WITH A SAFETY PIN AND A PRAYER

Years ago there was a tongue-in-cheek advice given to girls when going on a date:

“Bring a newspaper and a safety pin. The newspaper is to place on a boy’s lap in case you’re in a crowded room and need to sit on his lap. The pin is to poke him if he tries anything you don’t want.”

Of course we all laughed but I’m sure we all crossed our fingers or said a prayer that we wouldn’t have to fight off a guy who couldn’t take “no” for an answer. Unfortunately this was the norm. This was the expected. This was and still seems to be the mentality of boys will be boys, what do you expect when they’re drunk, you dressed provocatively, you were drunk…and the list goes on and on.

No. Just no. No more. No longer should we females have to pray, scream, kick, or silently cry. Nor should we be laughed at or taunted by the males who feel they need to demonstrate their prowess or their entitlement.

There is one thing, though, that should also be noted: through the years of my dating or just being around males, it was the very few who acted like they could do anything they wanted with no repercussions. Most of the boys in high school and men in college and beyond respected me and I know my girlfriends can say the same. But what we need is for all males to realize that the norm now is not what it was, but rather what it should be. And that we girls and women will no longer tolerate any male who doesn’t accept that.

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Haunted Groceries

I like ghosts just as much as they like themselves. Occasionally they put on a show, either for our entertainment and theirs (they’re bored perhaps, watching us dull humans), or they want to make a statement. I believe it’s more of the latter.

For instance–two of the houses I’ve lived in have had ghosts. One house had  the spirit of a small child who padded around in the middle of the night, ringing bells that hung on the inside of the doors, playing with my sons’ toys (he or she loved trains), or opening kitchen cabinets, playing with the mixing bowls, then walking away. The house I live in now has a spirit who likes to play with some sort of tiny ghostly metal ball in the attic, rolling it across the boards while we (try) to sleep. Or once when I was angry, she shoved my shoulder so hard I lost my balance. (And yes, a ghostly hand feels very real.) I told her to knock it off and she floated away.

Today I shopped at my favorite supermarket, the kind where the employees know my name, my sons’ names, and my husband’s job. It’s like meeting up with old friends every Tuesday (discount day). I stood chatting with two employees at the head of Aisle Nine when a package of candies flew off a hook nearby, as if thrown by an unseen hand. Laughingly, I said, “So you have ghosts here now.” One of the employees nodded her head and the other said, “We’ve always had them here.” Mind you, this is a store that is only twenty-eight years old, built on a horse farm. What spirits would wander a 24-hour, brightly lit, supermarket, where horses used to roam?

I must have looked bewildered because they began to regale me with stories of framed pictures of their coworkers being flung from the wall, or, like in the tossed bag of candy I witnessed, throwing a pizza or two at a passer-by.

So now when I push my shopping cart up and down the aisles, I’ll be watching the shelves and my head. I really do hope, though, that the people I meet there are all on this side of the grave.

A CHARACTER IN PROGRESS

As a writer, I often times drift off to sleep creating stories. And just as often I completely forget about them the next morning, no matter how many cups of coffee I drown my brain in.

Last night, though, a character formed and I wrote snippets of it on paper next to my bed. She is entirely a figment of my imagination, since I don’t hob-nob with the exceedingly rich and possibly famous. Here she is:

Mimi Lee Banes Potter Haddonfield, the patron saint of young Atlanta society, stands in front of a series of priceless Degas paintings in Venice when she has an epiphany: the 18th century floor under her Gucci high heels is begging to be made into place mats.
Mimi (not “Me-Me” as some peons think it should be spelled), has homes in Manhattan, Southampton, Rio, Paris, and a few others she is sure are fabulous but escape her memory.

“Wherever I am, I’m always looking for the best designer or dermatologist–you know, a doctor for those pesky small problems of the skin.” She waves her beringed hand and tries to smile, but her mouth won’t cooperate. After a few attempts she resigns herself to the Mona Lisa look. Or as her frenamies whisper, Me-Me’s constipated face.

Anne Skalitza, 2018

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MY SONS, MY ADVENTURE

Your size ten sneakers grace our front porch,

too caked with dirt to wear inside,

they greet friends and family as they knock on our door.

 

I buy groceries as if feeding a football team,

and you willingly carry the bags inside,

then devour half the contents.

 

Your music blares from your speakers,

announcing to the neighborhood your presence,

as I do my work to its rhythm.

 

All of this I greet as an adventure, relishing the unexpected hugs,

the parent-son talks, knowing that no matter how old,

you are my sons.

 

And I love you.

 

–Anne Skalitza 2018

MENTAL ILLNESS (as an observer)

All is good
for a day, an hour.
The puzzle, almost complete,
falls apart..
Pieces missing.

It is unique.
It is insidious.
It creeps.
It moans.
It screams.
It lives.

Feeding on fear,
anxiety
stress
sadness
euphoria
seasons
full moons
new moons
change
cold
heat.

A train
gathering speed.
No light, no light,
at the end
of the proverbial tunnel.
Racing forward,
unstoppable.

Most days,
it just is.

–Anne Skalitza

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EVIL VS.DEMONS

The other day I sat among a crowd of people in church, some of us listening, others snoring softly, as a person whom I respected tried to engage the congregation. He began with a mention of The Exorcist, the movie from the ’70s about a priest exorcising a devil from a child, well-played by the actress Linda Blair. He segued into Jesus exorcising demons from certain people who, as we now know, to be mentally ill. My hands clenched into fists and I willed myself to not jump up and yell, “This is the twenty-first century!” I didn’t want to wake up my husband whose eyes were slowly closing. Besides, embarrassment and I don’t get along.

Unfortunately, more than a few people nodded their heads in agreement as the speaker regaled us with stories in which he compared evil with demons. “Sin is all around us,” he stated. “And alcoholism and drug addiction and schizophrenia and….”

No. Just no. Sin is one thing. Sin, as in those with no morals who kill and then smile for the cameras and jury. That is evil. Facing one’s demons though, as in mental illness and addiction is another. They’d be horrified to physically hurt others.

We are not in the Dark Ages. Heck, we’re not even in the twentieth century. Let’s call evil what it is, and leave “demons” out of it.

SUMMER’S OVER (Hear Me Sigh)

The air is crisp,
my walk is brisk,
to lose the weight
from funnel cake.

I breathe in deep,
the climb is steep,
summer’s over,
must get over
chocolate ice cream,
(now a dream),
cannot forget
sweet baguettes.

Boardwalk food–
cannot brood
for greasy fries,
tomato pies.

Must bid adieu
to barbeque,
Margaritas
with fajitas.

The fall
it calls–
pumpkin lattes
mocha lattes.
Cider donuts,
luscious spiced nuts.

Beef stew,
comfort food.
I bid adieu–
my waistline too.