Dear Lewis

Where Have All the Wiggas Gone?

posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:35 AM by Nicki Salcedo   [ updated Feb 16, 2009, 7:35 AM ]

Dear Lewis,

Something wicked this way comes. I’ve been looking for Wiggas around Atlanta for several months now. And nothing. Do you know where they have gone? There are some things I’ve come to rely on in the city, but now I feel lost.

When I go to Underground, there should be at least one super fine Black man who smile reveals a full set of gold teeth.

When I go the Falcons game there should be at least one man who attempts to ask me out even though I am holding hands and wearing the wedding band of what’s-his-name.

There should be one woman driving a Lexus who steals my parking spot at Lenox.

There should be Wiggas.

I don’t care if you spell it Whiggas or Wiggas. I will ask my friend Kym if there are any in Chicago, but I don’t think so. Wiggas are a dying breed. Atlanta is almost nothing without them. I mean an aquarium is nice, but an aquarium without Wiggas? Lewis, it’s like the cultural history of Atlanta is being lost right in front of my own eyes.

My only guess is that boys age out of Wigga-ness, and that now I’m no longer a teenager my realm has fewer Wiggas. Could it be that the professional world has no place for white boys nicknamed Jamal? Has Atlanta gone so far we have even gentrified the Wiggas?

Please tell Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Happy Birthday. The King Papers are now open to the public. Please ask him if those of us living should be excited or embarrassed at the prospect that our college term papers maybe deemed of historic importance? Excited I think. I have a dream, too. I dream so many things. Some silly. Some serious. Nothing wrong with doing both, right?

Your friend, wasting away in Atlanta without Wiggas,

Advanced Course in Romance

posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:34 AM by Nicki Salcedo   [ updated Feb 16, 2009, 7:58 AM ]

Dear Lewis,

Normally, I like to keep our letters private, but this month I needed to move your letter to the homepage. Life as a serial monogamist must have been exciting. I can respect a man who likes marriage. Unfortunately, marriage and romance don’t have to go together. In preparation for the Romance Writers of America Conference in Atlanta this July, I thought I’d give you a refresher course on romance and why it’s almost better than baseball.

Romance: overcoming internal and external adversity that leads to a committed relationship. Or simply put, people fall in love.

Romance has lots of sub-genres. This is means fun for everyone. Here’s a brief list of sub-genres to look out for.

Time-travel: Typically, hero from past travels forward in time or heroine from present travels back in time. Then they fall in love. I am too distracted wondering if that twig of parsley really makes the hero’s breath fresh.
Romantic Suspense: People try to kill people, while other people fall in love.
SciFi/Fantasy: People are seven feet tall, ride spaceships or dragons while falling in love.
Chik Lit: Heroine is self-deprecating. Heroine has job she hates. All while falling in love
Women’s Fiction: No one has to fall in love, but if they do, the heroine’s sisters, girlfriends, and neighbors have a lot to say about stupid stuff while she falls in love.
Lady Lit/Hen Lit: Someone’s mother falls in love.
Inspirational: Just like every other genre, except God is watching and hero doesn’t get “know” anyone, like in the biblical sense.
Historical: Castles, sword fights, cowboys, fancy dances, corsets. Otherwise, known as how we used to fall in love.
Young Adult: How we fell in love in high school.
Series: Not just how one guy falls in love, but how all the guys in his family fall in love. Often includes a handy-dandy family tree.
Erotica: Lots of sex happens. I would say more, but this is a PG website…
Paranormal: Sex happens, but they don’t both have to be present. Or human. This is the genre where werewolves and vampires fall in love.

Now inside all these genres are stock situations that newbies to romance should be aware of:

Marriage of convenience: Hero or Heroine is forced to marry for some ridiculous reason to someone they hate or don’t know. Not surprising this often leads to love.
Evil boss: This is less seen in America, but the hero is powerful and the heroine is young and naïve. But she's also smart, therefore, he must have her. They fall in love.
Faux cheater: Heroine loved hero, but left him because he was cheating on her. Later she finds out he was only hugging his sister, and now the heroine has to fall in love with him all over again.
Secret baby: Heroine runs away from hero without telling him she’s pregnant (maybe his rich family tries to buy her off, but she would never take the money), only to be found by him years later. They fall in love.
Best friend: He’s her best friend, then oops one night heroine accidentally sleep with him. Too bad he is so hot, kind, and sexy. Now that’s what I call friendly. Oh, no. Their friendship is in danger, but it'll be okay. They're about to fall in love.
Bad boys: These heroes are brooding, mad, bad-asses. Heroines falls in love easily, hero pushes her away. He's just too darned bad for her. Oh, well. They fall in love anyway.
Snowed In: I almost forgot this one. The heroine is stuck in a secluded cabin with a somewhat irritating, but also attractive hero, so she might as well get some nookie until the snow melts. By then they’ve fallen in love.

Lastly, for those of you who don’t read romance: You are wondering if all the stories are the same. They are not. What if I told you to stop eating chocolate, because it was like the piece of chocolate that you ate yesterday? If you like chocolate, chances are good that you might still eat chocolate again. Exchange chocolate for romance novels and the axiom is the same.

Lewis, this really isn’t a good week to talk about the Braves. Are you watching World Cup from heaven? I’m guessing you wouldn’t go for France (but I might, um, my new boyfriend is Zidane). Italy is it, then? Please don’t say soccer is boring. These footballers are magic. It’s just like romance.

Olé, olé, olé,

Church Going

posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:33 AM by Nicki Salcedo   [ updated Feb 16, 2009, 7:58 AM ]

Dear Lewis,

I will be going to church again soon. The year, so far, has conspired against me, but I’ve been dutiful in my “Thank you, Fathers” even though I’m not Catholic. I’m happy with my “Many, many blessings” even though I’m not Irish.

This week we had to say goodbye to a one of those good church people, but lucky for me the building is still there. The steeple still points upward and organ will play its haunting and evocotive melodies.

I love church. I hope am not being too eager or too reluctant to admit it. What’s not to like about a quiet place with high ceilings? Oh, the people, you say. We are an irritating bunch, church goers or not.

I’m guessing with all the drinking you used to do church going was not your priority. But God works in mysterious ways and various denominations. Some of my many blessings are good friends whose churches don’t look like mine or even meet on Sunday. There are no kinder words than namaste, shalome, or amen.

Lewis, I am listing some poems for you to read in your infinite spare time. My AP English teacher from high school would be proud. See, my Georgia public school education has not been wasted.

Do ya’ll have poetry slams in heaven? If so, I’m guessing you’re not there. Did you see the Braves this week? Maybe shouting at an umpire is poetry in heaven. Please ask God to send thy blessing upon these thy servants, especially one of the "good" ones: Dr. Gary Parker.


Carrion Comfort by Gerard Manley Hopkins
...Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

Church Going by Philip Larkin
...A serious house on serious earth it is, in whose blent air all our compulsions meet, are recognized, and robed as destinies.

Preface To A Twenty Volume Suicide Note by Amiri Baraka
...And then last night, I tiptoed up to my daughter's room and heard her talking to someone, and when I opened the door, there was no one there ... Only she on her knees, peeking into her own clasped hands.

Critters, Vermin, and Other scary things

posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:32 AM by Nicki Salcedo   [ updated Feb 16, 2009, 7:59 AM ]

Dear Lewis,

So, you don’t like the website. That’s fine. I wasn’t doing this to make you happy. But did you have to pull out the big guns?

It started a few weeks ago. First, there was a small tapping sound. Then there was an ominous sawing sound at 3 a.m. You know I want to watch that Japanese movie “Ringu,” but the sawing turned to clawing and then scampering. I can’t watch anything scary when I’ve got my own real life creatures in the attic.

You don’t believe I’m a good Southern girl, do you? I am not afraid of a few squirrels. I am a modern Southern girl. I’m not afraid to call companies with “critter” or “vermin” in the name. I was so tired of running into the back yard cursing and shaking my fist at the trees. I thank God for the shade they provide, but to they have to house squirrels? Damn, damn those squirrels.

I would like you to know that I am weathering the storm quite well. Traps were laid on Friday morning and by evening another terrifying sound could be heard. Gnawing on a metal. Eeew. There is a reason why I never watched the movie “Saw.” Trapped animals equal bad scary things happening in my house. I’m sure in your day you would have shot or poisoned the poor rodents. We are much more sophisticated than that. My critters will be disposed of five miles from my home to life peacefully in someone else’s neighborhood. This begs a few questions:

-Who lives five miles away from me, who gets my squirrels dumped their neighborhood?
-How long will it take for the squirrels to get dumped back on me?
-Why must the trapper’s van be marked so boldly about the trade of critter catching? I have neighbors, you know, and it’s like announcing that you have “the clap.”
-What do you think my reaction was on Saturday when the catcher removed not a squirrel, but a roof rat? A RAT! Lewis, can you hear me screaming? Don't I have enough to deal with?

Please ask God to send my apologies the squirrels, but warn them not to get any ideas or consider my apology as an invitation. The rats are now on my hit list. Don’t spare the rod.

Thank you, Albert Camus. Thank you, the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Thank you, Lewis.

You dirty rats,

Honeysuckle and Baseball

posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:31 AM by Nicki Salcedo

Dear Lewis,

Baseball has started. The NFL draft happened this weekend. Basketball playoffs are in full swoosh. Even the Thrashers ended their season on a high note. Little kids across Atlanta pull on shin-guards in hopes of leading the US to a World Cup Victory 20 years from now. So, all is right in the world.

I’m sure you’ve gotten an earful in heaven about "The Ted." Every dead Atlantan probably has a gripe with the place, but I don’t. I like it, but it is a shame to have Hank Aaron’s 715 location now a parking lot. Southerners do respect the past. Someone, at least, hung a sign. You can tell me what you think of Barry Bonds later.

I thought I would drop you a quick note and let you know that honeysuckle and baseball are in bloom. My cat, Maddux, can thank those 108 stitches (and the fact that my spouse wouldn’t allow Smoltzy) for her name.

Speaking of 108. Do you have "Lost" in heaven? If so, do you know what really is going on? Or does God make you wait for May sweeps like the rest of us?

Go Braves,

Good Southern Girls

posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:29 AM by Nicki Salcedo   [ updated Feb 16, 2009, 7:30 AM ]

Dear Lewis,

Today is April 1st. No fooling. It is hard to say where to begin. You never knew or married me, so I guess for you that might narrow down who I am. Without getting overly emotional, I always wanted to have your job when I was growing up. I’m grown up now and nobody is going to give me your job, so I’m going to take it. I am working on a novel right now. Actually, I’m working on three, but who but a writer would believe me. The first line is: I will tell you that I’m a Southerner, though you will not believe me. That line is for you, Lewis.

I can’t promise that my opinions will be like yours. They won’t. Or that my voice is anything like yours. Like our fingerprints, the difference will be obvious. But I will tell you whenever I eat a chili dog from The Varsity. The last time, I was pregnant and nauseous, but just the thought of eating a chili dog calmed me. I ate two. They went down like ice water.

I will report to you any time I eat a chili dog in the future. But really, Lewis, the last thing I need is another chili dog, so they may have to wait for a while. Please let me know if you have met Gandhi in heaven. Atlanta isn’t the same without you. Oh, it wouldn’t be the same even if you were here.

All the best,

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