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Lou Ann hadn’t yet broken the news that, when the baby wasborn, the plan was to give it a Catholic baptism. This would beNew Year’s Pig29
for the sake of Angel’s mother, who frequently claimed to bedying from any one of various causes. The only English words sheknew were the names of diseases. Lou Ann made the baptismdecision purely for practical reasons: if one of the grandmotherswas going to have a conniption, it might as well be the one whowas eighteen hundred miles away rather than the one who livedright across town.Lou Ann looked over the pamphlet while she waited for thebus. Like most of the other literature she had received, it had a pic-ture on the front of a mother holding a baby. Sometimes thewomen in the pictures were white, sometimes Mexican, and some-times black. They were shown holding their babies in various posi-tions, but they were never shown as pregnant. Lou Ann wonderedabout this, since all the pamphlets were about prenatal care.On the bus she decided it must have to do with the fact thatthe pamphlets were put together by men, who in her opinionliked the looks of a mother and baby better than a pregnantwoman. She was fairly sure about this. On the bus, for instance,several men would stand up to offer her a seat, but they wouldn’tquite look at her. The high school boys didn’t make remarksunder their breath or try to rub up against her when the bus madesudden stops and turns. To be able to relax this way on a crowdedbus was a new experience for Lou Ann, and she thought that insome ways it would not be so bad to go through your life as apregnant lady.She watched the houses and telephone poles go sailing by.Some of the telephone poles had advertisements for Tania Maria,a woman leaning forward in a loose sweater and spike heels. Shewas a singer, and had enough hair for at least two people. Othertelephone poles had black posters with letters that appeared to becut out of a newspaper, like the ransom notes in mystery novels,but they were ads for bands with names like Audio Confusionand Useless Turmoil and the Meat Puppets. She thought of nam-ing her baby Tania Maria. Angel would suggest naming it some-thing like Meat Puppet. That would be his idea of a joke.30TH EBE A NTR E E S
It was pure pleasure not to have men pushing into her andtouching her on the bus. It allowed her mind to drift far awayfrom her strange, enormous body. When she was nine herGrandfather Ormsby had given her a jackknife, and had told herthat for safety’s sake she should always keep a magic circlearound her when she used it. She would sit in the backyard anddraw a circle in the dirt that no one could come into while shewhittled for hours and hours on thick brown bars of soap. Thejackknife was long gone now, but once again there was somethinglike a magic circle around her.