Miss Claire

Claire Hart-Palumbo and Gwen Flager

Shakin’ the Blue Flamingo’s director, Claire Hart-Palumbo (left) and Playwright, Gwen Flager (right) pose for photos following a Sunday matinee’ performance of Shakin’.

I’ve been watching rehearsals of Shakin’ the Blue Flamingo for several weeks. It’s been wild fun. These actors are amazing creatures. An expression, a gesture or a hesitation becomes spellbinding. And, then, there’s the director. Miss Claire does not sit rigidly in a chair and tap her pen on the script. She does not grumble, scowl or swear. I did, however, see her run her fingers through her hair a time or two. She is a professional. 

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A Facial

Sweet Libby the dogWhen we all played in the sun and water in the Deep South, we believed iodine laced baby oil was the perfect “tanning” product. If we wanted to waste good money, we purchased Coppertone oils and lotions. I have blistered and peeled and blistered and peeled over the years.

Southerners have all types of remedies for sunbaked skin. Most remedies, in fact, are not. After my annual visit to my dermatologist, I pondered a hydra facial.

I mentioned it to my sweet sister, Kate, and she readily provided me with a gift for such facial. This was not my first facial. It was my second. My first facial was performed in an upscale spa-type salon in Houston where both I and the aesthetician had different expectations of the experience.

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The Recital

A man I had known for 40 years was buried on Saturday. Our last contact was by email when Hurricane Harvey flooded the Houston area. This man offered sanctuary at his modest apartment in Shreveport to me and Ruthann should we need to evacuate our home. Most of Alan’s life was violent and explosive. A life ravaged by addiction – alcohol and drugs. A life that flirted with death and threaded its way through prison and recovery.

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Just Stand Up

As I was pulled across the lake on my belly, wearing a big white two by six inch vinyl covered rubber “ski belt” strapped around my waist, skis thrashing behind me, it dawned on me that I was not going to be able to stand up. The simple instructions of the boat driver on how to ski eluded me. Pull your knees close to your chest. Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Lean back a little. Arms straight. Skis about a foot out of the water. Then as the slack is taken out of the rope and the boat starts to pull you – just stand up. After numerous attempts of “just standing up,” I decided quitting was in my best interest.

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Ease Off the Clutch

My sweet sister, Kate, and I maneuvered the hills around Mena, Arkansas, in search of quartz crystals one steamy July morning. As we continued our quest along the deeply rutted road, Kate calmly told me “do not stop.” We did stop. The old graveled road we were traveling began to resemble a washed out creek bed. As I considered what rut or boulder to avoid she reminded me “whatever you do, don’t roll back.” Anyone who has driven stick-shift while positioned on a steep incline inherently understands the significance of that statement. You have to proportionately release the clutch and depress the accelerator to achieve the optimum forward motion. Depending on one’s level of anxiety, high acceleration and a less than perfectly timed release of the clutch creates a propulsion akin to warp factor one. If one jumps off the clutch without sufficient acceleration, there is a great leaping and lurching of the vehicle down the road. I suspect that’s when the phrase “ease off the clutch” was created.

As I continue my journey of playwriting and such, I invite you to join me as I “ease off the clutch.”

By the way, you can start in second gear if you have just the right touch. An old boy from Shreveport taught me how to do that in his daddy’s old dump truck and in his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. The “Cuda” was “stolen” and burned on the Bossier strip . . . but that’s another story.

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