Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day of the Dead


When I taught Vacation Bible School a thousand years ago (okay, I was in the seventh grade), my friend Melissa and I would perform a longish puppet show every morning to excite the children out of their heat-induced stupors. We built our own stage out of a cardboard box, and since Brother Buddy told us that the church could not afford puppets of any kind, I brought two small hand-puppets I had at home, one mouse and one giraffe. Always the visionary, Brother Buddy assured us that these puppets were as good as anything store-bought and could be used to bring the scriptures to life for the little ones. Melissa and I did our best to act out stories like Samson and Delilah (Mr. Giraffe was Samson and I worked to make the mouse as seductive as possible), Jonah (the whale part was especially surreal when my mouse puppet spent a long time in the mouth of the giraffe puppet), the resurrection story (lots of time on the day after the crucifixion, arguably the most interesting time for the disciples when their collective faith was really tested--we included lots of Monday morning quarterbacking, ie "He said He was coming back. Where is He?" -- early practice for dating), and other fun frolicking tales. After the puppet show, the kids would be divided into small groups to make crosses out of matches or learn traditional hymns like "The Old Rugged Cross." I still consider a mercy that contemporary Christian music had not reached us.

After class let out, we'd walk to Mr. C's to buy cherry Cokes and smoke cigarettes Melissa had taken from her mother's purse that morning. She'd also managed to steal a Valium from the same place, and we'd split it to take the edge off after being with the kiddies all morning. For a week, this was our routine. We'd talk about all sorts of things while we smoked -- the Holocaust, when we'd first have sex, whether or not I'd ever enjoy Star Trek the way Melissa did, what fruit of the spirit we'd like if we could choose and the ones we thought we had -- I wanted joy, but decided that I'd been granted long-suffering, the total suck city as far as the fruits went, we both agreed. In the morning, we'd pick up our puppets next to the plain cardboard stage, their heads in awkward positions, the way they landed when we threw them down the day before in our rush to leave, looking as if they'd been strangled.


Michelle's Spell of the Day

"The descent will be through the darkness of the familiar into a world where, like the blind man in the gospels, he sees men as if they were trees, but walking." Flannery O'Connor

Fruit of the Spirit

1 part orange juice
1 part grapefruit juice
1 part vodka
splash of grenadine

Serve chilled and garnished with a cherry.

Benedictions and Maledictions

Day of the Dead

He left long after all the trick-or-treaters,
long after her neighbors have cleared out
because of the fire he pulled. Dressed as one
of New York's finest, she let him in, and he
filmed her in different outfits, still as any
mannequin after the chloroform rag. She'd been
on his women to rape lists, stating he wanted
to take her down a notch. When the real
police found him, he slit his own throat,
and they saved him, despite his plea to let
him die. He'd been pretending to be a student,
but couldn't pull off the costume now that
Halloween was over. I thought about all
the outfits I'd adorned myself with over the years
for various men. I hadn't been drugged with
anything but the usual substances, and I'd been beautiful
or scary, a self-induced black-out here and there,
and in those moments I'm pretty sure I was both.

15 comments:

Cheri said...

I posted my comment on the wrong day.. haha. That last one was meant for this entry. (doh)

Despite what that Awful Angela says in Erik's blog you are naturally beautiful and intelligent and completely NOT self absorbed. I hate insecure people who bash others for no reason except for jealousy.

Anonymous said...

Deep, Michelle. And dark, that day of the dead. Enough to make one don an inky cloak and say, O that this too too sullied flesh should melt, thaw and resolve itslef into a dew. Start rockin', baby. It's SUMMER TIME!

Anonymous said...

Today's "Great Dirty Joke": An old, blind couple were rapidly losing the ability to speak. They realized they would need a plan to communicate about having sex. This is what they did: The old blind lady, in an almost inaudible, diminishing whisper, says to her blind and now almost mute husband: If you want sex, pull once on my left breast. If you do not want sex, pull once on my right breast. The old, blind and now almost mute husband nods. In an almost inaudible and diminishing whisper, he says to his wife: If you want sex, pull on my penis once. If you do not want sex, pull on my penis fifty times.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you brought back Froggy. He really, really likes you.

Cindy said...

Michelle,
I recognize the rapist from your description, I think -- was it the Chelsea guy in New York? Great poem. As for anonymous, go into a closet and do your fifty times alone. Or better yet, why don't you be a character witness for Mr. Chelsea. xo, Cindy

Paul said...

O mighty Isis
Day of the Dead is my kind of bag. Hope your doin' fine in this nice weather, my pretty Queen. Me, I'm keeping inside. All those bottle rockets were too much noicemaking if you ask me.

R2 C2!

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

Lovely posts, as ever. Having to catch up ever since the concert. Sorry you couldn't go. Plan B worked out, but it would have been an honor to take you in her place.
Interesting dress two posts ago! Always charming! You might like the Starlite Club, especially the pit-cooked bbq. Not to mention special drinks as a bonus. Though I had to scramble the rest of the week, the heart of rock and roll is still beating. p.s. the new sushi choices at Tom's Osyter Bar are not as good as advertised, in my humble opinion.

Bravo!

Bonnie said...

Honey,
You're so beautiful and sweet! Great shot post and poem. You got it all going so well, it almost breaks my fragile heart.
kiss kiss
Bon Bon

JR's Thumbprints said...

Here's a new one for you, Michelle. How about a lovely poem about the husband who drove off, leaving his wife with only one arm. And what did he do with her detached iimb anyway? --Jim

Anonymous said...

Today's "Quote of the Day": Half the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other--J. Austen

Anonymous said...

Today's 2nd "Quote of the Day": Is wanting you a crime?--Sade

Anonymous said...

The Day of the Dead spell photo is bizarrely spectacular. A skull with a cross coming out of it boggles the mind. This is imagination to the nth degree. I'm blown away. How the spell keeps coming up with these dynamite pictures is a complete mindblower.

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised that you were teaching even before your teens. I wanted to sign up for your class this semester, Miss Brooks, but I signed up for your marvelous blog instead. I think I made the right decision--anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I'm blind. How would I even find the closet? Michelle and/or her sister must help me.--anonymous

Baby Dragon said...

Hi Michelle! I have great memories of V.B.S. My favorite part was the punch and cookies. You're right, Cheri -- jealous people SUCK.
Keeeeesses,
Baby Dragon