chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Monthly Archives: December 2010

trying to write…7

She wiggles around in her chair, looking for the comfort spot, waiting for the tap to flush forward its first rusty dribble of words. Then letting it run, hoping it will clear. Hoping that it’s not just words, but, squeezing from within the narrow pipe, an elephant. Even a baby elephant.

      ~ trying to write…8


His father wore a heavy gold college ring with a round red stone—a garnet?—on the pinky of his left hand, but no wedding ring and, god forbid, no other jewelry.

Once Howard’s aunt had given his father a very substantial gold chain. This must have been in the 70s, when real men wore gold chains. But his father was aghast, truly dismayed at the prospect of having to wear a necklace for even a moment. How had he and his sister managed to live well into middle age, his father had wondered aloud, and be such strangers? How could she imagine that he, her plain and undecorated bowtie-wearing brother, might suddenly embrace gold chains?

But when his aunt visited, his father would dutifully take the thing from the small top drawer in his bureau and put it around his neck as carefully, and with as much distaste, as if it were a live snake.


Howard muttered to himself as he picked among the tools in the box. “This is no way to keep tools,” he could hear his grandfather saying. “A man has to show some respect for a hammer, elsewise the hammer won’t show no respect for the man.”

He had tried. Truly he had. He had let Big Dad position his hand on the well-worn handle, his small child’s hand completely enclosed within his grandfather’s large calloused fingers, lift his arm back and swing down again with force, striking the nail, driving it home into the scrap of pine. Again and again. He had tried. “No boy, you’re chokin’ it up. Let the hammer do the work. Lev’rige,” he’d say, “Lev’rige.” The workbench was scattered with Howard’s bent nails, his pieces of wood spined like sick porcupines with nails that leaned and flattened, but seldom drove true.

His mother could do it. She could swing a hammer, make good with a saw and a wrench and a screwdriver, build things and repair just about anything that broke, although she left most of the repairing to Big Dad, “so he could feel like a man,” she’d say. “His biggest disappointment,” she called herself, only child to this man who needed sons. But Howard knew early on that the baton of disappointment had been passed as he found his way into books and bugs and baking, but could make no peace with the hammer…

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