As some of you may now, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo 2013. If you don't know what that means (or Google it before reading further) it's National Novel Writing Month, and it's an annual online event that I'm partaking in for the first time this year.
Normally, I hear about it well into November, but when I caught wind of it in the Twittersphere mid-October, I knew I had to sign up. I had no idea what I was going to write about, I just knew that I did.
So, I've been cranking away at the keyboard most nights, and by the time my birthday and Turkey weekend rolls around, I should have what resembles a 50,000 novel.
But going back, for Throwback Thursday, I'm sharing an old essay. One from 2006, the first time I took Freshman English in college. Yes, I said the first time, because I took it again to receive credit for it so that I could transfer to a university. The first time I took Freshman English, I earned a solid "D" grade.
Yup. Me. Who loves writing, editing, and storytelling, nearly failed Freshman English at a community college. And now I'll be sharing with you an essay I wrote for that class.
Tonight, I give you, (unedited)...
February 1, 2006
Mrs. Potato Head
Not too long ago, not so far away was a town by the name of Walnut Grove, affectionately, “The Grove.” The Grove is not so different from your average city. There were schools, paved roads, traffic lights, shopping malls, supermarkets, and the like. The McElroys were a young successful couple residing in the heart of this town. They weren’t millionaires, but they were in good standing, and quite comfortable in their five-bedroom, ranch style home. Julian is a lawyer, and is on his way to becoming head of the firm he works at. He has a commanding look about him, some compare him to Denzel Washington, only taller, standing at 6’4.” Nothing about his Black-Irish form would hurt a fly, he’s a big teddy bear. Mariela is his lovely wife, born to a kind Irish-Mexican couple not too far away. With curly red hair and crystal blue eyes, her father’s Irish genes are inarguable, but she is built like her mother, five and a half feet tall, built like a gentle mother hen, arms open to welcome you into her embrace. She is the senior underwriter at her branch of the national insurance company she works for, and her iron-clad work ethic has her on a path for promotional greatness. They are proud parents of twin boys, Jamal and Seamus, and they undoubtedly take after their father. They are only five years old, but are almost at Julian’s waistline. These two boys are one and the same, as they redefine the connection that identical twins often have, communicating almost through telepathy. This tag-team of fast growing McElroys has their pee-wee football team in stitches, and all the parents talk of them becoming superstars of the WFL, the World Football League. This family of four is as happy as happy can be, without a care in the world. However, this is all about to change.
Mariela and Julian are expecting their third child, and to add to the excitement of having another McElroy enter the world, they have decided to leave the gender of this new addition a surprise. The day approaches quickly, and tonight, as they are all having dinner in their quaint little home, Mariela speaks up,
“Now listen here boys, your father and I don’t know if you’re going to have a little sister or a little brother...”
“I want a brother!” exclaims Jamal.
“I want a sister! Jamal smells!” adds young Seamus.
“But, no matter what, you two are the older siblings, and you will always protect the baby, however old you are, wherever you may be.”
The boys reply in unison, “Yes, mother, we will always look out for the baby.”
Julian leans over Mariela in the hospital, holding her hand, helping her focus on breathing techniques they learned in class together. After a while, the doctor stands up beaming, and says to the panting parents, “It’s a girl!” The nurse brings the crying bundle to the parents, and looks down at the baby and up at the parents, a puzzled look on his face. Mariela looks at the little girl, and then up at Julian, noticing the look of shock in his face is similar to the look on her own.
“Those are the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen on a baby,” Julian utters, “and they’re really far apart. What color are they?” His wife simply stares at the child, and they exchange glances again, seemingly disappointed. Composing himself, he says, “she’s still our daughter, and we will love her no matter how she looks.”
Later on that evening, Seamus and Jamal are ushered in to the recovery room and they come up to their mother on opposite sides of her bed, sizing up their newborn sister.
“She has green eyes,” notices Seamus.
“No stupid, she has brown eyes,” Jamal states victoriously.
Their tired mother looks up at them both and sets them straight, “He’s not stupid, you’re both right. Her left eye is green and her right is brown.”
“No matter what color they are, they’re still huge,” mutters Julian, chin still in his chest, as if he cannot bear to look at his new daughter.
Almost on cue, the twins yell, “They are huge! Freak!”
“Stop that! Both of you. Remember what we talked about at dinner that night?”
“Yes, mother. We’re sorry. What’s her name?”
“Your father hasn’t brought up any names at all, but I’m fond of Daisy.”
“Like the duck?” inquires young Seamus as he starts quacking at the baby. “Daisy the little duckling.”
“Yeah, the little ugly duckling,” snaps Jamal.
Julian picks his head up in disgust, “You boys stop that right now. Daisy’s your sister and you will always look out for her. Got it?”
“Yeah we will,” they say together.
The boys never spoke of their sister at school, or at football, or anywhere else for that matter, because whenever anyone did ask them about the baby, someone would ask what color her eyes were. And when they would answer, that one was green and the other brown, the response they got was never good. “That’s weird,” was the popular response amongst the other schoolchildren.
As the days went by, more and more people would talk of her mismatched eyes, and the boys could do nothing but defend themselves and their little sister. It didn’t stop there, sad to say. Young Daisy McElroy was destined to be different, and grew herself a full head of blonde hair. Not dirty blonde, nor strawberry blonde, but bright, bleached, platinum blonde hair, like no one has ever seen. Her parents were so shocked as this came about, and were utterly disgusted with it. They covered her in little caps and pulled them down low so that her humongous eyes were hidden from ridicule.
Daisy grew up, but she was often quiet, playing in a corner, or far off in the schoolyard, apart from the other children. She had no friends, and being her older brothers were on the road to athletic stardom, everyone knew the McElroy ugly duckling, since they always walked to and from school together. The other schoolchildren gave her nicknames, ridiculing her hair or her eyes, sometimes even both. Some would call her “flashlight” because her head was so bright, others, “Mrs. Potato Head,” inferring that her she was thrown together like a little toy. One green eye, one brown eye, ultra-blonde hair, all painted on a skinny, lanky, olive-tanned body.
Throughout gradeschool, Daisy tried to find her niche, soccer, softball, painting, band, all in vain. Her mother suggested acting, but the soft-spoken, almost mute, Daisy would never think of getting up in front of hundreds of people at a time. She was deathly afraid of crowds, and would barely speak loud enough for waitresses to hear on the rare occasion the family would go out, since they didn’t enjoy the attention of gawkers. High school came about and these young boys and girls were becoming adults. Jamal and Seamus had graduated high school and had both received full football scholarships to La Salle University, six hours south of Walnut Grove.
And so, Daisy was alone, a freshman, ready to start high school, what her brothers called, “the best years of their lives.” As we all know, at this point in our lives, we start to change, physically, emotionally, and everything is a blur. Little boys and girls don’t have “cooties” anymore, and all of a sudden, “popularity” becomes a four-letter word. Daisy was still quiet, and still possessed her “Mrs. Potato Head” look, but the boys started to notice her more, because she was developing into quite the beautiful young lady. Almost as tall as her father at the end of her sophomore year, she was turning heads left and right, and she started to talk more, being more guys were approaching her.
One weekend towards the end of the summer she went for a run down at the beach. Shorts and a sports top were all that clung to her olive colored body, blonde hair in a tight pony tail, sunglasses protecting her captivating eyes from the midday sun. She noticed a large group of students in the distance, and as she approached she discovered they were all from La Salle University, the same school her brothers were attending. As she ran closer, their conversations started to fade, and the guys turned to see this attractive young lady running down the beach. They called for her to stop, and as she slowed to talk to them, she removed her sunglasses.
“Wait a minute, you’re the McElroy twins’ sister, right?” one of the boys inquired, the others in silence, still in awe of the amazing sight in front of them.
“My name’s Daisy, and yes, they are my brothers,” she said, almost insulted.
One of the other college boys piped in, “I knew it!” After what seemed to be an eternity of silence, that same stunned student said, “What happened to you?”
“I got older and grew up, like we all do. I’m still the same person,” and with that she was off.
A yell came from the crowd, “Wait up! There’s a party tonight at the golf course club uptown. It’s my sister’s birthday, you should come.” She thought nothing of it and continued down the beach.
Later that night she was driving around town and noticed a large traffic flow going uptown. Intrigued, she followed, and ended up at that same party that she was half-way invited to. As she walked in, there were greetings from every direction. Word had quickly spread that Daisy McElroy might possibly arrive, and there were high school students and alumni spread about the club. It was a birthday party, and everyone was having a grand time, but it came time to sing “Happy Birthday.” The crowd was eventually hushed, and they all started to sing. After the first “Happy birthday to you,” almost everyone stopped singing. Almost. As soon as Daisy opened her mouth to sing, those around her noticed her amazingly soulful voice, more powerful than anyone could ever imagine coming out of her soft-spoken self. Daisy sang with her eyes closed, and didn’t notice everyone staring at her until she was done singing, as she slowly reopened her eyes to look at everyone else.
“Daisy...that was...amazing,” said a young girl next to her, and the entire club burst into wild applause.
“I had no idea you could sing like that.”
“Neither did I,” she said shakily. “I usually only sing in my car, and in the shower, but I’ve been having such a good time here, that I just let it all out.”
As junior year started, she changed her schedule, auditioned and was welcomed into the concert choir and the locally known traveling performance group that the choir teacher also taught. She finally found her niche, and went on to become an infamous singer/songwriter and a model, performing all over the globe. She was never called Daisy the ugly duckling ever again.