March 31, 2008

Cue the Deer and the Antelope

And ready them for play, because I am now finally and for really HOME. HOME! Wheee. I am so tired that my BONES feel bendable and soft. I have not gotten out of pajamas in 36 hours now. I have no plans to get out of pajamas today. I DO have to pick my kids up at school, but I feel I can drive JUST FINE in Fuzzy Monkey bedroom slippers, a 12 year old black knit maternity shirt, and my rattiest pair of fantasy pants. HUZZAH!

I have sent the BICYCLE CONTEST ENTRIES (see entry below if you have no clue what I am babbling about) on to Frank Turner Hollon to submit unto his Judgey goodness, and I will let you know who won as soon as I know. Lord, but I do not envy the man his job---many of the far-fetched TODDIAN explanations had me giggling like a loon.

In Oxford, MS, while doing a stop at a superfantastic indy called SQUARE BOOKS, I stayed over with my friend Beth Ann Fennelly. After the event and a long and lovely evening spent with the bookstore folks and writers and other long-time Oxford dwelling friends, I told Beth Ann I was STARVED, and we slipped away to grab a bite to eat. Alas, it was late, and the restaurants had closed. NO WORRIES, said BA, and said she would introduce me to “The real Oxford,” in the form of…Chicken on a stick.

“Beth Ann,” I said severely, “Nothing good ever comes ON A STICK. I think on ON A STICK and I think those ersatz hydrogenated ice milk bars. I think of the roasted corn ears you get at small town carnies that get DUNKED into a vat of melted butter, curdling in the summer heat. I think of a computer game my husband and I played years ago, Ultima Underground, where our little pixilated avatar looted the bodies of orcs so he could get enough copper to buy himself some roasted RAT on a stick. I think about human heads impaled and posted in rows by terrible Huns.”

But Beth Ann Assured me that my ANTI ON A STICK bias was about to get blown away by the wonders of CHICKEN on a stick. And then, in mid assurance, Beth Ann PULLED INTO A CHEVRON PARKING LOT.

“You get Chicken on a stick A GAS STATION???” I squawked.

She laughed and said, “Trust me – this is where the locals eat.”

And sure enough, there was a LINE of folks so long it came out the door---even two lovely young women in evening wear and their suited up dates, waiting to get chicken. Chicken on a stick.

When our turn came, I was given a fat, round, long, and undeniably phallic tube of meat, battered and deep fried and not looking like any recognizable portion of hen. I had my choice of many spooky sounding dipping sauces. I tremulously picked Sweet and Sour, and the woman behind the gas station counter put my meat log in the same kind of bag she’d just tucked a previous customer’s cigarettes into. I took my suspect meal with no small amount of trepidation and eased it from the bag and tried an experimental nibble.

HAND TO THE LORD, it was awesome.

Yes. I admit it freely. I ate the whole dern thing. Chicken on a stick from the Chevron in Oxford, Mississippi is AWESOME.

Allow me to say re: Beth Ann, she’s a poet of no small renown. I’ve read Beth Ann’s fantastic book length memoir-like object, Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother
and adored it SO that I habitually gift a copy to every friend who gets knocked up. But as for poetry? Well. Me, I’ve had a love affair going with the novel for a good decade and a half now. My novelove often stretches to the novel’s close relatives--- memoir and narrative non-fic--- but I rarely read poetry, I am even less likely to read short stories, and while I love to go SEE plays and often do, I no longer read them.

That said, there was a framed signed lithograph of one of Beth Ann’s poems up on the bathroom wall in the guest house. It was a love poem she wrote to her husband called THE SNAKE CHARMER, and it was fierce and biting and beautiful, and I stood in the little bathroom and read it and wept like a fool.

I thought, “WOW. I am tired,” and I walked to the bed and fell over and slept like the Irish dead for 8 hours. In the morning, brushing my teeth, I found myself rereading THE SNAKE CHARMER, and then I was weeping again, choking myself on minty foam.

It wasn’t a function of tired. It’s just that good.

I hunted google to see if her school or someone had put it up somewhere on the internets, but found only small excerpts. You have to read the whole thing. You can find it in her collection called Open House (I linked to B and N because THEY show the pub date as 1902 instead of 2002. HEE! That would make Beth Ann WELL over 100 years old, and yet she’s still lookin’ mighty sexy.)

Posted by joshilyn at March 31, 2008 8:31 AM

So glad things went as wonderfully as they did in Oxford! I wanted so to be there. Alas, childcare issues.

Chicken on a stick ROCKS. Glad you got initiated.

Posted by: Keetha at March 31, 2008 8:48 AM

Wow, I thought it was going to be yummy souvlaki chicken. Now you've reminded me of a yummy bbq-in-a-gas-station place that's not far from here!

Posted by: Brigitte at March 31, 2008 8:58 AM

Joshilyn, you must make a pilgrimage to the Minnesota State Fair. We are KING of all things On-A-Stick. And some of them are really exceptional. Like Deep Fried Twinkies. I kid you not.

Posted by: Tammy at March 31, 2008 9:12 AM

Tammy's right. I lived in Minnesota, and there isn't ANYTHING Minnesotans won't put on a stick, especially at the State Fair. Some are scary, I admit, but more are yummy than you might imagine!

Welcome home, Peach! If you haven't already, go through and touch the walls in every room. It's very centering, I'm not sure why. And you'll know for sure you're home for a good long time.

Posted by: Fran at March 31, 2008 2:29 PM

Todd wants to know we can just bring the bike over to your house and drop it off?

Posted by: jean at March 31, 2008 3:09 PM

re: Driving to school in Fantasy Pants

That is a scary proposition. The last time I did something like that I had a flat tire and had to change it in the school parking lot looking like a crazed hobo. The last time my dear neighbor did something like that (wearing bunny slippers and a hole-ridden sweatsuit when she drove her kids to school) her 11-year-old child vomited in the school hallway not seven minutes after being dropped off and my friend had to go INTO THE SCHOOL wearing her terrible clothes to sign the child out in the office. And the 11-year-old child was not pleased with her mother's appearance.

I just wanted to alert you to the dire possibilities.

But, welcome home! I'm going to reserve Beth Ann's books at the library right now!

Posted by: Mel at March 31, 2008 3:59 PM

I have to agree w. Mel. That's just tempting fate.

Posted by: JulieB at April 1, 2008 8:43 AM

Welcome home! I like the idea of Fran's centering ritual, but also think a glass of wine is pretty centering. Especially after Easter.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at April 1, 2008 10:13 AM