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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Purple (11/05/09)

TITLE: Love with a Capital "P"


For love, man endures much. Too much, if you ask me. And if there was ever a man who loved his wife, it’s my father, aka Papa or Pop. His devotion is enough to make you believe that chivalry should be dead.

When I was engaged (the first time), I, unlike my father, set limits. No pansy-fication allowed. It was a short-lived engagement.

My parents, married forever, emigrated from the coastal town of Isabela on the island of Puerto Rico, where the tiny stucco houses were a fiesta in themselves—each painted a vibrant hue. My mother’s childhood home had been purple, and she missed it with the beating of a thousand hearts.

Pop fell for her big watery eyes and painted our stately brick townhouse in Fairfax, Virginia, Grape Cluster purple. The trim color was called Lilac Garden. The other townhouses had a field-day with us. Every time I walked up to our Lilac Garden entry, their somber doors intoned a drawn out “Ohhhhhh,” while their brown-shuttered windows judged us.

It took a year for the Home Owners’ Association to convince Pop that he was in violation of the covenants he’d signed. It took a professional-grade pressure washer four passes before most of the paint flecked off.

By then we’d been branded with a capital “P”—as conspicuous as Hester Prynne’s capital “A.”

“Papa,” I said one day, “why don’t you stand up to Mama?”

“You theenk I don’t?”

“That’s exactly what I theenk.”

“I stand up for love, Alberto. Your Mama is love.”

My father was a tailor by trade and a recreational inventor by love. Once my mother went to the beauty parlor and came back with a sore neck because the rim of the sink was hard and angled her neck uncomfortably. My father went to work. He rubber-cemented a vinyl air pillow (purple, of course) to a vinyl floor mat from our car. The mat bridged the back of the chair and the sink. The pillow portion rested in the basin, awaiting my mother’s delicate head.

How her Puerto Rican friends clucked—one had to be ordered for every station.

Later when my mother was “blessed” with a mid-forties pregnancy that made her back and shoulders ache, Pop sewed her a “u”—shaped pillow (purple, of course). She rested inside it when he wasn’t there to hold her. After Marisela was born, my mother used it to support her arms while nursing.

More Hispanic clucking, more orders.

The most ridiculous invention Pop ever came up with was The Purple Light.

My mother had been the victim of a road-rage accident on a street close to our house. The neighbors were fit to be tied—which surprised me given our earlier branding. I mean, specks of Grape Cluster were still embedded in the crags of our townhouse.

Pop believed road-rage happened because drivers felt isolated, no way to communicate. He rigged our Accord with The Purple Light. It was attached at the top center of the rear window. A switch on the steering wheel operated it.

The Purple Light was supposed to signal, “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” or “take the right-of-way.”

I listened to him explain it at the Neighborhood Watch Meeting—I’d never heard of anything so hokey.

Amazingly enough, the women in our neighborhood wanted one. The men—not so much. “Papa,” I said when he looked disappointed, “what did you expect? You made it purple. Why didn’t you make it green—or something?”

“Green is for go.”

“Red then.”

“Red is for brake light.”

Every other color had something with the road or car already associated with it. But the women didn’t care—young and old loved purple. Puerto Ricans and Americans and beyond loved purple. The Americans just didn’t want it covering their houses—that’s what our neighbor, Inga, explained as I stood there muttering to myself.

Inga thought my father’s efforts adorable—the way he conveyed love, lionhearted. Her words, not mine. In spite of this, I began dating her. And as hard as I fought against it, something about her slowly dissolved my limits.

Then yesterday, I walked into the house and my father laughed. He pointed at my shirt. “Look what you have.”


“The purple. You’re having the purple shirt.”

“It’s not purple; it’s eggplant—Inga said so.”

“Ahhh ,” he said, nodding and winking.

For his smug attitude, I’m waiting a week to announce my second engagement—mostly because Inga has decided on a lavender wedding.

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Member Comments
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Verna Cole Mitchell 11/12/09
I wish I had written this! That's my highest praise for a piece. This story is masterful in every way: characters, setting, plot, description, surprise, and romance.
Loren T. Lowery11/12/09
You've created a wonderful and vivid world of purple with your use of dialogue, descriptions and characters. I especially liked the way you developed Pop's view of life and his family's sometimes skeptical but always loving and respectful view back.
Bryan Ridenour11/12/09
Great story and superbly written. Well done!
Lynda Schultz 11/12/09
Wonderful work. Kudos.
Beth LaBuff 11/12/09
You manage to convey so much in 750 words. Amazing! I love the ethnicity of this, the house image and paint color names, "Grape Cluster" and "Lilac Garden," :) the "branded with a capital 'p'", and the creativity of the "inventions" LOL… Your ending is super, "eggplant" shirt and all!
Danii Randolph11/13/09
Noel Mitaxa 11/14/09
Congratulations. You kept us 'mauving' right along with you. Very creative treatment, with strong characters.
Chely Roach11/14/09
Right from jump, when I read the line, "No pansy-fication allowed. It was a short-lived engagement," I knew this was going to be masterpiece in voice. The details of Pop's affections in the different hues of purple were well placed (and too funny), but I loved the essence of this; Alberto (and men in general) tend to have a romantic awakening (pansy-fication) when they find "the one".
I theenk I love this. :)
Virgil Youngblood 11/14/09
Henry Clemmons11/15/09
Great energy and enthusiasm. Smartly written. I enjoyed it very much. I appreciate your talent.
Barbara Lynn Culler11/15/09
Beautiful story!
Kimberly Russell11/15/09
As usual, you do a terrific job--I could aspire to write so! I liked how you built the story, constructed it, and took us along for the ride. Wonderful!
Patricia Turner11/15/09
I like Pops and his son. Your dialect is great and I love the ending.
Jim McWhinnie 11/16/09
You are truly a master storyteller - I could read and read your writing over and over again ... Go, Pop.
Betty Castleberry11/16/09
Ooh, this makes me want more. I love this family, and the MC in particular. I want to attend the wedding. Two thumbs up!
Jan Ackerson 11/16/09
So many things to love about this story, not the least of which is the adorable title--and the eggplant shirt. Wonderful voice, wonderful writing.
Bryan Coomes11/16/09
Nice job. Smooooooth read that felt like it had "a lot" packed into the 750 words.
Sarah Elisabeth 11/17/09
"His devotion is enough to make you believe that chivalry should be dead."
This line was adorable! Loved "Pop". Great writing!
Ruth Ann Moore11/18/09
Great story. I enjoyed the way the story flowed, and the little twists and turns. Awesome!
Aaron Morrow11/18/09
Awesome work Lisa, I loved the environment and characters you created. And now I have a new word for my lexicon, "pansy-fication" :). I theenk this is a real winner!
larry troxell 11/18/09
Beautiful characters. can i order one of those "purple lights?" great read.
Carol Slider 11/18/09
This is an amazing story--so detailed, so absolutely realistic that I felt like I knew these people. Beautifully written... very well done!
Carole Robishaw 11/18/09
Very good job, I can't really add to what's already been said, thanks, I enjoyed it.
stanley Bednarz11/21/09
Lisa Lisa!

My favorite line from your latest challenge. "My father was a recreational inventor by love."

I have purposed to read your "challenge" every week and sift it for every nugget, until I can melt and shape something as sparkling as you do.

"Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think..."

You are way better than a muse!