Rosalinda Makes Something out of Nothing

Rosalinda stalked toward us, her thick soled boots announcing her intention to make her presence known.  My boss and I, on duty for the afternoon to midnight shift at the Residential Treatment Center for Adolescents, knew we were looking at trouble on the way.

Like most of our residents, she wore clothes that announced that she had been finding things to wear without any adult help, probably for many years.  What was different about Rosalinda was how she had turned so many throw-aways into such a unique and oddly impressive outfit.

She wore….

19 responses to “Rosalinda Makes Something out of Nothing

  1. She wore an old mohair sweater backwards revealing the pearl buttons extending up her back and the lush of purple mohair covering her rather unimpressive chest. My father used to say “raisins on a breadboard.” Well hers were more like mosquito bites. To add to the pizzazz of the purple mohair sweater, she sported pin-striped green and blue men’s trousers, rolled up to her mid-calves. She belted the loose waist with a bright red paisley tie, letting the end of the tie cascade down her right leg. Pepto Bismol colored Crocs covered her multi-striped socked feet; the socks extending up her legs underneath the cuffing on her trousers. A silk midnight blue man’s cravat caressed her neck completing the look of the mid- ’40s filtered by the mid-’50s. This figure of fashion uniqueness strolled down the hall with a sense of grace and stylistic confidence befitting Kathryn Hepburn or Lauren Bacall.

  2. Leather laces wrapped around the ankle of her combat boots with a double slipknot to hold them in place. With each step the collars of her boots flapped slightly against her calves and shins making the black tongue of the boot wag like a chow dog in summer. Rosalinda continued her march, heal-to-toe. Pale legs flashed through the front opening of her herringbone brown and grey full length coat. She had pulled the broad collar of the coat up giving an impression of a chic, older woman. However impressive the look, I still had to stop her at the door, curfew is curfew. We had our work cut out with this one. …

  3. I like how you build not only on the clothing but the challenge of a feisty new resident who clearly has no intention of following rules unless forced. Good story potential!

    • Is it the clothing that makes the woman; or, the woman that makes the clothing? Clearly, Rosalinda has an opinion. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment. I have been bogged down with a good bit of minutia as of late. Now, back to the important stuff.


  4. Rosalinda stopped in front of the houseparents’ desk and loomed over us, snapping her gum. Celeste, my boss, stood up, and though she was not quite as tall as Rosalinda, she clearly outweighed the girl by a good fifty pounds. No shrinking violent, our Celeste, oh mighty ruler of twenty ungovernable female teenagers, stuck here as the last resort before a court sent them to one more foster home (if available) or a more prison-like juvenile detention center. I subtly shifted my chair over so I was behind Celeste. These kids terrified me.

  5. I wasn’t particularly terrified of their size; I carried considerable muscle and bulk, just not as much as Celeste. But the look in their eyes – it had a dimension that was not of this world or at least not of the ordinary world. Rosalinda had the look of profound knowledge hidden in her eyes. Not knowledge of the typical teenage girl but one of deep anguish, deep scars of abuse, deep experience in the sick horrors of humanity. Rosalinda knew what I prayed I would never know. Celeste could handle the eyes and moved on to the entire being of each girl. I averted my eyes from Rosalinda’s but the terror seared into my inner being. What was I doing working here? How could I possible influence any of these girls when I couldn’t even deal with my own demons.

    • “Rosalinda knew what I prayed I would never know.” That captures the difference so well. Celeste is interesting in that she actually can handle the full range of experiences here. She’s also an intriguing character. I wonder what Celeste wears?

  6. Rosalinda approached the center, walking with harsh steps, in her black Vietnam-era army boots. They were couple sizes too large for her tiny feet – feet which her mother once wrapped in pink ballet slippers in her much younger days. They made a squishing sound on her heels as they slipped up and down.

    Tied with rainbow laces, Ella wanted to laugh but decided to move quietly from Rosa’s path when she noticed Rosa flexing her hands from tight fists to fully-extended fingers, then fists again.

    Rosa’s wore her hair chopped short, cut herself with scissors when staff let her have a pair. She thought she resembled the kid Calvin from the comic strip in the papers, but her imaginary friend was not some sissy tiger. Gelled wisps in haphazard lengths and colors peeked from under a paint-splattered painter’s cap worn backwards, high on her head. Across her forehead was strapped a pair of welder’s goggles, held snug with a broad elastic band. The band was decorated with the letters FK U, in block letters written in black marker, which repeated the length of the strap. The lenses were round, as if in some retro John Lennon fashion statement, tinted absolutely black. Her face was flushed, nearing crimson, from staring at the sun; her eyes orbed in white from the protection of the dark lenses.

    Tie-bleached overalls nearly covered her body, and today, for a change, she was wearing a razor-slashed T-shirt which kept her boobs covered, but not necessarily controlled.

    She hiked her butt up on the arm of a stuffed chair and pulled a bag of loose pipe tobacco, a pungent black-cherry flavor, from the bib pocket of her coveralls. She pinched a healthy wad and stuck it between her lower lip and gum. Then adjusted her goggles over her eyes.

    Rosa perched outside the girls’ bathroom and shower and waited for nearly an hour for Ella to pass by. Ella gave Rosa an insincere smile, and almost a curtsey cow-tow, as she gave the bathroom door an abrupt shove and darted inside.

    Rosa sat motionless except for her tongue which maneuvered the saliva-soaked wad of tobacco inside her mouth. Rosa, her back turned to the door, heard Ella’s steps and the door opened with a slight whoosh. Her tongue rearranged the wet chew to the front of her mouth.

    Ella first hesitated as she peered at the back of Rosa, and noted that Rosa’s arms were folded across her chest in a non-belligerent pose. She walked with quiet urgency toward the outer door.

    Ella didn’t hear the near-silent phttt-sound that came from Rosa’s mouth. Nor did she feel the ball of wet tobacco which stuck to the small of her back.

    Rosa pulled a small bottle of mouthwash from another pocket, turned it upward, and swished her mouth before swallowing. She pulled the goggles up, from over her eyes, turned left, and stomped down the faded green hallway to her Attitude Adjustment session.

    Counselors said she was making progress.


    • It may be that poor kids who have been either abused or ignored are the original bricoleurs. Chewed tobacco as a weapon. Welding goggles that send a message just short of obscene so that no one can fuss. The cultivation of patience, the skill at fooling the authorities, even the organizational skills to carry mouthwash in her pocket. Not only a bricoleur, but someone taking what control is available.

  7. test2 – having log-in probs

  8. You’re fine. Your posting is there.

  9. FYI: I know you’re all waiting with bated breath for the winners:

    • Once I found the “Dishonorable Mentions” I couldn’t get enough.

      “…when she came home and found out I’d been spraying Endust on her dog and throwing treats under the bed to get him to harvest the dust bunnies….”

      Good. Very good.

    • Whaa! That is absolutely hilarious. I am sold. Thanks for that link. I am sure to waste loads of time reading each and every one.

  10. So funny! Thanks for the tip. (I trust you’re not re-finishing your siding this summer.) Riding camels is challenging enough!

  11. No, my latest adventures involved riding an elephant in Zimbabwe and zip lining over the First Gorge at Victoris Falls.

  12. Victoria Falls, that is. Oh, and being challenged by an angry teenaged bull elephant in Botswana. Tricky, that one.

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