Smoking With Margaret A. Frey

Read the Story September 15, 2003

What inspired this piece?

Well, in all honesty I was doing yard work when the first line came to me—I shall not wear purple! Maybe it was my subconscious ranting and whining—if I stoop or bend one more time, I shall beat someone purple!

I ran across the Jenny Joseph poem back in the 80s and liked it. At the time, the lead-line, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple,” was being touted on tee-shirts and plaques and stationary. It was a battle-cry, a call for free expression, particularly for women of any age. I loved that immediately. By today’s standards, the original declaration is somewhat tame. When I actually sat at the keyboard, I had my mother in mind. Her health is rapidly failing, but I know she would love to have one last run down High Street and Broad.

If you discovered that you lost your magic touch with words, which persecuting hobby would you take up instead, or would you just continue on
writing until it killed you?

I’m pretty masochistic, so I’d be one to plod along regardless of what happened. But I also like working with my hands. I’ve always invested time in creative work whether it’s in designing things for the home or toys for the kids—making something from nothing. There’s something wondrous and renewing about creative endeavors regardless of the medium.

What are some of your favorite books and authors?

I’m a fan of John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor, Margaret Atwood, William Trevor and a host of others. There’s a wealth of fabulous writers out there to enjoy. I recently finished Sebold’s The Lovely Bones; I enjoyed and admired it. I’m now reading Barry Unsworth’s Stone Virgin. I’m a little late coming to the Unsworth text (I’m always behind), but it’s very good. He takes the historical novel up a notch with wonderful characters and superb writing. Morality Play is a favorite. An old friend is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I wish she had written other novels.

What are some of your favorite words?

Bodacious is one. It’s an old word but has heft to it—daring, brazen, not afraid to flaunt it all. Besides, I like the woman whose name flickers behind the word, a Queen who put everything on the line 2000 years ago—Boadicea (aka, Boudicca, Boudica).

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers? Like, “Hi Mom!”

Mama, this one’s for you and every other woman (or man) made to feel small or demeaned or told their time is over and done. We all deserve a last run (or maybe many runs) down Main St. with our hair flying and flesh jiggling, silly or not. So watch out! Here we come.

About the Author:

Margaret A. Frey started her career as a copy/production editor in Philadelphia, Pa. Her early fiction appeared in the Asphodel, a literary quarterly. More recently, Margaret’s work appeared in Literary Potpourri, Bovine Free Wyoming, and Flashquake, and a non-fiction piece took 2nd place in the 2003 Erma Bombeck competition, human-interest category. Margaret writes from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains where she lives with her husband and book-eating Bernese pup, Ruffian.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.