Spark-large copyThrough friends, Annette and I attended a story reading series called Spark Off Rose at Theatre Palisades a couple weeks ago. Each month the Spark producing team chooses seven storytellers to write and read true stories from their lives inspired by the current Spark theme. In their words: Spark has cultivated an intimate, authentic space that attracts storytellers who reveal their most intimate selves – candidly, humorously, and with heart.



We enjoyed the evening of stories a great deal; and when the theme for November’s Stories was announced, Truths, I immediately thought of a story from my memoir, Passage From England, that fit the theme perfectly. I submitted it for consideration.



To my delight, the Spark team invited me to be among the seven readers for their November 9th evening of stories. If you have an interest in hearing me read the story along with hearing stories from the other six storytellers, who I’m sure will make the evening well worth your while, here’s the link with all the pertinent details:

Spark Off Rose

Not to tease or entice (well, maybe just a little), I’ve pasted below the beginning of my story and will post the conclusion in my next blog.



The Dinner Jacket

I worked hard to become popular at Portola Junior High School, wearing the right clothes, being nice to everyone. By Eighth Grade I decided I’d had run for school Treasurer.

I gave a funny speech about my unpronounceable, immigrant name, Zajaczkowski. And I won! I couldn’t believe it.

The Student Council teacher took the winners to a victory luncheon. And just like that I was sitting with the most popular kids in the school.

They ignored me, of course, but thank god Diane Brown, who’d been Treasurer last year, sat next to me and showed me how to compute the tip. I mean, I had no clue what 15% percent was of anything!

I had another reason for liking Diane, she was best friends with the most beautiful rich girl at Portola, a dream girl I watched drive away each day in the back seat of her mom’s Cadillac. My Cadillac Girl.

After the luncheon, Diane handed me an envelope.

“I’m having my birthday party at Doeville Country Club this Saturday.”

Wow, I thought, maybe the Cadillac Girl would be there.

I knew I’d have to ride my bike there, no way would I chance having my dad’s crappy De Soto spotted.

When I opened the embossed invitation later, my heart stopped cold. The last line said: Dinner Jacket Required.

Dinner Jacket? Where would I get a dinner jacket? I didn’t have enough money from my paper route for that and my mom sure wouldn’t buy me one.

Then I had an idea…and it seemed genius. I’d go to the school Lost & Found and look for one.

Turned out to be my lucky day…there were two jackets hanging among the other lost items.

Mrs. Gersmann ran the Lost & Found, and even though she knew I was Treasurer, she was a tad suspicious when I picked one of  jackets off the rack.

“Did you lose it at the Council Dance last Friday?” she asked.

“Yeah, that’s right, I got hot dancing and took it off.”

The coat was big on me and looked a little like a lumberjack’s coat. Damn it, I should have picked the other one even though it was the color of purple Jello. But the one I chose had lapels and three buttons down the front. Close enough to be a dinner jacket…


Who knew this choice would derail all my hopes and dreams?

Tune into my next blog for the ending to this adolescent confrontation with Truths.





One Response to The Dinner Jacket – A Theater Reading

  1. Stephanie Gonzalez says:

    This is my favorite passage from “Passage….” Touches my heart every time I think about it.

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