A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there). Please note also, now that the Kindle copy is available, this is the final excerpt I will be sharing on this site.
MARILYN, AGE 11-14 is the first slip of paper she draws.
Evelyn chuckles as she retrieves the appropriate box, and she remembers the plan she neglected to carry out. At some point during Round One with the folded-up squares, she thought that before Round Two, she might go through the sheets of paper. Because, for some reason, it seemed that Marilyn had at least six or seven sheets for every one that was assigned to the rest of them. But, by the time Evelyn reached the point of returning all squares to the bowl, she had forgotten about her plan.
Settling into her chair, Evelyn opens the box and immediately sees the forest green sash. “Oh my God!” she exclaims, giggling, as she lifts the relic into the air. “I completely forgot about the Girl Scouts. Jeez, look at all these badges!”
Suddenly, Evelyn remembers that phase of Marilyn’s life. What a journey that was! Marilyn had been an amazingly competitive Junior Girl Scout. From the age of eight (when she was graduated, with honors, from Brownies) through the age of eleven, she was hell-bent on getting every badge available to pre-pubescent girlkind. If there had been a badge for aggressiveness, Evelyn believes, the Council probably would have bestowed it without Marilyn having to lift a finger.
Evelyn gazes at the badges, each so detailed and symbolic. And although the individual symbols are clear—a globe, a book, a tent, a flower—Evelyn cannot remember the specific tasks that earned Marilyn the right to wear each one on her sash.
Oh, Marilyn, Evelyn thinks, feeling a love for her daughter that she wishes she could deliver freely. Sure seems like you could have gotten a job back then!
Evelyn continues to study the sash. She begins to think about how she will include it on the quilt. And as she takes in the sash’s form and features, she recalls a project that Marilyn undertook, one that involved Davy, albeit reluctantly.
“Okay, Daddy,” Marilyn began, placing the old radio on the kitchen counter.
“What’s this?” Davy asked, looking first at Evelyn, who was putting together a salad for the family’s dinner.
“I’m working on a badge,” Marilyn replied, climbing onto the stool beside her father’s.
“A radio badge?” Davy asked, exchanging smiles with his wife.
“No,” said Marilyn, in a tone conveying that her patience might soon be tested. “I need to repair this.”
“What?” Davy asked.
“So I need to know how to begin,” Marilyn stated. “How would you begin?”
“I’d go to the store and get a new radio!” her father responded, with light sincerity.
“Sweetheart, I don’t know how to fix a radio. I’m an art professor. I bumble for a living.”
At the fridge, Evelyn successfully suppressed her giggles, which she might not have entertained had she seen the look on her daughter’s face. Marilyn did not like it that her father could not repair a broken radio. And she was clearly at an impasse.
“So what am I going to repair, Daddy?” Marilyn asked then, her tone verging on a whininess that would never elicit giggles from her mother.
“Well,” Davy said, “let’s see…Hmm…”
Her father’s apparent interest in her quandary shifted Marilyn’s posture. Watching him in his thoughtful state, she adapted a similar stance. She sat at the counter, chin in hand and looked around the room. Searched for something she might fix.
And Evelyn, standing at the counter, facing both of them, smiled as she waited for their next bit of dialogue. She knew, because she had seen it before, that one of them would come up with a solution. Davy had helped Marilyn through a lot of badges.
“Is there anything in the family room?” Marilyn asked.
“I don’t think so,” her father responded.
Mariyln resumed her pensive stance. “Hmm…The living room?” she suggested next.
“Ah,” Davy said then, “the garage. You know those shelves where I keep all that paint and those other cans?”
“Yes, Daddy, I do!”
“Well, they’re awfully wobbly.”
“You’re right,” Marilyn responded, nodding. “They are!”
“So, what I’m thinking is, we’ll need to take everything off the shelves. Then, I think if we take them completely apart, we can get to the bottom of the problem.”
“Boy, Daddy, if we could get those shelves to stop wobbling!”
“That would be one hell of a repair job!”
“Daddy!” Marilyn exclaimed. “You said a bad word.”
“I did?” he replied, feigning shock. “Oh my, do you think I’ll get a cursing badge?”
“They don’t have cursing badges, Daddy! It’s not the Boy Scouts!”
“Not the Boy Scouts,” Evelyn remembers. “Not the Boy Scouts.” Every now and then, Marilyn showed a glimpse of humor—humor that was Davy’s hallmark; humor that came so easily to Patrick and Joy; humor that Adam always understood, even if he rarely was the originator.
“Not the Boy Scouts,” Marilyn had said.
Was that humor, though, or just a clear, inflexible perception of gender roles?
Interesting, Evelyn thinks now. Marilyn was probably born about thirty years too late.
And yet, now, Marilyn could earn a cursing badge. Easily. But, unfortunately for Marilyn, it is a sign of anger, not humor.
* * *
THIS IS THE FINAL EXCERPT ON THIS SITE. The complete novel is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format. Kindle downloads are just $3.99.
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.