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Nerd in Transition: There Was No Fear Stronger Than the Pleasure of Dirty Feet

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a blogumn by Kelly Kaboom Lett

Due to the fact that my most recent blog offended and dismayed a number of important people in my life I thought it prudent to have it taken down. I appreciate all the letters and comments offering love and support from those of you clearly touched by my recovery. To try and lighten the mood I am offering you this charming short story I wrote in my writers group this past week. Joining a writing group has become a big part of my transitional period, so in a way it does fit with the theme Nerd in Transition. Please read and enjoy!

Inside a stuffy classroom Angelica fidgets. The April showers have ended ,leaving behind so many May flowers. Angelica likes flowers ok, but doesn’t get all the excitement. Why can’t she take her shoes off and step on the colorful petals? She always gets yelled at for doing that; adults only want to look at the flowers and smell them, who cares what they smell like? Those petals feel so soft between her toes and the velvety crunch as her heel rotates around down to the dirt is a moment of soft joy only Angelica understands. Try as she might she can never make the grown ups get it, she’s not even allowed to walk past Mrs. Grey’s yard anymore. Mrs. Grey’s garden is a source of pride and envy in the neighborhood, so when Angelica squashed a whole bed of single blooming tulips there was hell to pay.

With a deep sigh reaching down to those tiny toes, toes trapped in picture-day patent leather dress shoes, Angelica shifts and looks out the window. Before her sleepy eyes lay a giant carpet of fresh, light green grass. She longed for the recess bell. At 1:15 she planned to race outside, kick off those stupid dress shoes, toss aside the itchy lace rimmed white socks and make a mad dash across the cold green field. She knew already the chances of losing one or both of the socks was great and that would make Mom mad. Mom wanted a proper pretty little girl, but got a rough and tumble tomboy who did not live up to her name.
Picture day was the one chance of capturing the tangible image that Mom fantasied about everyday. This truth was beyond the young girls understanding, she just knew that every lost sock, torn dress sleeve, tangled piggy tail, bloody knee and stubbed toe would result in a series of sighs and angry glares from her always-perfect Mother. Sometimes she got grounded, or even a spanking, but there was no fear stronger than the pleasure of dirty feet. Staring out at the field the mixture of spring grass and mud between her tiny toes created a longing so great, Angelica wanted to jump out the window.
Dad just loved her. He encouraged her sense of abandonment and listened with rapt attention to every story and tall tale she could come up with. Whenever Mom spanked the little girl for ruining another church dress by rolling down the steep hill next to the chapel, Dad responded by taking her out back and tossing a softball back and forth until her arm was sore and a happy nap filled the rest of the afternoon. When the school pictures came back Mom would ooh and ah over how pretty her precious little girl was, while Dad would smirk and wink at Angelica. Later he would take a picture of her in the torn jeans and superhero shirt that was her everyday outfit to hang on the wall beside the primped-up lie in the frame.
One time he took the little girl fishing, bored out of her mind while waiting for something to bite she spent the hours squishing wild flowers and destroying ant hills. Returning home with two fish for dinner, Dad then showed her how to clean a fish, maybe all those guts and slime should have grossed her out, but Angelica was fascinated. After touching every piece of the disemboweled goo she ran inside, eyes bright, eager to show Mom what she had learned. Mom’s reaction was predictable, she screamed and started pulling scales out of the tangles of curls  matted to Angelica’s head. After the pre-dinner shower Angelica gleefully gorged herself on fried fish.
As the clock ticked slowly by she hoped that Mom would bring baby Susie along to pick her up from school. Knowing well in advance that there would be a lecture on the walk home for those dirty feet and the ruined picture-day outfit, baby Susie was the best distraction ever! Susie was three now, and while she loved her big sister, she was the doll-like happy little angel that Mom had always wanted. Baby Susie would arrive pushing her own baby in an itty-bitty stroller. Maybe today she would be wearing her ballet skirt and tights. If that were the case then Mom would be too busy showing off her little ballerina to other moms to really notice her firstborn. This would give Angelica the chance to punch Bobby Welles one last time for the day.
It was now 1 o’ clock, only 15 minutes till heaven. She could already feel the earth giving way  with each step, sucking those bare feet into the cold ground. The splatter of mud on the back of her fast running thighs would tickle, causing an endless wave of giggles. There should be a big mud puddle down by the baseball diamond, perfect for splishing and splashing and digging out worms. Angelica sighed again and looked back at the chalkboard.