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Beatrice Ten Years Later
I thought it might be fun and interesting to interview Beatrice ten years after the story ended. So, I posed the idea to her and she happily agreed.
Imagine I travel to New York and the two of us meet at a local coffee shop (because everyone knows that’s where I’d meet her, right?). Beatrice likes rainy, cool days, just as I do and she loves fall. We have that in common. Today was both.
Here is what I think she might look like:
(She’s cute, yes?)
Beatrice: Hey, Deb. (She gives me a quick, big hug and takes the pumpkin spice latte I ordered for her.) Pumpkin spice latte! If I ever meet the person who thought up pumpkin spice lattes, they get a big hug from me. (She places a maple leaf colored like fall in my hand ever so carefully.) I brought you a beautiful leaf I found on the ground. Isn’t it fabulous?
Me: Thanks, Beatrice. What a gorgeous shade of orange it is. I love the color orange.
Beatrice: I know, me too!
Me: I remember that about you. Thanks for meeting me today. (We sit in a corner booth.) Wow, ten years have passed by since we last saw each other.
Beatrice: I know. I’m twenty-five years old now. Oh my gosh, that sounds so old!
Me: Well, considering I’m sixty years young, you are doing just fine.
Beatrice: (She laughs.) Ten years ago, I never thought I’d turn out this way.
Me: What way? You look great to me–all trendy clothes and hair. I thought you’d be a “positive, contributing member of society” and you are.
Beatrice: (She leans forward and snickers.) Considering how I used to dress when you first met me, I’ve come a long way. I can’t believe how dorky I was! The only thing I kept from middle school was my “I Heart Sarcasm” shirt which Mom sewed into a tee shirt quilt along with all my other show shirts. I was so involved in college shows that I could have made three quilts!
Me: Really? Did you major in theatre in college?
Beatrice: Yes, I did. But I didn’t perform after my first year there. I’m not a performer. I took an art class with a professor friend of my mom’s and found I wanted to combine theatre with art. Voila, set design!
Me: Are you working in theatre now?
Beatrice: I am! After high school, I attended Mary Baldwin College and received my BFA in theatre there. I designed several sets for the department’s black box theatre and won an award for outstanding design. Then I went to graduate school at NYU/Tisch. I’ve been out of school and working about a year now.
Me: Wow! That’s an impressive resume.
Beatrice: I guess so. I don’t think about it much. I’m too busy designing and getting my foot in the door.
Me: How so?
Beatrice: When I was in grad. school, I apprenticed for several professional designers on Broadway. Then I designed several shows for regional theatres. I’m slowly building a resume. My goal is to design for Broadway by my thirties. In the mean time, I love it! If you’d told me ten years ago I would become a set designer, I’d laughed.
Me: I bet so. How’s your family?
(Here is Edmund, all grown up. Isn’t he handsome? And so smart!)
Beatrice: My brother, Edmund, is in his second year of college at University of Florida studying zoology. Remember Bernie his ferret?
Beatrice: Well, we had Bernie number 3 and 4 before Edmund finally figured out he wanted to study animals and care for them since he’d done such a lousy job with his Bernies.
Me: Oh gosh. What happened to his interest in flags?
Beatrice: He still loves them. He collects flags from all over the world. You should see his apartment! The walls are covered with them. I feel so sorry for his roommate.
Me: And your parents? People have asked about them. Did they end up staying together?
Beatrice: Uhm, no. They didn’t. But that’s okay. It seems Dad wasn’t being completely honest with himself. He came out about two years later, met a nice guy and they married last summer.
(This is Dad and Fred during a recent trip to Italy. Don’t they seem happy?)
We are all happy for them. Mom wasn’t as fast to date. It took her longer. She didn’t want to date while she was raising us. She said she had enough responsibility just getting us grown. But, I’m happy to report that she is now dating a wonderful guy we all like a lot.
(A great, recent photo of Mom.)
Me: Are your parents friendly with each other?
Beatrice: Oh yes. They were always very civil with each other. And more than anything, they respected each other. Dad was the really unhappy one. He was afraid of his feelings and didn’t want to admit them for a long time. You’d think someone in the arts wouldn’t worry about other people’s perceptions, because when you are in the arts, you explore social issues all the time. But he worried anyway.
Me: I’m sorry to hear that he worried.
Beatrice: It was hard for all of us for a while, but not because of his lifestyle choice, but because he was so unhappy. I guess when Dad was a kid, his parents ridiculed different lifestyle choices. Plus, Dad’s parents thought his profession was silly and unnecessary. It was Grandma Percy, Mom’s mom, who helped him through his fears.
Me: Really? Your Grandma?
Beatrice: Yes, my eighty year old, awesome grandma was in the background observing us all the time. She sees everything, but keeps it to herself. She’s the one who urged dad to admit his homosexuality.
(Grandma Percy prior to her death last year.)
It wasn’t a really big deal, because Mom and Grandma Percy handled it carefully and respectfully with us. Edmund and I were fine with it. We want our parents to be happy. period. And Mom and Dad are the best of friends.
Me: I’d be surprised if you had a problem with your dad’s lifestyle choice. I thought you were a pretty cool, open minded girl.
Beatrice: When you first met me, I was such a brat and a little bit of a bully to Michiko. Thankfully, Michiko helped me see what I was doing when I caught her imitating me after the fateful play performance. Since then, Bumbling Bea took a hike and doesn’t show up much anymore. And my parents’ open mindedness rubbed off on me. When you are raised around parents who are artists, you see the world with different eyes.
Me: Whatever happened to Michiko? Do you have any news about her?
(Michiko trying out modeling. She didn’t enjoy it as much as she thought she would.)
Beatrice: Yes! I didn’t hear much from her for several years. Just a few emails back and forth, you know? But guess what? She’s moving to the US next month and going to share my apartment with me in New York while I’m traveling for set design jobs.
Me: So, you’ll be back together just like the old days?
Beatrice: Kind of. Hopefully, we won’t end up locked in our bathroom together. (She laughs.)
Me: (laughing) Those are great memories, though.
Beatrice: You bet. When Michiko and I decided to room together, I teased her about having guys over. She always has crushes on fellas, but I am sworn to secrecy in telling anyone. She laughed about guys coming over and said that if she couldn’t have Peter, then she didn’t want anyone.
Me: Peter! I forgot about him. What happened to him?
(Peter, now the cool guy.)
Beatrice: We remained friends through high school and continue to see each other from time to time when I get home to my parents. Peter is a middle school counselor and still lives in Virginia. Apparently, kids love him and he’s hugely popular with all the staff.
Me: I’m not surprised. He had a winning personality. Did he and Jerri become a pair in high school?
Beatrice: Yup. All four years, if you can imagine. And Jerri was even home coming queen our senior year! Jerri had a level head and other high school kids looked to her for advice. Consequently, in her junior year, she created a youth friendship program between high schools pairing kids of the same interests with each other, sort of like a meet up group. It was amazing. Now, she works in student affairs in a college in the mid-west.
( A candid shot of Jerri.)
Beatrice: I am lucky to know Jerri. She helped me a lot when Dad came out. So did Peter. I’m still waiting to repay the favor to them, but they say they love my creativity and that’s enough for them. They just want front row seats to the first show I design for Broadway.
Me: Me too! So what will Michiko do in New York? Is she involved in theatre as well? Does she have job prospects?
Beatrice: Surprising even to me, Michiko did not continue her studies in Theatre when she attended college. She found it wasn’t as mesmerizing to her once she moved away from her parents. She said that one day she discovered that she loved world cultures. I guess she was dating a guy from India at the time. They broke up shortly afterward, but her love of cultures continued.
Me: I’m surprised too!
Beatrice: Michiko loves to travel. She is applying for jobs in the travel industry. She wants to become a professional tour guide taking groups on international trips. With her intense interest in history and her love of anything multi-cultural, becoming a professional tour guide would be a good fit. I think she’s right.
Me: Isn’t it amazing what can happen in ten years of one’s life?
Beatrice: It is. I mean look at you. You’re a published writer now. And award winning, too! What’s your next book going to be about?
Me: Well…..I can’t tell you much yet. It’s still germinating in my brain. Plus, we have moved to a different state and become first time grandparents all at the same time. (I pull out my cell phone to show Beatrice a photo.) Here’s a photo of our granddaughter.
(Grammy and Granddaughter)
Beatrice: (laughing) This photo is you all over!
Me: Yeah, well, orneriness doesn’t die easily…..
(Beatrice’s cell phone dings a text. She reads it.)
Beatrice: (She sighs, smiling.) It’s Michiko. She arrives next week and is all ready having a hissy fit over the apartment. Apparently, when she visited our apartment to see if she wanted to live there, she noticed that the heat wasn’t working too well. I hadn’t even noticed. In typical fashion, she notified our super and demanded we get a better furnace system in the building. Now, the guy is mad at her and threatens to make her life miserable once she moves in.
Me: Oh gosh! You ready for life with Michiko again?
Beatrice: (She stands and hugs me, ever so warmly.) I am ready. I have been ready since she moved back to Japan when we were kids. Some people never leave our life no matter what. Michiko is that kind of friend to me.
Me: I agree. So, I’ll see you again in ten years?
Beatrice: No, let’s make it two years. I think readers might like to hear what happens to us next.
Me: It’s a date!
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