|TEN MILE ROAD|
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This story first published in the Chattahoochee Review, Vol.27 #1 Fall ’06
By Jeanne Sirotkin (Haynes)
I’m starting to think in rhyme. My friends just roll their eyes and shake their
heads. Sometimes they laugh. Mostly they’re puzzled by this mid-aged, slightly plump
(well-endowed, I like to think), white lady who lives just north of Ten Mile, bakes
cookies for her grandkids and volunteers twice a week at the old folks home and is really
a super-star in disguise. Or at least a potential super-star trying to bust her way up to the
big time. I’ve got my believers too. “You can make it, Shirley,” they tell me. “Get
down, girl,” they holler as I climb onto the stage for open mic night. Ain’t got but one
dream. It’s mighty fine. Ain’t got but one trip and it’s mine, all mine.
It started one day when I was doing the dishes. An ordinary day in an ordinary
suburb. I had finished drinking the second pot of morning coffee. I couldn’t stand still,
twitching away. The words just started to tumble and flow. They summed up my
existence. It’s a bitch that Tuesday looks just like Monday and Thursday and Friday
don’t even rhyme. Up in the morning. It’s such a bore. Do the dishes and sweep the
floor. I take out the trash, cook more hash. Talk some trash. I’m talking trash. Kiss my
trash. I’ll kick your trash. Big, fat trash. Shake it now. Shake it fast. That big, fat trash.
Shake that ass. Shake it now.
That’s just the opener for my act. I’ve got the shake-it costume too. A silversequined
tube top. Lets my cleavage show. Lets everything else show too. It’s good for
shaking it and I’ve got lots of “it” to shake. Since I’ve started to perform I’ve cut and
dyed my hair a spiky blue. During the week, when I’m disguised as a suburban
grandmother, I wear a wig. If anyone notices that it’s fake, they assume that I’m a cancer
I never wear the wig when Richard stops over. Richard is my ex-husband. I love
to rub his nose in it. He has peanuts for testicles. And no rhythm. I should never have
married a guy who couldn’t dance. Unfortunately, it appears that both my grown
children have inherited his two left feet. They can at least clap their hands in time to the
beat once I get it going, but they have to work at it. Richard is one of those guys with a
briefcase and a pocket protector who wipes the phone with a hanky before using it and
probably wouldn’t ever sit on a public toilet seat. How he got that twenty-somethingyear-
old bimbo to move in with him, I’ll never know. Lorraine. What a name. What a
shame. Bimboland is mighty cool. It’s a real fine place for ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends
and fools. You gag ‘em, and you choke ‘em and hang ‘em on the wall. Let them out for
supper and a tumble and a paw. The bimbo makes him constantly late with his checks so
lots of things are broken around my house.
Often I have trouble with my wheels. Wheels are a big deal in this town.
American wheels. Japanese ones could get you stoned, or worse. You dream about
wheels until you’re sixteen, then spend a lot of time and money getting hold of the right
looking machine. It’s part of the mating dance like peacocks spreading their tails.
Cruising the streets looking bad. That’s how I met Richard. Richard drove a Mustang
years ago and I was a Mustang style lady. Now I drive a Ford Escort. I’ve named her
Jane, as in Plain. Trouble is that some days she runs and others she won’t. I take her to
the mechanic and she works just fine. Mike, my mechanic, looks at me blankly when I
come in one more time with a loud noise that disappears as soon as I pull into his
driveway. “Sounds great, Shirley. No problem with that engine.” I think that means it’s
all in my head. Rev’ your wheels, open your door. I’ll do it in the backseat. I’ll do it on
the floor. If your chrome don’t shine, we are through. So baby, oh baby let me double