Farewell Man of Flamingo

Don Featherstone, fabricator of the kitschy pink flamingo, died on Monday, June 22, 2015 at the age of 79.  Mr. Featherstone was an artist by training, but who knew that the enduring medium of plastic and his eye for verisimilitude would cement him as the father of an icon in suburban garden whimsy.

He partnered with Tom Herzing on an coffee table tome of “real”  folks exploring the creative limits of dressing and posing their pink flamingos:  The Original Pink Flamingos: Splendor on the Grass is still available.  I would imagine the folks at Schiffer Books are bracing for a run.    Link below if you want to check it out.


Who doesn’t have an opinion about the wire-legged lawn ornament?  Whether you love or loath the bird you can’t deny its longevity or its place in  American mid-century folk culture.  John Waters made a transgressive cult movie featuring them, named after them, too.  And when John Waters features your work in his, I’d say you have crossed the rubicon from American mass-culture into high-art.

Fare thee well Don Featherstone.  Long live the pink flamingo!

Short Fiction

Garbage Man

I stiffed the waitress at the IHOP.  It’s not as hard as you might think.  I’m walking to my car at the edge of the parking lot, and I smell it even before I see him; the bus boy wheeling a red garbage can full of wet and lumpy black bags out to the dumpster.  The more aggressive crows are waiting on the dumpster’s fence; they don’t even “caw.”

He parks the garbage can right behind my car to off-load the trash bags. Sticky clumps of pancake, lemon wedges, empty creamers and eggshells slip out, fall on the blacktop.  I get in my car and turn up the A/C so it’s even louder than the radio.

I wait for the guy to finish his trash business when a shadow on the window frightens me.  It’s my waitress and the manager – their faces pale but their eyes steely.  They’re bent a bit to look into the window so I feel like an animal in a cage.  I roll down the window, leave the A/C blasting and the manager says into the wind, “Did you forget something?”   They’re not even nervous, like this happens all the time.

I can’t leave.  I can’t back out, but I can smell garbage and grease now, and I feel hot and red even with the A/C blasting.

The check was $10 and change, but I only have a ten and a single in my wallet.  I give her both bills.  The manager exhales away the stink of garbage. “Really, please don’t come back.”


The Next Day

On the day after Mother’s Day please choose from at least one of the following:

  • Put the dishes in the dishwasher (or at least the sink)
  • Pick up your dirty socks
  • Take something upstairs with you
  • Start dinner or set the table
  • Sweep or vacuum
  • Just ask
  • Kiss her if you have her

Love that Mom 24/7/365 like she loves you.


The A-to-Z Challenge — That’s A Wrap!


A very hearty “thank you” to all the elite followers and A-to-Z Challenge visitors who stopped by to visit Can I Take A Nap First?  this month.  As last year, I met some great new bloggers, too.  What an amazing, creative bunch!

I had a terrific time this month and learned that creative work can be sustained daily.  It may be little-by-little, but I found inspiration in new outlets and more importantly, found ways to keep my butt in the chair to write. I started cobbling my posts together back in January (including a horrible night when all my drafts from A to F were lost with an errant key stroke) and started scheduling them a week ahead of time. Something went wonky in WordPress though and a few post titles that tweeted out did not match the published post ~ an old WIP title would appear so a few of you got a little surprise if you came to the site via the Twitterverse.

As usual, when you have a day job it is hard to maintain your timely posts, keep up with the encouraging comments and go out visiting the 1000+ A2Z listed blogs. I learned that the sweet spot for my reading eyes was between 300 -500 words. So if you were a poet I really dug your stuff.  And it made me focus my flash on the 500 word ceiling, too.  I also need to pay attention to those blog category tags.   I wandered over to some “AC” sites and, well, let’s just say that maybe you can teach an old dog a new trick or two.   Let’s not forget the minions who took on the task of visiting and monitoring all those links for the month.  I don’t know when they slept.

Some stats:
* Can I Take A Nap First? had exactly 600 views in April which was a 25% increase over the month LY.
* The most active day was April 25 which was the letter “V” and included vampires. That’s just a “fun fact.”
* 504 views came from the USA but Australia (22 views) and Japan (20 views) made an impression.
* I was intrigued by the various search terms that showed up:
“take a nap incorrect grammar” scared me a little bit, but I liked “piss and vinegar gene” and “haikus about taking a nap”

So we turn the calendar to a new month, and I just may keep flash fiction as the focus going forward.  Who knows where it will lead us?

Short Fiction

The A-to-Z Challenge — Pie At The Zeitgeist Diner

“Pour you another cup?,” the zaftig waitress inquired.  The coffee made a circular slosh in the round belly of the service pot as she waited for his reply.

He just wanted to slow down.  Why did everything have to be done with such immediacy. And right on cue his phone buzzed again and he took it up off the counter.

“Hey, doll. Let me warm it up for you.” The waitress poured and sauntered off in her own sloshy way down the counter.  Mario was beginning to think that his Dad was right about this job.  That whole “work from anywhere” schtick meant he should also “work at any time.”  Mario thought the old man was out of touch for pitching an office job in a cubicle farm, but maybe there was some benefit to it. It was another text from his boss out on the road. And not even an important text — just a random thought he had over beers with a prospect. Like Mario was just some sort of human note pad.

Mario put the phone in his pocket and looked down the counter. Sitting at the curve about six stools away was the most gorgeous girl he had ever seen. She had a cup of coffee and a huge slice of lemon meringue pie in front of her — untouched — as she wrote with intent in a black, old-school composition notebook. She used a yellow Ticonderoga no.2 pencil and Mario thought he had gone back in time.

The girl had no interest in anything around her as she wrote — she was lost in her own world. A world she was in the midst of creating. Mario was both jealous and curious. He had been to this diner many times but this was the first time he had ever seen her. And then he noticed: she didn’t seem to have a phone, at least not in front of her.

Now he was even more intrigued and used the action of stirring his coffee to make some distracting noise, but she didn’t even look up. He checked to make sure she wasn’t wearing any ear buds and noticed she had tucked her long honey hair behind a perfect pearly ear.

She stopped writing and looked upon her pie with wonder — as if it she had magically willed it there, and Mario saw his chance to make contact. “The pie’s really excellent here,” he said nodding.

She held up her fork, gave him a big smile and said, “You only live once.”

Short Fiction

The A-to-Z Challenge — Suburban Meandering Youth

In this middle class town there are still kids who walk to and from school.  Yeah, some have cars, and some still get rides from parents, but when you live near schools there are always kids, or “youths,” meandering around.  Even the local high school gym class takes kids through the neighborhood working on their fitness.

But it was a bit of a surprise to Wendy as walked her dog early one hot, sunny September morning.  The school year had just started, but it took her aback to see a kid coast past her on his bike and run it up to side of a suburban home.  He grabbed a ladder out of the bushes and with a practiced air leaned it up against the house, climbed up and slithered through a half-opened window.

As Wendy circled the sidewalk to the front of the house she saw a man walking out the front door dressed for work.  She smiled slightly and raised her hand in greeting but the man was too preoccupied with his Blackberry to see her. Wendy’s son was grown and on his own now, and she debated telling this man that a boy (presumably his son, but maybe not?) had just climbed though a second story window into his house, but something stopped her.

Maybe she remembered that sense of freedom from being a kid,  and knowing that school meant schedule and routine.  Clearly this kid knew he had to be home and clearly he’d come home like this before.  She thought about her own son and all the things he had shared with her as he was growing up.  Was he so open about sharing some things in an effort to keep some things from her as well?  This wasn’t her child, and maybe there was a tattling sibling or mother waiting on the other side of the window — she would never know.

But maybe tomorrow morning she and Pogo would walk the same route again and watch for the boy on the bike.

Short Fiction

The A-to-Z Challenge — What eXit Did’Ya Take?

Setting: Summer suburban backyard Bar-B-Que when the men and women have self-segregated. The men are over by the grill holding their beers while the women are inside the air-conditioned house drinking wine coolers. The dudes are talking.

Vinny: “Good to see you, my man. (Pulls Gil in by the hand for a shoulder bump) “So, how’d you come here, man?”

Gil: “I took the Parkway to 1 & 9 and just came straight down.

Rob: (Swallows a big swig of beer, wipes his mouth on the the back of his hand) “Nah. You don’t go that way. Too many lights. I take the Turnpike to exit 9 and then get on 18 South. It’s much faster.

Vinny: “Oh man, you both need to learn the back ways. Saturday traffic to the Shore is a bitch. I cut across 18 to 9 South at the split and that takes off a good 7 minutes.”

The wives are looking out the window at their menfolk waving their beers around as the flames leap up from the charcoal in belly of the grill. They know it’s a ritual of their coming together to discuss their directional prowess. It’s a badge of honor in this Garden State to find the fastest — not necessarily the most direct — route from point A to point B. There are bonus points for speedy rides to and from sports and concert venues.

The wives nod knowingly. Sitting next to their driving men they secretly cheer the womanly GPS voice that declares, “Re-calulating,” whenever their mates think they know a better way. The fight for directional supremacy evens extends to trips they’ve made for years.

Gina opens the ‘fridge and takes out a platter of cold shrimp. Placing it in front of her guests she says, “Let’s see how long it takes them to find their way to the shrimp, ladies.”