Margo…

“Would you believe in a love at first sight? Yes, I’m certain that it happens all the time.”

Here’s the opening passage of my novella Meeting Margo, where narrator Brian Pressley describes his (their) moment of First Sight…


 

h-armstrong-roberts-1960s-elementary-classroom-children-at-desks-writing-studyingI love Margo LeDoux. I always have and I always will. I loved her, really, from the moment I set eyes on her: Tuesday morning, August 28, 1967, in Miss Peterson’s second grade class, General John F. Reynolds Elementary School, Quaker Valley, PA.

Miss Peterson sat us all down in her horseshoe-shaped desk arrangement, and as she read the roll, I could feel someone watching me… and I felt like I knew who it was –who she was– but every time I looked at her, she looked away: down at her desktop, or up at Miss Peterson, or beyond her at the blackboard. She was cute: full pink lips and high cheekbones that seemed to suggest a perpetual smile; a round nose; a shimmering sheet of straight, honey-blonde hair that fell over her shoulders and onto her chest; and sparkling turquoise eyes that didn’t tell me she was up to something as much as they seemed to say that she knew what was going on.

MARGUERITE LE DOUX, the pink-for-girls-construction-paper nameplate on her desktop read.

I didn’t recognize the name, but I could’ve sworn I knew her from someplace. She looked familiar, and as I tried to remember where I’d met her before (The pool? Church? Day camp? The playground?) our eyes finally met, and in that instant of meeting, I felt a rush of familiarity and knowing from the top of my head in a jolt down to the center of my chest. I never felt anything like it before, and I haven’t felt anything that strong, certain or pure since.

I had to look down, and so did she, both of us smiling.

In that instant, that flash, I felt not only like I knew her from someplace else, but like we’d been best friends before and we’d agreed to meet up again someday, some time, but we’d forgotten about it, and now, in those two desks in that second grade classroom, there we were.

There she was.

 


About Meeting Margo

Cover front

A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.

Click here to order the print edition from Amazon.

Click here to buy and download the PDF e-book from my Selz.com store. 

 

 

Read Chapter One of MEETING MARGO…

cover-frontMy novella, Meeting Margo, was published in a Kindle edition this past spring.

Meeting Margo is the ultimate prequel to my novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson: the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met his best friend, seven-year-old Canadian Margo LeDoux, on the first day of second grade. (I say “ultimate” but who knows? I may well go back and mine the parents’ stories eventually. Never say never.)

Get started on reading Meeting Margo!

This short work doesn’t have chapter breaks per se, but here’s the first section of the book: the moment when Brian walks into his second grade classroom on the first day of school and sees this GIRL sitting in the desk directly across from his.

This vignette was told in slightly different form in You Don’t Think She Is (written by Brian as an essay for his high school creative writing class). Here, it’s presented as I originally wrote it several years ago, in Brian’s voice looking back as a 4-something adult.

Enjoy!

For more information on Meeting Margo and to order a copy of the e-book, scroll to the bottom of this post or click here.


 

I love Margo LeDoux. I always have and I always will. I loved her, really, from the moment I set eyes on her: Tuesday morning, August 28, 1967, in Miss Peterson’s second grade class, General John F. Reynolds Elementary School, Quaker Valley, PA.

photo-1Miss Peterson sat us all down in her horseshoe-shaped desk arrangement, and as she read the roll, I could feel someone watching me… and I felt like I knew who it was –who she was– but every time I looked at her, she looked away: down at her desktop, or up at Miss Peterson, or beyond her at the blackboard. She was cute: full pink lips and high cheekbones that seemed to suggest a perpetual smile; a round nose; a shimmering sheet of straight, honey-blonde hair that fell over her shoulders and onto her chest; and sparkling turquoise eyes that didn’t tell me she was up to something as much as they seemed to say that she knew what was going on.

MARGUERITE LE DOUX, the pink-for-girls-construction-paper nameplate on her desktop read.

I didn’t recognize the name, but I could’ve sworn I knew her from someplace. She looked familiar, and as I tried to remember where I’d met her before (The pool? Church? Day camp? The playground?) our eyes finally met, and in that instant of meeting, I felt a rush of familiarity and knowing from the top of my head in a jolt down to the center of my chest. I never felt anything like it before, and I haven’t felt anything that strong, certain or pure since.

I had to look down, and so did she, both of us smiling.

In that instant, that flash, I felt not only like I knew her from someplace else, but like we’d been best friends before and we’d agreed to meet up again someday, some time, but we’d forgotten about it, and now, in those two desks in that second grade classroom, there we were.

There she was.

MARGUERITE LE DOUX.

Wonder how you pronounce that? I thought.

La-DOWX? LEE-dowx? la-DUKES?–

“–Now, Marguerite LeDoux,” Miss Peterson said, pronouncing it leh-DOO, and Marguerite straightened in her seat and faced front. “It says here you’re new to our school. Where did you go last year, Marguerite?”

“Margo,” she sighed.

Miss Peterson didn’t get it. She blinked twice behind her Ben Franklin glasses. “Margo,” she repeated. “Now, where is that, dear? Western Pennsylvania?”

“No, that’s my name,” Margo giggled. “Margo,” and as a few kids giggled and Miss Peterson “Ohhhhh”d, Margo’s eyes met mine again, and instead of looking away when I felt that rush, I smiled at her, and she smiled right back… and then we both had to look down.

“Margo,” Miss Peterson repeated as she wrote Margo’s Preferred Nickname in her rollbook and Margo faced front again. “I’m sorry. Well, now, where did you go to school last year, Margo?”

“Ottawa,” Margo said. “It’s in Canada.”

“Canada,” Miss Peterson repeated. “Parlais-vous Francais?”

“Ouais, ma’am.”

“Avez-vous parlé français à votre école?”

“Parfois.”

“Tell everyone what we said, Margo.”

Margo’s voice got quiet and shy, and even though she was looking down, I felt like she was talking right to me.

“You asked me if I speak French, and I said ‘Yes, ma’am,’ and then you asked me if they speak French in my old school, and I said ‘Sometimes.’”

“Canada is bilingual, children,” Miss Peterson said, and she looked right at me for a second. “That means they speak two languages.” She looked back at Margo. “Do both your parents speak French, Margo?”

“Well… Mom does. Dad tries. I translate.” Margo caught my eye again, and as she quickly looked back up at our teacher, she was smiling again, and so was I.

“You translate,” Miss Peterson said. “Wow. How lucky for them.”

“Yeah, sometimes,” Margo said.

Miss Peterson laughed. “Sometimes,” she repeated. “Well, welcome to our country and our school, Margo.”

Yes! Welcome, Margo!

10:15 ticked around –recess!– and we all lined up at the door, a‑to‑z, paired boy-girl, boy-girl. There must have been more girls than boys in the front part of the alphabet, though, because guess who I was paired up with? There she stood next to me, in her red gingham dress and her matching red Chuck Taylors (how was it that girls’ clothes always coordinated?), leaning against a desk, swinging her leg, looking down…

…and when we were finally all lined up and quiet, Miss Peterson said, “All right, class… let’s go,” and of course, I took Margo’s hand, like we always did when we went out of the classroom in line…

…except as soon as I gripped Margo’s fingers, she squeezed my hand and leaned over and kissed me lightly on the cheek –“Awwww… mon amour!” she sighed…

…but then, as she pulled back and realized what was going on –all of our classmates were also holding hands– she looked down, shy, and as I caught her out of the corner of my eye, I could see her face was bright red. “Pardon,” she whispered, but like it was French –“Parr-DOHN”– and she squeezed my hand. I squeezed hers back and we stepped out of the room.

Part of me wanted to ask Margo what she said and why she kissed me, but as we walked down the hall and I felt her warm fingers intertwined with mine, another part of me already knew the answer, and, really, I liked it.

As Margo and I burst through the doorway of the school and ran across the macadam playground over to the slide– still holding hands– I felt like we were best friends already.

And while those two words —best friends– pretty much defined Margo’s and my relationship for the next thirty years, neither of us ever forgot that before we even spoke a word to each other, I held Margo LeDoux’s hand and she kissed me.

 


About Meeting Margo

Cover front

A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.

Click here to order the print edition from Amazon.

Click here to buy and download the PDF e-book from my Selz.com store. 

 

 

“And a happy birthday to Brian Pressley in Quaker Valley…”

cover-frontMy just-published novella, Meeting Margo, is a prequel to my novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson. It’s the story of how Brian and Margo met and became best friends, second grade, 1967, Quaker Valley, Pennsylvania.

In this excerpt, Brian gets a birthday surprise the Saturday morning after he and Margo have a sleepover party in Brian’s basement.

Meeting Margo is available in print and ebook editions. For more information, scroll down or click here.


Sometime in the middle of the night, while I dreamt about taking a ride through the battlefield with Margo and my Grandma Pressley, I felt a pair of adult hands nudging me gently.

“Come on, sport… move it on over!” I heard Dad say as he edged me off of Margo’s mattress and over onto my own, and then he chuckled as he tucked me into my sleeping bag. “Eight years old and they already want to sleep together, Laura,” he said.

“Dan…” Mom said…

wgalchannel8logo…and after a few more dreams, I was waking with Margo sitting on the mattress next to me in her sleeping bag, watching The Cisco Kid on channel 8.

“Bon jour, Brian!” she chirped, like nothing at all had happened the night before. “You guys get channel 8 clear.

“We have an aerial on a tower,” I said as I sat up, and we watched The Cisco Kid and the channel 8 kids show together.

I watched the channel 8 Saturday morning show (after The Cisco Kid) every weekend growing up, but for some reason I remember absolutely nothing about it.

O.K…. not “nothing”… two things. The first is the dippy cartoon they used to run when they announced the birthdays. It was three reindeer singing

Have a happy birthday,

Whether you’re nicey or boo

We would like to wish a

Happy birthday to you!

 

Three hundred and sixty five days

Seems like an awful lot

But then before you know it

Another year is sh-sh-sh-shot!

Back then, stuttering reindeer were considered cutting-edge comedy.

The second thing I remember about the kids show is that the Dippy Stuttering Reindeer were immediately followed by the birthdays, and the morning that Margo slept over, the first one they read was “And a happy birthday to Brian Pressley in Quaker Valley, who’s eight years old tomorrow. Happy birthday, Brian!”

Holy crap!

I was on TV.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Margo yelled, and she kissed my cheek. “You’re famous! ‘Happy Birthday to Brian Pressley in Quaker Valley!’ There’s not another one, is there?”

My heart was racing and I was short of breath.

“I don’t think so,” I whispered.

“Wow!” Margo said as she sat back. “‘Happy birthday to Brian Pressley in Quaker Valley,’” she repeated. “You were on TV, Bri. I want mine on TV, too. Wow! God!”

We watched the rest of the show and then went upstairs and got dressed, Margo yammering the whole time about The Announcement. “He’s famous, Mr. Pressley. You shoulda seen it!”

Dad, of course, was Totally Surprised. “I wonder how they knew…” he said, a faint smile on his lips.

“I was gonna call him on that,” Margo said later, “but I didn’t wanna ruin your birthday.”

 


About Meeting Margo

Cover front

A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.

Click here to order the print edition from Amazon.

Click here to buy and download the PDF e-book from my Selz.com store. 

 

 

 

“You guys and your APPLES…” – An excerpt from MEETING MARGO

cover-frontSeven-year-old second graders Brian Pressley and Margo LeDoux met on the first day of second grade in Miss Peterson’s classroom, John Reynolds Elementary School, Quaker Valley, PA… and immediately Brian was attracted to this bilingual (English and French) girl from Ontario… and so that night, he opened up the atlas at home and found Margo’s home city of Ottawa. The next day, he couldn’t wait to tell her…

This is an excerpt from my new novella, Meeting Margo. Scroll down for more information or click here.


 

“Hey, Margo!” I yelled as we swung on the swings at recess the next morning. “Guess what?”

“What?” she yelled back.

We were both swinging pretty hard and we had to yell to hear each other. When I was all the way up, Margo was all the way back, and when I was all the way back… well… you get it. We’d meet briefly in the middle, but mostly we were yelling at each others’ backs.

“We have an atlas…” I yelled as we passed each other.

“A what?” Margo yelled from behind me.

“An atlas!” I yelled as we passed again. “And guess what?”

“What?” she yelled from way up in front of me. Margo was flying up almost level with the crossbar of the swingset.

“I found Ottawa!” We passed again. “On the map!” Passed again. “Ottawa!”

“So?” Margo yelled from behind me. “You want a medal‑‑” and she swung past me “–or a chest to pin it on?” and she jumped, flying in a rolling tumble onto the grassy bank at the edge of the macadam, tearing the hem of her yellow dress.

I jumped and landed in a roll next to her.

“You probably couldn’t find Quaker Valley on a map,” I said, not admitting that, without the fingernail mark, I was kind of lost myself.

“That’s ‘cause it’s petite, Bri,” she said, examining the hem of her dress.

“What’s ‘petite?’” I said.

Margo tsked. “Little.”

I sat up straight and indignant. “Quaker Valley has some of the largest apple orchards in the world!” I said.

“I know,” Margo moaned, getting up and back on the swing. “You guys and your apples…”

I hopped on the swing next to Margo and we started back up. Margo built up a head of steam pretty quickly.

“Well, what happened in Ottawa?” I yelled.

“Mom… married… Dad… and they… had… me!!” Margo yelled as she flew past me back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…

 


About Meeting Margo

Cover front

A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.

Click here to order the print edition from Amazon.

Click here to buy and download the PDF e-book from my Selz.com store. 

 

 

“Meeting Margo” is now available!

 

My new book, Meeting Margo, is now available in both print and ebook form (PDF or Kindle).

 

Cover front

A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the foreword):

My first two novels, You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, were the most public products of over a decade of writing and drafting through my characters’ collective storyline. (There was also a short story collection entitled What’s With Her? and my Goddard College creative writing MFA thesis, Sad Sweet Dreamer). Most of this writing was embodied in a ridiculously sprawling three-binder “novel” entitled The Little Girl I Once Knew.

This mass of story was my writer’s workshop: I basically learned to write a novel by drafting out The Little Girl I Once Knew, and, through rewrite and revision and paring, seeing what didn’t work. As a result, I not only had a clear sense of the characters’ personality and history for future works, but I accumulated an abundance of material. A lot of it got incorporated into You Don’t Think She Is; some of it, I mined for short stories (collected in What’s With Her?); some of it, I alluded to in Meeting Dennis Wilson.

But for as much material as I adapted or alluded to, there was even more material that I didn’t use. It wasn’t inferior by any means; some of just didn’t fit my developing sense of who the characters were, while other pieces either didn’t work when trimmed to story length, or didn’t fit into a larger work. (Plot? What plot?)

A lot of this material was about the characters’ early childhood– those first couple years after Margo and Brian met, culminating in the vignette where Brian and Christy “stripped and spun” in their cornfield fort. These rejected chapters give depth to the characters’ personalities, relationships, and history. Any time I read this stuff, I felt like I wanted to get it out there, but under what pretense? I wanted to create NEW works, not revisit old works.

But then two things happened. First, in drafting my third novel, Switch, I started going back to the older unpublished stuff for material that I could mine or allude to in the new work. And then second, as my two novels gained readers, many of them told me the same thing that an early reader of Meeting Dennis Wilson told me: that she hated to see the book end, and she “missed the characters.”

With this in mind, I re-read the first several chapters of The Little Girl I Once Knew, and decided that it’d make a great standalone book. And that’s what this is: the story of my characters’ meeting. There’s no pretense of plot or significance; as with most of my writing, the characters and their love for each other is the story. Some of what’s here might be familiar to readers of You Don’t Think She Is or Meeting Dennis Wilson because it’s either been alluded to or adapted for those books. (Example: I revised the opening chapter about the first day of school in 1967 for You Don’t Think She Is, changing the point of view so that Brian was writing not as a middle-aged man looking back, as he is here, but as a high school student recalling the episode as an exercise for a high school creative writing class.) I hope the repetition isn’t annoying.

With this novella, the story of my characters’ meeting and shared history is now “out there.” I doubt this will prevent me from alluding to or adapting this material in future works, but at least with Meeting Margo published, you won’t need to wonder what I’m talking about or ask to see more.

Click here to order the print edition from Amazon.

Click here to buy and download the PDF e-book from my Selz.com store. 

 

“Oui. Y-E-S. Oui!”

Meeting Margo is a prequel novella to You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson and my other stories. Meeting Margo tells the story of how Brian and Margo met on the first day of second grade and eventually became best friends. It’s now available in eBook and print editions. Scroll to the bottom of this post for more info!

In this excerpt , from chapter three, we see Brian’s first real conversation with Margo, on the playground, first day of second grade, Quaker Valley, Pennsylvania, August, 1967. They’ve already seen each other and felt at first glance like they knew each other already; they’ve gone out to recess and gone down the sliding board and even gotten in trouble together; Brian knows that Margo is from Canada, but other than that, his soon-to-be-best-friend is a mystery to him.

They take a few turns on the merry-go-round, and then…

We were on our way over to the swingset, but Margo muttered “Zut! Pebble!” and sat down on the ground to take off her right sneaker. I sat down next to her, squinting from the hot bright morning sunlight reflecting off the windowpanes of the school.

O.K. Time for answers.

“So… you’re from Canada?” I said.

fr_dictionary“Oui,” she said.

“Wee?” I repeated.

“Oui,” she said, untying her shoelaces. “Y-E-S. Oui.”

“Does ‘oui’ mean yes?”

Margo giggled. “Ouais.”

“Way?”

“Oui!”

Way… wee… God… this wasn’t going to be easy.

“What’s wee?” I said.

Margo pulled her shoe off, smirking. “You mean you don’t know what wee is, Bri?”

“No… I mean, that’s ‘yes’ in Canadian?”

“No,” Margo said impatiently, “in French. There’s no such thing as Canadian.”

That’s right. French. She said already.

“How come they speak French in Canada?” I said.

Margo looked like this was the first time anyone had ever posed the question.

“I don’t know, Bri,” she said at last.

I noticed that Margo was calling me “Bri.” Oddly enough, nobody’d ever called me “Bri” before, but it just rolled off Margo’s tongue like it was my given name.

“But your Dad speaks French?” I said.

“No… Mom does. She’s from Quebec. That’s a French speaking province.” Margo had her white sweatsock rolled all the way down over her heel; somehow a small stone had worked its way inside. She picked it between her thumb and index finger and flicked it off into the grass, then pulled her sock back up. “Dad’s from Ontario,” she continued as she gave her sneaker an upside-down insurance shake and then pulled it on. “He speaks mainly English. He tries speaking French, and Mom tries speaking English, but a lot of times they just look at each other. They‑‑”

RRRRRRRRINNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!

I reached down to help Margo up. “Come on!” I said, and we ran hand-in-hand over to get in line, Margo’s two long white shoelace ends flopping against the macadam with each step.

“Margo…”

“What, Bri?”

“Your shoelace is untied.”

Margo grinned as she bent down to tie her lace. “That,” she said, “is the oldest trick in the book.”

 


About Meeting Margo

Cover front

A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.

Click here to order the print edition from Amazon.

Click here to buy and download the PDF e-book from my Selz.com store. 

 

 

Meeting Fran and Tom…

cover-frontThis is an excerpt from my new novella, Meeting Margo. Scroll down for more information or click here.

It’s December 1967, and seven-year-old Margo LeDoux’s family, just moved to the states from Canada, is living in a rented house in nearby Biglerville PA while their new home is built. In this scene, Margo and her best friend (the narrator) Brian Pressley sit quietly while Margo’s parents, Francoise and Tom LeDoux, tell Brian’s parents how they met each other.


 

After dinner, Danny and John-Paul ran upstairs to John-Paul’s room to play, and Margo’s Mom got the grownups coffee, and while Margo and I both had a second piece of Jewish Apple Cake, her parents told us how they met.

1950_nick_bb-rMr. LeDoux was an all-Ontario high school basketball player– “Never could play hockey. I always looked like a giraffe out there on those skates” –and was courted by Syracuse, Temple, and North Carolina, but decided to stay north and attend Carleton, a college in Ottawa. In February of his freshman year, Carleton traveled to Quebec for a game against LaVal, and about midway through the second half of the game, he went to the line for a two-shot foul and spotted 18-year-old Quebecoise freshman beauty Francoise Trudeau sitting in the student seats, a few rows up from the floor, right behind the bucket.

“I saw her and I was totally distracted,” Mr. LeDoux said. “Tanked both foul shots. Well, that was it… later in the game, they’re fouling us to stop the clock, and of course they had my number… I mean, they were givin’ away fouls to me, and I just… as soon as I touched the ball, they’d foul me and up to the line in front of Fran I’d go. Trying not to look at her, but still…” He feigned taking foul shots as he talked. “Airball… rim… iron… rim… airball. I think I went up there six times… made one shot, the front end of a one-and-one, and I missed the second half of that one.”

“You sure she wasn’t planted there?” Dad said.

“Oh, like a rose… believe me.” Mr. LeDoux smiled as Margo’s Mom patted his hand lightly. “And I tried to not look at her… then I tried looking right at her, which just made it worse.” He looked down, shy. “I felt so weird. I mean, I’d never seen this girl before, but I felt like I’d met her someplace already.”

Wow. Just like I felt when I met Margo.

“Moi, aussi… me too,” Margo’s Mom whispered.

Mr. LeDoux shifted in his seat. “And, I mean, there it was… the middle of a game… we needed that win… I didn’t know what to do…”

“You had to make your foul shots,” Mrs. LeDoux said.

Mr. LeDoux shook his head, like the memory of those missed shots and that loss still smarted. “I know, I know…” He took another sip of his coffee and set his mug back on the table. “Anyway, the game ends… we lost… if I’d made just two of those free throws…” He sighed “…anyway… we’re goin’ back to the locker room, and on our way off the floor, all the kids are milling around, the fans, you know… so I kinda veeeeeeer off to the left, over to the bleachers, and there she is, standing at the baseline, buttoning up her overcoat. And she looks at me and she smiles, and I smile back… and I say, ‘Bon jour,’ ‘cause, you know, we were in Quebec… and she says ‘Bon jour’ back, and we both laugh. O.K. So I go, ‘I’m Tom. Tom LeDoux.’”

Mrs. LeDoux took a sip of her coffee and sat sideways. “I think, ‘That was a name…’” she said, “so I say, ‘Je m’appelle Francoise Trudeau,’ and Thomas says, ‘Francoise,’ and we both are nodding our heads… and so I say, ‘Je suis désolés que votre équipe ait perdu’… I am sorry that you lost the game, even though I was happy. And Thomas, he smiles. Very sweet smile. But it was the look you get when you speak to a tourist. No French.”

“And Fran ne a parlais pas anglais,” Mr. LeDoux said, obviously impressed with himself that, no matter what else, he could at least say Can’t speak English in French. “So there we stand… under the bucket… lookin’ at each other… and meanwhile, Coach… Coach wasn’t all that tickled with me anyway, ‘cause I blew it at the line, but then he looks over and sees me standing there with this LaVal coed… I’m surprised he didn’t come over and throttle me, you know?” Mr. LeDoux chuckled to himself. “Well, he really let me have it when I got back into the locker room. But really, I didn’t care. I mean, I cared, ‘cause we lost, but… you know. Fran was the one. This was my chance.” He took a sip of his coffee.

“What’d you do?” Mom said.

“Well,” Mr. LeDoux said, setting his cup back down on the saucer, “there was this… guy… standing there next to Fran… leather jacket… looked kind of James Dean-ish… and I thought, ‘He looks like he speaks English,’ so I said, ‘Hey buddy… you wanna translate here for us?’”

Mrs. LeDoux took a sip of her coffee. “And that ‘buddy’ was my date. Raymond.”

Dad laughed. “Did he translate for you?”

Mr. LeDoux chuckled. “Nohhhh… no, he… he wasn’t too keen on that idea,” he said, tapping the handle of his fork against his plate as he paused. “No, but there was this other co-ed there, you know… and she… she said, ‘I’ll translate…’ So we exchange… write down names and addresses on the back of a roster card… and, God, I don’t know what happened, but somewhere between the locker room at Laval and the locker room at Carleton, I lost it.”

“Oh, no!” Dad said.

“Yeah, yeah… It must have been at Laval, because… you know, I got back in the locker room and coach was just perched like a falcon waiting for me.” Mr. LeDoux raised his voice a half-octave. “‘We just lost a game and there you are, huntin’ down….’” He stopped himself again. “I mean, it was up, down, all around… ten minutes… names, words I couldn’t repeat here… and I deserved it, but…” He just smiled as Mrs. LeDoux patted his hand. “So anyway… I don’t know where I lost it, but when we got back to Carleton, I didn’t have it. I went back out in the cold… I searched the bus… me and my buddy Pat Palmer, we were out in the snow with flashlights… Nothing. Nothing. I was… I was suicidal. For a week. Seriously. I wanted to kill myself.”

“I’m glad you didn’t, Dad,” Margo said.

“Me, too, little girl,” Mr. LeDoux said.

“Well, then, how’d you end up getting a hold of her?” Mom said.

“Well,” Mrs. LeDoux said, “some of us do not lose important papers…” She mimicked removing the address from down between her cleavage “…and so I go back to the dormitory… I write Thomas a small letter…” She took a sip of her coffee. “I did not want to wait… but I did not also want to look…” She bit her lip as she thought, then looked at my Mom. “Unladylike?” she said.

“Ouais,” Mom said.

“Unladylike,” Mrs. LeDoux repeated, a little more confidently. “I did not want to look unladylike, but also I did not want to wait. So I write a letter.”

“And meanwhile,” Mr. LeDoux said, “there I am at Carleton, mopin’ around… thinkin’, ‘Man, my dream girl, and I blew it…’ And then after practice the following Wednesday, I got the mail… and as soon as I saw the envelope with ‘LaVal University’ on it, I knew who it was from.”

“Raymond,” Mrs. LeDoux said, straightfaced.

Mr. LeDoux slapped her hand lightly. “Raymond,” he laughed, and he sat forward and reached into his back pocket for his wallet. “No… it was…” He opened his wallet and took out a perfectly-preserved deckle-edged black-and-white yearbook photo of a 17-year-old Mrs. LeDoux “…this.” He handed the picture across to my Dad, who looked at the front, then the back.

“‘Je capote sur vous,’” Dad read as best he could. “What’s that?”

“Well,” Mom said as she took the picture from Dad, “it means ‘I’m crazy for you.’ That’s not literal, but that’s what it means. I’m crazy for you.”

“I write that later,” Mrs. LeDoux said. “When I send it, nothing on the back. Just my name. And the letter. I said it was nice to meet you, and I would like to meet you again… and gave my number, the telephone…”

Mom was still looking at the picture, holding it up and comparing it to Margo. “You look so much like your Mommy, Margo,” she said.

Margo looked down. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“So,” Dad said, looking at Margo’s Dad, “you got Fran’s letter…”

“…I got Fran’s letter,” Mr. LeDoux said, “and I swear… I screamed ‘YIPPEE!’ for a week. I bet… I bet I had a letter in the mail within two hours.”

“In both English and French,” Mrs. LeDoux said. “Did Pat Palmer write the French for you?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mr. LeDoux said, nodding. “I wrote the original and he translated.”

“So… why did you not bring him along for the marriage?” Mrs. LeDoux said, smirking.

I do all right with French,” Mr. LeDoux said, as indignantly as he could manage.

“Ehhhh… quelquefois,” Mrs. LeDoux tittered, taking a sip of her coffee.

“Quelquefois,” Mr. LeDoux repeated, like he knew that one. “See,” he continued, taking his wife’s hand above the table, “she knows I can’t say anything, because her English is a lot better than my French.”

Mrs. LeDoux nodded. “Marguerite speaks both. Jompaw too.”

“Really?” Dad said.

“Yeah,” Mr. LeDoux said, looking at Margo. “She translates for us sometimes.”

Dad looked at Margo. “How’s it feel to know both, Margo?”

Margo thought for a couple seconds.

“Lucky,” she said at last.

Mom was leaning forward, her chin in her hands, with her elbows on the table!

Why didn’t I have a camera when I needed one?

“So… how’d you two finally meet?” Mom cooed. “Where? When?”

“Well, Thomas, he calls,” Mrs. LeDoux said, “and we try to talk. Somehow… we agree to meet in Montreal for coffee Easter Saturday.” She laughed gently. “Is amazing one of us did not end up in Newfoundland.”

“Really,” Mr. LeDoux said. “We could barely communicate. Until we met, of course… and even then…” He shook his head. “So anyway, we met again when the term was over, and then Mom and Dad let me have Fran up to the cottage at the lake in July, and that weekend…” He smiled big as he looked down. “…that was it.” He looked at his wife. “I just… I remember us sitting on the deck after dinner the night before she was going to go back to St. Hyacinthe, thinking, ‘You know, I could transfer to LaVal and play there,’ and just as that thought crossed my mind, Fran says, ‘Thomas… maybe I go to Carleton.’”

“Which was not as easy as it sounded on the porch,” Mrs. LeDoux said. “My Mother… very old Quebec… she did not want me to move to an English school. But I did anyway. To Carleton, with Thomas. And then three weeks into the term, we marry. Niagara Falls…” She tittered and looked at her husband. “…slowwwwwly we turn… step by step… inch by inch…”

Mr. LeDoux chuckled as he took a sip of his coffee. “And then a couple weeks before Halloween, Fran found out that she was pregnant with Margo.”

Margo popped the last forkful of cake into her mouth.

“And here I am!”

 


About Meeting Margo

Cover front

A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.

Click here to order the print edition from Amazon.

Click here to buy and download the PDF e-book from my Selz.com store.