The Bard Challenge #16: Solstice from A to Xe ~ Entry #9


Family Values

by Kali

Angela Mathews loved her daughter; she was just so stubborn and willful, just like her father and if pressed to admit it, perhaps like all her relatives. Maybe she just didn't understand her. Carly said that Angela had tunnel vision about certain things and certain people and couldn't see beyond them. Angela offered mild and reasonable suggestions to her daughter, but Carly would not listen to her.  She'd be such a popular girl if she'd just try a little harder.

Even though her husband was the one who left, Angela felt she was treated like she had leprosy by her daughter. She wasn't a parasite; she just had become accustomed to certain living standard and believed she deserved it and that those around her should adapt. Maybe the candy apple convertible was a bit much to ask for in the separation agreement, but if Ned was going to have a midlife crisis why should she suffer. He flaunted that snarky bimbo with breasts like cantaloupes and she was supposed to act like Rebecca of Donnybrook farm.  It would be a cold day in hell, before that happened. Her compensation for the humiliation was justified.

She became a little reflective as she waited for Carly to answer the phone. Angela remembered her daughter used to remind her a little of Shirley Temple when she was younger. At five, Carly tap danced, waltzed and was quite nimble on her feet. She loved frou-frou dresses with ruffles and had acted so girlish in her pre-teen years. She had curly golden hair, green eyes and dimples to die for when she laughed, just like her father. Ned Matthew's smile was the first thing she noticed and what she had liked best about him when they were married.

Angela and Ned had separated when Carly was in high school. Everything changed that year. Her daughter stopped talking to her, acted like her dad was Mother Teresa and she was Diablo reincarnate. Ned never believed in monogamy nor did he live in a monastery; more like a nunnery. He was never faithful and Angela was flabbergasted by her daughter's response. Carly still hadn't forgiven her for their breakup.

The night they told Carly about their planned separation, she threw her geometry book at the wall. It barely missed her Angela's head and that awful gnome riding an elephant ceramic object d'art; Uncle Cornelius gave it to them for Christmas the previous year. As far as Angela was concerned missing the gnome was the only true fiasco of that night.

Annually Uncle Corn gave them whimsical pieces like, dragons and unicorns. He got down right ornery if they weren't displayed on their holiday shelf and we didn't bend over with effusive praise. That cantankerous coot would vent his spleen and spew one invective after another if he thought he was wronged. In fact he could be was completely noxious. We had finally taken to alternating holidays with Carly's great uncle and great aunt to try to keep the peace and shelter Carly from their venom when she was younger.

One year the shelf still contained scenes from the Hillbilly Thanksgiving that Cornelius' twin sister Bettina had gifted them. We had a few traditional items like a horn of plenty and pilgrims and Native Americans with shrunken apple heads that Carly made during arts and crafts in first grade. Bette was mischievous and had a good time getting her older brother's goat.  Although only ten minutes difference in age, they were worlds apart.

Interestingly, both were into tacky figurines. Corny cornered Christmas and Bette bought for Thanksgiving. Things like a kangaroo with boxing gloves paired against a wrestling bear and turkey as ringmaster, Daisy Duke and the other Hazard boys drinking beer and eating rhubarb pie, and a big brown jug of moonshine with XXX on the label rested on the shelf. Heck Bette even drove a car just like General Lee, and had attached Xenon fender flares so she the optimum kick-ass effect when she drove down our street.  Since both siblings competed fiercely with each other, holidays at the Matthew's had been anything, but tame. Christmas wasn't quite what you would call a somber affair that year, but it did become one of the most memorable and the last one with both Bette & Corny.

That year, Uncle Corn was fit to be tied and grabbed the cornucopia, his ceramic namesake or perhaps in hindsight his effigy.  Bette bought the horn in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and had Cornelius' Cornucopia painted in gold along the base to zing her irascible evil twin. Leaning over Carly's hobby horse he began busting out a yellow gourd and a navel orange so the horn of plenty was no longer overflowing or an everlasting gift of the gods.

Corny took the gourd and threw it at the window, which shattered. He was cussing up a storm about what a lazy and ungrateful bunch we were.  He seemed apoplectic.

Bette picked up the happy hippo snow globe her brother had brought from Jersey City. She reminded us of Henrietta Hippo from the New Zoo Review suspended between opaque icicles in a pale purple pachyderm paradise.  The hippo dancing on her tiptoes with ballet slippers was dressed like a sugar plum fairy among the falling snow flakes. Unfortunately, Bette retaliated and smashed the globe to the floor; creating a glittery expectorate or shiny purple vomit. The hapless hippo was toast.

Maybe there was too much brandy in the eggnog, but Uncle Corny didn't stop there. He took our jelly jar collection from Texaco with Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Barney and Betty Rubble & began throwing the glasses out the window at our neighbor's nativity scene. He smashed the three wise men, and our neighbor a Rastafarian queen went ballistic quoting passages from the bible. She came out in a festive red and green Dashiki gown waving a 5 iron and a putter. Then it got ugly.

After the police left with Uncle Corny and Countess Montessori in manacles we decided to try to salvage the night and went caroling before trying to bail out our neighbor. As far as Bette and Ned were concerned, Corny could rot.  Then there was the matter of restitution and it was doozy since the wise men came from Jamaica. We were never sure what happenstance caused Corny to wipeout our Bedrock memorabilia, but none of us wished to have a repeat. Plus we liked Tessa Tess as Carly called our neighbor. So from that year on Corny and Bette alternated Thanksgiving & Christmas with us. They still competed, but there was a feeling of unity at home during the holidays even with one twin missing.

Angela was reaching out, calling Carly again to try break though.  After eight years it was time.  The holidays were coming up and Angela wanted to see her daughter.

Carly finished dying off and hung up her towel. Stretching her 5'5 frame she appraised herself in the mirror. Other than a pair of dark shadows under her emerald eyes, she didn't look too tired. She'd managed to catch 2 hours of sleep after play and before work this morning.  There was no time to sleep so the shower would have to perk her up yet again. Carly decided she now knew what the expression bone tired meant. She felt it in her aching back and neck & stretched again rolling her shoulders, then rolling her head. James and Bob would have to die. Ugh! No more late nights. Yeah right like that would happen. Where else would she go?  When the phone rang, Carly had already left the bathroom, was finishing getting dressed and beginning to accessorize. She slowly put down her daggling earrings admiring the way the street light sparkled on her gold hoops before reaching for her mobile. She hated having her jewelry bang on the flip top. It sounded like someone repeatedly rapping on a front door knocker, especially if she paced. Seeing her mom's number come up on the tiny screen, she was glad she'd delayed as she knew she'd be clenching her teeth and wearing a path in the rug before they were done.

Carly:  Hi mother. What do you want?

Angela: Carly, can you try to be civil?

Carly: No. You're wasting my minutes.

Angela: Carly, please. . .

Carly: That's two minutes.

Angela: Fine.  I want you to come home for Christmas. I'll send you tickets.

Carly: Nothing has changed. Why would I come back?

Angela: Bette & Corny will both be there and so will Tess.

Carly:  How did you swing that?

Angela: I asked. It's time to put the feuds to rest.

Carly: Subtle.

Angela: Carly, please come home.

Carly:  Mom, you're like a dog with a bone. Give it a rest.

Angela: I will if you come home.

Carly: Let me think about it.

Angela: How long are you going to keep me limbo?

Carly: I'll call you. 

Carly looked in the mirror and rubbed her jaw. It seemed it was always like this with her mother. She pushed her buttons and Carly pushed back. At least this time she got the last word. She had cut her mom off.  Removed pleasantries from their conversation them like a dead limb. To be truthful it was more like a tooth extraction or an appendectomy. Snip snip; she did it. It was done, over.  

When she went away to college, she never came back. She always had a ready excuse.  She couldn't take time off because she needed the money to pay for school. She had to write a paper to pull up a grade. After school there was working overtime on a project, or another tyrannical boss keeping her to meet a deadline. Sometimes she could repeat the excuse; there was no need to come up with a fantastical reason. But the real reason was she didn't want to listen to her mother's "suggestions" or listen to the ways she was not measuring up to "impossible" expectations. So Carly rejected her first. She did it to her mom after learning her dad was a licentious adulterer. It wasn't that she liked her dad better as he and her mom seemed to believe, it was that her mom's rejection hurt her more. 

Carly added a black leather belt to her jeans, put her hoops in her ears and finally sprayed a liberal amount of Paco Rabanne in the air & walked through the mist. It was past time to head out. Maybe tonight would be different.

Entering No-Man's Land was like going to a dyke disco bar from the 80s. The lights flashed, music blared and with a no smoking ordinance the steam from sweat rather than smoke wafted toward the rafters.  Only a few nights a month was it ladies night at the Crystal Pistol. Bob and James exiles from San Francisco revived the name of the once famous Castro bar. The ladies night club name was another attempt of theirs at humor. Her friends were odd, but lovable.

Bob and James were also into the Star Wars trilogies and for some obscure reason they thought there was a connection between the names. Hans Solo and Crystal Pistol, no she was not going there.  Regardless, Carly enjoyed the laser light shows and optical effects. There were comets and asteroids even quasars orbiting the club. Black lights on rolling tracks and phosphorescent paints made a comet's tail streak across the walls and ceiling.  It was a pretty freaky scene.  A Millennium Falcon circled the club. Throughout the night the ship emitted photon torpedoes that lit up the room in time to the music with amazing force and brilliant colors. Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, 1999, pretty much anything by Prince and the Revolution was syncopated. Bob was working on Jefferson Starship songs and White Rabbit from Jefferson Airplane to be unveiled at New Year's.  Apparently James fancied dressing himself as a Grace Slick and Bob well he treated New Year's Eve as a Debutante Ball and wanted everyone to come out. Bob planned to dress as Bail Organa, Viceroy of Alderaan in the Star Wars universe. James thought Bob looked like Jimmy Smits. It worked for them, and that was all that mattered. Carly didn't say jack.


With it being Friday of the Thanksgiving weekend, many came to get away from their families and hang out in a friendlier environment. Carly was no different, but even among her people she felt like a stranger in a strange land.

How are you?



Fair to middling.

On a scale of one to ten, I guess that puts him at a 3. He looks like something the cat drug in and I feel like the cat having drug his 6' 2" body up two flights of stairs. Well Bob helped last night, but James needs to cut back on his alcohol intake. The social niceties completed with James, Carly ordered an Apple Jack slush, which reminded her of Great Aunt Bette. Now there was a pistol. She was loud and proud. Her mom accepted Bette for who she was, why not her? It was a conundrum, that she'd puzzled over for years with no firm conclusion.

She should have come out to her mother in style. There was just no topping Bette, no way no how.

Aunt Bette's commanding officer happened upon her and her lover by the torpedo tubes. The seamen had more then their sea legs displayed. That night her aunt improvised a naval exercise in a big way.  Bette was wearing a harness and, if the fish tale hadn't grown in the telling, a 10 inch dildo. As she tells it, she told her CO she was demonstrating the concept of torque as she rammed a lovely indigo dildo into the crewman's cunt. We all got a physics lesson for that one. 

Apparently, torque is a measure of how much a force acting on an object causes that object to rotate.

Torque is defined as  Symbol for Tau - Greek letter Tau= r x F = r F sin(symbol for Theta - Greek letter).

Bette said that she began by using the right hand rule, so Sally Turner the Seaman Apprentice could find the direction of the torque vector. She told Sally that if she put her fingers in the direction of r, and curled them to the direction of F, then her thumb points in the direction of the torque vector. That might have explained why she was rubbing Sally's clitoris with her the finger of her right hand. But in reviewing the lesson she probably used the dildo after teaching Sally her right hand rules.

Maybe if the Chief Petty officer was a bit more forgiving, Bette would have been rewarded for ingenuity in ramming home a lesson rather than discharged from service. Perhaps if Sally was not singing a Mary Poppins' tune, they would not have been caught. It is hard to sing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious without getting progressively louder. You try it.

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay


Even though the sound of it Is something quite atrocious

If you say it loud enough

You'll always sound precocious


Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

Because I was afraid to speak

When I was just a lad My father gave me nose a tweak And told me I was bad

But then one day I learned a word That saved me aching nose

The biggest word I ever heard And this is how it goes:

Oh, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Even though the sound of it

Is something quite atrocious

If you say it loud enough

You'll always sound precocious


Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

So when the cat has got your tongue

There's no need for dismay

Just summon up this word And then you've got a lot to say

But better use it carefully Or it may change your life

One night I said it to me girl

And now me girl's my wife!

She's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!




Writer: Robert B. Sherman; Lyrics: Robert B. Sherman

I guess we will never know if the Chief Petty Officer disliked show tunes or had trouble with onomatopoeia. But I doubt the latter since he often told Bette no dilly dallying with Sally on duty. No one could have predicted they push it that far. He was supposed to be working on quarterly reports so it's still hard to say if they meant to get caught. I'm not one to delve too deeply into the jurisprudence of the matter.

The Navy whitewashed the story and Bette was discharged for a dereliction of duty. Sally thought that was better than something more grievous like conduct unbecoming an officer, frankly I think she is still splitting hairs. Basically, Sally and Bette didn't foresee the possible consequences of their actions. As Seaman working by the Mark 32 torpedo launchers, you'd think they be more conscious of how they were discharging their duties, rather than getting their xenoliths off.  So Bette came out with a boom when she was forced to vacate the USS Turner Joy and the US Navy. For Sally it was more like banging a tambourine at a revival meeting. She had a come to Jesus moment understood that she loved physics and women's physiques and is now a professor of it at a prestigious college. Unfortunately she and Bette aren't still together.

Surely mom can understand that I could not possibly come out with the same panache. That's why I won't go home. I have met many lovely ladies telling that story. I also get a lot of free drinks, but I can't top it. Bette set the bar to high. Plus I don't have a girlfriend. My friends don't understand the family pressure and they take umbrage with my attitude. The story is everything and I don't have my own to tell. I tried to explain it in terms they understand sharing how it haunts me. How would Xena fall for the Bard if she could not tell a tale?  Granted I'm no Gabrielle, but I thought it an apt analogy. I tell many a tale, but they are not mine. These thoughts of self re-crimination made her feel queasy, although maybe it was that bag of tater tots, she and Bob inhaled after getting James settled for the night.

Carly had to face facts; she was a failure at making a spectacle of herself; she lacked brass ovaries. She preferred to wallow in an abyss of self pity at her lack of pithiness. Carly could no more swing from a chandelier or from the ceiling at the Rainforest Café. Leaping from table to table trying to grab small children's boxes of Juicy Juice was not her style. Besides Cornelius's son James did that when the restaurant opened at the Menlo Park Mall opened in Edison, NJ. "Jungle Jim" made a pest of himself when she last saw him and heard his tale. He acted so victorious it was difficult to stomach hearing about the broken butterflies and mangled monkeys he'd been forced to fix after he fell in the pool trying to escape when the vine he was dangling from snapped.  He made his leap upon his acceptance in the Trenton Barbershop Quartet.  Her mother, Angela sent Cornelius and his wife a bouquet of xenias to honor the occasion and called Carly to tell her she'd added her name to the card. This was just another dig from her mother, turning the screws on Carly's inability to let go or collect kitsch. It was almost as if her mom exhibited xenophobia when referring to Carly's calm and quiet nature. While she exhibited altruism making friends everywhere, she couldn't make her family proud. Carly had to face the truth so she refused to go home until or unless she made an embarrassing spectacle of herself or found a lover or if the fates allowed both.

Perhaps 2 hours of sleep wasn't enough for her to avoid visualizing success when she saw a six foot tall Amazon with long black hair and amazingly blue eyes greet Bob. When she overheard the husky voiced bar patron say, So a wombat walks into a bar. . . it was too late for regret.   

110 words.

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