Saturday, February 09, 2008

“The Secret Life of Mona Arizona”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Winter winds were relentless as I sat at the household computer. Around the room, framed photographs rattled on their nails. Window seals hissed and howled. A chill seemed to permeate the house, despite the best efforts of our furnace. My coffee had long since surrendered its warmth. Yet a pale, electric glow kept me comfortable – from the monitor screen.

I had logged on to eBay, just before sunrise.

In brilliant white, a guitar hung in the midst of that lighted square. It was a revived Burns of London ‘Bison’ model. Festooned with a deeply contoured body, and a pop-art, multi-piece black pickguard. The instrument carried three ‘Rez-o-matic’ pickups, and a four-way rotary selector with the hallowed ‘Wild Dog’ sound position.

I grinned while contemplating the Burns. Its ‘canine’ setting had become legendary during the turbulent 1960’s. Musicians who played the buffalophonic axe reckoned it had been cursed with a restless soul, wandering in search of tonal redemption.

With anticipation, my hand reached for the computer mouse. Bidding was still open for an entire day. Only a few members had taken notice of the oddball guitar. I took a deep breath, while lifting my index finger…

“Mommy!!” a voice screeched, from across the hallway.

I gasped. My concentration was broken.

Soccer Fairy, our nine-year old daughter, repeated the cry for help. “Mommy! Make her stop!”

Leigh, who was thirteen and rowdy, giggled with satisfaction. She waved and kicked like a girly mule. “Nick is such a hottie! Nick, Nick, Nick!”

They were in the midst of a pillow fight. Both sisters looked like blonde mop-heads in need of a rinse.

“Boo-hoo! Everybody likes him!” The Fairy pleaded. “I think Joe is more hunky! Joe, Joe, Jooooe!”

I got up from the computer. “What are you girls arguing about?”

Liz, my wife, appeared in the doorway. “Get with the times, Rodney! They’re members of the Jonas Brothers!”

I shrugged. “Uhm… who?”

My spouse wrinkled her nose. “Joe, Nick, and Kevin. They are the biggest act since Hannah Montana!”

I nodded. “Okay, right. Hannah’s father is Billy Earl Fumblesack, right? Who gave us the Jonas Brothers, Ida Mae Cornstalk??”

She squawked like a wounded hen. “Stop talking like that!”

I walked into the girls’ bedroom, and immediately had to shield my eyes.

There were boy-posters everywhere! Riley, our Lab puppy, was stuck in the middle of piled blankets and scattered popcorn. He didn’t look happy. A red silk bow was tied around his tail.

“Yowf!” he pleaded. “Rrrrowf!”

Leigh patted him on the nose. “Quit whining. You look cute!”

I groaned in disbelief. The air felt thick with perfume. “Make it stop! Make it stop!”

Liz folded her arms. “I helped them decorate today. Isn’t it girly-riffic?”

My stomach felt queasy. “Couldn’t you put up at least one monster truck or fighter jet??”

She sighed. “Quit complaining! These are nice, clean-cut young fellows.”

Leigh cheered. “I’m going to write Nick a letter!”

Soccer Fairy pretended to gag. “Well I’m going to record a song for Joe! A beautiful song. So there!”

I felt dizzy. “Must have… pork rinds… and a dose of AC/DC… help… me…” Like a wounded deer, I staggered to the kitchen.

Our puppy was close behind. “Yowwwwl!”

Liz followed my retreat. “Wait, Rodney! We need your help!”

I pulled the bow off of Riley’s tail. “Help?”

My wife nodded. “The Fairy wants to write her song. But she needs an idea to get started. You’re the musician, after all.”

I opened a fresh bag of ‘Porkies’ from the Montville Country Store. “Gotta snack first. I’m feeling weak…”

She tapped her heel. “Must you be so dramatic?”

I crunched down a mouthful of rinds. “Is there any beer left in the fridge?”
Her face reddened with impatience.

“Anyway,” I continued. “Writing love songs for a teen idol isn’t my area of expertise. Call Billy Earl if you want a proper kiddie melody…”

Liz fumed. “Joe Jonas is just a nice young boy from Casa Grande, Arizona. Why can’t you let The Fairy have her fun?”

She stomped out of the room before I could answer.

Silently, I returned to the household office. Riley took refuge under my chair. Leigh and Soccer Fairy resumed their pillow fight, across the hall. But we were safe in our isolated spot.

I logged on to eBay once again, but the Burns guitar had sold during my absence. It was too late to ‘shop victoriously.’ Someone else would be enjoying the reckless aural characteristics of ‘Wild Dog Sound.’

After a reflective pause, I clicked on Google. The search engine revealed many ‘hits’ for the Jonas Brothers. Then, I searched for items about Miley Cyrus – the poppy performer also known as Miss Montana. Images of youthful stardom flooded our computer. Yet I kept hearing my wife’s voice, pleading for attention.

“Just a nice young boy from Casa Grande, Arizona,” she repeated. “From Casa Grande, Arizona… from Casa Grande, Arizona… Arizona… Arizona… Arizona…”

Miley’s perky face filled the computer screen. And suddenly, I had a vision!

“Girls!” I shouted. “Get Mommy! Come here, quick!”

* * * * * *

Liz held our video camera like a true professional. “Places, everyone!”

Leigh aimed her spotlight. “Mom, do I have to help with this?”

My wife chirped like a director. “For the last time, yes!”

I strummed my Fender Stratocaster. “Ladies and gentlemen. Let’s give a big round of applause for the one… the only… MONA ARIZONA!”

Soccer Fairy danced around the living room with a Barbie microphone. Her garb was an 80’s - inspired mismatch of glamour and back-of-the-closet leftovers. But it worked. She began to sing her song while I played the tune on guitar:

“I ride in Mom’s four-door Ford
But it feels like a limousine
And I’m famous at school, well - sort of
But keep it quiet now, that’s the rule
I might be rockin’ like a TV queen
But my stage is a Mickey D’s…

I’ve got the best of both worlds
See the Rock Hall of Fame
And the bowling lanes
Then it’s back to Thompson
For this Geauga girl
You know I’ve got the best of both worlds!

Now my sister is a pill
But together we’ve had some thrills
My dog’s a mini-Scooby Doo
And Mommy says Dad is a poo
I just hope this hayride never ends
With all my grade school friends…

I’ve got the best of both worlds
Grocery shopping with Gram
Buying Cheez-its and Spam
Then it’s back to Thompson
For this hometown girl
You know I’ve got the best of both worlds!”

Later, neighborhood kids gathered at our home to watch the performance. We played the homemade recording over and over again. Soccer Fairy passed out her autograph, rendered in pink crayon. Hominy and Minda, two bubbly sisters from down the street, pledged to be Mona’s backup singers in the next video.

Afterward, the carpet was covered with corn chips, pop tart wrappers, and empty plastic cups. But it had been a successful night.

“You made our girl very happy,” Liz purred. “Thank you, Rodney.”

My grin grew wide. “Glad to help, sweetie. Just make sure I get a cut of those royalties. I want a Cadillac like Billy Earl Fumblesack!”

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