Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian.
Cupid and Fox Trot Music
“Roses are red, violets are blue....” Julia was sing-songing a rhyme.
“Ugly, Valentine, I love you.” Elaina finished the sentence.
“Weirdo.” Julia looked at her best friend.
“Not as weird as my linty skirt.” Elaina was sitting on Julia’s bed. “I’ve never-ever seen chenille bedspreads anyplace but your house. Why’ve you got these old things around?”
“Spread was my grandma’s. Mom just likes looking at the stuff she saw when she was growing up. I just don’t sit on my bed unless I’m in jeans and a white shirt. You’re going to look like an angora cat played with your navy-blue preppy skirt. Don’t know how you’ll get the stuff off, either.” Julia began to laugh.
“Those dresser things look like Charlotte the spider wove them.” Elaina pointed to hand-tatted scarves covering the white dresser’s top.
“Same thing except those were made by my great-grandma.” Julia didn’t like them, but chenille or tatted scarves were not important enough to have a battle with her mom. “Look, let’s decide about Valentine’s Day. It’s just got to be different, and fun. Didn’t you think of anything?”
“Yeah. Mistletoe, ‘cept it’s the wrong season.” Elaina got off the bed and tried to pick each piece of lint from her skirt. “Oh, great. My skirt looks like feather pillows attacked me. Hey, maybe we could have a pillow-fight party.”
“Maybe an old party!” Julia walked around her room.
“Invite old people?”
“No. Have a party like my grandma must’ve had. It’ll be so silly, it’ll be fun.” Julia was enthusiastic, moved to her bed and sat right on the pillow. “Old -fashioned games. Didn’t you ever hear about them? Spin the Bottle. Post Office. Stuff like that.”
“A kissing-games party! Isn’t that what Spin the Bottle is, and the Post Office thing? Sounds so stupid it’d be different. Know anything about those games? Think that information is Online? Dear Google: what’s Post Office. Answer: building that sells stamps. How can you ask people to such a party.” Elaina remarked. “We’d need jeans covering our belly buttons ‘cause I don’t think your grandma was Brittany Spears.”
“Right. We’ll need to look 1940's. Were jeans invented then? I’ll ask. Meanwhile, let’s start making Valentines’ invitations and inside mention ‘dress code’, like our school dances.” Julia laughed. “No spaghetti straps, micro-mini skirts or you must leave the dance. Principal ousted me until my mother brought me a ‘proper’ skirt and a sweater to cover my arms. So a dress-code party is ‘cool’.”
“I’ve a computer print program that does invitations. Party at your house?” Elaina was mentally producing them.
“Well, Spin the Bottle, the way Grandma told me, is you have an empty bottle, and I guess it’ll have to be glass because plastic wasn’t around during her day. We sit in a circle on the floor with guys, and take turns spinning the bottle like a spinner on a game board. Wherever it stops with the bottle’s neck pointing to a person, you have kiss that person. If a girl spins, and it stops on a girl, she needs to spin ‘till it stops on a guy, and vice versa. Then the person who was kissed, spins for next turn. Grandma said that these were her first kisses, and most of the boys kisses to girls were their very first.”
“Did they French Kiss?”
“I don’t think they knew what that was. Remember, this was their first tries at kissing, and no TV showed choices. They puckered up and kissed. We have to do the same. Okay?” Julia was getting into the concept for this party.
“So what’s Post Office?” Elaina was fascinated that Julia actually talked with her grandma about such stuff.
“Post Office was pretend letters exchanged for kisses. And not in front of everyone in the circle. We can give everyone Valentines’ cards, and they’ll address each to someone they’ve wanted to kiss, deliver the card, and go into a closet and kiss. Maybe this was a passionate kiss since it wasn’t seen by everyone. I can ask Grandma.”
“How about adding Halloween apple-bobbing ? That’s old-fashioned, too. We can decorate the apple barrel like a Cupid with Cupid’s arrow pasted on. One person bobs for an apple and when it’s in her mouth she has to pass it to the mouth of the guy she likes. If it drops out of his mouth because he can’t hold it to pass it back to her, he has to be blindfolded, spun, and walk to someone and kiss them. Even if it’s another guy.” Elaina forgot her linty skirt, and continued devising games and new ways to play them.
Julia said, “I’ll check with Grandma about the clothes they wore and see if we can manage that. And find out if only hot chocolate and cookies were served; they probably didn’t have pizza in those days. With no TV, or cell phones, or microwaves, it must have been hard to organize a party, and not have something to watch if everyone got bored.”
“A 2006 party like 1940 ought to be a real trip. Want to consider a 15th century one since that’s when the first Valentine’s card was made?” Elaina giggled. “I learned that, once, online reading about how the Day started. And you know I love odd things to remember.”
“Just remember to get the invitations made up so we can mail them. I’ll let my Mom know we’re having a party here. She and Dad can go to a movie or something, or just go upstairs and watch TV. Since it’s a 1940's party, she doesn’t have a thing to worry about. Oh, we’ll need some non-rock music, the big-band stuff. Audio department at school might loan us some old music.” Julia raised herself from the pillow she’d been sitting on, and quipped, “See? No lint.”
“You’re also in jeans. See no lint. Speak no lint. Hear no lint. Want to help me remove mine?”
published 2-2006 in “Characters” magazine (small publication now out of business) ©2006 Davis Pub. [I own the rights]