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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

hemi you.