Posts By Millie Noe
One Sunday, back when I was in sixth grade, I hopped on my bike and I pedaled my way to school.
It was located at the top of a very long and steep hill.
What I didn’t know until that day was that our school was not at the top of a very long and steep hill. Our school was at the top of just one of a series of long and steep hills, on a road that never really ends.
But I’d never had a reason to go beyond the building that held all those teachers who taught me how to sound out the words in the fun filled adventures of Dick and Jane.
How to add and subtract.
How to multiply.
And, well, they did their best with division.
Until that Sunday.
Remember the operator on Laugh-In?
Back in my mother’s day that was how you made a call.
You went through Lilly at the switchboard.
My earliest recollection of a phone was a square, black, rotary one, sitting on a stand.
To make a call you had to pick up the mouth piece very quietly in case the neighbors were on the line. And you could only answer it if it was your special ring.
But the future came flying in fast.
By the time I was in fourth grade we weren’t on a party line.
By middle school the curly cord had grown to six feet.
By the time I was out skipping class and shopping for my homecoming dress there were super cool slim lined phones, with push buttons. And they came in all kinds of colors, including turquoise.
But even those fancy designer phones didn’t cut it.
They were too restricting for the modern times.
It was a Friday night.
Fall was in the air when Sven and I arrived home around eight o’clock.
Our oldest son, who was closing in on fourteen, was busy entertaining friends.
Music was was drifting out the upstairs window as we parked the car.
We looked at each other.
There was no TV in the loft.
So it was rare to ever find a kid there.
But on that evening there were four of them.
Two of which, were girls.
“Hi Mom,” says Marques when I got to the top of the stairs.
“Hi,” I answered.
And then Sven and I were introduced.
“We’re going to walk them home,” says Marques a little while later.
Here is the thing.
Our house is located in the middle of nowhere.
“Where do they live?” I said. “We can give them a ride.”
Sven pokes me in the back.
“Nicolette just lives in the Grove, Mom. We can walk there. We do it all the time.”
That was a lie. That kid had never walked to the Grove.
It was last Thursday.
It was five PM.
I was starving.
That is why I stopped into the party room on my way out.
“I’ll be right there,” I’d said to Sven and got in a line that consisted of one big guy who was putting a lot of thought into what exactly he was going to eat.
I pictured hopping in front of him to the trays of cheese, but it seemed like it would have been a little rude.
I would have had to squish between him and his precious thoughts and the two women who were standing in front of the entire spread, wearing business outfits and pearls and chatting in a large and empty room, save for some tables, a shelf of books and an abandoned stage with a lonely guitar hanging on a stand.
When the man finally moved one step to the left, I picked up the lid of the first Nesco in line.
More than thirty years ago I married my sweet Sven. A guy who loved to golf and a guy who didn’t like pizza.
These flaws were easy to overlook because he was very cute.
Since that blessed day in 1986 the golf channel has been on the TV behind me, like as in this moment. Around the corner if I am in the kitchen brewing coffee, making a sandwich or stirring soup. Below me if I am in the loft searching for a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. And in front of me if I sit down on the couch.
Therefore, I have unintentionally absorbed mega doses of information, beginning each day with, The Morning Drive.
I know more about Arnold Palmer’s swing than he did.
And I don’t even own a club.
You see, I don’t care for the game.
Remember when there was no need for bottled water? When you just took a drink because you were thirsty? When you ran full speed ahead to the bubbler at the park and you were all sweaty, and you stood on the bottom rim, turning that rusty knob with your dirty little hand? And remember gulping down a half a gallon of relief before jumping off and returning to TV tag or Red Rover, Red Rover or dodge ball?
Well, my sweet Sven does too.
Only he didn’t play TV tag or Red Rover, Red Rover or dodge ball.
He was too busy kissing Miss Kitty up in that wagon in that barn behind his house. Because he always got to be Matt Dillon while poor Eugene always had to be Festus, and they sent Festus off hunting down the bad guys in whatever direction they pointed.
But that was a long time ago.
And we all grew up.
Maybe it was that story about the sterling silver rat earrings that Sven gave me as a gift that did it.
Or it could have been the one about the surprise Christmas bowling ball.
Or possibly it was the ear wax removal kit that was wrapped and under the tree that I happened to tell the world about that pushed him over the edge.
Whatever the case, when I turned the big six-oh, in March, my sweet Sven had a surprise for me.
“What is it?” I said, looking at two fancy red ribbons tied into two fancy red bows on two beige and red glossy cardboard envelopes.
“It is what you love,” he says. I got you two, so you can take a friend.”
“Pedicures?” I said.
“This is for two pedicures?” I say.
“Millie what is it that you love?”
“No. You love massages.”
You might not guess that I am a bird watcher at first glance, because I don’t wear binoculars around my neck like Miss Jane on The Beverly Hillbillies.
But that is only because binoculars make me nauseous, unless they are hanging around my neck. But if I look through the holes and try to focus I have to close one eye, which takes the bi right out of the word.
Then they are just noculars.
And noculars are shitty for looking at birds.
Or anything, really.
And secondly, even if binoculars are just hanging around my neck, not making me nauseous, they are not my style.
I was my father’s favorite.
“What’s that Louisa?”
Let me rephrase that.
My Dad liked me best.
“Hey, this is my story.”
The first words that I can remember my dad sing, went like this.
“Down by the station, early in the mornin’.”
I was sitting cross legged in the bathtub and was up to my chin in bubbles, with my two younger sisters, Louisa and Kiki, on either side.
“See the little puffer-bellies all in row.”
I’m not sure how old we were, but, it has been five decades since we all three fit in a tub together.
“See the station master pull the little lever.”
Boy could my dad sing.
The first thing I ever won in my life was a complete set of children’s encyclopedias from the grocery store. I was twenty-three and seven months pregnant.
My second big win came the day they drew my name out of a hat for a random drug test at work. I got to visit the nurse and pee in a cup.
“Hello?” I answered the phone.
“Is this Millie Noe?”
“Congratulations, ma’am. You just won a vacation for two, which includes a two night stay in Orlando, a three day, two night cruise to the Bahamas, four nights in Daytona Beach and three more nights in New Orleans.”
“What?!” I screamed. “Me?”
“It’s a trip for two.”
“Me and Sven?” I screamed.