Quintina’s Birthday (Quay Sans)

Font: Quay Sans

Year created: 1990

Chapter: “Quintina’s Birthday”

Book: Third book in my Max’s House series (terrible, unoriginal, inaccurate working title is Resolutions)

Written: Early 1995

Handwritten; later transcribed into MacWriteII on ’93 Mac

My earliest Max’s House books need a lot of work, and this one is no exception. I’d guess this particular one was somewhere below 90,000 words when I finally converted and reformatted the six files I’d transcribed from the handwritten original. This is pretty damn long for one of these books. Now, I’ve gotten it down to around 74,000 words, and that’s still too long. This book, and the 6th and 8th books, are by far the most overwritten and in need of radical rewriting and restructuring. So many scenes are so freaking pointless and cluttery.

This, though, is one of my favorite pieces of the original material. Quintina and her family were initially based on a friend of mine and her family, perhaps a bit more strongly than some of my other characters who were only based on friends and acquaintances in terms of physical appearance. But the Holidays gradually evolved into their own people.

Mr. Seward and Bambi have recently come home from the hospital not with their first baby together, but with five of them. After getting over their initial anger and horror, Max and his cousin Elaine contacted a new-fangled TV producer/director to cash in on the quints. So many years later, this storyline seems like an eerie premonition of “reality” TV. The show is a bomb from day one, and the producer/director is all kinds of creepy and controlling, but the Sewards are unable to get out of this commitment just yet.

So to try to relax, Elaine heads off for Quintina’s birthday party. It’s a girls-only party, but Tina’s brothers Gyll (i.e., Gil) and John sabotage everything and make this not only a far from relaxing party, but a birthday party that won’t soon be forgotten.

Some highlights:

[Quintina] wailed as her brothers grabbed the guests’ board games, opened them, and dumped the contents all over the street below.

“Ooh!” John grabbed her cake and had a great time pretending to drop that too. “Shall I tell Mom you said that?”

[After her brothers are forced to go outside to pick up the games] Quintina leaned through the window and gave them the finger. “Mommy, John’s making faces!”

“‘Dear Sex Therapist,’” John read in a squeaky voice. “‘I was stalked.  Shall I see a professional, or—’”

“Cool!  A dare card!” John picked up a card for Teen Chat. “Gyll, run naked into the street and scream: ‘I’m in love with another man!’”

“John, who guest starred as Ida for a week on Steam Line when the real Ida was getting tested for syphilis?”

Mrs. Holiday piled enough cake and junk food onto each paper plate to feed the entire Army.

“Don’t sing ‘Happy Birthday.’ It’s corny,” Quintina ordered.

“Happy birthday—” her brothers began loudly and obnoxiously.

She spilled milk down the front of John’s slacks.  Soon they were screaming and fighting, again.

“First we vote on the band,” Mrs. Holiday said. “Seven choices, and vote only once.  The winning band comes through the door.”

“Who wants Frank Sinatra?”

Violet jumped out of her chair, danced around the room, and let out a SCREAM, thinking her beloved Blue Eyes was at the door.

“That ain’t fair!” Julieanna screamed. “I wanted to vote for Frankie too!  You let us vote again or else!”

“Let’s vote, again.  The Balls can leave.” She went to the door and sent them away.

“So then we have a three-way tie this time?”

“I will send away The Lovechildren, The Guns, and cancel the date with Sinatra.”

“NO!” Violet wailed.

Their mother shut the door and came back in.  Then she double-taped the muzzles in place.

“Who wants Frank Sinatra?”

Guess who went orgasmic for the fifth time in a row?

“A double tie now?  I will cancel the date with Frank.”

“Then we won’t vote,” Violet sulked.

“Yeah.  If Frankie doesn’t play, we leave,” Julieanna announced.

“Violet is the deciding vote.  Violet, we have voted six times now!”

Violet didn’t give a flying damn.

“Quintina will decide for you then!”

Violet could care less.

“I cast Violet’s deciding vote,” Quintina said. “The Abortions!”

[Tina's favorite member, 18-year-old Pauly, who goes to their school] He got down on his hands and knees in front of her as Danny sang “Exploring.” “Maybe when you’re older, if we’re both single, I might date you.  I like you, for a kid!” He autographed a paper, gave it to her, and went onstage.

Sweet Saturday Samples—Finding the Haunted House

My Alpha Male blog post is here.

This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples comes from a bit later in Chapter 14, “Happy Halloween,” of The Very First. Sparky is reluctantly going trick-or-treating with Cinni, Cinni’s favorite sister Babs, and their neighbors Quintina (Tina) and Violet. Because of Sparky’s level of religious observance, she hasn’t really been able to take any candy, only apples. During their traipsing around the neighborhood, Cinni decides to try to find the haunted house that’s said to stand on Jennifer Street. The only problem is, no one knows the address of this infamous old house.

***

Babs crept up to the next darkened house. “This might be it.  They don’t even have a car.  Everyone has a car nowadays, at least in the nice parts of the neighborhood.  This house doesn’t even have some old Model T piece of junk or anything.”

Cinni shone her flashlight into the mailbox. “No mail neither.  Boy, this thing’s got a lot of cobwebs.”

Tina squinted her eyes at it in the dark, trying to make things out from the light from nearby houses. “It does look pretty old.  I ain’t no future architecture student, but I know this ain’t the typea house they made even a hundred years ago.  Maybe it really was made in the Colonial era like the haunted house.”

Cinni tried the front door. “Won’t open.  Is anyone brave enough to wanna try the back door, or any other doors?”

“You don’t even know if this is your haunted house!” Sparky protested. “And what if someone really does live here?  He’d be really mad if he found you tryna break into his house.  And if he’s away, he’ll come back to find someone broke in.”

Babs tried the windows in front and found them all stuck too. “Perhaps this is the haunted house.  But it could also be the house my mom’s people useta have Summer vacations at.  I know that house is pretty old too, and no one’s lived in it for awhile.”

“What if the haunted house and your mother’s old family home are the same house?”

Cinni laughed. “That just ain’t possible.  They’re two different houses, wherever they are on this street.  I told you, the mystery of Charlotte Lennon’s descendants will probably always be a town unsolved mystery.  No one decent wants to admit to being descended from someone who was born outta wedlock, so that family tree, whoever has it, is lost to the ages.”

“Don’t they have records or anything in the library or wherever else they keep archives?  There were people on both sides of my family who served in the military when Germany was still Prussia, and my father took copies of the documents with him when we left Germany.  All important countries are supposed to keep records in the modern era.”

“Charlotte Lennon died in 1645.  I doubt most places in America even keep records that far back.” Cinni stepped back and craned her neck up at the upper stories, shining her flashlight into the windows. “Can anyone see movement?”

“I’m getting cold,” Violet whined. “And my feet hurt.  Plus we need to go to your party.  If I was Most Popular Girl, I’d never neglect my responsibilities as hostess to go playing detective and creeping around supposed haunted houses.”

Cinni shone the flashlight into her eyes, and Violet immediately threw her hands over her eyes. “You never will be Most Popular Girl, you damn dirty schemer.  At least you pretended you don’t have designs on my title by saying ‘if,’ not ‘when.’  Remember I’ve got eyes everywhere, you skinny twit.  I know what you’re thinking and planning before you do.  Any fantasies you have of stealing my throne will stay in your head.  Got that?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Violet seethed as they started the walk back to Maxwell Avenue.

Quintina

If you’re here for the Open Mic Blog Hop, please scroll down!

There can be only one Quintina!

Name: Quintina (Kwahn-TEEN-a) Elizabeth Holiday

Date of birth: 4 March 1930 (though for whatever reason, she’s with the class a year behind her)

Place of birth: Atlantic City

Year I created her: 1991

Role: Main character in ensemble cast

Though I didn’t intend any symbolism with her name, it turned out to be rather fitting, since she’s the fifth of five kids. She started out as one of the characters based on people I knew when I was creating the original cast of Atlantic City characters from that generation. Quintina was one of the people who started out based more than a little on her real-life inspiration, though over time, she grew into her own person and not someone dependent on mimicking a real person.

The Holidays used to be loaded until the Stock Market Crash. They lived in a cottage on the beach, and then moved to the dumpy part of the neighborhood. Her real-life inspiration also didn’t come from a lot of money, and I’m rather embarrassed to admit how closely Quintina was based on her in the early years. You never want to make someone based TOO closely on a real person. But by now, Tina is a character in her own right, able to do and say things she might not’ve had I continued to hold her to the confines of the person she was based on.

Since she’s outside the fringes of society because of her less-than-rich family, she doesn’t mind being a bit different and rebellious. She does her own thing, though she’s still on the popularity charts, unlike Ariania, who also does her own thing but is considered a Nobody. Tina also loves fashion, handsome guys, and dispensing sex/relationship advice and pretending she knows what she’s talking about even though she’s a virgin.

In college, she studies Danish, and gets a job in Denmark after graduation. She moves back home near the end of 1960, and marries Harry, in a rather impulsive, short-sighted decision. This isn’t a marriage based on love or commitment, but rather because they were both getting older and wanted to settle down. Harry also wanted to get even with his older brother R.J. for rubbing his engagement in his face and beating him to the altar.

But while Tina grows to love Harry, Harry begins cheating on her with Julieanna, his first love, only a few years into the marriage. Tina is even five months pregnant with twins when the affair starts. The entire town except Tina and Julieanna’s idiotic husband Kevin know these two have been having an affair for years and that Harry is the true father of Julieanna’s younger two kids. After getting over her shock and humiliation when the secret comes out in 1974, Tina divorces him and remarries Rex Sullivan, a guy she briefly dated years ago.

Tina has aged pretty well, I think. Unlike some of her friends, such as Violet, Kit, and Cinni, she’s not still talking and acting like she’s 25 years old when she’s a grandma, and she gracefully, naturally steps into her new role as an older woman and a grandma. Even if she’s not about to drink Geritol and move to Florida, she’s still not strutting around in a string bikini, playing pranks on people, or gossiping about people’s sex lives. She also remains good friends with Julieanna, even though she was the other woman, since she accepts that her marriage to Harry was a mistake and that Julieanna was the love of his life all along. She also shares six grandkids with Julieanna, since Quintina’s daughter Bridget is married to Julieanna’s son André.

Just a small sampling of favorite/typical Quintina lines (warning: contains some off-color language):

“Oh, cool.  Your mom would kill you if she caught you with a Jewish boy.”

(As the girls are ranting against their new home ec book to the teacher) “Excuse me?” Quintina raged. “Girls can’t call guys unless they’re arrangin’ a double date?”

“She has no future if she can’t put on makeup,” Quintina said. “Where’re we ditching again?”

***

“People are staring at me,” Elmira whispered as she opened her saltines.

“You got the damn lipstick on your teeth, that’s why!” Quintina yelled.

***

“Don’t sing ‘Happy Birthday.’  It’s corny,” Quintina ordered.

“And what club would want a druggie who has sloppy handwriting and with no idea of how much one hundred miles is to be their president?” Quintina asked.

“Lookit this file, Henry.” Quintina waved it under his nose. “The girl you like had some major issues when she was a child!”

“Wow.  A thousand dollars all in one bill.  Can I touch it?”

Quintina grabbed her from behind. “How dare you attempt to assault my big brother!”

“Bitch and moan all you want, you bitch.  Think I didn’t know you were canceling everybody’s dates just so you could have our men all to yourself, cheap slut?” Quintina spit in her face.

“I’ve seen Henry go wearing a sparkly gold and green shirt that looks like it came from either the fucking circus or a garage sale at a homo’s house,” Quintina said. “I bet he’s having an identity crisis ‘cause George Washington girl is moving back to her cave in Tahnahseeah.”

“I know fags practice bending over a lot, but Henry the fag-lookalike needed to practice wearing a belt too, ‘cause nonea us wanted to see that!” Quintina agreed.

(Very displeased with the pathetic, repeat presents she and Harry are unwrapping at their bridal shower) “Two coffee-grinders!” Quintina was yowling. “We ain’t gonna sit around all day drinkin’ coffee an’ eatin’ fruitcake! Hello? We wanted sex toys!”

“I heard a story at my translation office today. They say some bastard of a man is cheating on his wife with a married woman.”

“She and Harry were meant for each other. I’m sorry if I ever doubted that.” Quintina was strangely calm about all this. “She was independent of Kevin’s smothering love, yet completed by Harry’s unselfish love. Now she’s no longer Ms. Malspur. She’s Mrs. Brewster. Good for her.”

“I never was the woman he loved, Terri. I accept that.”

“I’m the oldest in our circle of friends since [name]‘s untimely passing, and I don’t mind,” Quintina went on.