Made Up Stuff
Chibbichanga and the Beaner
Nicknames are stupid and Flynt thinks his is the dumbest nickname in the history of nicknames. He even hates the word “nickname.” Who came up with that anyway? Isn’t there a Nick somewhere who’s mad about it? At any rate, his parents are always playing with his and his brother’s names and it grates on his nerves. Of course, his brother, Chibbs, has a cool name that lends itself to cool plays. Chibbichanga. Chibbles-n-bits, Chibbits and gravy, Chibblicious, Chibby, Chibbers, and the absolute worst, Lord Chibbington. Lord?! Seriously? Gah! He thought Chibbs would never get over himself the first time that one came out. What an ass.
But Flynt? Nope. Not so easy to play with that one. Flyntlestilskin is about the only one his mom uses with any kind of regularity and it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. For a minute they called him “Todd” – short for toddler – which wasn’t very good for his self-esteem. Butt-Butt came out of nowhere and unfortunately it stuck around for longer than he cared to admit. But even that was better than what grew from a family friend’s response when she heard his dad call him Flynt-o. (Flynt-o was just fine!) But no, friend laughed and said “Flynto Bean! Like PINTO BEAN!!” Flynto Bean became Bean which became Beaner. He hates Beaner.
It’s just offensive. And now he understands pejoratives in a way he never did before.
Hey now little spider guy living under my dryer! You keep coming out here acting all defensive when I’m doing laundry and we’re gonna have words. And by words, I mean I’ll serve you a permanent eviction notice of the death warrant kind, if you catch my drift. I’ve got no problem with you hanging out and making a living among the dust bunnies. Live and let live and all that, you know? Mi casa es su casa, hombre. But, you keep this up and well… you just watch yourself.
To Read A Story
In the din of clattering dishes and familial laughter, Darrin peeped around the corner and cleared his throat. No one noticed. He wasn’t surprised. Most people didn’t notice him. After all, he was only eight years old and small for his age. He tried again. This time his mother heard him and when she turned, she dried her hands, smiled, and motioned him into the room. In his favorite, too-hot-for-Florida flannel pajamas with the green tractors and knobby ankles flashing as he walked, Darrin cleared his throat again and all the adults looked at him. In his hands, he carried a book nearly as big as he was which looked as if it weighed more than he did. Nevertheless, he carried it. He needed its weight to hold him down, ground him to this important moment.
Hitch stepping his way to the center of the den, he said in as clear a voice as he could muster, “I would like. To read. You a story.” With a sweet, lopsided grin showcasing the haphazard teeth endemic to eight year olds everywhere, he opened that heavy book and muscled it all the way up in front of his face, upside down, blocking everyone’s view of his soft, brown eyes and bath-wet slick-combed blonde hair. He lowered the book, looked seriously at his audience of parents, uncles, and aunts, and said, “There was a man.” and raised the book again. With the same up and down motion for every line, Darrin told his story.
“There was a man.”
“He had a son.”
“The son was different.”
“He could not run with friends. He didn’t have friends.”
“He could not talk like other kids. He didn’t say much.”
“The man loved him anyway.”
“His son loved him right back.”
“More than anything in the world.”
With the final line, he closed the massive book with a dramatic snap, the puff of air flipping his hair. He bowed somberly to the crowd, turned on his heel and hitch stepped his way out. Not once did he look back but his head was high and his back as straight as he could make it.
The adults suddenly realized their words had been stolen and their hearts had all swollen. His mother dabbed her eyes while her sisters patted her shoulders and went back to clearing the dishes. With a tiny smile hovering around his lips, his father stared at the spot where his son had stood. His brother silently sidled up next him and murmured, “That boy has no idea he’s perfect, does he?” Darrin’s father shook his head and replied, “No, he doesn’t but I’m going to spend the rest of his life trying to convince him he is.”
Spit It Out
April 13. That is the day Magda’s life changed forever. All her life she’d accepted the rules for young women set by her parents, grandparents, teachers, church. But on April 13, that all ended. On that day, Magda drove herself to the mall, at night, in direct opposition to her father’s misgivings. “Dad. I just got paid.” She worked part-time at a local steakhouse and had her eye on a cool purse in one of the boutiques which was still supporting the dying edifice to capitalism. ”Why can’t I go to the mall? I’ll be 17 next week, I have my driver’s license and a car, which I make the payments on by the way, and money to spend. I’m going.” With a quick peck on his cheek and what she imagined as a saucy flip of her ponytail, she cut off his answer and breezed out the door.
Feeling like an independent woman as she drove, she cranked up the volume on her favorite radio station and belted out “Today’s Greatest Hits” according to Billboard Magazine. She loved driving at night and imagined what her life would be like when she didn’t have to prove herself every time she wanted to leave the house. He just doesn’t understand. He’s old fashioned. Mom caves to him but I’m not going to do it! I love him but man, let me breathe for crying out loud!
She parked her car under a light pole in the parking lot, held her keys in her hand and slung her purse across her chest as she walked towards the main entrance. She strode with purpose and confidence, keeping a wary eye out for lurkers who might make the mistake of thinking she’d be an easy target. All this was done exactly the way she’d been taught. It never occurred to her that these behaviors were because she was a girl and that her guy friends weren’t being taught the same things.
A little taller than most girls, with just right freckles, gray-blue eyes and dark blonde hair, Magda was pretty. Not beautiful or trendy, she was a regular girl. Her favorite clothes were jeans and t-shirts, more comfortable than stylish, and she didn’t particularly care what the influencers on Instagram were doing. She felt she was more enlightened than most of her peers. She had plans and dreams and was going places. She might not know where exactly, but she was going. So, when a kind of cute guy caught her eye and smiled as she was leaving the store with her new purse, she smiled back and didn’t think anything of it.
Pleased with her purchase and responsible enough to be sure she’s home before curfew, she made her way to the exit, shifting her keys into her hand for the walk back to her car. She didn’t hear him treading softly behind her, close. She didn’t know he was there until he grabbed hold of her ponytail and yanked her backwards off her feet. She dropped her new purse on the ground.
He pulled her in close, wrapped his arm like a lover around her waist and somehow picked up the bag she’d dropped, pressing it to her side. Leaning in to breathe in her ear, he said “You and I are going to take a ride. Which car is yours?” In the numbness of shock, she guided them to her car and at his gesture unlocked the doors. Like a gentleman, he opened the passenger door and helped her in, taking the keys from her grasp in a swift wringing motion. Too surprised to think of the cell in her bag, she focused instead on what she’d done wrong and couldn’t come up with anything.
He settled himself into the driver’s seat and started the ignition. Looking down to the shifter, he said, “Nice. I dig a girl who knows her way around a stick.” and smiled at her. She had no idea what to do. All those lessons, drilled into her since she was small, all those lessons and not a single one had taught her what to do if the worst happened. Am I supposed to smile back? What is he going to do? What did I do?
He drove only as far as the furthest, darkest edge of the parking lot and pulled crookedly into a spot. He reached between his legs, released the lever and shoved the seat as far back as it would go. His smile was gone as he unzipped his jeans and without another word, reached across and by the back of her head, pushed her face into his lap. The gear shift jammed into her right shoulder and she struggled to breathe but she knew what he expected and did what she thought might save her life.
After an eternity which lasted no more than three minutes, she wrenched open her door and spit him out. Ponytail loose and mascara tracing its way down her cheeks, she screamed back into her car, “GET OUT!!! GET OUT OF MY CAR!!!” He languidly grinned at her and zipped himself back up, “Oh sure. Although, from the way you smiled, I thought you’d be better.” With those words, he got out of the car and melted into the darkness.
Magda shook herself into the driver's seat, still warm from him and locked the doors. Her hands trembling, she turned the key and sat in silence with the engine idling. The longer she sat, the angrier she got. How dare he? How dare he think a smile entitled him to anything from her? What kind of world taught him this was okay? She knew she had done nothing to encourage him, but he still thought he had some right? Never again. I will never be a victim of this kind of bullshit again. Never. Change starts with me.