Friday, March 27, 2009

Viva la Cheap Wine and Poetry

Last night was the first time I ever appeared at--and went to--Richard Hugo House's Cheap Wine and Poetry series (brainchild of brilliant Brian McGuigan) and all I have to say is this:

Get there early next time!

The place was packed. Not a seat was to be had by 7:05 p.m., five minutes after it was supposed to start. I have never seen Hugo House so full of people having a good time. Thanks mostly to the recession-busting $1 glasses of wine and free admission.

Sure, we readers were talented too. And funny! I knew from the moment wisecracking Nicole Hardy stepped on the stage that I could not afford to be any less than endearingly hilarious.

So I read two selections from "BreakupBabe" that got lots of laughs from the cheap-wine-lubricated crowed, and selections from two earlier novels called "We Shall Never Part" and "A Life to Love."

Never heard of them? That's because I wrote them in sixth grade--during which time I actually produced three novels in the space of a single school year. (The third, "Roxana's World" was simply too depressing to read from, since the protagonist's mother dies and the girl is shipped off to an orphanage and then an insane asylum, where she dies a raving lunatic. Yeah. I was all melodramatic like that back then.)

Those went over well, especially the "A Life to Love," which is about a girl who gets in a horrible horseback riding accident in which she gets bucked off a wild filly and then bitten by a swarm of rattlesnakes. She thinks she will never walk, much less ride again, but she survives, recovers, and her parents even buy her her favorite horse, "Huggy Bear." Here is the ending:

"Lanna and Huggy both lived to a ripe old age, spending their lives together in blessed happiness. A love between a girl and a horse."

For some reason everyone in that novel has these 50-style names like "Lanna," "Ray," and "Audrey." Whereas the other sixth-grade novels are very gothic and British in tone, with sadistic middle-aged spinsters with names like "Miss Nebbins" who torture the (always-twelve-year-old-female) parentless protagonists in various ways.

I had a great time all around, despite the cheap wine hangover this morning. And for once I dressed up, which was good for my self-image. (Of course the dress was bought in a thrift shop years ago for about five bucks. But it still works!) Not so long ago I was always mincing around town in cute slinky outfits. But these days my uniform is dog-haired covered pajamas, or, for variety, a dog-haired covered black turtleneck with baggy green corduroys.

Last night, wandering around Capitol Hill in my pointy-toed boots, peeking into Victrola, where I spent so much of time (and so did the protagonist of my novel) I felt almost like, well, Breakup Babe. In a good way.