Take Your Granddaughter on a Road Trip

When you drive out to the Midwest to see your eldest son and his small family, there is no one to rotate the beers for the nine hours. But on the way back, you will have your 8-year-old granddaughter with you, and she is a good girl.

Put the granddaughter and a big metal cooler full of Schlitz cans and ice in the back seat. Show the girl how to rotate the cans whenever she hands you a fresh beer as you drive. Each can has to be turned and buried deeper in the melting ice so the beer is icy and refreshing whenever you crack open a new one. Her hand reaches up to give you a wet, ice-chilled beer as you chuck the empty out the window. You don’t ask her to open them. Her fingers are too small.

The author and her Pappap

The author and her Pappap

Smoke three Camel non-filtered cigarettes while you drink each beer, flicking the ash out the window, which is left permanently cracked. Light the next Camel off of the last one. Your wife, in the passenger seat, and granddaughter, sing songs while you hum tunelessly along and crack jokes about the road signs.

“Hey, why do you have to watch out for Falling Rock? She was an Indian Princess who ran away from home and her old man is looking for her!”, and laugh your wheezy, boozy laugh when your granddaughter groans that she has heard that one a thousand times.

When she asks, tell the girl all of the stories about all of the tattoos that cover your arms and legs.

“I got ‘em in the Navy. This one is the Fightin’ Irish! This one is your Grandma’s name, because she’s my Irish Rose.” Let the girl rub her fingers up and down your right arm, feeling the ridges of the tattoos.

Ask her for another cold one.


- Beth Dugan's previous essays for Dead Housekeeping are Blue and Grey and Brown, Evergreen, and Everything Can be Used Again. Her website is www.bethdugan.com.


How to Fry an Egg

Use a skillet big enough for only one egg. Others may want one; they can make their own. Your daughter asks you to show her how; you tell her you'll teach her, but later. When you're finished eating. She'll forget because children are stupid, forgetful. She'd ruin it anyway, and waste an egg.

Adjust the tie on your bathrobe. Pour a scotch. Slide the egg from the pan onto one of the good china saucers—you didn't carry them across the ocean to sit in a cabinet. Bring it and your drink to the table along with the Times you've tucked into your armpit.

Cut the egg all at once in neat rectangles; salt and pepper it well. She will watch you, ask how you knew when it was done. Ignore her. Set your knife, dripping with yolk, delicately, nearly noiselessly across the plate's edge. Others would drag the blade across the fork to retrieve the leavings, but that is a chore for people who have not-enough.

The author and her father

The author and her father

Take a bite. Open the newspaper and hold it in front of you. She will ask for a taste. Ignore her. She will ask for a bit of the paper. Remove the funnies; place them beside your plate. Hand her the business section. She will give up soon enough.

- Stefanie LeJeunesse


We sit on overturned milk crates, the thick blue plastic digging into my chubby legs. It's in our blood, he always says. When I'm old enough, he will show me how to make rum. This is another thing he always says. 

He has a real shot-glass. I have the metal cap from the bottle of Don Q. 

He pours out the golden nectar: just below the rim of the glass for him, just below the edge of the bottle cap for me.  I make a move to taste my shot, but he stops me. Anyone can drink rum, but not everyone knows how to do it properly, with a toast. A proper toast should always be in Spanish. Anything else would be uncivilized.

I follow his lead and raise my little, metal bottle-cap, filled with rum, up as high as I can, and repeat the words he says with such bravado: "Salud. Dinero. Amor." Metal taps glass, we smile, and then we each drink down our shots in one swallow. The alcohol burns my throat and sends a warm rush through my body. It is not unpleasant. I know this feeling well, already. 

"Una vez mas!" he announces, reaching for the bottle to refill our glasses. This time he remains silent and waits for me. I raise my makeshift shot-glass and say, in my four-year-old voice, calling up all the bravado he has left for me, "Salud. Dinero. Amor." 

Still the only toast I ever make. English-speaking women swoon a little. It would have given him devilish joy to know this, Caribbean Casanova that he was. 

Juan Matilde Torres

Juan Matilde Torres

- Lana Nieves is a Puerto Rican writer from Brooklyn, NY.  Read her previous entry for Dead Housekeeping here.