Month: March 2015


Just one word: circle. But a wondrous word it was. I had almost forgotten that word, and the little boy who uttered it so long ago. It all came back to me last night when I had the opportunity to return to the place where it had been spoken to me. I shared the story with those around me, and surprised myself by getting choked up in the telling.

In the 1980s I was a junior at Seton High School in Baltimore. I had the opportunity to volunteer during school hours at St. Elizabeth’s, a special-ed school, which was within walking distance of Seton. I had volunteered at the Maryland Special Olympics a few times, and knew that I liked working with special need kids. And, what high schooler wouldn’t take advantage of being able to leave school in the middle of the day?

I was assigned to Sister Raymond’s kindergarten class. It wasn’t kindergarten like you or I went to. Some of the kids stayed at this level for a few years, until they could learn as much as they could grasp before being advanced. Many of the kids were non-verbal. But what they lacked in words they gave back in 100-watt smiles. I remember angelic Gretchen. White-blonde hair, brilliant blue eyes, and always dressed in the most adorable outfits. She never stopped smiling. Poor Gretchen would develop fevers for no reason. I laid on a mat with her a few times, pressing a cold compress to her head, while reading a book to her until the random fever passed. She never stopped smiling, even with cheeks that blazed red from the fever. Luckily for her the fevers never lasted long.

But my main-man was Timmy. Where Gretchen, judging by her clothes, came from an affluent family, Timmy did not. Sister gave me a change of clothes for him because the ones he had on were too small. He went home better dressed than when he arrived. Timmy was always coming to school with cuts and bruises. I was told that he was being raised in a house with his single mother and an aunt who had several children of her own. Timmy would try to keep up with the other kids, and often got hurt because of his developmentally delayed motor skills.

Timmy was non-verbal but all boy. Getting him to sit still was a job by itself. I was trying to work with him with shape and color flash cards, but the little rascal wouldn’t sit still. Out of desperation, I put him on my lap and put my arms around him, with the cards in front of him. It helped a little. That is until he reached down and happened to touch the cabled tights I was wearing under my uniform skirt (I told you him was all boy). He started tracing the cable pattern with his finger and almost immediately settled down. It was an “Ah-ha!” moment. Timmy responded to tactile objects! I told Sister Raymond. She had me glue glitter to the flash cards so that Timmy could feel the shapes as we went through them over and over again.

That became our routine each week. I remembered to wear the cabled tights, Timmy climbed into my lap now, and I repeated the names of shapes and colors while he felt the cards with one hand and cables with the other.

I was saying, “Triangle . . . . square . . . rectangle . . . circle . . .” over and over and over. And then it happened. My Timmy said, “Circool.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I turned him around so that I could see his face, and asked him, “did you say circle?” He answered by giving me the biggest shit-eating-grin I had ever seen  My little dude knew what he had done. I called Sister Raymond and everyone gathered around to congratulate him. When it hit me that Timmy had said his first word EVER, for me, I started to cry. I was immediately told to leave by Sister. Confused, I did what I was told and went into the hall. She followed to explain that I couldn’t cry because Timmy would have seen that as disapproval. He didn’t understand tears of joy. So I sucked it up and went back in.

In the weeks that followed, he never spoke in my presence, or anyone else’s that I heard about. The school year ended, I graduated, and never saw Timmy again. I wonder where he is now? I hope he’s wearing a nice cable sweater, and is talking someone’s ear off.Jenkins House

St. Elizabeth’s school has long since moved from that location. The building, known as the Margaret Jenkins House (formerly the Hiss Mansion), is now home to 22 formerly homeless women, who are being incredibly supported by the Women’s Housing Coalition. I had a chance to see the place last night. I have volunteered to work on a research project about the building and its history.

After all these years, I’ll be back volunteering in that great old building. I guess I can say I have come full “circool”.




A blog born by c-section

Today I drag my blog, ready or not, into the world. It’s been gestating for about a year, well past its due date, and has refused to arrive by natural means, not unlike my kids (I let fear get in the way). I hired a graphic artist (drove crazy), Michelle Baron, to create my blog header, but still didn’t get on with publishing it. I drove over 1,000 miles round trip, with Aliza Worthington riding shot-gun, to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in beautiful downtown Dayton, Ohio, but still didn’t get on with publishing it.

So, what finally forced me to reach into the warm, dark, safe place that my blog had been hiding in (my hard drive), and bring it out kicking and screaming into the bright light?  The co-editor of the Not Your Mother’s Book. . . series (think Chicken Soup for the Soul, except funnier), Dahlynn McKowen. I had the pleasure of meeting Dahlynn at the Erma Workshop. Over lunch she told me about her book series, and suggested that I submit a story to one of her anthologies. So I did.NYMB SEX

My essay, “Ménage à Twerp”, is published in Not Your Mother’s Book…On SEX. There are 69 stories (coincidence? I think not) in the anthology showing the funnier side of sex, but not a blow-by-blow (snicker), detailed description.

Dahlynn informed me last week that I was going to be featured on her blog, Laugh Until you Pee, today (squeal). It occurred to me, about two days ago, that she was giving me the gift of exposure to the blogosphere, and that I had better get my ass in gear and not screw it up.

I lay before you, all pink and pruny, with the metaphoric umbilical cord still attached, my blog. Like me, it is a work in progress. Please poke around and read some of the old stuff that I have written. Don’t forget to come back often to see the new stuff. I hope that I make you laugh a little each time. If you get the chance ‘like’ Taffy’s Facebook page, too.




Love’s Baby Soft

Lov'es baby softLast week, a high school friend posted a picture of Love’s Baby Soft cologne on Facebook with the comment, “who remembers wearing this stuff in high school?” Soon after, many forty-something females starting ‘liking’ the photo, including myself. My, did that bright pink bottle, with the cap as tall as the bottle itself, take me back to my teenage years. I recalled the year my hand-knitted red Christmas stocking, with the angora bearded Santa Claus, was filled to the brim with Love’s Baby Soft products. I was prepared to be a cloud of baby powder scented sweetness. In my stocking was not only cologne, but talcum powder, bubble bath, and deodorant, to layer upon my 15-year-old self. The advertising campaign slogan was “anything can happen when you are in love.” What teenage girl didn’t fantasize about their first love? All of my friends were wearing it, to the point that even the boys knew the scent by name. As I was reminiscing about Love’s, a comment was added to the Facebook post, “They still make Love’s.” (I later discovered that it has its own fan page on Facebook). I immediately logged onto to find that, indeed, it was still being made. I didn’t hesitate to click the ‘Buy now’ button. The description of “kid’s perfume” didn’t deter me. I need to share with Love’s that they are marketing to the wrong demographic. We over forty women still love the gentle, clean fragrance of baby-powder with a slight floral hint. I don’t remember when I stopped wearing it. I’m sure I reached a point where I felt that I was too mature to smell like a baby. I moved on to headier scents, such as Ralph Lauren and Poison. My bottle arrived Monday. I’ve spent the days since sniffing my wrist remembering teenage loves found and lost. My husband smelled my neck and said, “you smell nice. Is that new?” I guess those now forty-something teenage boys are still having their heads turned by it too.