Coverage of me and other train wrecks: my mama, subway nut jobs, sex and the environment.



Mama warned me not to name the pig, so I called her many things instead of just one:
Linda, Chula, and Guapita because animals, like people, like to feel attractive.
Gorda because she was fat.
Caramelo because she was light brown.
Ronca because of the light grunting noises she made when I’d come to feed her corn and bread that’d been soaked in milk and oil, and also it was the sound she made when I rubbed her side.

She was our Christmas pig for the Noche Buena feast on the 24th and when we got her she wasn’t full grown yet. Not even a year old. It wasn’t my job to take care of her but if I fed her and showed my love for her throughout the summer and fall, I was sure dad would spare her life.

Mama warned me not to grow attached, but no one was around to play with and no one listened like a pig. The stench didn’t bother me. Her dung smelled like browned leaves and burning grass, like warm soil and old bark. Her hide smelled like musk and was rough as sand and strong like planks of wood. Her eyes were full of awareness—yes, it’s the boy with the bucket of food that smells grainy and the flies near the water will need swatting and that mockingbird will sing all morning. She was aware, too, of what she’d been purchased for, so I promised her “Ronquita, Linda, my Chula he wants to kill you, but I’m going to talk to him because maybe he won’t...okay?”

The morning of the 24th came. It was time, and dad was determined. Several uncles came. I was inside still when mama said they were about to. Nobody had come to tell me like I’d begged (except mama because she knew what it meant) so I ran out to the pen and before I got there I heard screams and saw the men gathered. They forced her on the ground, on her back—the sound of an old trunk hitting the ground.

The more she struggled the more they pressed down on her limbs to keep her pinned. One uncle who stood with me apart from the group asked if I wanted to slit her throat. I couldn’t respond, I didn’t know how, I hadn’t said goodbye, and while regret flew by dad jabbed her throat twice with his machete. She screamed still—deafening, like a hundred eagles screeching. Not all the sound came from her lips, some bubbled out with the gush from the hole in her throat. There was so much blood. It shot up like a fountain. It sprayed my father and uncles. It pulsed.

Her screams died down until there was only the gurgling of blood. When her breath stopped, the killing men stood. All were silent. Their bodies swayed like thin trunks against a wind. Their faces wrinkled like bark, their hearts stone. “It’s going to give us good meat,” I heard one say, before they brought buckets and brushes to scrub her body clean.

Caramelo, Chica, Linda, Gorda, Ronca, Ronca? If I didn’t know what name to call her in my mind how would she know who my apology was for? The one to take her life should’ve been me.



Mama never liked Willie. Willie stunk. Willie was rude. Willie ate too much. But I didn’t have any other friends and I didn’t have siblings. I loved Willie. All I asked for in return was for Willie to love me back.

Willie was a black horse, we thought, but my cousin Fidel said she was actually a cross between horse and mule, or horse and donkey. I can’t remember which. She was a mutt with a male name. Dad gave her to me as a birthday present and he had bought her for less than a hundred dollars from the same farmer friend that sold us Christmas pigs.

Riding Willie was a challenge. I tried often, but would spend more time thrown on the ground than on her back. There wasn’t a trigger as far as I could tell. She simply would snap. Whether because riding her insulted her pride or because she loathed the extra burden on her back, Willie came to hate me, and instead of just throwing me off, she started to kick at me and then she started to bite.

Dad had sectioned off about half an acre for her. It was like thunder on a sunny day the sound of her running back and forth along the border of her field, racing the neighbor’s golden boxer. Willie’s hooves clapped against the flat limestone ground. Back and forth they’d race each day, pausing only to pant away the exhaustion brought on quickly by the smothering tropical heat, and stopping only to eat. To feed Willie, I had to enter her race track.

She didn’t mind at all when food interrupted; she’d trot to me as I held her bucket of grains. Sometimes before she stuck her muzzle in the food, sometimes after or during, she’d bite me. Over time my stomach my back, my arms were covered in the rosie blooms of her bites. Eventually, my love for her was wrapped in fear. A kick to the head, a broken spine from a bad fall, losing too much blood to her jaws—so many ways she could hurt me. She could, if she wanted to, end my life.

Dad made a call, and Fidel came. He was the family expert at breaking horses, but Willie was not pure horse. Fidel brought a whip and rope and began to snap at her as he tied her up. She couldn’t bear being leashed. Her skin quivered and she bolted ,but Fidel whipped her and yanked the rope around her neck until it was digging into her flesh. The goal, I realized as I watched in tears, was to force her to let herself be hurt.

An ageless fairy tale about friendship, loyalty, and love—that’s what I wanted from Willie. But for hours Fidel whipped blood from her skin and yelled at her like she was beneath dignity until I stopped wanting her love and became a traitor to my own cause. I switched sides. I hoped Willie would not stop fighting him, I hoped she would burst into lighting and fly from her suffering, and I wanted Fidel dead. It was a second. I only thought that for a second, and I didn’t mean for anything to happen to him but she kicked him to the ground. And he lay limp.

Willie walked away from him. He wasn’t dead, but stunned and vanquished. He picked himself up, went calmly to Willie, and loosened the rope. She would never love me now.

The next day, Dad sold her back to the farmer. Willie could not be broken.


Rat Kiss

The shadowy woman carried a mouse and I pointed at it with my nose. My boyfriend looked and corrected me, “It’s a rat.” As the woman carrying the clear plastic box came closer I noticed the long hairless rat tail, but rats aren’t usually white and this one was, which is why I thought it was a mouse. Later I found out she was named Mabel the Unable and was the kind of rat used in lab experiments.

The woman carrying Mabel was spectacular—a mound of black frizzy curls exploded from her scalp. She was tall and wore black eyeliner and dark lipstick. You could tell she used to be a Goth Chick and will never throw away her “I’d rather be dead” albums by Morrisey and his kin.

We met her and Mabel on the train platform and started talking. You wouldn’t think someone with shy creatures of the dark as pets would be so sociable. I never found out her name but I did find out that Mabel was a gift for Rosie, a rat she’d adopted earlier in the year.

Poor Mabel was Unable because she was sick, which the Goth Lady knew because she’d done all kinds of research about rat health. The sneezes, wheezes, and clicking noise in Mabel’s lungs indicated a respiratory infection. Actually, at first thought it could be diabetes, but the rattling in the lungs indicated phlegm. Rats are apparently prone to many of the same diseases as humans, which is why we do experiments on them. Maybe that’s the same reason Aliens experiment on us.

Mabel was going back to the pet store for a refund because she wasn’t getting better and would eventually die, but not before contaminating Rosie. Rosie, like dogs, comes when you call her and uses different squeaks to communicate her needs and licks her Goth Mama’s cheek. It’s too bad that even though rats kiss, we still breed them for scientific torture. All those kisses locked up in sanitized cells. What a loss.


Tight Spaces

“You’re always asking me questions and more questions. I want to ask questions.”

“So ask,” I offered.

Mama went right for the jugular: “Have you found any jobs yet?”

I mentioned a few opportunities and she asked what they’d pay When I told her, she sneered, “that’s not enough,” with an assurance that belies her thirty-year absence from the workforce.

“Actually, it’s more than I was making at Equity,” I explained, “except that I wouldn’t get health insurance.”

And that did it. Off we went into the boxing ring.

“You’re insane, Alex. Health insurance is extremely important and you need to make the decisions that will lead you to health insurance because what if you get sick?”

“There are plenty of free health clinics in New York,” And so she was tame for a moment. “There’s even one for gay and lesbian people,” I added.

“It shouldn’t matter that it’s a gay place or not when it comes to health,” mama punched.

“Well, some gay people are more comfortable talking to a practitioner who will ask the right kinds of questions without judgment.”

“But it shouldn’t matter”

“But some doctors are judgmental. They don’t want to talk about, I dunno, anal stuff.”

“That’s not true because my doctor told me to get a colonoscopy—he had no problem talking to me about it.”

“No, I mean, some doctors you tell them about your sex life, that you think you need to get tested for something, and they judge you instead of helping you.”

“Well, what’s wrong is wrong—if you do something dangerous with your ass, that’s YOUR problem.”

“Is your gynecologist male or female?”

“He’s a man, but I don’t care.”

“Some women do.”

“I don’t care. There’s always another person in the room as a witness. Oh, and last time I went he said I wasn’t stretched out at all, that my parts were as tight and snug as they must have been when I was a young woman.”

Mama is seventy years old. Her gynecologist says she has a tight pussy. The end.


A Pubic Conversation

We discussed pubes. Specifically, the fact that women nowadays shave their pubes and that she tried it and doesn’t like it. “God made us hairy for a reason, and I don’t want to change that. Plus hair hides any imperfections you might have down there.”

Mama is very comfortable talking to me about bodily issues. And frankly, I partook wholeheartedly when we spoke today:

“I don’t like it when guys shave their pubes, actually. And lots of them do, it’s not even a gay thing,” I added.

“I KNOW, your cousin has gotten into that. There’s even guys that shave a heart shape around their parts.” I can only imagine she was still talking about my cousin and the idea of a former boxer and military dude having a hairy heart around his dong made me giggle.

Mama continued, “What I don’t like is hair under the arms for women. That’s gross to have things hanging down from your arm pits. And the bikini line—if you’re going to the beach, you don’t want hair sticking out from your bathing suit.”

Pointing out the fact that her hair etiquette is old fashioned and that what she’s against is the current pubic trend did not go smoothly. Mama became very defensive and argued, “I have not inherited all the rules of my parents. In fact I have rebelled against several.”

“Like what?”

“Like believing that women should be allowed to go out by themselves and that women should be able to have fun at parties if they want to and that it doesn’t mean they are unworthy. I believe that.”

Well, that’s repression for ya’.


Bumping Baby Buggies

Remember when strollers were basically hammocks on wheels? Now they rival Hummers in size, with pockets and gadgets, zippers and locks, baskets and cubbies and knobs and cords—OH FUCKING MY! You can hide a bome in one of those things and because of that they should be banned in the name of Homeland Security!

Our parents before us grew up without SUV's, with smaller homes, and with smaller strollers and they turned out JUST FINE. Granted, their parents probably grew up with those Victorian-Era whirlygigs, but then again Victorians (unlike today's urban parents) were obnoxiously civilized.

As we speak, countless baby-filled strollers are being used in acts of terror against New Yorkers riding subway trains. Just last night I was sitting on the F train reading a book on Fidel Castro by Enrique Meneses, when the doors open and this guy yells “excuse me!” in an angry tone. Before I realize it, before I even know what he needs, he is rolling his megalostroller, child inside, over my feet. Both the front wheels of the stroller and the heftier rear wheels squashed my toes. I should’ve kicked his baby instead of waiting for the apology that never came. And this thumbs-for-brains is someone’s father.

How come idiots who procreate and shove their stroller-bound children into potentially armed-and-dangerous starngers are legal, but gay marriage isn't?


Soul Train

They’re reading Bibles, Torahs, Qur’ans, self-help books—the train is full of gods. It’s nostalgic. I was once a devotee of the god of the United Methodist Church, until I realized this god I was taught to believe in had no interest in listening to people like me.

It’s just as well. Letting go of faith—or killing it altogether—that’s the surest way to vanquish guilt and reach happiness. Every so often a person with a motherly quality comes along and tries to convince me that their god doesn't care that I am gay and is in fact my biggest supporter, yet these believers would sit in ceremonies listening to ministers and priests lassoing queers with the same threads of salvation as drug addicts and thieves. When pressed, they respond that they believe something different from what the leader of their faith believes. “Then, do you truly believe in the same god as your church?” I ask, while thinking fucking hyppocrite.

I will believe in no god who does not believe in me.


Not the Mama

I should’ve known better than to confide any part of my life in him. Dad is usually more understanding than mama, but he can be as punitive with his remarks when he disagrees with one of my choices.

Since mid-August I’ve been "jobless" in the sense that I'm not making money: I quit the cubicle, and I’ve been looking for part-time and freelance work that will also give me time to do theatre projects. If you’re an artist, you know what I mean; if you’re not, here’s a quick lesson: theatre does not pay...well. Usually you do theatre for free, and if you’re lucky (not if you’re talented, not if you work hard—LUCKY) you get to make a small living at it, which is usually subsidized by other kinds of work such as teaching or journalism or working as a server, a busboy, a masseur, whatever. VERY FEW among the LUCKY will be EXTRA lucky enough to be able to do theatre all the time and make enough money from it to pay for housing and food. tend to try to figure out ways to make money while giving yourself enough time to do the thing you love that brings in NO money. I KNOW it’s sounds so un-American to pursue something that doesn’t lead to financial security, but hey, somebody in this first world nation needs to think/communicate about existence, politics, human suffering, and if you spend your time chasing money you won’t.

Dad, in spite of having been raised a peasant in the hills of Cuba (or maybe because of it), every so often is possessed by the same money-hungry demon that mama usually is. When I told him I was going to be interviewing Kate Bornstein for, he asked, “Does that make you money?” No, that’s for free. When I told him I was teaching theatre to “at-risk” New York youth from now through mid-October he asked, “And does that make good money?” No, dad, it makes NO money. It’s a volunteer job—a very selective one, but there’s no pay. What can I say, helping young people is a quick trollop through poverty. Help a billionaire expand his portfolio, however, and you’re bathing in gold.

Needless to say, dad went OFF. I mean, complete bile bordering on the vituperative. That I was crazy, that jobs were hard to come by, that how can keep working for free, that I was being taken advantage of...

It was all judgment and fear. And incomprehension. Afraid that he would add “you’re wasting your life” to his itemized rant, I hung up on him. We haven’t spoken since.

I've met very few artists who've had supportive parentals. If you've got em, boy are you LUCKY.


La Cucaracha

The couch was a place of great learning when I was a kid. At about age four, I developed the habit of watching television in my underwear while fondling my scrotum. It probably awakened some kind of pleasure center, but I can’t actually remember getting off on it.

One day, as I was watching another creepy episode of Dark Shadows I felt a tickling sensation. When I looked down I realized there were roaches in my crotch. I immediately tried to squash one but there was too much pain so I panicked and ran into mama’s room where she napped, “There’s roaches! Roaches! Roaches, mommy!”

“Where, where are there roaches?” She slurred, half-asleep.

“In my balls.”

“Your balls? Let me see...” and so I showed mama my balls. She had to put her glasses on because she couldn’t see anything. The roaches wiggled again and I screamed “There! See! There they are!”

“There’s no roaches.”

“Yes there is, look...this...” and I held between my fingers one of the little insects—it was inside my scrotum and I wanted it out! And how did it get there? Was I not careful, did I not shake my penis properly after peeing and did the roaches, smelling some leftover pee droplets come in through my penis hole to drink my pee?! Or did they crawl in through my butt? Did they make a hole to get in and anesthetize it with special saliva?!

“That’s one of your little balls,” mama said.

“No. THIS is my balls,” I said, stretching the skin of my scrotum, “And that’s a roach!”

Mama assured me that the oval shaped creature moving about inside my skin was in fact a testicle. There were two of them, she pointed out, although she couldn’t explain how they moved, she assured me it was just the way it should be: creepy. Why would God do such a thing as make balls squirm?


The Nest

Mornings I learned to speak English from Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Afternoons I studied betrayal and lust with the vampires from Dark Shadows. Four years old and already the family couch was my classroom. It was dark—almost black—and completely artificial: not cloth or leather but cold vinyl. Once I mothered a chick on it.

Dad snatched a baby from the nests of chickens he raised and brought it to me as Christmas gift. Picky, I named the fluffy grey and white chick. The morning of that December 25th it was brisk even inside our Miami home and mama said, “Keep him warm. Their mommies keep them warm.” I chose two cotton pillows and placed one on top of the other on the black couch to make a cozy nest.

I put chilly Picky between the pillows and sat on top. He chirped stubbornly and every so often poked his head out from under the nest, but mother knew best: I would tuck him back, whispering, “You have to keep warm or you’ll get sick.” The parental struggle went on; my patience endured. At last Picky was quiet. The only sounds came from the television set. Cartoon tyrannosaurs attacked cartoon people.

When the show was over, I got up and took the top pillow off the nest. There he was asleep. Dreaming. Warm. I put his soft body in my hand and whispered his name. Then whispers became supplications “...wake up...wake up...”

Mama was in her bed sleeping, I carried my baby boy into her room and stood by her bed, “Mommy?” Her eyes fluttered open, and I showed her in my palms what she then said was gone.


Peace Fuckers

This has nothing to do with trains or mama, but it's just too juicy. If you've ever read Aristophanes' Lysistrata, well, it's happening again...

This is the kind of abstinence education I can fully support.



August 11th was my last day at Actors’ Equity, but I dreamt I was back. This time I was working in a different capacity and because of my former boss's terrible mood and jealousies, I wasn’t supposed to be seen. I had to sneak around the office and keep to myself.

But the office was at mama’s house in Miami. How desks for over 70 people fit into her tiny, one-level house, I can’t figure out—it was some kind of Escher-painting illusion. I stayed at mama’s, too. So I was eating, living, and sleeping at the same place where I now worked. When I’d wake up in the morning I couldn’t leave my room until first checking outside the window to make sure my former boss’s car wasn’t there yet. If it was, I had to wait for special escorts (of the incognito kind, not the sex kind) to take me to my office. This one morning he was there early, so the escorts came and took me to the front yard where I chatted with the human resources director. Her office was on mama’s porch and she liked to knit in a rocking chair there when she wasn’t busy with other work. It turned out my ex-boss was having a meeting with several producers in the backyard near the tool shed, which is where meetings were held on sunny days, and that’s why the escorts took me to the front of the house: people at opposite ends can’t see each other clearly.


Wiggly Ones

With no siblings or neighborhood friends, there was nobody else to ask. Not that I would have. I wasn’t supposed to trust in anyone else.

It had been about six months since I discovered the pleasure down there. Six months of staring at it and wondering what made it work. Six months of exploring different textures—toilet paper rolls, cotton swabs, stuffed animals, pillows. Everything was an object of my sexuality. Still, I wasn’t sure whether I’d reached that point where I could have a baby. Was that milky ooze sperm?

There wasn’t anything special about that night, except that I decided after exploring myself with a handful of shampoo to ask. One of my fisher price toys was in the bathroom—a small plastic construction worker. Really he was a plastic cylinder with a plastic ball for a head and a tiny construction helmet. He was flat along the base, which I used to scoop up some of my goo. The rest, I ate; it was the easiest way to clean up.

After cleaning and covering up, I proceeded eagerly to the kitchen. Mama was boiling down some beans and rice and with a wooden spoon she stirred the chunks of yucca that fried in a pot of oil.


“Oh! You scared me! It’s that you have a habit of surprising me.”

“What is this?”

She looked at it. She grinned. She bore her teeth in an ear-to-ear smile and asked, slyly, “Have you been tickling yourself down there?”

I took a deep breath, afraid to get reprimanded, “Yyyes.”

She smelled it.

“This is your semen.”

“Is it sperm?”


“But...the wiggly ones?”

“Yes. Now you’re a man. It’s not bad to tickle yourself down there. But you shouldn’t do it too much. They say it’s bad.”

They? There must’ve been a group of them, sitting around, watching boys like me and counting the number of times they masturbated. There must’ve been a study, and a medical analysis. She must be right, I thought.

I smiled. “Okay, I’ll be careful.”

“Wait. Leave that here. Let me show your father—he’ll be very proud and his nostrils will flare the way they do when he’s happy.”

For the next several years I tried not to masturbate more than eight times a day. If I surpassed that amount, I asked God for forgiveness.



A "tuff guy" on the train yesterday was sporting this multi-colored chili pepper pant.

How come gay marriage is illegal but wearing these pants isn't?


The Americans

They wore drab business colors—black, white and grey. Some of the men on board had THE blue workshirt—that dark navy blue that became popular years ago. Grey ties choked most of their necks.

I used to buy gray ties. I used to buy shirts with long sleeves and button holes at the tips of the collars. I used to want to be like those people in the business colors.

This was a train ride out of Wall Street. Every man and woman on board was an aspiring tycoon. 8:05PM and here was a train pakced with hard working Americans. Americans reading strategic planning reports, responding to emails on their Blackberries. Americans taking their money-making jobs home where they would have dinner with their bonuses before going to bed clutching spreadsheets in their desirous fingers. Dreams would come of corner offices surrounded by windows overlooking a matrix of cubicles.

There’s no freedom in being this kind of American. There’s no compassion, no democracy in the corporate office. Then we can’t expect there to be any “American” values elsewhere in the lives of a people who take their work home. When chasing dollar bills, halting for true respite and deep reflection only makes you poorer.


God Soldier

“excuse me. excuse me. excuse me.” She lightly picked a the man’s shoulder with her whispers and her voluminous black and grey curls shook. She thought how rude, not to move for a poor old woman—rude! The man finally heard her faint request and moved aside so she could lower herself to the empty seat below. The train wheels squealed against the rails.

Too many times. What is this!? Too short, too much clothes off. And them—THEM! Her thoughts pounded as she peeked at the group of teenagers near her who were all touching and kissing—FORNICATING on the TRAIN! She couldn’t contain it anymore.

“NO!” she snapped, “Uh-uh! Stop IT! STOP right there right there I don’t need to see it—it’s too much too much of your business in my face! THAT’S RIGHT! Stop TOUCHING!”

The young fornicators finally understood their crime and at the next station they changed train cars.

How happy her father would be if he could see her victory against these types. How he’d hold up his strong sweaty arm clenching his fingers in a fist—his hands dark from the coal mines— and shake out one of his grand pronouncements: “there is no greater good than God and the soldiers of His army.” She smiled and at the following station she floated off the train, a few strands of undone hair falling behind her.


The French Dress

I was returning to Miami and was going to stay at my aunt’s new house. A green cab picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at a parking lot in my aunt’s neighborhood. I paid the fare, got out, and there was mama, standing in the middle of the lot. She was wearing a pleated, white French dress with blue embroidered foliage and a red trim. Her arms were pulled in opposite directions by two leashed, white toy poodles. An Edith Piaf tune crackled from old speakers hung on the light posts in the lot.

I stared at mama, realizing by this point that it was all a dream, and she made a big fuss, “Surprise!,” she beamed. She was there to welcome me home, even though I would only be staying the weekend.

Then I noticed my entire extended family was there. Some cousins were in their cars with the windows rolled down, a few aunts were standing near the toy poodles. No one looked at me except mama; they stared away at nothing in particular. Their vacant eyes were frightening—it wasn’t that they seemed to be in despair, it was like...their souls had died...and far be it from me to make assumptions about what soulless people should or shouldn’t do, but I was amazed that in spite of their lifelessness they all held lit sparklers. Sparklers make me happy. Mama and I used to run around the house fourth of July’s with lit sparklers. We believed the golden fire from the lit sticks would cleanse the house of evil spirits and make the good spirits smile. None of my relatives had sparklers when I first saw them, though. The sparklers simply appeared, fully lit, in their hands the moment mama said, “Welcome home, my darling son!”

“This is excessive,” I calmly thought. Still, I thanked mama for her graciousness and asked if she’d be joining me at my aunt’s house. She said she had work to do and wished me a good time, so I walked off to the house. I can’t remember how you get there from the parking lot. The house isn’t right next to the lot and you can’t take the sidewalk to get to it...I think you need to walk along the shoreline...

My aunt’s house is amazing. It looks right over the ocean and has stone floors and a great bathroom that you can only get to from one of the balconies. The walls of that bathroom are translucent and there’s a skylight and plants growing inside—like a greenhouse. My aunt had lovingly filled the numerous stone dishes inside with purple, lavender-scented soaps. They were all oddly shaped and I figured it’s because they were the expensive hand-milled variety. I guess you can’t really hand-mill soap (you can hand-cut or hand-make it), but this wasn’t a reasonable dream. This wasn’t even my real aunt or a house I've really been in, so maybe in this unreal world soaps CAN be made with table-top mills. Maybe it's a very crafty world.

I don’t remember much what I did at my aunt’s. Being as close as we were to the water, I’m sure I took in some rays and frolicked in the sea a bit. That’s it—I relaxed by the ocean and went swimming each morning. Yes, that must be what I did, because that’s what I would do. Oh, and I took long baths with those hand-milled soaps. They were heavenly. Some even had whole flowers embedded in them and I felt like an uppity girl straight out of a Jane Austen novel.

When the time came to leave I walked to the parking lot to wait for the taxi. There was mama again, still dressed like a French flag, still holding two poodles. This time there was a cousin taking photos of mama and he kept saying, "This is it. This is your photo shoot. Look beautiful! Look gorgeous!" Mama made a very good model. I was impressed by how well she dealt with the chaos created by poodles, a make-up artist that kept retouchign her face, and a giant fan meant to simulate hurricane force winds. It was tropical storm photo shoot. Mama looked gorgeous in it. Her dress had a Marylin Monroe-ish undulation going on and her dyed blonde hair rippled behind her. She graciously waved goodbye while the make-up artist added more red to her lips, but mama wasn’t able to make a fuss with her goodbye--no kisses or hugs—after all, she had a spread to finish.