How to Do the Twist
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Evie. Please." My father had a way of saying please that hurt my
ears. He looked at Johnny and me, as if to apologize for our mother's
language. I wanted my father to stand up to her. I wanted him to
say, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," and walk away. But
he didn't. Instead, he opened the picnic basket and offered her
some Oreo cookies, which she took all of them and stood up.
you," she spit at my father. He bowed his head.
walked away, and her nurse or guard I wasn't sure which had to run
to catch up with her.
mother's a little upset," my father told us. And we packed up our
picnic basket and went home.
my mother was let out of the mental hospital, my father decided
it would be nice to take the family to Key West, Florida. He thought
it would be a good rest for Mother, hanging out by the Key Ambassador
Motel pool, while he spent the day on a battleship teaching young
sailors the ins and outs of chemical warfare.
the night before we left for Florida, my mother took me to the side
of the garage and told me what they did to her in the mental hospital.
She told me they changed the clocks around and teased the patients.
She told me they made her scrub the bathroom floor. The staff told
her she was being dramatic when she complained. She made me promise
not to let them put her away ever again. Then she popped three little
pills and squeezed me hard against her plump bosom.
days after we arrived in Key West, the Cubans pointed their missiles
at the U.S. My father came home to the motel early and said we needed
to buy canned foods. We were going to spend the night in a fallout
shelter. My brother and I were very excited.
the end of the world!" Johnny yelled to my mother. "We're all gonna
she didn't hear him. She was floating in the blue water of the pool,
and her ears were submerged. She was wearing that black twist dress
and the fringe floated all around her. She looked like a poisonous
bombs are coming!" my brother screamed louder.
my mother did look up. She lowered her sunglasses and smiled at
us. "That's nice," she said as she twisted slowly in the water.