Sunday, March 20, 2011

Surrounded by Beautiful Women by Earl Staggs

Derringer Award winning author Earl Staggs has seen many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. His novel MEMORY OF A MURDER earned thirteen Five Star reviews online at Amazon and B&N. His column “Write Tight” appears in Apollo’s Lyre. He is also a contributing member of Murderous Musings and Make mine Mystery. He hosts workshops for the Muse Online Writers Conference and The Catholic Writers’ Conference Online and is a frequent speaker at writers’ gathering.  Visit his Homesite at:

Surrounded by Beautiful Women
by Earl Staggs

It all started when I married Carol, a beautiful girl. We had two daughters, also beautiful.  Before long, we had a family dog, also a female and beautiful for a dog.

So there I was, surrounded by beautiful women.
The dog passed on to the big kennel in the sky years ago, and our daughters are grown to full adulthood and off living their own lives with their own families.  Cindi, our youngest, lives in Houston, about four hours away, and Chris, older by five years, lives in New Jersey, about a million miles away from us. Very rarely do we get to spend time with the two of them at once, but they’re both here in Fort Worth now for a visit, just them, without their husbands and our grandkids.  It’s only the four of us, as it was all those years ago when they were growing up.

So here I am once again, surrounded by beautiful women.  And loving it.
We raised our girls in Maryland and experienced everything parents can go through.  We sold a lot of Girl Scout cookies through those years. Naturally, we bought as many as we sold.  If you have daughters, I know you can relate.   Girl Scouts also go on camping trips. Carol and I found it hard to sleep knowing they were out there in the woods where bears, snakes, wolves, poison ivy and who knows what else lurked.
All little girls have to go to dance classes, of course, and parents have to take them there, sit and wait, and bring them home.  That was boring, so Carol and I came up with the crazy idea of joining the class.  We did and learned enough tap to take part in the recitals. Yes, we actually did, and it was fun.

Then came sports.  For Chris, it was volleyball and cheerleading.  For cheerleading, she had to learn to throw a backflip.  We dragged a mattress into the back yard, rigged a harness with rope, and spent hours practicing that stupid backflip.  She fell a lot, but that’s why the mattress was there.
Cindi chose softball, which meant I had to pitch the ball to her so she could practice her batting swing.   I’d pitch, she’d hit, and I’d have to chase down the ball.  The better she got with the bat, the farther she hit the ball, and the farther I’d have to go to retrieve it.  I spent more time searching for the ball than she did hitting it.  Back to the drawing board. I drilled a hole in the ball, ran a long cord through it, and tied the other end of the cord to a cinder block.  I’d pitch, she’d hit, the ball would only travel the length of the cord, then I only had to pick up the cord and pull the ball back.  Much easier on me, and she became a darn good hitter.

We taught them to ride bikes and, later, to drive cars.  Those tasks were easy compared to the most daunting and fearful challenge.  We’d worried about bears and snakes on those Girl Scout camping trips. This was worse.  Now we had to worry about the worst danger of all.  Boys.  OMG!  The worst nightmare of parents of girls.  There were no nice boys.  They were all evil predators intent of leading our babies astray.  If you’ve raised daughters, you can relate to that, too, I’m sure.
Now with the two of them visiting us, we sit around recalling stories from those days.  One of their favorite stories is the one about the pancakes.  We were watching TV at the time.  I carried my plate into the kitchen and with my attention on whatever we were watching, reached for the syrup. I picked up the bottle, opened it, poured a liberal amount on my pancakes, and took a bite.  Thought I would die! I’d picked up the bottle of dishwashing liquid instead of syrup.  They love to drag out that story. Even I can laugh about it now.
We loved amusement parks and did Disney World, Six Flags, Hershey Park and more.   I’ll never forget Cindi’s first roller coaster ride. It was Hershey Park’s newest ride, a big one that went very fast and rolled you upside down a few times.  She was only four, scared to death, and I had to coax her to go on it with me.  While we waited in line, she watched wide-eyed and open-mouthed, not saying a word, as the monster ride sped past overhead with people screaming upside down.  I knew she wanted to run into mom’s arms and not get on the ride.  She hung in there, though, and the first thing she said when it was over was, “Can we go again?”
We have grandchildren now.  Chris presented us with two granddaughters and, yes, they are beautiful.  Cindi added two handsome young men to our family.  Now, our daughters are going through many of the same experiences Carol and I did.  I smile to myself and think, “Welcome to parenthood.”
I have pictures, of course, hundreds of pictures.  Come by sometime, and I’ll bring them out and show you what life was like for a man surrounded by beautiful women.  I know you’ll agree I’m a lucky man.

The four of us, back in the day. Carol and the girls are still beautiful. I’ve aged a tad. (And lost the mustache)


jenny milchman said...

Oh boy, can I relate to the GS cookies, Earl. As one of the Daisy troop leaders, my daughter must at least earn her cute little cookie badge! Luckily I like Samoas ;) And we just came in from trying to prepare our two--a boy and a girl, 5 and 7--for the start of T-ball and softball season. I'm going to mention that cord trick to my husband.

Your family is indeed gorgeous, but what I found even more gorgeous was how universally you painted these days of parenting, and how your flash forward to the time when it isn't just us 4 brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you, Earl & Kaye. And best to the families.

Vicki Lane said...

You are, indeed, a lucky man, Earl! But I'd say those women in your life are lucky too...

Julia Buckley said...

Oh, Earl, what a beautiful reminiscence!! I would actually like to come by and look at your photos--but I love the one you included.

I have a similar funny story. My dad once took us on a family vacation on the east coast. We stopped at a restaurant in Massachusetts called Brother Jonathan's--it had all sorts of delicious seafood and "authentic" fare. When the waitress put something on our table, my dad said, "Do you know what this is, kids? It's real cream. You don't see it served like this anymore." And he put a huge dollop into his coffee, where it began to curdle and float on top.

The waitress came and explained that it was bleu cheese dressing. :)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hi, guys, Welcome! Glad to see everyone here making our Earl feel welcome.

Earl - the tap dancing lessons. oh my. Priceless!!!

You have a lovely family and I could listen to your stories for hours and hours on end. What a terrific husband/dad you are.

Julia - HYSTERICAL!!!!!!

Earl Staggs said...

Jenny, fortunately, I loved cookies,too. Still do. I hope the rope trick works for your husband. It saved a lot of wear and tear on my legs.

Earl Staggs said...

I feel very lucky, Vicki, to have a wonderful family. When you tally the things really important, nothing ranks higher than that.

Earl Staggs said...

Julia, come on over and I'll bring out the pictures. Pack a lunch, tho, because there are a lot of them. I love the story about your dad and the bleu cheese dressing. I wonder if he and I are related,.

Kaye George said...

Your women ARE beautiful, Earl, and you sound like you were the BEST Daddy! What a nice essay to read. Thank you so much, Earl and Kaye, whom I am so incredibly lucky as to count as my friends!

Earl published one of my very early stories and Kaye has agreed to interview me for my novel debut!

Aren't mystery people wonderful? And I'd say this even if I hadn't just had 3 glasses of wine, for sure.

Coco Ihle said...

Earl,I laughed and cried reading your essay, but ultimately, I left your story with a sense of peace and well being. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful rememberings.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a lovely tribute to the women in your life, Earl! I'm living a lot of your memories right now--my children are 14 and 9. :) So glad you're having such a nice time catching up with your girls now.

Earl Staggs said...

Thanks for coming by, JudyKaye, and for saying such nice things.

I'll be waiting for the debut of your novel and your interview with Kaye.

But, girl,we need to talk about the amount of wine you're consuming.

Earl Staggs said...

Hi, Coco. Thanks so much for your comments. The best thing about good memories is that we haven't had them all yet.

Earl Staggs said...

Elizabeth, with 14 and 9 year olds, I'm sure you're collected a wealth of good memories already, and there are many more to come. Savor and save them.

Jill said...

You are indeed a lucky man! Along with my dad who was blessed with three daughters! We also had lots of Girl Scout cookies in the house. Loved the dish soap story.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Good stuff, Earl.


Earl Staggs said...

Hi, Jill. Thanks for stopping by.

Raising daughters is a tough job with many rewards. I know your dad would agree.

Best regards.

Earl Staggs said...

Thanks, Kevin.

Janis Susan May said...

Sounds like everyone in your house was lucky.

And I would have paid good money to watch you tap dance! Any chance of an encore??


Barry Ergang said...

Earl Staggs, tops in taps!

A great reminiscence, and a great way to be surrounded.

Earl Staggs said...

An encore, Susan? Next time we meet, you just never know. I did all right tapping to "Mr. Bojangles," but at my age, you may have to settle for the ol' soft shoe.

Earl Staggs said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Barry.