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Today's Story by Patricia Florio

Now that I was sixteen my mother offered me this privilege of meeting Marg in Coney Island. And I intended on making the most of my day.

My Coney Island Baby

I swallowed the last of my Nathan’s hog dog as I zipped through the alleyway that housed the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone. The silver-color Cyclone flashed past my head and the fun-filled screams of the riders could be heard throughout all of Coney Island.  It didn’t distract me from my goal: today I was meeting my best friend Marg. Marguerite Elizabeth Rizzo.

Today’s, the last day of school in Brooklyn, and the first time in a two-year hiatus, that we would actually get to see one another since I had moved out of the neighborhood of Cobble Hill in Brooklyn.

The air around me smelled sweet of caramel corn and cotton candy.  I breathed it all in as I raced to meet Marg in front of Steeplechase Park.  I dodged in and out of tourists and beach-goes holding chairs and coolers and make my way to Steeplechase Park.  There she stood outside the gate dressed in white clam diggers and a navy blue tank top.  Her hair, now blond, hung in a ponytail curl from the top of her head all the way down to her shoulders.  I noticed the new hair color immediately, and how long her hair had gotten since the last time we were together.  The day I left crying in her arms standing in her kitchen saying goodbye on my family’s moving day.

Marg didn’t see me come up on her until the very last minute, and I did a stupid thing that friends sometimes do, I cupped my hands over her eyes and said, “Guess who?”  I realized in that second my hands probably smelled like hot dogs and mustard, tipping off the fact that I had stopped and eaten lunch.

She jumped and spun around. “Pooh Bear!” she yelled, excited to see me.  Marg had always called me Pooh Bear from the first time we decided she’d be Winny and I’d be the Pooh Bear in one of our crazy games that girls often play.

“You made it,” she said, and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.  I hugged and kissed her and told her she looked great.  I asked the usual stuff like, “How’s your mother and father?” The kind of thing friends asked about families, especially since her parents lived  next door to my parents before we were even born.

My mother didn’t exactly like Marg’s parents.  She forced a lot of phony smiles at them most of the time.  Our fathers only talked baseball, which was a summer thing sitting outside on the stoop. block.

My mother believed, and convinced my father, that Marg’s parents allowed her to do stuff like date boys and go to the movie theaters at night.  My parents never permitted me to do any of those socializing things until I turned eighteen.  My mother constantly preached, “It’s a dangerous world out there, Honey.  Dad and I are just trying to protect you.”  Protect me, ha, that’s an understatement.  They’d have kept me in a bubble if they could get away with it.

Sometimes when I thought about their old fashioned way, I realized I was ashamed of my parents.  They were old fashion Italian minded.  They embarrassed me.  I know that’s an awful thing to say, but it’s true nonetheless.

I convinced myself to push all the negative thoughts out of my  mind because we were here  together and I wasn’t going to have old thoughts spoiling our fun.

Fifty cents bought our admission tickets.   Huge circular tickets with George C. Tilyou’s smiley face plastered on the front and attached them to our belt loops for safekeeping.  We planned out our day with riding the steel horses at least twice, even if we had to dodge the clowns zapping us with their electric wands.  We wanted to go on Steeplechase’s smaller roller coaster compared to the rest of the coasters in Coney Island.  Probably  not as exciting as the Cyclone but we were sure we’d have just as much fun.  Marg wrote down our plan and counted the number of clicks on the ticket and figured we could stay inside the Park if we went slow for at least three hours.

Now that I was sixteen my mother offered me this privilege of meeting Marg in Coney Island.  And I intended on making the most of my day.  My mother called it, “Give-me-a-reason-not-to-trust-you-and-your-privileges-will-be-taken away.”  I intended not to screw up.

We laughed and joked splashing splashed water from the fountain on our sweaty overheated bodies. We played and danced together and afterwards rode on the carousel.  My pink horse had gold eyes and a magnificent mane of blue hair.  Marg smiled at me so happy that we had this opportunity to be together.   Marg reached off from her purple horse with the orange colored mane and caught the gold ring.  Later as we sat on the boardwalk, Marg put the gold ring on my finger. We had joy in our hearts singing to each other, “You’re my Coney Island Baby, I love you, I love you, I do. You’re my pretty little lady…”

Marg held my hand as we sat looking out at the waves crashing against the shore.  As the water ebbed and flowed, I knew Marg was my Coney Island Baby, and not even my mother could take that away from me.


Patricia Florio received her M.F.A. from Wilkes University, January 2011.  She writes travel articles on www.stripedpot.com.  She is in the process of revising her Thesis/Memoir titled My Two Mothers.  Patricia can be reached at patriciaflorio@aol.com


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