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Authors: Dee DeTarsio

Ginger Krinkles

BOOK: Ginger Krinkles
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Ginger Krinkles

by
Dee DeTarsio

Ginger Krinkles
by Dee DeTarsio
ISBN: 978-0-692-27845-1

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright 2014 by Dee DeTarsio

 

 

 

To my sisters, for whom nothing is sacred: Kim, Susie, Jody, Beezer ♥

 

 

Ginger Krinkles

by Dee DeTarsio

 

Either Ginger is an elf, or there really is magic to be found in an old cookie recipe.

 

 

Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Seasoned Greetings

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Nothing. I don’t have a true love.” I folded my arms in a pout. Not my best look, I know. I try not to pull it out very often, but believe me, ’tis the season.

“Maybe you should stop singing, then,” said Lauri, my BFF and very own Zen guru. She always champions my cause with helpful suggestions like, “pain eats pain, it needs joy to make it go away.” Half the time I don’t understand what she’s spouting off about, but our yin and yang works because she makes me feel better and laughs in the right places.

“Why? Because not singing will up my chances of magically meeting Prince Charming?”

“Come on. You’ll meet the right guy.”

Though my track record suggests otherwise, I appreciate Lauri’s supreme confidence in the universe. When we were in high school, Lauri didn’t hold my hair back at an inopportune time, she held the car door open and hung on to me for dear life while my face took incoming dirty slush kicked up by the tires. My soon-to-be ex-boyfriend had been driving and wouldn’t pull over. He was my first, and not the worst. After college, I followed Lauri out to California, another reason I will love her forever.

Someone-who-deserves-you,
I mouthed along with her as she continued her pep talk.

“Best friend or not you do tend to repeat yourself,” she said.

“Well, you tell me that all the time, so what does that make you?” I frowned. “Besides, you’ve got Sawyer the Lawyer. Where is he pillaging again?” Lauri’s husband, Sawyer, is some big wig environmental attorney who travels a lot. He is ugly-hot, tall and geeky at first glance, but then, look again, he wields some kind of badass charisma.

“He’s in Japan. Ginger, snap out of it.”

“Very funny. I never heard that one before.” I snapped my fingers. “I don’t even like ginger snaps.” Our elbows bumped into each other as we walked on the beach and pretended it was winter because it was windy and we got to wear our new sweaters, and all the tourists were gone.

“I like your new tennis shoes,” she said.

“Thanks, they’re really comfortable.” I looked at her, waiting. “What?”

“They look like jet skis.”

I wouldn’t let her see my smile. “That’s why they’re so comfortable. Smarty pants.” We walked on but I could see Lauri was laughing. Her whole body shook with no sound coming out, like some kind of mad scientist. “You’re pretty proud of yourself over there.”

“I’m trying to cheer you up,” she said.

“Fall is officially here,” I reminded her.

“You finished that whole pumpkin pie?”

“Let he who is without sin roast the first pumpkin seed,” I preached, holding out my hands as if I could part the Pacific Ocean.

Lauri laughed. “Sorry. I know. There’s a lot of beta-carotene in pumpkin. I meant ‘good for you!’”

“Thank you. I think it’s important to eat seasonally.”

“If it makes you feel any better,” she added, “I did put a pretty healthy dent in that box of See’s Candy.”

“Which means, what? You had half of a piece of California Brittle?” Lauri is the quintessential prototype of a yogini, which she is. She could never be mistaken for anything else. Her hamstrings are looser, her heart is purer, and she eats kale chips for Pete’s sake. #KaleMeNow.

We walked a little faster while she waited for me to rise up in defense of chocolate and spout off about the sugar anti-defamation league. I did not disappoint. I may have also reminded her it’s
sugar and spice and everything nice
, not
broccoli and kale and farting like a whale
.

“Have I told you how much I dislike this time of year?” I asked.

“I thought this was your pre-dislike season.”

“Technically, you’re correct. I’m in prep-school for angst. Autumn is the Sunday night of winter.”

“I love this weather,” Lauri said. Her voice carried above the crash of waves as a gust of wind whomped down upon us. She noticed my flyaway hair. “I like your haircut, Ginger.”

“If you squint your eyes, spin around until you’re dizzy and cross your fingers on a super sunny day, maybe it could be said there is a hint of auburn to my hair,” I said. She had heard my complaint many times before. I stopped myself. “I’ll meet you back at the car.” I started a slow jog and pulled my hair into a ponytail.

My hair is brown. No good reason on God’s green earth to have been named
Ginger
. I’m not a good dancer, either; let me explain that archaic reference since most people aren’t old enough to remember the late, great Fred Astaire’s most awesome cha-cha partner. Strike three: I’m more Gilligan than Ginger.

To add insult to injury, I was born ten days late, December 26th. Regift, afterthought, and preoccupation with New Year’s Eve outfits are only a few of the ingredients in my mother’s simmering stew of resentment. I’m not sure my parents had planned on baby number three, me, and I’ve always felt super sensitive and lost in the seasonal shuffle.

My older siblings, Mike and Melissa, escaped unscathed, especially considering our last name is
Krinkles
. My father is most definitely not jolly; the Misses is nothing to write home about, either. I was named after a Christmas cookie.

I kicked at a bug-infested heap of seaweed. Not a picture exists of me and my Noel nemesis decking any halls or roasting any chestnuts. As the baby of the family, I don’t think it’s my imagination that I was totally short-changed in the photographic milestone department. The few scribbles Mrs. K managed to write down in my ivory, puffy-tufted baby book include this gem, “December 23:
So embarrassed! Ginger caused such a scene at Santa’s Workshop we were asked to leave because she was scaring the other kids!
” And get this, there was a cigarette burn on the page, next to my mother’s exclamation point, I kid you not. My mother, of course, swears it came from a burning ember sparked out of our fireplace as the family gathered “’round to sip cocoa and sing Christmas carols.” Funny. I never pegged my family as the sipping/singing kind (they are more of the gluggers/chuggers ilk). Since there are no photos of that sentimental scene, I have to take her at her word.

My family plays fast and loose with the truth. I was nineteen years old before I realized we never had a fireplace. What could I expect from parents, whom, upon trying to calm my berserk fear of tornados convinced me that Sandusky, the county in Ohio in which we lived, was an Indian name meaning
land of no tornados.
I don’t remember how old I was before I learned that was a lie, too.

No wonder I’m bitter, and apparently have been from birth. I bit my lip. My family drives me crazy. Nothing is sacred. I am the favorite target of their world-class teasing. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But just once, I wonder what it would feel like to know they were proud of me.

I stooped to pick up a smooth little stone that looked like a heart, an anatomically correct one. I could never find the good ones. I brushed off the sand and stuck it in my pocket in case nothing better came along. Wow. That could be a metaphor for my life, in case you missed it. I took off jogging again, knocking loose some more poor-pitiful-me memories.

Here, innocent little baby, go sit on a strange man’s lap. So what if he has an extraordinary amount of creepy hair, no mouth and smells like grandpa’s church suit left hanging in the bathroom to air out. (To this day, men in black suits make me have to poop.) Unfortunately it is the red suit, nay, red velvet suit, and all that it stands for that ties my stomach in knots.

While most people look forward to their own birthday with an almost spiritual wonder, waiting for magical things to happen, they seem to double down on the big J’s birthday. The only revelation I experience is wondering when it will all be over. My shoulders start inching up toward my ears around Thanksgiving and don’t relax until the safety of the second of January.

My normal-named brother and sister used to tease me all the time. And yes, Melissa Krinkles is just as cute as she sounds, a sugar cookie of a chick. Bright blue eyes, American Girl doll straight blonde hair. She and my brother, Mike, used to pretend my name was Candy Cane, Fruit Cake, or Turtle-Eyed Surprise (which was what we called the cookies no one ate from the neighbors next door because we saw the inside of their house, and when their turtle went missing we were convinced their mom made cookies out of it). Twenty-first century update: They never did find that turtle. On occasion, I have wondered about the circumstances which would cause a turtle to run away from home.

I used to think about running away when I was little. Especially during the holidays. Everyone’s frenetic energy made me incredibly anxious, heightened by the increased hazing from my siblings about what Santa was going to, or not going to do to me. It could have been worse. I was in the third grade before I realized my middle name was not really Nutmeg. No thanks to my brother, Mike. Ass.

I took in a deep breath of upper sixty-degree air, missing summer like nobody’s business. I don’t like who I become when the earth tilts on its axis. It’s as if the extra layers of sweaters and scarves, and the wearing of shoes with socks insulates my manners. Any hope hibernates as I tuck in my goodwill to settle down for a long winter’s nap. I am out of sync. I think slower, I move clumsier. It’s as if I don’t try as hard, at life in general, at love in specific, or at being a better person.

I yearn to embrace the yuletide. Ride the Rudolph train to Tinseltown. Make like a Christmas tree and pine for good cheer. It’s no secret I hate the holidays and think ordinary days get the shaft.

But I do have a secret. Make that two. If you buy the first one, maybe it will make it easier to unwrap the second one.

Chapter 2

Merry Conspiracy

“So what’s going on with you, Ginger?” Lauri caught up with me on the beach. “You’re acting so weird. I thought I knew all your secrets.”

“Nobody knows everyone’s secrets.”

“Well, now I’m intrigued. What’s wrong? It can’t be that bad. Life will always take you where you need to be.”

“Oh, knock it off. It’s bad enough you look like a yoga teacher, please don’t pull that on me. And please don’t tell me you are going to Instagram that,” I teased. Lauri is seriously the most positive person I know. Her fifteen thousand followers on Instagram agree with me. She is one of the few social media exhibitionists I can tolerate, though, especially this time of year.

Lauri laughed. “Already did.”

I checked my phone. “I just sent you that photo.” I had taken a picture of her not five minutes earlier, doing a sun salutation with the ocean waves in the background. Sure enough, it was on Instagram, complete with her thought for the day.

“Sometimes it’s so hard to be friends with you,” I told her. “You already have 418 likes?”

“Did you like it yet?”

I stopped, stared at my phone, liked it and wrote, “Beautiful picture, beautiful pose, beautiful friend,” and added emojis of the sun, a palm tree and sunflower for good measure.

“I am your biggest fan, you know.” I suppressed a shiver. Already the nonstop social chatter was ratcheting up for the holidays. Emoji Santa. Emoji gun.

“I know,” she said, nudging into me. “And one day, you will even listen to me. So what’s wrong?”

“I have to go to work.”

“How is Meals on Wheels going?”

“Very funny. They just finished the sign last week. Lime green sides, neon orange letters.” I stopped to emphasize the name. “Tood Fruck. Frankie makes us add the slogan every time we say the name. ‘Tood Fruck. Good food with attitude.’”

Lauri squeezed my arm. “You’re not really cooking anything are you?”

I frowned. “I don’t cook, remember? I present.”

“Frankie may be an idiot, but it was nice of him to hire you.”

“Don’t mean to toot my own horn, but surely you want to rephrase that? I was an awesome girlfriend. We only lived together for three years before we broke up, remember? Right about this time last year. At least I didn’t have to get him a Christmas present.” I sighed. Breaking up with Frankie had been hard, but way overdue. He’s a sweetheart, just not my sweetheart. I hardly ever missed him.

Lauri laughed. “Ginger. The day you broke up, which was predicted on the Mayan calendar, everyone celebrated. You especially.”

It was my turn to laugh. “I know. You’re just trying to cheer me up. I knew it was coming. Do you know he once told me that sex for guys was pretty much like blowing their nose?”

Lauri started to dry heave.

“Right? I guess he meant it as if to say women place way too much importance on it, and we should just do it because it’s healthy and good for us, twice a day, whether we have a runny nose or not. Apparently he didn’t get the memo about how good sneezes feel.”

“Bless you,” Lauri said.

We got to my car and I clicked open the locks. “I miss summer. I can’t believe it’s almost that time again. ‘Tis the season to break out, gain weight, and have nothing to wear.”

“And use the word ‘tis,” Lauri reminded me.

“Lauri. Seriously. This year, I’m going to get it right. I am going to discover the true meaning and celebrate the heck out of it.” Especially after how I blew it at work. Even Lauri didn’t know the real reason I got fired.

“That’s the spirit,” Lauri said. “Even if your mom buys you a bright yellow purse from who-knows-where and wraps it in a Nordstrom box?”

I rolled my shoulders.

“Yes.”

“Well, the Grinch eventually came around, so I guess there’s hope for you.”

“Quit laughing at me. I can do this. I will do this.”

We got in my car and headed back down the coast to Pacific Beach so I could drop Lauri off at her yoga studio. “Here,” I handed her a small white paper bag. “Have a cookie.”

She opened the bag and sniffed. “Mmm. Did you make these?”

“I made the trip,” I told her. She broke off a small piece of the chocolate chip cookie I picked up from a new organic coffee shop earlier. “Does it taste any better to know it’s an Eckhart Tolle House Chocolate Chip cookie?”

She clenched her fist and raised it high in a salute. “Power of Now, baby.”

I despise the holidays. While that’s not really a secret from anyone who knows me, it’s not something I go about broadcasting. I try to keep my eye-rolling, face-furrowing, heaving sighs in check, contrary to what my family says. Geez. If you can’t take your filters off in front of your family, who can you take them off for? I must have sighed, because Lauri tried to cheer me up.

“You just have a bad case of hashtag FOMO,” Lauri told me. “Fear Of Missing Out. It’s a thing.”

“I don’t have FOMO. I simply do not understand the starry-eyed, giddy, coma of peace-on-earth-goodwill-toward-man fake frenzy that infects every other person. If it were sincere, maybe I would be on board. I blame my family.”

“Your family loves Christmas,” Lauri reminded me. “What happened to you?”

“My mom really needs to stand-down when it comes to holiday garb. Garb as in short for garbage. My sister blows so much cash on gifts I always wonder what it is exactly she’s trying to atone for. And they’re stupid gifts, too. Do you remember what she got me last year? A gift certificate to the Audubon Society? Really? I thought it was a joke. I had to strangle my ‘Har-har, good one,’ into ‘Oh, that’s awesome. Who doesn’t love birds?’”

I turned on my windshield wipers and squirted the wiper fluid and futilely tried to clear the glass. “That would be me, I don’t even like birds. They don’t like me either.” I waved my hand, palm up. “Exhibit A. This windshield looks like a transparent Jackson Pollack painting. I give you Bird Poop, Number 14. Would it have killed my sister to give me a Crate&Barrel gift certificate?”

“Is that what you really want?” Lauri asked me.

“Stop. I’m warning you, do not start with me.”

As we drove down Mission Boulevard into Pacific Beach, gray waves pounded off to our right. I turned down a side street lined with funky beach houses that you would wish your ancestors had had the foresight to settle in seventy-five years ago. “Every winter solstice I search the sky for a winking star,” I told Lauri. “I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight: that I could just cash in all the gifts and
not
spend time with my family. Their eyes actually
twinkle
during the holidays, as if they are juiced up on some IV drip of Comfort and Joy. While I am nothing more than a shortchanged zombie, who gets a placebo in my IV. I want Comfort and Joy.”

Lauri laughed.

This miasma is nothing new. “Growing up, I always got in trouble at choir practice for singing the wrong words,” I told her.


We Three Kings of Orient Are, smoking on a rubber cigar,

It was loaded and exploded, shooting us to that yonder star.”

Lauri hummed backup for me.

“December needs to come with a warning. Whether you celebrate the season or not, beware: Anticipation is a wily witch who loves to introduce you to Disappointment, the BFF of Jealousy.”

“Jingle Bells, Batman smells,” Lauri sang. I pulled up to the curb. Blaring harp music came from my phone.

“That’s my meditation app. I’m working on my stress.”

Lauri picked up my phone. “It hasn’t seen you for four days.”

“I know. Even meditation is disappointed in me.”

She laughed.

I shooed her out of my car in front of her yoga studio, Yogasm. She opened her doors two years ago, and let me name it. I highly recommend having a yoga instructor for a best friend. You can say stupid things like, “She helps keep me grounded,” whatever that means. Truth be told, she does keep me grounded, if that means that she puts up with me and still wants to be my friend. She can be very annoying in her perky perfection, and I feel like I am a good friend to put up with that—I do allow her to try to convert or save me, or whatever it is those “living in the moment” folks are trying to pull on the rest of us weak-willed anxiety-filled. Plus, she lets me go to yoga classes for free.

Her yoga studio is always busy and people love it, but I just wish it would take off. It’s a lot of hard work for very little payoff. Lauri always acts like she doesn’t mind and tells me she “enjoys the moment” (see?) and trusts in the universe, and other hogwash about not stressing out, so I guess I have to worry for her. I glanced up at the sign again and smiled. “Yogasm would be the perfect franchise,” I told her, just like always.

“Please come,” she said, as she folded her hands and bowed her head, just like always. We both laughed.

“I always do,” I said. She tilted her head and looked at me.

“Thanks for the ride. Are you sure you can’t come to yoga? I’m focusing on JOMO today.”

I sighed. “Do tell.”


JOY
Of Missing Out,” she said. “Give yourself permission to not feel like everyone else. Take time out and away from the rest of the world and discover your own bliss.”

I mouthed along with her.
Co-create the intimacy you want with your breath.
“Good thing you’re my best friend. And look at you, just standing there beaming at me like I’m something special.” I held up the back of my hand as if to smack her. “Why I oughta … ” Still nothing, but her peaceful, loving smile. That kind of serenity can’t be bought. Pity. I’d ask for it for Christmas.

“Bakasana off,” I warned her. “You can take your pity and pigeon pose it where the sun don’t shine.” She was still standing there. “What?” She knew me so well. Her super power of silence was far superior to my need to fill it. “Fine. Be that way.” I squeezed the steering wheel and adjusted the rear view mirror. Checked my lipstick. “I know you never liked Frankie,” I said.

She leaned back into my car. “Are you telling me you’re getting back with him?”

“No. Absolutely not. He’s helping me out.”

Her arms crossed.

“He gave me a job,” I reminded her.

“I thought that’s what he liked you to do.”

“Very funny. Lauri. Listen. I’m broke.”

I lost my job. I know exactly where it is; it is where I am no longer welcome. They lost me. “Scram, skedaddle, your services are no longer required.” I’ve told no one, but Lauri, obviously, and Frankie, but when I do, I will say, bravely, “I’ve been laid off.” To make room for my boss’s girlfriend, who is now apparently being laid upon. But there was more to it than that.

I worked at a PR agency. It’s worse than you’ve heard. At Pandering and Revulsion, we dressed up toad-like politicians who can’t keep their paws to themselves—“He never received the sexual harassment handbook”—to prove you can indeed put lipstick on a pig. We also helped brand products. My claim to fame is the LinesOffOnLine.com beauty website. They have a decent enough moisturizer but their pore minimizer only works if you are standing eleven feet away from your makeup mirror.

So while I pissed and moaned about my gross job with my co-workers, as you do, it paid the bills. As it does. As it did.

I put my purse in the passenger seat and looked up at Lauri. “I am about three-thousand dollars away from having to move back to Ohio, land of winter, fried bologna, and soul-sucking sludge. My mother telling me to suck in my stomach, my dad telling me to suck it up. Ho ho ho.”

“Oh, Ginger. I am so sorry. How can I help?”

“You can’t. Just don’t tell anybody. I’m working on it. Thanks for listening to me whine. I’ll figure it out.” I wiggled my fingers at her and headed back to my apartment to get ready for my new job.

($3,000.00 in my bank account. Won’t last long.)

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