Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Bo Peep lights another Tareyton, then continues with the interview:

"Those goddam sheep," she says, staring balefully at a six months old People magazine on the side table.

"I'm seventy-six years old. I've been married four times. I've lived in sixteen different states and also Puerto Rico, and all anyone ever remembers,

All anybody ever wants to talk about,

Is those sheep!"

Her rheumy eyes suddenly seem to blaze.

"Now Mizz Peep, don't go gettin' youseff in a lather about dem ole sheep now," chides the nurse, who has been looming nearby, a gargantuan, if benign, presence.

Bo Peep waves a liver-spotted claw and growls, in a smoker's voice deeper than a man's, "Oh stuff a sock in it, Marie Laveau. Now listen,

I was fifteen years old. I got farmed out to Green Acres or wherever it was as an alternative to juvie. They told me, 'tend these sheep', and so I did.

What did I know from sheep? What did I know from anything? It was nineteen fifty fucking five. They hadn't even had Woodstock yet. Cinderella was still sweeping floors. Those melvins at that farm handed me a crook and off I went."

Bo Peep pauses. The television is tuned to Murder, She Wrote with the sound off.

She takes a drag, squints, shrugs, and goes on:

"One afternoon, along comes Johnny Appleseed. Or somebody. A boy, anyway. And a little while later I was missing my top and some sheep.

'Leave them alone, and they'll come home,' he says with that smirk they always get, after, like they really pulled something off. Well, he had, but I got dressed again, you know. I wasn't just some chippie."

For a moment, Bo Peep seems to lose the thread of her story. Her nurse turns her wheelchair toward the window. Outside, the sun is shining. Some people are having a picnic on the lawn. 

"I was just fifteen," she repeats herself, stubbing out the last in a long line of unfiltereds.

"You'd think those sheep were all I ever did. I have five kids. I owned a design company. I've been to Paris and Tokyo."

"You tired, Mizz Peep?"

She nods. Her nurse smiles at this reporter and then wheels her famous charge away to her room down the hall where she helps her into bed.

It is mid-afternoon.

The room is cheerily wallpapered.

The pattern is from a Grandma Moses painting...

Sheep grazing peacefully in a green pasture near a barn.



Cloudia said...

Brilliantly conceived and carried out- as usual!

Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral



Sioux said...

OMG! Like, for real? Am I really one of the first of your groupies to comment? OMG!

I look forward to more twisted fairy tales and nursery rhymes. This spirit was brimming over with whimsy...

Brian Miller said...

so is she really bo peep or has she been sniffing the wall paper a bit too long...i hate that when people pigeon hole you...thank good ness i have no sheep ever see bo peep in toy story...not bad looking when she was younger...waves liver spotted finger at the nurse...ok i am going to bed...

Lisa said...

HAHA! Love it!


makes me proud to be a smoker!!

Lisa said...

*sheepishly moves into the corner*

HermanTurnip said...

You've just single-handedly ruined my childhood. Kudos!

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

friggin' coffin nails...
coug, cough, sputter
i wish i knew how to quit you

God, Shay, you really know how to wag a "tale"

hedgewitch said...

And they say fame is fleeting. Perhaps, but labels are for life it seems. I love the cranky old woman crackin wise, and her tareyton's, and the Woodstock line cracked me up. How one's youthful errors come back to haunt one.

Tess Kincaid said...

Your muse is on a roll, Shay! Perfect title. Thanks for the smiles.

ellen abbott said...

finally! the inside story.

TALON said...

lol! I love how your brain works, Shay!

mac said...

I'm with Bo Peep.
Whoever cared for sheep?

She and Johnny had more fun that afternoon than watching sheep for a week.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

"It was nineteen fifty fucking five." Hilarious! Made me laugh. And they'd better not put me in a room with sheep wallpaper when my kids stuff me in a home!!!! I'll hit someone with my crook! Love all the bizarre little details and asides that you are famous for.

Lynn said...

I was all set to answer, "Humbug?", but this was way better. :)

Anonymous said...

Always wondered what Ms. Peep's backstory was. Pretty sure you've handily unearthed it!

This is awesome.

Daryl said...

Glad you didnt try to pull the wool over our eyes

Mama Zen said...

Oh, hell! This is hilarious!

Ami Mattison said...

Funny! Love that cranky old Bo Peep. The title is perfect and the ending with the painting of the sheep is just hilarious. Thanks for a good laugh!

Lolamouse said...

Bah ha ha!
Lil' Bo Peep's a cantankerous coot,
A chain smoking angry old hag,
When she was 15 they gave her the boot,
And since then it's been sheep and a shag!

Patricia Caspers said...

This is hilarious, so well done. You clever, clever woman.