by Ann Averill
During Christmas vacation I slept with a boy – for the first time – for all the wrong reasons.
After Christmas vacation, I come home from school, turn on the tiny TV in the den, and change the channel to Dark Shadows, the soap opera I used to watch with my best friend, Linda. Flopped in the chair, my hand deep in a can of Charles chips, an Ice Blue Secret commercial pauses the plot. I see a young woman seated at a dressing table facing a round mirror. She wears a poufy wedding dress. Her veil, swept back over a tiara, looks like a crown. Her mother stands next to her in a sedate mother-of-the bride suit with matching pill box hat, demi-veil and silk pumps. The mother hands the daughter the deodorant, leans in to whisper, and the daughter smiles. The ad’s intent is clear: to link the long-awaited thrill of the wedding night with the need for an anti-perspirant able to withstand the impending steam.
The implied bliss of course requires a pristine bride whose snow-white purity has never been melted, a figurine bride waiting atop a wedding cake for her perfect groom. A princess awaiting her prince, no portcullis lowered by pot or alcohol, no pressure vented, a young woman entering the marriage bed at full throttle.
When the ad is over, I turn off the TV, pull on my coat, grab my mother’s snow shoes, and head towards the bird sanctuary at the far end of the neighborhood. In the frigid air, I walk through the small clouds of my own breath. At the edge of the forest, I strap the awkward rawhide netting to my feet and climb into deep powder. Tramping through the trees, I hear the coo of mourning doves, the squawk of blue jays, the chick-a-dee-dee-dee of small black-capped birds. A bright red cardinal slashes my view, and as the winter sun begins to set, I confess to no one, that by abdicating the virgin throne atop the afore mentioned cake, I am secretly damaged. My ice blue conclusion – I’m no longer worthy of true love.
Ann C. Averill is the author of Broken, 180 Days in the Wilderness of an Urban Middle School. “Ice Blue Secret” is from her upcoming memoir, Breadcrumbs, A Baby Boomer’s Path to Jesus. An original fairy tale will appear in Cricket. For more of her essays go to annaverill.weebly.com.
“Angel of Mercy” is an excerpt from Ann C. Averill’s upcoming memoir, BACK TO THE GARDEN: A BABY BOOMER’S SPIRITUAL COMING OF AGE. She’s a former teacher who hopes she’s been an angel of mercy in some measure to her students. Ann lives in the paradise of Western Massachusetts.