Sugartime, When The Livin' Was. . .
Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis

Billy Boyd, radio light, & sweet-talk. I was seventeen and a half and Billy, the boy a girl never forgives. Perry Como instructed: Catch a falling star, put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day. I thought he meant Billy--thought he meant save him. Elvis playing it spare that year. One word & that word was Don't. I should've listened to Elvis. The Silhouettes sang Get a Job. I was made for one thing.

My calling, surely, was to be the fourth McGuire Sister. Only I was born Italian, an only child, tone-deaf; pitchless as armless boys dreaming baseball diamonds, wooden bats cracking summer skies. Sugar in the mornin'. Sugar in the evenin'. Sugar at suppertime. Honey in the mornin' and so on until So don't you roam. (Billy B.) and be my little honeycomb.

All that glucose would gum up the whistle-cleanest of hearts. Billy's heart was lots of things, lost mostly. Clean as a public toilet in old Bombay.

The night I left, I left with these things: all the McGuire girls' lyrics plus Billy Boyd's baby inside me, seventy dollars of babysitting money, Billy's class-ring stolen from the ashtray of his aqua Impala that last night--Gigi playing the Star-vu Drive-In (which I hear starve you or Starve U-niversity because I learned lifetimes about hunger & absence that night). I learned Billy was as empty as I was full (& fool too), I'd never be a radio-star but I sang anyway as the last lights of town lost themselves to my rearview--singing for two girls or four or more dotting every highway between there & where I'd arrive.

First published: May, 2003