GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Friday, April 29, 2005


She was in her early 30s, a woman with leathery constitution and enough oddness to populate a circus.

Janet was easy to spot in a crowd. A little over 5 feet tall and weighing a wispy 100 pounds, she was wiry, fidgety and loud, with hair the color of hay, flashy make-up and clothes that were made to be seen from a distance.

All of which made Janet both magnet and repellent. Magnet because you couldn’t help noticing her and she seemed approachable, if not downright invitational. Repellent because Janet was nobody’s fool, aimed her words like arrows and had a 16-year old daughter.

I never met Janet’s daughter. If there are sitcoms that glorify the odd couple relationship between one “wild” person and a “shy” one, Janet and her daughter would have served as role models. Of course, having never met the offspring, my only reference is her mother, but Janet spoke about her child with almost compulsive consistency.

First of all, Janet always said “my daughter” or, less frequently, “my little girl.” Never said her name. It got to the point where I wondered if said daughter existed, or if she did, whether she lived with Janet or not. My friend Tim did confirm that Janet’s daughter existed and lived with her.

Janet treated me like a child, ordering me around like I needed a mother figure. At first, I followed suit, but that wore thin quickly and I’d politely decline to get her purse (only a few feet away from where she was sitting), buy her cigarettes or do anything that saved her effort. She would then tell me about “the daughter” that was a precious angel and did all those things for her mother and more.

Eccentric as she was, Janet would cut clean to the heart of a matter, damn the consequences. Once while I was describing a story I wanted to write, she frowned at me. “You got a girlfriend?”


“You get one by meeting girls, not by writing stories.” I actually blushed. She puffed on her cigarette.

“You know I’m right. Meet some girls. But stay away from my daughter. She’s too good for you.”

I tried to rally. “Maybe I should date you.”

She puffed again. “Nah. I’d use you and throw you out. You’re too good for me.” Damn me if I didn’t blush again.

One late night, as we drank coffee, Janet stopped looking at the distance and said “My daughter is going to college. Early entry.”

I nodded and drank coffee. She wasn’t finished. She tried to light a cigarette and for the only time in my life, I helped light one. Her hand was shaking severely. Her voice barely came out. “What am I going to do?” Tears started to fall.

She was hard as nails and soft as a dandelion. She was loud to fill her silences. She protected her daughter because she had no other shield. She demanded gentle truth. “Throw a dart at a map. Go there.”

She froze for long seconds. “Are you kidding? That sounds stupid.”

I sipped some more coffee, slowly. “I knew you’d like it.”

She tried to keep a straight face, then burst into laughter. “You got a map?” I shook my head and we talked for another hour.

Two weeks later, Janet was gone. She left me a note that said: “I threw two darts. The first one missed.”


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