is she supposed to do at the end of the date? Take him back to her parents’ house? She’ll cross that bridge when she gets to it.

They make out in his car before and after pizza. At the end of the date, he’s pissed off because she won’t put out.

Now she’s pissed off. “Oh, so you buy me a couple of slices of pizza and now I gotta let you fuck me? My pussy’s worth more than that!”

He drives her home, still stewing. She gets out of the car without even looking at him. Tomorrow at work is going to be awkward.

Chap 10 The Comeback

Monday, February 12

Victory at last! Thanks to her diligent efforts, she’s going back to work at the first place she worked at out of college. She now works as an HR generalist, bringing in almost twice the salary she made at her last job.

As soon as she gets her first paycheck, she’ll start looking for a place. It’s a good thing she moved in with her parents when she still had money in savings. Now she’ll have money for deposits, a moving truck, and a few new items to spruce up her new place.

The Infernal Bargain

Published March 13, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

Hello, kids, it’s that time of week again: Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge. We had a challenge of 1500 words, I come in at 1480.

This is my favorite type of challenge: Chuck gives us a few lists with multiple possibilities. We roll a die (i.e. online random number generator) and write a story with those elements. I rolled the virtual die and got a 9 and a 2: a faithful hound and an infernal bargain, respectively. I played a little bit with the idea of a faithful hound, as you’ll see. Enjoy! 

Briony woke up but she did not open her eyes right away. What was the point? Assuming she had counted correctly, today was day sixty of her imprisonment; for two months she had been in the custody of an alien race for a murder she did not commit.

She reluctantly opened her eyes when she heard the door open. D’lheera, the alien doctor, walk in the small room.

“At last, you are awake. Excellent. My master has an important job for both of us. You will lead the task and I am to accompany you.” D’lheera almost sounded excited about this job, as if she was happy to finally get out of the house.

Thank God. Then maybe Briony could go home. “What’s the job?”

“Master will inform us tomorrow in a special audience.”

“Wait, you’ll accompany me?” Briony said.

“Yes, my master is calling upon my natural skills as a huntress, which will be of great use to you. And depending on the danger of our mission, you may need a doctor.”

Oh, great, Briony thought. So this assignment, whatever it is, could kill me. I’m dead any way you look at it.

The next day, Briony’s guards ushered her into a small, ornate room and she stood on the spot indicated by one of the guards. A side door opened and D’lheera entered and sat on a footstool placed very close to a large chair. Her mouth turned up slightly and she gave Briony an encouraging smile.

The sight of what next came through the side door made Briony’s heart stop. She wanted to scream but no sound would come. Instead, she stood there with a horrified look on her face, her mouth wide open as if to scream. The largest spider she had ever seen scurried toward the large chair and sat down, its metallic blue body shimmering in the light above Briony’s head, the only light in the room.

“Do not be afraid. I will not harm you,” the spider said and Briony began to relax a little. She was clearly hallucinating, for there was no such thing as a talking arachnid. “You are aware, Earthling, that you are in my custody for the murder of my son, the heir to my throne. However, D’lheera informed me that you were not guilty of this crime. Other intelligence confirms this fact.

This same intelligence informs me that the Gondeks perpetrated this horrible act. I have no issue with the daughter, the one they now call the Spider Hunter. She spared my life in an act of mercy. Her mother is a different matter entirely.  I will release you and allow you to return to your home planet on one condition: you must infiltrate the Gondek kingdom kill their leader. D’lheera will go with you as your guide. Even among her own race of excellent trackers, she is one of the best.” Briony watched the spider as she spoke, understanding that refusing to do the job would not be an option. Was the spider aware that Briony had never killed anyone and had no training for this kind of thing? She glanced at D’lheera who shifted slightly in her seat. She would not have thought anything of it if D’lheera skin had not suddenly gone so pale.

The spider motioned to the guard on her left. The door opened at four guards came in with what, to Briony’s eyes, looked like a human man: tall with dark black skin. As she turned to look back at the spider, she noticed the horrified expression on D’lheera’s face.

“Briony, this is one of the sons of the Gondek leader,” the spider said. “I’ve brought him here so that you know how to recognize the Gondeks.”

Briony turned her attention away from D’lheera’s shocked face and back to study the captive. She looked into a pair of emerald green eyes, a striking contrast against his dark skin. Around his neck was something that appeared to be a gold necklace, but upon further scrutiny, Briony realized the skin surrounding the collarbone was golden.

“The gold around his collarbone identifies him as a member of the royal family. The plebian Gondeks will not have the same mark.” She extended a leg toward D’lheera’s head, causing D’lheera to flinch. Her body relaxed a little when the spider’s leg stroked her head. She turned and stared into her master’s eyes.

“This was not, perhaps, the best decision, D’lheera.” The spider’s calm voice matched the soothing touch she applied to her servant’s head. “You foolishly thought you could hide this from me. If you fail at this task, or if you do not return,” she pointed to the captive in front of her, “then your husband’s life will be my recompense.” She turned to the guards. “Take him away.”

She motioned to the guard at her right. He walked forward and produced a garment, then handed it to D’lheera, allowing her to smell it so she could recognize the scent. This struck Briony as odd, but perhaps the Ka’chera leader found it necessary.

The next morning, in the spacecraft on the way to the Gondek side of the galaxy, Briony looked out the window and stared up at the stars, amazed at their expanse and brilliance. She had often done that on chilly, cloudless nights on Earth. But her enjoyment of the view was short-lived for she remembered the task at hand: murder. Or maybe she would wake up in her own bed and realize this had all been a bad dream.

“Who are the Gondeks?” Her voice trembled.

“My master rules the western half of the Andacassian galaxy. The Gondeks rule the eastern half.”

“Your leader said ‘I have no issue with the daughter.’ What was she talking about?”

D’lheera told Briony the story of Gondek leader and the long-awaited birth of her daughter – an event dating back nearly twenty Earth years – and how this now-adult daughter spared the life of the Ka’chera leader. At least Briony understood why there was a feud between the two races.

“And now we’re supposed to kill your husband’s mother.”


“But there’s a good chance that we’ll be killed.”

D’lheera said nothing at first. When she finally spoke, her voice was like that of a frightened child. “The Gondeks are highly skilled at combat.”

Great, Briony thought, that means there’s a 99% chance we’ll be killed. They were quiet for several minutes. “Why didn’t you tell anybody you were married to a Gondek?”

“Many reasons.” D’lheera answered shortly. She then turned to Briony. “Master let me see my husband last night. We both agree that you never should have been involved in this feud.”

“Well, that makes three of us,” Briony retorted. “You said ‘many reasons.’ Like what?”

D’lheera looked at her for a long moment. “Well, Gondek subjects may marry whomever they choose. The offspring of the Gondek leader, on the other hand, may only marry another Gondek. That way, the future descendants to the throne will not have the tainted blood of another race.

Also, if my master were to learn that one of her most trusted servants married the son of her enemy…” her voice trailed off.

Briony didn’t see the issue. D’lheera’s master had clearly been aware of the marriage for some time and didn’t seem offended. Except for the whole ‘kill his mother or I’ll kill him’ thing. A punishment for D’lheera?

“But, if you’re married to a Gondek, why aren’t you working for them instead of the spiders?” The giant, talking spiders, she corrected herself.

D’lheera shook her head sadly. “Impossible. I do not have the luxury of leaving.” She saw that Briony looked confused and continued. “In the time of my ancestors, about three or four generations ago, my people were conquered by the Ka’chera. Though it was usually their custom to annihilate their opponents, they recognized our loyalty and our natural skills as hunters. We have been in their servitude ever since.”

D’lheera sat up a little straighter and smiled. “I am different, though. When I was small, my intelligence brought me to the attention of the leader of the Ka’chera. Because I was far more intelligent than the other children of my race, my master sent me for training as a physician.”

“And you’re loyal to your master, no matter what,” Briony observed. Loyal, outside of the fact that she hid the truth of her marriage from the Ka’chera leader. Maybe this was an indication that D’lheera – and maybe even her race – was ready for a new master. If Briony could somehow change D’lheera’s allegiance, then her intelligence and loyalty would work in her favor. She wouldn’t have to kill anyone, she could go home, and D’lheera and her husband could go live somewhere else in peace and freedom.

The question remained, how could Briony make D’lheera loyal to her?

The Sounds of Snoring

Published March 3, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

This week’s challenge from Chuck Wendig:

I just finished reading Ozzy Osbourne’s memoir , in which he said that one of his roommates at Betty Ford snored “like a moose with a tracheotomy.” The belly laugh I got out of that inspired me to write my descriptive list about snoring.

  1. like a hibernating bear
  2. A jackhammer in the middle of the road, noisily pounding away into the concrete.
  3. the sounds of an unidentifiable wounded animal
  4. Darth Vader with a sinus infection
  5. the sound of a blender on the ‘frappe’ setting throughout the night
  6. Powerful enough to dislodge window dressings (a sure sign I grew up watching endless amounts of cartoons.)
  7. a lion announcing his presence
  8. an auditory form of Chinese water torture for the non-snorer sleeping next to them.
  9. a prophet of doom heralding another sleepless night for their non-snoring sleepmate
  10. a chainsaw buzzing through the trunk of a giant Sequoia

Dark Horse

Published February 22, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

Courtesy of Chuck Wendig once again, this week’s flash fiction challenge was a beauty: pick a random song title and that’s the title of your story, 1000 words or less. I got “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry, but I chose not to use the same subject matter. Rather I went in a different direction with the following story. Enjoy!

Dark Horse

Joe opened his eyes. It was still dark out. He looked at the clock: 6:28 a.m. He still had two minutes before his alarm went off and so he closed his eyes again.

Dark, he thought, grimacing. He saw dark in his dreams, too. The dark horse trotting by the window of the café.  Not galloping. Trotting at a pace slow enough for Joe to take a good, long look. Then he woke up. Why was a horse out on a busy street in broad daylight, just passing by a café? He had the weirdest dreams sometimes.

Opening his eyes, he rolled over, turned off the alarm and reached to grab his phone off the night table . He entered “dark horse dream meaning” into the search engine. The first result took him to a website devoted to dream interpretations. It said, “To dream of a dark horse will signify prosperous conditions, but a large amount of unhappiness. Fleeting pleasures usually follow this dream.”

“Prosperous conditions then a large amount of unhappiness,” he repeated. Interesting.  Did “prosperous” refer to material prosperity? Or could it be interpreted as any sort of success?

Out of the corner of his eye, in the small amount of light afforded by the glow of the phone screen, he could see a black shape on the floor, moving toward him, then disappearing just as quickly as it had appeared.

Before he had a chance to sit up, the black shape was in the air, then landed neatly on his chest.

“Gah!” he shouted. It took a moment for him to catch his breath. Finally he said, “Good morning, Sylvester. Thanks for the heart attack.” He would have thought that after a year of living with this cat, he would be used to it pouncing on him before the first light of day, but no. Sylvester meowed at him and he meowed back. They continued their morning ritual of meowing at each other for another thirty seconds until Sylvester stared back at him instead of meowing. “I know, I know,” Joe sighed. “You want your breakfast. Come on.”

He put the cat food in the dish and watched Sylvester wolf down the food as though he hadn’t been fed in a week. Smiling to himself, he started getting ready for work.

While he showered, he thought about the dark horse in his dream again. The subject matter didn’t bother him as much as the frequency of the dream. The fifth time in three weeks had to mean something. Maybe he should take precautions.

As he shaved, he caught sight of the triangular piece that had been missing from the mirror for the last year. He kept meaning to replace it, but never got around to it. The missing piece was in the corner of the mirror, so it wasn’t as though Joe couldn’t see his reflection.

Prosperous conditions, he thought to himself. Today was payday. Maybe he should leave the money in the bank for the time being. It was the middle of the month and no bills were due, so he didn’t need any money right now.

Twenty minutes later, he was dressed and on his way out the door. He paused near Sylvester and gave him a goodbye scratch on the head. Sylvester inclined his head toward Joe, wanting it to continue, but Joe went out to his car to go to work.

He stopped at the convenience store on the way in, grabbing a cup of coffee and a bear claw, just as he did every Friday. The girl behind the counter smiled at him when it was his turn to be served, just as she did every Friday.

“You want your Powerball ticket too, right?” she said. “It’s up to forty million dollars.”

Prosperous conditions, he warned himself. Don’t take any chances.  “Not today,” he smiled back at her. “Just the coffee and pastry.” He fumbled around in his wallet for the cash while the girl put the bear claw in a white, plastic bag for him.

He waited until he sat at his desk at the office before he started munching on his breakfast. He reached into the middle drawer for a packet of sugar, feeling an envelope that hadn’t been in there yesterday. He pulled it out and examined the greeting-card sized envelope while he stirred the sugar into his coffee.

He tore open the envelope and pulled out the card inside. The front of the card read, ‘Happy belated birthday.’ He opened it to read the message and money fell out. ‘Sorry I missed your birthday last week, Dan’ the message read. Dan Wideman from Human Resources. They had been playing basketball together once a week for the last two years. He looked at the twenty-dollar bill that had fallen out. He held his breath. Twenty dollars didn’t count as a ‘prosperous condition’, right? Should he put it in his wallet, or just stick it back in the card and leave it in his desk?

His life was going well right now ― he was happy at his job, he had been on a few good dates with a woman from payroll, he had a good chunk of money put away in savings― and he really didn’t need the ‘large amount of unhappiness’ the dream interpretation warned about.He was being ridiculous, he knew. He wasn’t usually the type to give any heed to superstitions or dream interpretations, but the dark horse had continued to show up in his dreams. He spent the rest of the morning locked in this debate with himself: ignore the dream and continue his life as though nothing happened or take the dream seriously and be careful.

For the time being, he decided to continue taking precautions. He still had ten dollars in his wallet, so at least he still had enough cash to pay for lunch.

Tainted Love (warning: contains graphic language)

Published February 15, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge was all about twisted love. I took this opportunity to add another layer to my work-in-progress novel, Florentine Tragedy: A Rock Story. Thanks, Chuck! You really know how to help boost a word count when an author feels like they’ve run out of things to say about their characters. xxx

Moe Alvarez stood outside by the stage door and watched the road crew load the instruments into the van. The band brought the house down tonight, the years of polishing their onstage persona culminating in a triumphant end to their cross-country tour. Florentine Tragedy never failed to blow him away with their performance, every time like the first time.

He could still remember that first time, clear as day. The band had performed at a small venue with just fifty people in the audience but they had played as if the place was packed. After that day, he went to see their shows whenever they were within a sixty-mile driving distance. he wanted to see the band more, especially their lead singer.

God he’d never seen anyone like her, a tiny woman with a big voice that sent chills up his spine, belting out the notes she sang. In between lyrics, she tumbled, somersaulted, and danced around on the stage as though she were determined to give those fifty people their money’s worth. He loved the way she would strut across the stage as though she owned the venue and every living soul in it, commanding the audience, holding them in the palm of her hand. She was the queen of that venue and they were her loyal subjects.

After the fifth show he attended, she had walked right up to him.  “Hi, I’m Daisy Carter,” she grinned, flicking her long, dark hair over her shoulder, sticking out her hand to shake his hand. “I keep seeing you at our shows. Thanks a lot for the support.” Her off-stage persona was just as energetic as it was onstage, and twice as friendly. He had let her do most of the talking that night, just so he could keep staring into her hazel eyes. When he asked if she had a boyfriend, her smile froze. Had he said something wrong?

“I don’t have it narrowed down to just one,” she winked at him, and left it at that. After a few months of friendship, he asked again. “I don’t have time for a boyfriend,” she said, “my band’s trying to make it.” Two months later, just before she spent the night at his place for the first time, she said with a half-smile, “Moe, this doesn’t mean I’m narrowing it down to one.” He was okay with that. At least, that’s what he had told Daisy. He would satisfy her in bed and one day she would satisfy his heart.

The stage door opened, interrupting his thoughts. There she was. Fans swarmed around her the moment she emerged from the venue so she didn’t see Moe standing there. That gave him the chance to watch her talk to her fans, which he did until there were two or three people left. He was proud of the way she handled herself in the face of so many requests for photos, autographs, and questions, knowing she hadn’t always felt comfortable with strangers wanting something from her. He smiled every time she threw her head back and laughed. She had such a great laugh; people always joined her even if they didn’t hear the comment or joke that amused her.

Unable to wait anymore, he walked over to her, touched her back and whispered in her ear. “You coming to my place tonight?” He raised his eyebrows, pleased to see her eyes widen in surprise at his sudden materialization, a big smile lighting up her whole face.

“Yeah,” she murmured, making sure only he heard her, “I’ll see you there in about an hour.”

“Can’t wait.” He winked and walked away, running his hands through his long, dark hair. Perfect. That gave him plenty of time to go back to his place, light some candles, and put on some nice music. He wanted the atmosphere to be perfect tonight. After they made love, he was going to tell Daisy he loved her and didn’t want to share her with other men anymore. After all the support he had given her over the years ― the emotional support, the financial support, the massages to any part of her body that was sore after a performance ― she could see how much cared about her.

Three hours later, Moe wrapped his arms around Daisy and kissed her on the cheek. Being inside her always felt fantastic, but holding her in his arms afterwards ran a close second. She usually complained that she didn’t like cuddling after sex, but tonight she lay still in his arms. He smiled at her and she looked up into his small, dark eyes. She put her hand on the back of his head and pulled him closer, with soft kisses, but her kisses became more intense, more heated. They made out that way for several minutes until Moe broke away. He couldn’t resist taking one last little taste of her lips before he spoke. “Hey, you know Divine Condemned is in town tomorrow night?”

“Of course I know!” she beamed.

“Are you going to the show tomorrow night?” Moe asked.

“I wouldn’t miss it. We know the guys in the opening band, so they’re putting our band on the guest list.”

“Oh.” What was he going to do with those two tickets now? He had paid quite a bit of money for them.

“What’s wrong?”

“Well, I thought I’d take you with me.”

“How about if you come with me? You can be my plus one.”

“Cool.” He settled her in his arms again and closed his eyes. His plans had changed, but at least they’d be there together. After a few minutes, Daisy tossed the covers back and sat up. He lifted his head up. “Where are you going?” He tried to pull her back into his arms, but she eased herself out of his embrace, got out of bed, and started dressing.

“Babe, I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow before the concert. I’m going to head home now, but I’ll pick you up at five.”

He frowned at her in silence for a few moments until Daisy turned around and saw the expression on his face. “Just once I’d love to wake up next to you in the morning,” he sighed, sitting up.

She bent over to pick her jeans up off the floor, turning her back. “Were you going to make me breakfast?” He could hear the faint sarcasm in her voice.

“Is it so wrong to spend some time with me when we’re not fucking?” He hated that word for the act of love, but when she got up and left in a hurry this way, there was no other word for it. He made an effort to keep from losing his temper, but he could feel his plans for the evening slipping out of his grasp.  

She turned to face him again, smiling. “Don’t be so dramatic, Moe. The band has a lot going on right now, you know that. I don’t have time to lie around in bed spooning all night.” Ah, so her old excuse ‘I don’t have time’ made its comeback. She walked back to the bed and leaned over to kiss him. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” She patted his cheek. “Get some sleep. You’ll need it. We’re going to rock our asses off tomorrow night.”

He watched her walk out the door. The moment she was gone, a string of profanities left his mouth. He flopped back down on the bed and punched the pillow where Daisy’s head had just been. How much more did he need to give her before she finally cut him a fucking break and let him into her heart?

I may not be a lesbian, but my Barbies sure as hell were!

Published February 12, 2014 by Rebecca Martin

Yesterday, Chuck Wendig wrote in his blog about the gender divide with children’s toys. His comments opened a discussion among his subscribers.  Some subscribers mentioned that their parents championed their child’s right to play with any toy they chose, whereas other subscribers had been victims of the divide: boys who wanted an E-Z Bake Oven, girls who wanted to play with toy soldiers, but were stopped by an adult and guided toward the “appropriate” toys.

In an attempt to expose the horrific, social conditioning my own parents imposed on me, I started making a list of toys I had as a child, certain that I would be able to point at my aged parental units and shout, “Aha! Mere humans! Your attempts to turn me into a pink-clothed shopaholic stereotype have failed! They have failed miserably!(Cue laughter, thunder, and lightning as I swirl my cape around me and exit, stage left)

My brainstormed list of toys was short, consisting of Barbies (sans Ken…more on that later), a Cabbage Patch Kid and a few board games. This meager amount of toys perfectly coincided with my oft-told adult tales of the Dickensian poverty of my later childhood in which the birth of my brother compelled my family to accept government assistance.

*edit* When I read this blog entry aloud to my mother, she was quick to point out, “We didn’t get government assistance! You made it sound like we were on welfare!” Let me clarify: the “government assistance” I talked about was WIC, a government-funded program.

Still, I knew I had more toys than what I could instantly remember, debunking my woe-was-my-childhood stories.  I then did what anyone else would do: I took to the Internet. This turned into an hour of me pointing excitedly at my screen, squealing, “Oh my God, I had that toy!”  In total, I had over thirty different toys, many of which began with the words “Fisher Price.” If we could have afforded it, we should have bought stock in that company.

As I looked at my list, it turned out that my Barbie dolls and possibly my Cabbage Patch Kid, Walter, were the only evidence to any kind of conditioning on my parents’ part.  I also had board games such as Hungry Hungry Hippos, Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho Cherry-O ―I’m sorry, what exactly was the point of that game?― , Battleship ―worthless if you don’t have an opponent sitting across from you―, and Candyland. Not only were we not as dirt-poor as I recalled, but I was never even a victim of gender-based social conditioning,?  What kind of world is this?

It was a magical world full of musical Ferris wheels, coloring books, Superman trading cards, a lone shark puppet, and Play-doh.  There were, of course, toys that I wanted and never got, such as the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine, Lite Brite, Star Wars stuff (but only after I went to Matty Cepkauskas’ house and saw the toy Millennium Falcon he had) and a Ken doll.

Wait, a Ken doll? Why did I have four or five Barbies but no Ken? I asked my mother about this and the conversation went a little like this.

Me: Why didn’t you ever buy me a Ken doll when I was little? You were trying to turn me into a lesbian, weren’t you?

Mom: I didn’t want you undressing him and checking out what was on the front. (Uh…my mom has seen the non-descript genitalia on those dolls, hasn’t she?)

Well, ha! I found a way around the lack of a Ken doll when Barbie went on a date! I simply took one of my other Barbies, dressed her up, tied her hair back, and turned her body around so her boobs were behind her, but she was still face-to-face with Main Barbie for their kiss at the end of the date.

Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.

I’ve discovered that I am simply the doesn’t-fit-into-a-gender-stereotype offspring of two people who also don’t fit into stereotypes. My dad spends his free time reading and cares nothing about sports. In fact, he only reads about sports so he can have a conversation with his co-workers. The only shopping my mother engages in is grocery shopping yet she is not what I would call a “domestic” woman.  She cooks, but only because her family needs to eat. She’s not the kind who is always in the kitchen whipping up something just because she felt like it.  There was never a time in my life where I pictured my mother as a June Cleaver type. My mom, though a housewife until I was 17, was more like Roseanne Conner, a bossy working-class wife who had no problem speaking up.

So, for all their faults, they never forced me to be a girly girl-child. And now, I’m off to play The Sims where I can have girl and boy Barbies. I win.