The Glass Cafe : Or the Stripper and the State; How My Mother Started a War with the System That Made Us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous
THE STORY IS all true and happened to me and is mine.
Tony's mom, Al, is a terrific single mother who works as a dancer at the Kitty Kat Club. Twelve-year-old Tony is a budding artist, inspired by backstage life at the club. When some of his drawings end up in an art show and catch the attention of the social services agency, Al and Tony find themselves in the middle of a legal wrangle and a media circus. Is Al a responsible mother? It's the case of the stripper vs. the state, and Al isn't giving Tony up without a fight.
Once again Gary Paulsen proves why he's one of America's most-beloved writers. The Glass Cafe is a fresh and funny exploration of motherhood, art, and the wiles of storytelling--all told by Tony, in his own true voice.
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November 08, 2004
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Excerpt from The Glass Cafe by Gary Paulsen
So you know my name is Tony and I am twelve and my mother who is named Alice except nobody calls her that, they all call her Al, like she was a guy only she isn't, is a stripper, only it's called exotic dancing, at a club called the Kitty Kat, except that everybody calls it the Zoo on account of an animal act they used to have but don't anymore because the humane society said it was wrong to use snakes out of their "natural element" although Muriel, who danced with a seven-foot boa named Steve, swore that the snake slept through the whole dance except I know Steve who lives in the dressing room in a glass case and I can't tell if he's sleeping or not because he never closes his eyes.
This is what I like.
I like double bacon cheeseburgers and vanilla shakes.
I like school where I get pretty good grades in everything except gym and sometimes math when it doesn't make any sense to me like when we have to figure out two trains traveling at different speeds and which one will get to a place called Parkerville first. There is never a place called Parkerville in real life and hardly any trains go anywhere anymore and why would two trains be trying to get to place called Parkerville in the first place? It's just silly.
I like Melissa Davidson who is twelve and has short hair and sparks and crackles when she gets mad. A lot. I mean I like her a lot.
I like art and always carry a sketch pad and a couple of soft pencils and draw every chance I get, which is really how the trouble started but I'll talk more about that later after I do what Ms. Providge the English teacher calls "developing the structure and character" of the story. This story. This story about my life.
I like dogs except that I'm not supposed to have one because the apartment we live in won't allow pets which doesn't seem right because they allow a biker and his woman to live there and a dog is a lot cleaner than a biker. Or at least this biker, who is named Short Man and is so dumb he tried to drink gasoline one day just because it was in a beer bottle and he spit it out on a lit barbecue grill and there were barbecued chicken parts all over the apartment compound and I heard he didn't have a hair left on his head. I know plenty of dogs smarter than that. So I keep trying on the dog thing, doing what Al calls pushing the envelope by bringing them to visit sometimes. Or to be honest every chance I get.
I like Corvettes. I know it's not cool to like them as much as foreign cars but I read the car magazines in the drugstore owned by Foo Won on the corner when he doesn't catch me. Corvettes, it said in one article I read, are a Greatly Underestimated Force to be Reckoned with in the Muscle Car Arena. Of course I don't have a Corvette but Al said if I want one bad enough and work hard enough I can have one someday when I'm old enough to drive. I would like to have a good car for the muscle car arena.
I like baseball and my favorite team changes some because it started with the Braves and then went to the Padres and then the Yankees and now I'm back to the Braves but I'm definitely leaning back toward the Padres.
I do not like skateboards, or I should say I guess I like them but I don't skateboard anymore because I tried it once without a helmet and hit the concrete so hard I saw flashes of color from one Wednesday to Friday in the next week. I didn't dare to tell Al because she would have taken me to the doctor which she does even if I'm a little sick and not seeing flashes of colors in my head.
I like bicycling. I have an old clunker Schwinn five-speed that looks so bad nobody will steal it except that I took it all apart and the bearings and all the internal parts are slick and new.
I like Coke, not the kind you snort up your nose like Magdalene did until Al got her into treatment and she has two years and two months straight now but the kind you drink from a bottle and I put peanuts in the bottle and drink the Coke and eat the peanuts.
I like Fiji. That's an island country in the South Pacific and I read all about it in a travel magazine at Foo Won's store. I'll go there someday when I am (a) an adult, (b) successful and (c) have a Corvette and maybe (d) married to Melissa which is all part of the list I have for my Life Plan. I don't want to live in Fiji but just visit there after I am certified on scuba gear and can dive, because the diving is supposed to be absolutely stellar there according to the magazine although I always thought stellar meant something to do with the stars.