birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

My Unfair Lady

Unfair was a refrain of my daughter's childhood. Not my fair lady. Instead the constant hum of unfair girl. It meant "someone else has something I don't, that I would like to have." So every drive by a backyard swimming pool occasioned a cry of "unfair!" Sometimes, it was not fair, but that was fairly rare. It was the rare fair that did not end with a sightly teary girl stomping form the grounds, gesturing at other children toting oversized stuffed animals won by skilled and persistent fathers tossing rings and balls at booths; fathers with skills and persistence that hers, unfairly, did not possess. Her small finger pointed at those prized bears and puppies and panthers and her trembling voice declared the situation "unfair."

She was a fair haired girl and fair of face in that she was light skinned, dusted with freckles and quick to burn, as quick to turn red in the sun as she was to burn at the injustice visited upon her by this observed unequal distribution of assets. And he's fair of face in that she's a pretty girl too, when she puts on her makeup and piles up her hair and squeezes into the almost corseted flowered dress he bought the season of cousins' weddings. And some would call that unfair too, because beauty has its privileges and those judged fair have a smoother sailing in life than those who do not fare so well. Grown now, she is fairly aware that having and not are not unique to her experience of life. She's developed an acute sense of social justice, is quick to point out inequity, to recognize her own position of privilege, fair haired, fair faced white girl with a fairly affluent style of living and the means to support it that she is. She is the one to tell me that gender discrimination is unfair and assumptions about race are unfair oppression. Stepping out of college and into adulthood, she's squaring her shoulder and determined to level playing fields and fight for fairness. I've proudly got her back, but sometimes I'd like to take her hand and go win her a giant teddy bear to tuck into her arms and keep her company on what will no doubt be a rough voyage. I wrap my arms around them both, drop a kiss on her forehead and wish her fair weather and a safe journey.

The Boarding House

Magic Potion