Then I just shouldn't have named him Jack, is the thing.
Christmas, cookie misnomers, feeling internal

Celia's mom and Lady Marmalade

This is a 5-6 minute read, but is my favorite music story so far for my NaNoWriMo novel, so I wanted to share it. Rough draft, of course.


Celia walked in, saw Violet and Jack together on the couch, and said, “Well, it is about time.”

Then she went on, “You know what I've been wondering about?” She took off her jacket and sat down next to Violet. “You guys remember those educational workbooks with puzzles and games in them, but they were like lessons to teach you phonics and so forth?”

Violet nodded, and Jack said, “I really liked those, for some reason. They were more interesting than the school ones.”

“I thought so, too, Jack. And I was driving over here thinking about how Aunt Aleda and Uncle Earl brought me one once, the summer I turned eight. It was about science! I’d never seen a science one before, and I loved it. It taught me about weather, and planets, and a few other things, commonplace now, but back then, I thought I was learning about magic. And it felt as though maybe Aunt Aleda and Uncle Earl thought something special about me, or really thought about what I might like.” Celia leaned back and looked at Violet.

Violet said, “They sound really special, Celia. Are you going to tell them you remembered this?”

“Actually, Violet, they’ve both passed, so I won’t be doing that. However. Then I had another thought, which is this. What if they gave me that book only because they’d bought it for their son Mark and he didn’t want it? And that bothered me all the way over here.”

“They were my dad’s aunt and uncle, by the way, but their kids were the same age as me and Jeff. I don’t know, I do need to move past this.”

Jack said, “Up until today this was a really nice memory you had. How about you just go back to remembering it how it was, instead of suddenly worrying about what it might have been for?”

Celia answered, “Of course you’re right. What’s really bothering me is the twins. With me and their dad as role models, how are they going to grow up and be physicists?”

“They’re…six now? Right?” Violet was a little afraid to ask.

Sighing, Celia said, “Yes, and they want to wear eyeliner like Daddy, and also dress up and sing on stage instead of learning about how magnets work and what rocks are made of.”

Jack and Violet were now staring at Police Detective Celia Henry as though she’d grown horns.

“I really liked science, you guys.”

“And Craig thinks I’m worried for nothing, but did you know he wanted to name them Mary Ann and Ginger when they were born? Now he says he was just going through his ironic phase, but I don’t know about that. Maybe the names Tracey and Tianna are too girly, though. What do you think of Dr. Tianna Henry?”

Violet squeezed Celia’s shoulder. “It sounds great. What also sounds great is for you to relax and stop worrying about this. Your little girls are fun and loving and creative, and they have parents who love them and spend time with them. They are going to turn out fine, but you, it sounds to me like you need a spa day, or maybe a whole spa weekend.”

Celia nodded. “That’s the truth.” She stretched her feet out in front of her. “I’m not out on the street as much these days, but the job does take its toll.”

Jack was over at the computer now, starting a new file for Celia’s story, and said, not helpfully, “Anyway, Tracey used to be a male name. It’s one of those ones that got switched over the years.”

Violet and Celia looked at each other. Celia shook her head and said, “I’m glad you two finally got together, Violet, but you sure have your hands full.”

Jack gave her the microphone and signaled for her to begin.

“My dad was a pilot for a delivery service when I was a little girl, and Mama stayed home with me and Jeff, which wasn’t too common in her set. But she kept busy with all kinds of church projects. She was always taking old people to the doctor, setting up fundraisers, getting involved in all the doings, and I think some of it was because she felt guilty that she didn’t have to go to work. And she would clean, boy, how she would clean. I mean, furiously. You had to get out of her way or you might find yourself lemon wax polished along with the furniture.

“Now, a lot of times, she would sing while she cleaned, old gospel songs, mainly, which she tried to teach us to sing with her, and some old 50s music she’d grown up with. But other times she’d turn on the radio and sing along with it, and one of her particular favorites was “Lady Marmalade.” We didn’t know what that song was about back then, so Mama made up a story about a stewardess who helped lost travelers find their hotel. And we believed her.”

Violet put her hand over her mouth, trying not to laugh.

“Well, we were little kids, and we knew Mama would never tell a lie to us. Sometimes I would play stewardess while Jeffrey pretended to fly a plane, and we would help the passengers figure out where they needed to go. These were stuffed bears and rag dolls and so forth.”

Violet was shaking now. Celia glared at her, but it did no good.

“Time passed, of course, and when I took the French course in high school, all the kids said they knew how to say something in French because of that song, and I said I did, too, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” which I said meant “Do you have a bed here for me?”

Jack held his hand up and paused the recording. “Violet, you have to get hold of yourself.” But they could both see he was also trying not to laugh.

Violet beckoned Celia over to the bar, and handed her a glass of water. “I’m so sorry, Celia. But this is the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages.”

“Well, Violet, I have to inform you that it will probably seem even funnier to you IF you let me finish telling it.” Celia put on her law enforcement face, and then grinned. “I do understand.”

She went back to the other side of the room, picked up the mike, and said, “Let us proceed.”

“That was a little embarrassing, but it made enough sense that nobody bothered me too much about it, and after that, I put it out of my mind. I did well at French, but then I did better at Spanish in college, which has been sometimes helpful in my career.

“So then I became a police officer. When you are first starting out, you spend a lot of time out on the streets, driving around looking for trouble, learning about the people in the community and also gaining experience. On one of my first nights out, we drove up Route 35 to where the gentlemen’s clubs are, and busted some ladies who were plying their trade outside in one of the parking lots. And that’s when it hit me.”

Violet grabbed a blanket lying on the couch next to her and bit into it.

Celia laughed. “When I saw Mama at breakfast the next morning, I had words with her about this situation. She said she never did lie to us about anything else but just could not admit to us that she was singing a song about a hooker. I told her I believed her, but I’ve wondered about it ever since then.

“I guess you can laugh all you want to now, Violet. That’s the whole story.”

Violet looked at Celia with tears in her eyes, and they laughed together for several minutes.