Author: David Taylor
Setting Decade: 1990s
Main Themes: Education, Family LifeExcerpt: Gerry had seen her father uncomfortable only twice, and both times it was on the Gallaudet campus. He came there once to bring her mother for a visit Gerry’s first semester, and the second time to help Gerry move her things when she dropped out. Both times he never said a word out of line, but moved with purpose, like he was crossing alien terrain. He parked the station wagon, he flipped down his shades, he got from Point A to Point B. When they reached her new apartment, the second time, and he sank into the old overstuffed blue chair that they’d struggled up three flights of stairs, he breathed like he’d survived a battle. He looked around and said, “I guess this place is as safe as most places you’ve been.” His face was killer.
Excerpt Page Number: 121
Address: Gallaudet University 20002
Main Themes: WorkingExcerpt: “Oh, that woman! She evil,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “We disagree too much, so I went to work at another shop. With a partner.” -- “Where?” I said. I nearly grabbed her wrist. -- “MacArthur Boulevard. You come there and I’ll give you really good haircut. Like last time.” -- “Great. Next week?” -- “Sure,” she said, glancing at my hair with a moment’s hesitation, probably seeing that it was too soon for a cut. I was so glad to see her I left the shop without the turkey. I didn't realize it until I got home, so we had a veggie stew that night. Hainie was sweet, and said it was delicious. The next morning I couldn't wait, I drove up MacArthur Boulevard, looking on both sides of the street through the quiet neighborhood for the striped barber pole. I parked the car and walked past the shop twice before walking inside. Cindy looked up from the head she was doing as the bell went off and smiled. “Why hello!” she said. She introduced me to her partner, also Vietnamese. “I’ll be out of town next week,” I said quickly. “So I decided, what the heck, I’ll come today.” -- “Okay, good,” she said with each syllable open and unstressed, letting the last one trail off. “Please, have a seat.” I thumbed through another issue of People, glancing at Leo di Caprio and admiring Minnie Driver, mulling over opening arguments in my head. “Your honor, it’s plain to see that I’m...” I got stuck. I felt sure my appearance would speak for itself, but what if I had to articulate it? What was I aiming for? Smart, successful. I didn't see it in People, or in the headshots framed on the walls above the barber shop mirrors (the models looked successful, but stupid). I didn't even see it in Hainie’s eyes when she looked at me lately. I corrected myself: of course that was wrong. Hainie was the only one who believed in me. “Okay,” Cindy said, as she shook out the apron. “What would you like?” -- “Like last time,” I said. “Right,” she said, and got started. She asked me if I was working that day. “No,” I said, “I’m off this afternoon.” She nodded at me in the mirror opposite and kept at it with the electric clippers. She didn't even have to use the comb, it was still so short from last time. She finished with the sides and started on the top. I noticed gray in the brown clumps on the apron like sawdust. I was in good hands. My head dropped forward, I stared at the green mat in front of three waiting chairs. The comb against my scalp, the snipping sound. Irritating sensations, so close to the ears and nerves, the tightness at the collar where the red apron is clipped in place, the splinters of hair against my neck. Yet I could relax.
Excerpt Page Number: 108-109
Address: 5439 MacArthur Blvd, NW 20016
Setting Decade: 1990s
Main Themes: Marriage, RomanceExcerpt: They had first met at a paper convention in the downtown hotel where she gave hair removal demos two afternoons a week. It was a late lunch, and he didn’t know anyone at the convention and was suffering a rare episode of self-consciousness, when she appeared at the same table with a tuna wrap from the buffet table. She was younger than most company reps, and he was so charmed and pleased to talk with an attractive woman outside the industry, and she made electrolysis sound so interesting, that he got a little silly.
Excerpt Page Number: 159
Address: 1221 22nd St NW 20037
Setting Year: 1971
Setting Decade: 1970s
Main Themes: Class, Family Life, HealthExcerpt: And things became more tense on Saturday afternoons when my dad and I left for Laurel. That particular Saturday marked a break in a stretch of 100-degree days, and my father had been out of sorts. He came in from the shed clutching his back, his shirt gray and damp. He collapsed into his armchair and rubbed his hand over his eyes. “Would you be crushed if we didn't make it to the track this week, Shelly?” he said. He looked awful. “Not if you’re feeling bad,” I said. We’d missed it only twice before, once because of tornadoes. “Well,” he said, “we’ll see.” I changed back into my jeans, and resigned myself to walking to the Seven Eleven on Route 1 and checking the comic racks. But then my father came out of the bathroom with his hair wet and combed back. “You’re going to wear that to the track, son?” he said. I ran back to my room and changed. We liked to look good at the track. I came back downstairs, where my father rested his hand on the newel post. “Shelly, old man, I’m feeling lucky today,” he said. It was a strange thing for him to say. We never talked about luck, it was always about the process. I can still see him leaning back to say it, the collar of his pale sport shirt at his tan neck, the smile creeping across his face, stealthy and new. It confused me. I thought he had heard something. We got into the Impala and he backed down the twin cement strips of driveway to the street. I waved to Mother.
Excerpt Page Number: 78-79
Address: 3101 Rhode Island Ave NE 20018