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Island Getaway Contest

Tom Plantenberg
Mequon, Wisconsin

Fred and the Orange Bannana

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At the age of seventeen, the life you dream you will one day have is infinitely more enchanting than the life you live. In those days I washed dishes in a hotel resturaunt in Minnesota. Most of the waitresses were college girls. Marvelous, long- legged sophisticated ladies who did wondrous things like skiing in Colorado or traveling to Europe. One in particular enchanted me. Imagine my surprise one Christmas Eve when from behind her arm wrapped around my waist. In my ear her hot breath whispered "I hope Santa puts you in my stocking tonight..."

She laughed and danced into the dining room, leaving me to hobble back to my dishwasher. I was amazed. Stunned. About to explode. (She was 21, and I had lied to her about my age, never thinking she might actually believe me).

Somehow a date was arranged. Without a car, I convinced her a long walk would be good. She wore an orange, angora sweater with a little silver mouse pinned to it. That night we named him Fred. Convincing my mother the fuzz covering me came from a huge orange bannana didn't work, even though it was the Sixties... Three weeks later, she left forever.

That was over thirty years ago. I love her for what we did and for what we didn't do; for her fire and gentle understanding smile.

No matter what she has done, or become, I would like to share a week with her, counting backwards to that day when I was seventeen and she was twenty-one. Remembering the things witnessed by a little silver mouse named Fred.


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