One Armed Babysitter
was the daughter of some lady that my mom knew from The Sisterhood
at the synagogue. The Sisterhood was a kind of Jewish ladies club
where the main activity was talking on the phone about who did what
to whom. They even had their own phone books with an embossed picture
of the synagogue in 3D on the cover. Their husbands' names, usually
Chick or Sol, were listed in parentheses as were cute little sayings
like "Yenta" or "Is that a knish in your pocket,
or are you just happy to see me?" Stacey's mother was listed
as Yvonne Himelfarb, "Vonnie," and her husband was Morris
("Moishey"). There was no mention of their only daughter,
Stacey, or the fact that she was missing an arm.
seen Stacey around the neighborhood when I was riding my bike. She
used to hang out at the schoolyard with a bunch of kids that looked
like they were thirty-five years old. They would sit on the ground,
smoke cigarettes right down to the butts and then flick them clear
across the yard. You could tell they thought they were tough, like
a cult of Junior Mansons or something, only they drank Yoo-Hoo.
they saw me watching them (They were so exciting. Even when they
were just eating Fritos!), I would feel really boring. My perfectly
coordinated pants and top from what I thought was a "cool"
store named Butterfly Luv were simply not dangerous or cool enough
for them. Butterfly Luv was next door to the anti-Semitic grocer,
a place called Ham the Man. I was never allowed to go in there because
Mom had said Ham (the actual name of The Man) once threw a party
with his own cold cuts, only they were delicately trimmed into the
shape of swastikas. And while Mom ate the spread, "just to
see if they tasted racist," she said that we probably shouldn't
go in there anymore.
Stacey's small group of friends was only about 6 or so years older
than me, they looked like real adults with enlarged pores and everything.
There's a huge difference between being 11 and 17. There was Stacey
in her big girl bra, ratted out hair and adult acne. And then there
was me in my undershirt, Pippi Longstocking braids and prickly heat
rash. I so wished I could be grown up just like Stacey. She mostly
hung around two guys. The one I liked the looks of was named Jordan.
Jordan was lanky and freckled and his hair was as big as a kickball.
The other one was Jeffrey, a short pudgy guy with wire framed aviator
glasses, bushy eyebrows and a penchant for wearing flip flops even
when it was cold out. This gang didn't do much except for hang out
in the school yard where they made bracelets out of found telephone
wire that we called gimp.
one arm was usually adorned in those bracelets. Mostly she didn't
bother wearing a fake half arm or anything, but sometimes she wore
a flesh colored piece with a plastic hand. Stacey never talked about
her missing arm and I was too chicken to ask her about it. I would
have been happy to light Stacey's cigarettes or brush her hair or
polish her fake arm. I wanted her to let me in on all her secrets
like how to iron your hair and what it feels like when a boy gropes
got my chance when Stacey came over one afternoon to get to know
me and my sister and brother before she had her first professional
gig babysitting at our ranch house. She did this by plopping down
on our slip-covered sofa and staring at us for fifteen minutes straight,
not blinking. I thought she was really cool and imagined that she
was thinking the same thing about me. I was sending her telepathic
telexes -- was she getting them?
days later, on the night of the Goldfarber Bar Mitzvah, my father
picked Stacey up in his car although she only lived around the corner.
That's the thing about my family, why walk when you can drive? Even
if it means it will take you twice the time to find a parking spot.
Driving is better than walking and sitting is better than standing.
Staying still is good too.
the time Stacey came over we were heavily drugged from our starch
and sugar dinner. We had no energy to play tricks on the sitter
or beg her to stay up late. Stacey seemed to be in a bad mood, too.
Something told me to just leave her alone because she had that look
of losing it at any minute. She ordered me to bed by pointing straight
to the bedroom with her foot. I was used to this. Lying down is
even better than sitting!
into my bed, I almost pulled my shoulder blade out. My mother liked
to tuck the sheets in way too tight. Feeling like a sardine in double
layers of saran wrap, I fell onto my cold pillow, ready to dream
a little dream. Every night my sister and I would put on records
to fall asleep to and tonight we had picked The Beatles, "Abbey
Road." I fell off to sleep, singing "Maxwell's Silver
Hammer," but the sound of the doorbell ringing and strange
voices rattled around in my head soon thereafter. Wasn't that Hee-Haw
special on tonight or had my sister switched the Beatles to
under my covers some more and quickly started to dream about some
long-haired love-boy. I clung to Rosarella, my Spanish puppet doll,
although it was difficult because she was wooden and not very comfortable
have out of sight hair, little chick," said my dream boy.
call me a kid with an active imagination -- I've been called worse
-- but I didn't think I was dreaming anymore. Unless boys in your
dreams ask you where your hair brush is, get the Dippity-Do and
start to comb out your hair.
Garden" played as I now found myself upright in my bed. It
was my beloved Jordan. He must have come over to visit Stacey. Or
did he really come over to see me? It didn't matter because there
he was next to me, smelling like dead lettuce. I didn't move, too
fearful that I was still dreaming and might shake myself out of
this bliss. Jordan was holding me like a giant doll, brushing my
hair with his fingers. The next thing I felt was a spatter of cold
Dippity-Do. He began to coat my head with it, smushing it on in
huge glops. It felt... pretty good.
are the most beautiful doll in the world," he garbled.
is where it gets weird-ER. When love-boy spotted Rosarella, he totally
dropped me like last year's Barbie. Apparently, Dippity-Don't.
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