15 April 2009

On the town

Tuesday, 14th April 2009

I went down stairs in my good jeans, a black long-sleeved t-shirt, and black socks. Jessy was still having her shower. Lisa and the Barbies had set a place for me at the kitchen table and the moment I came in Mother brought a dish of (instant) oatmeal over for me. 'What's with the special treatment?'

Mother just smiled, maybe blushed a little, and went back round into the kitchen. She loves that kitchen. It's like her domain here. If there were a computer in it she might never leave it.

Daddy came in and said, 'Is that what you're wearing?'

I looked down. 'Um, yes, these clothes are on me, so I would say I am wearing them--'

'You'd better ask the other one then. She said she was wearing a dress.'

I made a face. 'Oh, no.' But Jessy came in with jeans on and a pretty nice long-sleeved bright-blue top with a little white cotton shrug tied at her middle. It was a very cute look. Gran came in and sat with me, once again saying how sorry she was that she had wrecked her car. I said, 'It's hardly wrecked, right? It's only a fender.'

She said, 'Yes, but I will have no car this week.'

I smiled at her. 'So you can't go to exercise class, and you have to ride round in a limousine till then.'

She made a face like that would be utterly distasteful.

Of course Daddy grilled us on his instructions for the trip, insisting that we phone him or our uncle in southern NJ in case anything happened to Roger that he could not collect us. Gran, the eternal optimist, insisted there was no need for worry. I came back down stairs with my dark-brown high-heeled maryjane shoes on and my patchwork leather jacket that was new for my birthday. Jessy wore a cute black leather sport jacket and her black block-heeled shoes-- with her naturally-curly hair all drawn back and cinched in a low ponytail ring she looked like a child of the '70s. We both had umbrellas and our purses-- though for the city I always take most of my stuff out of it in case I should lose it, either negligently or violently (it's happened before) and my phone goes in my pocket.

At about 2.30 we would go. Roger had pulled up outside-- the long dark-green classic Cadillac rumbled calmly at the foot of the steps. Daddy kissed Jessy and then me and then turned to say goodbye to Gran. Roger stepped out with an umbrella for her and Jessy and then I followed into the light drizzle. Daddy put Gran's bags into the boot and leaned in to say goodbye again. Then, we were off.

Whenever Daddy or Mother is not with us I sit on the right in back. It's the seat with the intercom phone and the window and TV controls (this car was built before wireless controls were so common even though it has a DVD player now and the control pad is just like a remote, only one that's just wired in place). Gran sat beside me and rather than sit between us Jessy took the seat facing me, next to the console. At once she kicked off her shoes and slouched with her heels up on the seat cushion beside my leg. I closed my hand round her pink socks and squeezed her foot a few times. She likes being pampered like that, but she is my sister and I adore the little twit, you know.

When we went past 175 on Rt.13 Gran showed us where the other car had hit hers. Roger had rolled the window down before then and listened to her story, asking her some questions. Then he reassured her that Daddy's friend (who is also Roger's friend) in Delaware would be more than capable of fixing a 1987 Jaguar. She adores that car-- she had always dreamt of having one till Daddy bought it for her back then, and then our uncle insisted on upgrading it a few years ago to a Chevrolet engine and gearbox, so it's perfectly reliable and yet still looks like a Jaguar, you know. We look forward to seeing her get it back again.

The ride up Rt.1 and I-95 was uneventful and quick. Despite rain, some traffic, and stopping for McNuggets and drinks we got into Philadelphia well before 8.00. Roger took us on a short tour of Penn's Landing and Society Hill, mainly for Gran, who has been in this car often enough but said she could not recall ever having a pleasant nighttime tour of her hometown like this. As we drew up in front of the theater it began to rain... hard. There were two vans and trailers right in front of the place, probably belonging to the bands, but Roger stopped the car right in the street and hurried round to open the door for us. We said our good-byes to Gran and him and hurried to the kerb-- without our umbrellas. Of course people looked-- they always do when there is a long car, you know. Jessy and I have learnt to pay it no mind (though I do notice and I apologise if that looks bad, you know).

The show was fine-- mostly, as my dad would say, TDL (too darned loud). The musicians wander round before and after their acts and you get to meet them, have your pictures taken, buy their t-shirts and CDs and so on. Naturally we located Jessy's friend (from FaceBook) straight away. We stood (there are no seats) and chatted amiably and it was really fun. Of course hanging round with our father has taught us that pop stars, whether they are up-and-coming or well-established, tend to be pleasant, positive people who welcome friendship and happy smiles from just about anyone. We had a few pictures taken, by each other and by strangers of both of us, you know.

After the show and during the later acts we got to talk some more with the band. I don't mention them by name here because Jessy and I are all over their MySpace page with comments, and it would be a dead cert to identify us and locate us from there-- Daddy would hate that. And Jessy's friend in the band comments frequently on hers. What proves this point is that both of us were recognised at the show by some of their other fans who have seen us on the band's MySpace pages. It was a form of celebrity-- we walked past people now and then and heard, 'Is that--?' Well that might be because we are our father's daughters. Sometimes we are recognised for that. But the worst was, 'I've seen her on their site!' --as though we were rivals for their idols' attention. So THIS is why I do not mix my chatting on AOL with my last name or my pictures!

We stood in the lobby chatting with the band whilst the people closed up and finally kicked us out. I got a text from Roger than he was waiting up the block, and we needn't hurry. It was beneficial however because Jessy's friend came out with autographed posters for each of us, and we made sure to have bought their t-shirts first anyway. Then there were hugs and kisses all round and we were 'escorted' out to the pavement.

That was at 11.45. We both stepped up the wet street to the car and promptly fell asleep, me on one of the pillows against the side of the car and Jessy lying all the way over with a pillow for her head on my leg.


Wednesday, 15th April

So we got home at about 3.30 am. Having slept in the car I woke up at the unreasonable hour of 8.15, then went back to sleep till 9.30, then sat up and typed in this. Jessy's friend has sent her a text message much earlier this morning, while they were on the road going back home, and she typed back, 'How on earth are you even awake!' But his enthusiasm and energy is boundless-- as with most drummers we've known!

It's raining rather steadily but it is not cold. I sit here naked typing in this... looking forward to a long pleasant rest today!


14 April 2009

Grey morning at Sister Central

Tuesday 14th April 2009

For some reason-- probably the same reason as yesterday-- I woke up way too early and for something to do I went online. I sat here in my t-shirt surrounded by my blankets and typed at people till I realised-- unlike I did yesterday-- that I would be better off being asleep. That was just about 7.00. I curled up with Cinnamon and tucked all the blankets under my shoulders and chin and smiled happily to myself as I got comfortable... and then Lisa tiptoed in from the side gallery. 'Janine!' she whispered urgently. 'Are you up?'

I stared right at her, my face the only part of me visible to her in the doorway. 'Obviously.'

She looked at a loss for a moment and then said in that same weighted whisper, 'Can I use your bathroom?'

I smiled at her and nodded. 'Close the door,' I whispered back.

She smiled at me and went in and closed the door. The water ran; she actually washed or rinsed her hands before coming out. It's something Jessy and I have been insisting on, and she remembers on her own. 'Janine!' she whispered again, like that. 'What are you doing this morning?'

I lifted my chin above the pillow and whispered, 'Trying to sleep.'

She giggled a little. 'Okay,' she said. She seemed to hesitate and then she leaned over Cinnamon to kiss me on top of my head. So I reached up to her and she reached over me and we hugged, sort of. 'Good little sister,' I said.

'Good big sister.' She smiled at me as she stood down on the floor again.

'I love you, sweetie,' I told her.

'I love you too, sweetie!' She giggled a little.

'Will you close the door when you go out so I can sleep?'

Still in that important-sounding whisper she said, 'Okay.'

She nodded and went out. Before closing the door she fluttered her fingers at me. I made a kissy-face at her, and the door closed.

Outside, rain clouds obscured the sunrise. The gulls stood on the parapet above my windows and cooed at each other. I squeezed Cinnamon a little closer to myself and sighed.

After a very bizarre dream involving a commune, LED light bulbs and being mad at Jessy for talking, I heard her voice speaking softly-- 'No. Well, I don't know. She's still asleep.'

She was standing in the grey light coming through my window, talking on her phone. I got up to my elbows and looked at the clock. It was almost 11. I dropped my head back past my shoulders and sighed.

'Oh. She is up.... Wait.' She held the phone down upon her bare chest. 'Do we want to see a movie with Rita?'

I sighed. 'Jessy, we are going to Philadelphia today.'

'Okay.... How about later this week?'

'Ask me later this week.'

She spoke again to the phone. 'I'll have to let you go tomorrow. I'm already missing rehearsal tonight....' Naked, with her hair a mess, she wandered round my room, stepping round the bed post and stopping between my bed and the bathroom, still talking quietly on the phone. I slid my feet over the edge and leaned past her to pluck some panties out of my top drawer. 'No,' she was saying. 'I will ask her later. It won't matter.... Okay.... Bye.' She closed the phone.

'What on earth was that about?' I asked her.

She shrugged. 'She called. She just wanted to ask.'

I shook my head. The clock showed 10.53. 'I'm having a shower.' And I went in and shut the door.

When I came out, still drying my hair, Lisa was sitting on my bed, amidst the rumpled covers, with two Barbies before herself seated on a little red pillow from her room. I looked at them as I went round to my dresser. 'Good morning, Janine,' one of the Barbies said.

'Good morning, Janine,' the other one said.

'What are you two doing here?' I wondered.

'We're just waiting for you,' one of them said. 'Are you going to have breakfast now?'

I shrugged, taking out a bra from my drawer. 'I don't know. It's kind of late for breakfast.'

'Oh,' one said.

'Oh,' said the other.

'You could have brunch,' said the first one in her higher-pitched voice.

'Hm,' I said, fitting the bra on and turning to the mirror, away from the spectators, to close it in front. 'I could. Would you like to see if there's anything I can have now?'

'I think Mummy has oatmeal,' Lisa said.

'Can you check?'

She scampered off the bed, leaving the two Barbies sitting primly on their little red pillow. I looked at them. 'Don't you think it's a little cold to not have shoes on?' I asked them.

They stared mutely back at them as though I had spoken Greek.

'I see where she gets it from,' I said to them. 'Well-- you could be a little better influence on her. Even I don't run round this house barefoot when it's chilly like this. You're supposed to be the mature ones, right?'

My Barbies were (and are) always posing unanswerable questions like that. But I don't think Lisa's have learnt to be very philosophical yet.


Hail thee, festival day

Easter Day, 12th April 2009

The Lord is risen! Yay Jesus!

After a what has seemed like a pretty long fast (46 days) we all woke up this morning cheerful and making silly (but also sincere) comments like 'Jesus lives!' and so on. Daddy raved on about the end of the fast, striding round the house announcing, 'And we can have pepperoni! And steak! And hamburgers! And sausage! And cheese steaks! And hot dogs! And ground-beef casserole! And pork chops! And ham! And gravy! And chicken ala king! And creamed chipped beef on toast! And veal parmigiana! And steak!' --whilst we all giggled hysterically, even Mother and especially JJ.

'You said "steak" again, Daddy!' little Lisa laughed.

'Well we can have it again!'

This is how he is, you know.

We had not got cards for Daddy and Mother and so whilst Lisa and JJ were devouring about half their candy (not really) we coloured cards with crayons on folded paper, making cute childish pictures, you know. Jessy made one for Daddy that showed a cross fallen over and an emaciated-looking Jesus with his unkempt beard waving both arms in the air and cheering like a football fan. All round it she wrote 'Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!' like a wild chant. At this we laughed till had tears in our eyes. That's not such an inappropriate response on this day.

Daddy loved that card and said he would frame it.

I wore a new dress with three-quarter sleeves and an almost-closed neck-- it's a floral pattern of white on a deep shade of peach-pink. It's not quite a Barbie pink- it's a little warmer. Nevertheless little Lisa insisted it was a Barbie colour--

Lisa: 'That looks like Barbie pink.'
Me: 'It's not. Not exactly.'

Five minutes later, while I am still getting dressed--
Lisa: 'Isn't that the Barbie pink?'
Me: 'No, not quite the same pink.'

A few minutes later, while I was putting on makeup--
Lisa: 'That looks like a Barbie dress!'
Me: 'It's not the same pink!
Lisa: (giggles)

In the car on the way to church--
Lisa: 'Janine looks like Barbie!'
Me: 'It's NOT the same pink!'

It really isn't.

Church filled up but we got a whole pew (we need it) and I was on the end with Lisa. Fully half the people in church were not regulars. I don't know if it's too judgemental to say, but I do notice that kind of thing. You can tell the E & C (Easter & Christmas) people because they're more concerned with what they're all wearing and whom they're sitting with than what the liturgy is doing. They miss cues, rarely remember to bow or cross themselves, and sit when we're supposed to kneel-- they're always eager to sit. This is awkward when they're in front of you and you have to kneel against the back of their seat, you know. I whispered something to Jessy once and she leaned over and said, 'At least they're here now.' I suppose she is right. Forgive me, E & C people. I'll see you for Christmas.

Needless to say, someone had to go to the potty before Communion. Fortunately we still had the Prayers of the People to go and I saw my chance. 'Come on,' I whispered to her, and grabbed her hand. Lisa nodded and hurried a little head, nearly dragging me forward in the aisle and over towards the back gallery. I tugged her back to genuflect as we turned at the crossing. The E & C people would need the example, you know. Coming back there were two boys about my age a few pews ahead of us. Both of them stared at me. I met their eyes once and sort of blushed. 'She is not!' one of them whispered, obviously. I didn't know what that meant, but that's what they said about me.

We have a routine for stepping out the pew for Communion. Jessy and I step out first, back up and wait for Daddy, then Daddy steps out, usually with JJ's hand, and Mother steps out with Lisa and they go ahead first. Then Daddy used to want us to go ahead of him, but Jessy and I began sort of insisting that he stay with Mother and we go after them. It's tradition-- the mother always goes first and the parents always stay together. Then, following etiquette, I should follow and then Jessy and the littler ones, though JJ usually needs guidance to go anywhere and Lisa holds hands with either Jessy or me anyway. It can become a mess if the usher has let too many people out into the aisle at once, but they all know us by now and expect it.

Coming back the two E & C boys had returned to their pew first and were looking at me again. Really I think they were just surprised to see girls at church-- so many guys our age are surprised that girls actually attend regularly. They seem to assume that because they don't, the girls who might interest them don't either. (It's another case of perception vs reality.) The truth is that we have always gone regularly-- okay, we miss a few weeks a year. That's a lot different from coming only a few weeks a year. Maybe that's judgemental. But I believe faith is the single most important thing to have in common with someone-- what you believe, how you feel about it, how you apply it your life, including how often you go to church and why you do, and so on. It's the first thing I care about when I meet someone I might possibly date seriously. Anything else is doomed to stay casual, you know.

After the service there was the long reception line saying hello to our rector and his wife, and people were given flowers and greeting cards and there were all sorts of delays. Naturally Daddy had more than a few words with our rector. Jessy and I stepped outside, with Lisa in tow, all of us closing our nice white cotton sweaters against the crisp cool air and the bracing breeze. The two E & C boys, with no sport coats and their ties fluttering, lingered nearby, urgently whispering to each other about, I think, Sarah and her sister ahead of us. They're cuter than we are and a little younger. The two boys were probably better ages for them. I don't think they were more than about 16 and 15 and already they assumed themselves to be the most desirable male creatures in sight.

We said hello to Sarah, and her sister, and stepped aside to allow other people out of the building. A little boy, looking cute in his blue suit and red tie, came up to us and said politely, 'You girls are so pretty.'

I smiled and bent down a little to him. 'That is such a sweet thing to say!' I said. He blushed a little. I put out my hand and we shook and said 'Happy Easter' to each other. Then he went off, blushing.

The two E & C boys watched the whole thing. Jessy leaned in and said to me, 'I think you've gained another admirer.'

I made a wry face. 'I think you've gained two,' I teased, indicating the two guys by pressing on her side with my finger. Jessy squirmed, inadvertently. The two boys soaked that up like syrup. Jessy blushed.

Sarah suggested we all ride down to Lynnhaven later in the week and see the Hannah Montana movie. I did not demur and in fact we all stood and discussed the previews and reported plot of the store, speaking of Miley Cyrus as though we knew her personally and not caring what the two teenaged boys would have thought of us for discussing a movie aimed at 11-year-olds. Still they stood over there gazing at us. But they never did make any motion to say hullo or even to greet us as Christians should with 'The Lord is risen' or anything similar. Soon they went off-- with their mother, it looked like.

When we got back to the house I got out of the good dress, saving it for later when Gran got here. Gran must have left straight after church with our uncle in southern New Jersey because it was 2.00 when we got a shaky phone call from her. Going past the 175 intersection for Chincoteague-- like 15 miles from our house-- someone made an illegal left onto 13 and pulled out in front of her, scraping up the side of her car that the front left wing panel was in on the tyre. Daddy calmed her down on the phone and went straight out in his car to go get her. The police had a lift truck there but he made sure to ring his car-restoring partner in Delaware and insisted he would pay only for a short move off the highway. This is how he is. He and Gran, with Gran's luggage (and the pie she made for us), arrived at just before 4.00. And all will be well. Jessy and I are scheduled to see a show in Philadelphia this week and Gran was only going to drive up on our about the same day anyway. So Roger will drive all of us home. And Daddy's friend will repair Gran's car and Daddy can drive it up to her by week's end.

So there is an easy solution, and none of this upset our lovely Easter dinner at Terncote. I helped Mother with the ham and mashed the potatoes and tossed the salad, and she and I took off our aprons and seated ourselves and Daddy said Grace. 'The Lord is good,' he said. Over dinner he told us of hearing from an old high-school friend who is pastor of a Protestant church up in New Jersey whose email made the point that we have the ONLY world religion that is represented to God's people by God Himself-- in the person of Jesus Christ. All others have only prophets, for for US God came down to the world, lived and suffered and died as a man, and saved us as only God Himself can do.

How often we hear that expression, 'Jesus died for the sins of the whole world.' But what that means is that He took upon us the penalty for our own sins. What he endured, suffering in agony on the cross, was what WE deserved. WE deserved to be hung there and bled or suffocated to death, not Him. WE are the ones with all the sins we should be punished and condemned for. And that's a hard thing for most people to accept. But as my lovely stepmother once explained to me, we always have at least one or two things to confess that we're not happy admitting. She says that when you confess your sins, even in secret to only God, you should confess till it hurts. 'If you're not weeping, you haven't confessed enough,' she says. I never have any trouble weeping. I am proud, arrogant, conceited, judgemental, selfish, thoughtless, rude, and stingy. And so when I go to the Altar I always remember what my stepmother taught me, what her mother taught her, and I recite to myself, 'Lord, regard not my sins, nor my good deeds, for by neither am I to be counted worthy.' I am not worthy-- I deserve none of this-- I deserve to be crucified. And so in all my confessing I am grateful to God who accepts me in my sin and forgives me, because He does for me what I do not deserve. Without Him I am nothing.


06 April 2009

Soothing the savage beast

Monday, 6th April 2009

Normally-placid Jessy was in an emotional upheaval tonight after enduring a slightly unflattering audition for a local summer production of 'Beauty and the Beast'. I did not go with her-- I was attending practice for 'Music Man' and so Mother drove her. For some reason (and probably rightly) they did not have Roger drive them but Mother drove her in the small van. Talk about carrying a low profile! --but the last thing Jessy would have wanted was for Daddy's daughter to arrive in a stretched Cadillac and come prancing in like a superstar in her own mind to show up all the other girls. Not a way to get yourself a fair audition! --and NO, this is only local or regional theatre and there's no way they would have responded positively to an entrance like that. It'd have been thespian suicide.

I do worry that Jessy will think differently now and will be secretly wishing she had had Daddy's notoriety to rely on. I know she likes to pamper herself, even psychologically, even though that's kind of like saying she has an ego. I don't think it's a matter of ego at all. And I don't want her to be in this blaming mode, because all she will blame is herself. There really wasn't much she could have done that she did not do. For one thing there was a little more ballet than she expected and a LOT more jazz dancing. Who knew that ahead of time? --not Jessy. Also, her usually sweet, crystalline voice was a little too hoarse from practice for 'The Music Man' earlier tonight and even giving 100 percent of what she had left for the night she could not have been at her best. Still, as Daddy says, 'silver shines through'. The directing staff are not idiots. If a girl is a good singer and just not singing at her best this very minute, they can tell that. If a girl is cutting out early from rehearsing another show just to make this audition and appears a little stiff or tired, they will give her some credit. Was she at 100 percent? --no. Could she be? --absolutely.

Jessy is no egoist and is guilty only of disappointing her own very high standards. I suppose Daddy feels guilty too, for instilling in both of us such a passion for performing well that we take it too personally sometimes. But it is what it is when you are in a performing-arts family. Mother had the best thing to say about it. 'They're churchgoing Christians,' she said of the director and his staff. 'They're not going to condemn you. It's a chance for you to grow.' (And it is parent-supported teens' theatre. They took Mother's cheque.)

Daddy used to say he preferred to be the worst player in the band, not the best one. If you're the best, there's only one direction you can go. But if there's something to be learnt, and you can learn it, that's a growth opportunity. If you think about it there's really only one of those things to be preferred, and it's the one Jessy has right now.

Jessy's in the shower now, she will go to bed straight away, and we will be at school tomorrow where she will meet some of her friends (at least one of whom is cast in 'B and B' already), and by the time she gets home she will feel better about the whole thing. So I am glad she won't read this blog till at least then. And who knows? --she'll probably get a callback anyway.

Of course if she does not-- well, we have an acting job of our own lined up for this summer, working in our Colonial costumes at our late mother's beloved ice-cream parlour on the New Jersey shore. And no one can cut us from that.


05 April 2009

Saying goodbye to old friends

Sunday, 5th April 2009

Most people on AOL know me as the girl who starts the risque-sounding chat rooms, with names like 'CutePanties' and 'LikesNudism' and so on. And I confess a weakness for answering some pretty odd questions, especially about my panties. Someone asked me why, if I am such a lady (which I am, I really am!), I would even consider a topic of conversation like that. And the truth is that I just think it's funny. The whole topic is funny and for several reasons. One is that it's irrelevant, because it can't possibly matter what panties I have on. You can ask about my panties and I will tell you the truth, but you'll never get to see either the panties themselves or me in them. So why do you really need to know?

This leads to another reason. Many men online say inanely irrelevant things like, 'I wish I were there now to see you.' Now this is just silly-- if you were here now, I would NOT be lounging round in my panties. You would be a guest and we would be down stairs in the parlour having tea, or iced tea, and quite fully dressed whilst conversing about much more polite topics than my panties in order to actually get to know each other as people. So, once again, whatever panties I have got on is irrelevant.

And the third reason I can think of why the topic is funny is just because it really is funny. Panties really are pretty funny when you think for a moment. For one thing, they're not plural, they're singular. (Bras are plural... right?) It's just a piece of fabric folded up and sewn at the sides, with two holes cut out and elastic fitted round the top. By itself a pair of panties is just a funny-looking little garment that only people built a certain way (let's call them 'women') can properly wear. The sad part of this is that some people go absolutely obsessive over them. I have seen whole chat rooms dedicated to the proposition that women might actually SELL their panties to desperate men who want to smell them. This is either distressingly sad or just plain gross. I have never had the idea of doing that myself (with men's undershorts, since I am a woman), but if I were so curious about the scent of a man I would prefer to smell the man himself and not just his undershorts, if you know what I mean.

Now that I am fully on the subject I will tell about my day. Today was Palm Sunday and we attended at 10.00 and received our palms and then all sort of subtly batted each other in the face, or chin, or neck with them as we stood in the pew and sang 'All Glory, Laud, And Honour' and so on. Sometimes I leaned the palm way over, round behind Jessy, and was able to tickle Mother or little Lisa with it. Daddy started it, of course-- he used to tease us with the palms all the time when we were little. The truth is we all do it to each other now. It's not to be rude or irreverent but just a kind of family tradition.

I wore my pale grey wool dress with the boat neck and the pale pink and yellow and blue stripes in it, with white tights and my dark-grey shoes. I ordinarily love the Palm Sunday service, in spite of its length (the longest scheduled service of the church year), but I was profoundly uncomfortable the entire time-- and I really mean the entire time, from when I first knelt down to when I finally got to the ladies' room during coffee hour. The reason was because my panties were up in my bottom the whole time.

I didn't do anything unusual to make this happen, though I have figured out why it did happen. The tights fit more tightly than the panties did. Usually you would hope that the panties are closer-fitting. If the tights were looser they wouldn't be able to alter the fit of the panties. But when it's the other way round it's obnoxiously uncomfortable. I stood there, singing, praying, greeting people, ever so subtly trying to wiggle myself just a little to work them loose. When we knelt I kept trying to tug at myself-- but the pews are not high and a young family with a nosy little girl were right behind us and I wasn't going to make myself any more obvious. It was fortunate I had worn a slip, for the dress is wool and would cling to my legs, especially with the cotton-blend tights on, so I know nothing looked wrong to anyone else's eyes. I just suffered through the service and hurried off to the ladies' straight away.

The little grey cotton panties were hardly new-- I'd had them since August and have worn them often. They were just plain cheap cottons that you find in the three-for-seven-dollars bins in the stores. And they were pretty well stretched-out from normal wear and washing by now. In the ladies' at church I had a couple of options and one of them was to throw the panties into the dustbin and to rely on just the tights till I got home. That would not have been terrible at all and under normal circumstances that's what I would have done... but the tights are white and this week I need all the protection I can get. So I adjusted them the best I could and when I pulled up the tights I left them a little loose and was able to make it home when I could get changed.

It's only occurred to me now that someone in one of those chat rooms might have liked to buy those panties from me, since I certainly won't be wearing them any more. But, oh, well-- they're already gone. If anyone out there may be interested for next time, make me a cash offer now and I'll try to remember to stuff them in an envelope and post them out to you.


04 April 2009

Coach Janine

Saturday, 4 April 2009

I had to miss last week's Ladybugs practice-- our first-- because of the play. Though it was a pretty good play ('Happy days-- The Musical'. See it. It's cute), the whole weekend became something of a mess of scheduling. Gran had got us the tickets for Christmas. I had written down that it would be the 4th and had got it wrong, so I had to politely excuse myself from the first organised practice and ride up to Philadelphia in the green Cadillac with Mother and Jessy for the matinee. We ate some pretty good pizza at a place round the corner from the Academy and actually ran into some old friends and got back much too late to recover anything from the day.

This weekend I arrived at Castle Field with a vengeance... meaning a box of two dozen doughnuts and three-litre bottles of Coke. Fortunately none of the girls had forgot who I was. At the first team meeting two weeks ago I had been the first to formally greet them, conducting a tour of the facility starting with the visitors' locker room, going through the snack bar and the tower and at last sitting them all down in the red-white-and-grey Ladybugs' official locker room where I drilled them all, pointing at each one in turn.

'What is my name?'
'What is my name?'
'What is my name?'

I had already explained to them in my decidedly UN-Virginia-like accent that I absolutely refuse to be known as 'Miss Janine', which had been part of my planned lesson on etiquette and protocol. (They are, after all, girls, and to me that means young ladies.) 'Miss Janine' is for second daughters in the Old South, or a slightly more respectful way to address adult servants. It is not appropriate for me. If I am their teacher, they can call me 'Miss' and use my last name. I would prefer to be their teammate, and so I am 'Janine'.

Because of my insistence on this point they all liked me from the start. After my somewhat theatrical and amusing self-promotion I had turned it over to our head coach and after they had all got a list of what they needed to do and bring we all had all gone out for pizza (with no meat, because it's Lent).

This weekend we got down to business. It was very windy and not at all warm, but we coaching staff had reminded them that they should always bring a long-sleeved t-shirt (red, white, or grey, no other colours) in their gear bag and should either bring their team jersey separately or wear something presentable under it so they can put on the long-sleeved t-shirt in the dugout if they need to. Most girls wore long-sleeved t-shirts or sweatshirts today since this practice did not require team jerseys.

Mother says she will get have red team t-shirts made for wearing to and from games and for wearing on team outings when we don't have to have our playing jerseys. I think this is a good team-building idea... and they can wear them to school (we already told them they may not do that with the actual playing shirts-- it's unprofessional).

We started out by stretching and then jogging three laps of the infield, round the bases. Many people were winded (but not, surprisingly, me. And I was in jeans). Then we issued bats. Due to the weather we three coaches arranged ourselves in the outfield with the batting girls on the left-field line so that they were hitting towards their own dugout, into the wind, which made a better workout. I typically counted about 10 pitches per person. After each at-bat we let them choose any one of the three of us they wanted for next time. I was glad that they did not all pick favourites but really did try to experience each one of us. I think they are still getting used to all of us, but that shows a level of trust.

Coach Harry left early and went in to the field office to file reports and contact info and all that, leaving Michelle and me to conduct the rest of the practice. That means I left it to Michelle. She's got far more experience in actual coaching than I have. First we had them all do dashes from home plate to first. I stood on the base and slapped their hands as they finished. Then Michelle quizzed the girls on strategy, such as when to bunt, when to steal, and when to slide. Most of these girls have played organised ball before and had good answers. At least two have never played anything on a team. Those are the girls that make up my mission, for I refuse to let anyone feel alienated by this whole process and won't let anyone be left out. We stopped before lunch and there was no plan for going out, so as people's parents came to collect them we sat in the (warmer) locker room, chose lockers, sipped Coke, asked questions, and got to know each other. It was fun.

I am not going to mention the girls' names here. We will shortly have a team website, which I will not give out on AOL, and it won't mention last names either. We'll just try to keep the the photos of players from revealing their last names on the backs of the jerseys, but the parents already know you can't have everything. The site will probably only be accessible through the league network anyway.

When I got home this afternoon I typed up a cute little email and sent it out to all the girls (meaning, their parents' email addresses. We didn't ask for and won't save the girls' own ones, if they have them). I thanked them all for coming and promised them more fun 'and hard work' next Saturday. And I signed it, 'Love-- Coach Janine.' I think that sets a mood then. So what if it's sappy? It's what I do.