WeWriWa—Halloween party ends in mayhem

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes from the eighth book in my series focused on Max Seward, Jr., and his wacky family, set during autumn 1943.

Max’s cousin Elaine and their friend Quintina have organized a show-stopping school Halloween party, and Max himself has carved sixty jack-o-lanterns. All is going well till the local band starts taking off their costumes.

After these first five girls tackle their favorite bandmembers, it becomes a free-for-all as almost all the other girls rush the gym stage and pile onto the band too.

“There’s my heartthrob.” Kit yanked off the Stalin mask and raced over to Randy as he pulled off the spider head.

“And there’s mine.” Julieanna whipped off the Lenin mask and raced to Jakey as he draped the Dracula cape over the drums.

“That’s mine.” Violet tore off her Mussolini face and raced towards Bobby as he unghouled himself for the evening.

“And mine.” Cinnimin grabbed off the Hitler mask and made for Danny as he took off his football helmet.

“Oh my God, is that Pauly Richardson under the suit of shining knightly armor?” Mickey screamed, removing the disks from her eyes and tackling him to the ground.

I’d opened and converted the fourteen chapter files of this draft about two and a half years ago, but for some reason, the new master file kept crashing when I tried to open it. I had to go back onto my older computer (which has Word, unlike my newer computer), and went through the process all over again.

I’m so lucky that 10-year-old computer still works, I have an external disk drive, and those old files still open in spite of the hoops I have to jump through to convert and reformat them. This particular section seemed to need less extensive editing and rewriting than other parts of the Halloween chapter.

I was only fourteen when I handwrote the first draft, and about twenty when I transcribed it and made some changes. It’s yet another example of how my shorter books need far more extensive rewriting, editing, and restructuring than the books I deliberately wrote at saga-length!

Lille, France

L

La Place aux Oignons, image by Velvet.

The Column of the Goddess, La Place du Général de Gaulle, image by Velvet.

The Paris Gate, image by Velvet.

It’s only been fairly recently that I’ve developed any interest in visiting Paris. When I imagined visiting France in the past, I always thought first of the lesser-known cities instead of the cliché. My 8th grade Spanish teacher also told us Paris smells like urine, which really put me off visiting there. And besides, it’s too expected that someone visiting or writing about France would pick Paris. Why not be a little different and choose a city like Lille?

Kit Green of my Atlantic City books is descended from Lille people on her hated mother’s side. When a pogrom swept through her belovèd father’s birth city of Chornobyl in December 1902, when he was just a newborn, the family fled to their distant relatives in Lille. Most of them stayed behind in France and eventually moved around to other cities, but Kit’s infant father, his orphaned distant cousin (whom he later unhappily married), and his parents came to America, went from the Greenblatts to the Greens, and hid their true origins.

In the Summer of 1988, in my handwritten magnum opus Cinnimin, Kit’s 14-year-old daughter Raspberry Ann has her bat mitzvah in Lille. A number of other people in the family, including some of Cinni’s children and grandchildren, also go on the trip around France. The secret about the family’s Jewish origins came out in 1972, and Kit’s father, her favourite brother Saul and his family, and a number of her children reclaimed their birthright. Kit’s favourite sister Lovella, who discovered the secret years ago, had already married a Jewish man and been raising Jewish children.

The belfry of the chamber of commerce, image by Benh LIEU SONG.

Lille was founded in 640 CE, according to the legend by Lydéric and Phineart. However, modern archaeological evidence suggests that the city was inhabited as early as 2000 BCE. Today, the city has a lot of shops and restaurants in the Carrefour Hypermarket of the Euralille. The city also maintains the building where the WWII Resistance newspaper La Voix du Nord was printed. The newspaper survives as a daily, obviously with a much different focus.

There are many antiques shops, flower stalls, and secondhand bookstores in the courtyard of the Old Stock Exchange. In Vieux Lille, past the New Stock Exchange, you’ll find narrow 17th century cobbled streets and more antiques shops.

The Gille de le Boë House, image by Velvet.

Lille is home to the Museum of the Hospice Comtesse, founded in 1237 by Jane of Constantinople, Countess of Flanders. The museum is home to a lot of Dutch and Flemish artwork, gold and silver plates, Lille earthenware, and Delftware. Close to the museum is the Cathédral Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille, which was completed in honour of the new millennium.

The Musée des Beaux Arts was built between 1889-92, and second in size only to the Louvre. Its artwork runs the gamut of styles, from Picasso to Rubens, and also has many Spanish paintings, sculptures, drawings, Medieval and Renaissance exhibits, ceramics, and old relief maps.

The Natural History and Geological Museum, a 19th century building, contains taxidermic exhibits, fossils, minerals, rocks, live fish and insects, and an ethnographic wing including a mummy.

The Jewish community of Lille actually increased after WWII, and today still has a viable community of several thousand people.

Tournai Gate.

Source material:

http://eurapart.com/lille.html (still have my printouts from 2002!)

http://motherearthtravel.com/france/lille/history.htm

http://worldfacts.us/France-Lille.htm

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0013_0_12542.html

Daphne and Rózsika (Didot)

Warning: Contains some mature language.

(Quick note: I’ve bolded this post because Didot is a little light on the eyes.)

Font: Didot

Developed: 1784-1811

Chapter: “Daphne and Rózsika”

Book: Cinnimin

Written: 10 June-18 August 2009

Handwritten

This is Part LII (52) of my magnum opus, at least per the current table of contents. (I now strongly suspect I’ll need to add a lot more to Saga I, the Forties, when I finally transcribe and begin editing and rewriting. Now that I’ve permanently shelved the WTCOAC series and will be significantly restructuring some of the earlier Max’s House books, I have much more free reign to show Cinni’s life in the late Forties, and the full development of her romance with Levon in 1942-43. Those things are just WAY too rushed in the original.)

I wrote this in a 100-page college-ruled notebook, and it’s one of the longer Parts of Cinnimin. Some Parts are more like short stories, long episodes, or novelettes, but this is one of the ones I feel could stand on its own as an actual book. It’s from Saga VI, the Nineties, one of my favorite Sagas to write. Though the older characters continue to prominently feature, I’m primarily writing about peers who grew up at the same time I did. I’m not doing historical research, I’m writing about events I actually lived through and remember.

It’s set from 8 March-6 August 1998, and so much happens over those months. It presents two cautionary tales about two teen couples who think they know so much better than everyone else about their respective situations. One story has a happy ending, the other a not so happy ending that only gets worse later on.

Cinni’s 16-year-old granddaughter Rózsika recently began having sex with her longtime boyfriend Walter. They’ve been caught by a number of their cousins and friends, and keep insisting that going unprotected won’t hurt.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Daphne is blazing ahead with her unpopular plans to marry her longtime boyfriend Berus. Even people who used to be on her side turn against her as her behavior gets worse and worse. 

Some of the many highlights (avoiding any spoilers):

Ernestine walked into her brothers’ room to retrieve a book she had lent John. What she didn’t expect to find was Rózsika bouncing up and down on top of Walter, both of them completely naked. Her shriek made both of them abruptly stop and dash under the covers, grabbing for their clothes.

“Are you really into the whole marriage thing, or are you just gung-ho for the fairy princess wedding and the chance to have sex without feeling guilty?” Phoebe asked.

“This isn’t funny,” Walter insisted. “And you two made me lose my erection.”

Daphne could hear their conversation from the airvent upstairs and was boiling. “Who the hell do they think they are? In two months, I’m going to be Mrs. Berus Amichai Roblensky, and they won’t be able to do anything about it then.”

[Spoken by Kit, of course] “The rig ain’t a homing pigeon. You have to guide it in.”

“Ew, Daphne must think all teen girls have the same lousy taste in music as she does.” Phoebe held up a Backstreet Boys CD. “I hope you kept the receipt so I can exchange it for something more to my liking.”

“This is Samuel Roblensky. I’m sorry to disturb your evening, but your granddaughter Daphne and my nephew Berus thought it would be neat to let themselves into my house while Filipa and I were away, help themselves to my food, and throw their dirty towels on my couch after they came back from the beach.”

“I can’t be expected to love him the same way you love Grandpa. I love him the way any girl my age loves her boyfriend, even when he humiliated me in public with that tiny cheap-ass cubic zirconia.”

“I’d recommend the Hitachi,” Juliet smiled. “It’s like ten thousand men at once.”

“Why are we being serenaded by CDs of MTV pop acts?” Kit asked. “If they wanted mixed CDs instead of a band or deejay, at least they could’ve chosen upscale adult wedding music!”

“There are five positions?” Karyn asked. “I thought there were only like two or three.”

[Spoken by Violet about her lifelong rival Kit] “I called her an old slut, not old in general. Anyone who’s this age and still bragging about her sexual exploits, giving X-rated advice, and sharing her entire sexual history is a slut. Damn, I hope I never share blood with that woman.”

Daphne reached for a bottle of alcoholic lemonade in the fridge. “The marriage formula of yore worked perfectly. Do you even care the doctor they gave me was my great-uncle Sammy? I’ll never be able to look him in the face again.”

“It was so humiliating, Grandma! He said I had no hymen or cysts or anything, but he couldn’t even examine me with the smallest instrument! He told me I just needed to drink wine and relax.”

[Describing Daphne’s efficiency apartment] Kit had been right. It was twice the size of that tiny stateroom in A Night at the Opera.

Brouhaha at the Buffet (Bookman)

Font of the day: Bookman

Created: 1858, restyled 1901

Personal experience: About a month, fall ’93, on a 152K Mac. Computer upgrade, ’93 Mac, didn’t have Bookman, and I found the closest thing, Palatino.

Chapter: “Brouhaha at the Buffet”

Book: 10th book in my Max’s House series (most of the earlier volumes are in desperate need of retitling)

Written: 15-25 April 2001

Computer created on: 1993 Mac

File format: MacWriteII

This is the fifth chapter of the 10th Max’s House book, written during my junior year of university. My Max’s House books have always been probably my favorite things to write, since they’re so fun, lightweight, short, and easy. My Atlantic City books aren’t meant as straight historical, but rather a mix of historical, spoof, satire, and humor. A lot of the events aren’t meant to be realistic or serious, but just funny.

It’s December 1943, and the Greens (along with the latest British refugee children they’re hosting) and the Sewards have gone to a new buffet. Kit’s mother, the insufferable Mrs. Green, recently was sent to the funny farm by Mr. Green after her behavior just started getting too out of control. But everyone is in for a surprise tonight, since Mrs. Green has gotten out early. Not only that, but an obnoxious, obese new girl from school is there with her own family. And then Mrs. Seward, Mr. Seward’s estranged ex-wife, shows up as well. Everything that could go wrong, does go hilariously wrong tonight.

Among the highlights (warning: contains anti-fat humor, bathroom topics, and some swearing, if that sort of thing offends you):

“I saw a woman even fatter than I am when I was getting my second helping,” Bethany shrugged, guzzling a glass of root beer that was twice the size of the drinking glasses her parents and five little brothers were drinking out of.

Kit calmly spooned her excess pasta salad back into the place where it had come from, not even caring that a few people saw and gasped.

“Ooh, I drizzled out a bit too much ketchup too.” Kit took her fork and spoon and transported the excess ketchup into a bottle sitting nearby.

Kit threw a huge leg of fried chicken onto her plate and began walking back to the table when suddenly she had her plate knocked from out of her hands and onto the floor, where it shattered.  A huge fat woman laughing in an annoying voice was the culprit. [This was based on something that happened to my little brother at a buffet!]

Conny gasped. “Mother, what’s gotten into you?  You can’t stop saying the f word all of a sudden!  You never said it before!”

“Oh, Daddy, Woman just behaved totally unlike a proper Green woman ought to!” Kit tattled. “She was taking a shit in this here public lavatory!”

In disgust, Mrs. Seward stormed towards the doors and nearly got stuck as she was leaving.  Several grunt workers had to push her fat body out through the remainder of the door.

“Sauly, you are only eleven fucking years old!  Where in the fuck do you get off using such horrendous language?” [Spoken by his own mother!]

Mr. Green was just mortified at what his wife was doing in public.  He should have just signed her over to spend the rest of her life in the funny farm while he could get on with his own life and not have to put up with her hysterics.

“Is that the one who belongs in an institution?” Mr. Seward demanded as he pinned Gene against the counter of the dessert bar and gave him a spanking with a nearby hot fudge ladle.

Dennis gave Mr. Seward the finger and kicked him. “At least our father doesn’t treat Clive like a freak ‘cause he can’t see or hear.  You have your perfectly healthy little boy on a leash like he’s a dog!”

“I hope you don’t intend to have no ice-cream,” Saul sniffed, sidling up to Mrs. Green. “You know that on an empty stomach, ice-cream can slide right through from your mouth to your ass in the form of runny diarrhea very quickly.”

“These things happen!” Mrs. Green screamed, calling even more attention to herself. “People sometimes get uncontrollable urges to vomit or do what I did or wet their pants or in Kit’s case screw someone—”

Mr. Seward looked up and saw Gene dumping one of his halfsisters into the nearly-empty metal canister of peppermint stick ice-cream and saw purple. “Eugene, it’s time I hogtie you!”

Mrs. Green, fuming, got up from the table and went back off to the bathroom.  Everyone began pointing and staring again.  There was even a mass exodus from the ladies’ room as soon as she appeared at the door.

Horny Hump Day—Why I love Kit

Warning:  Not safe for work or appropriate for those under 18!

This week’s snippet for Horny Hump Day is from Saga V (the Eighties) of my handwritten magnum opus Cinnimin. Kit, the grandmother of the frigid Daphne from my Halloween selection, has just casually mentioned to her soon-to-be son-in-law Owen that she’s still a sexual wildcat in her fifties. Her husband Peter is mortified to have this subject discussed with company, but Kit reminds him it takes two to tango and continues this conversation.

Peter likes to give an image of being very prim, proper, and British, but when his wife opens her mouth, the truth always comes out.

***

“You were possessed on our wedding night, like an actor out of a porn movie. You kept flipping me around. I think we did it in every position conceivable that night.”