Miss Boogie rarely sleeps on the floor. She prefers the waterbed, the chair in the window or the sofa, except in the morning when the sun streams through the picture window. Then Miss Boogie sleeps in the exact center of the sunbeam curled like a ball of wool, moustache like tufts spiked in all directions. “Which end is her head?” “What do you mean end?”
Miss Boogie’s name was not always Miss Boogie. Apart from the name the first owners gave her, the ones who left her in the dumpster, and called her “Muffy” or “Fluffy” or “Buffy” or something she can’t quite remember; she has had several names. The first person who took her in, the famous political activist, sailor, and wearer of black before it was fashionable because it didn’t show dirt and made doing her laundry easier, Aunt Direen, named her Miller after an ex-girlfriend. Calling a fluff ball “Miller,” however, seemed too formal, and “Millie” was too sissy for such an independent spirit and too confusing for the grandmothers.
You see, the second Mom called the first Mom “Millie” because her name was Molnar which is Hungarian for miller, and “Millie” was short for that miller—the Hungarian miller, not the ex-girlfriend Miller. But Millie wasn’t the first Mom’s real name and nobody else called her that, except the second Mom’s mother because she thought it was a real name, or at least a real nickname.
One Thanksgiving when the first Mom’s mother was visiting, the second Mom’s mother telephoned to check some sizes before doing her Christmas shopping. After pleasant hello’s, the second Mom’s mother asked the first Mom’s mother, “What size feet does Millie have?”
Well, she meant what size feet does the person called Millie have, but the first Mom’s mother thought she meant what size feet did the fluff ball called Millie have so she said, “Why, I don’t know exactly. Very small, though.”
Small was not the second Mom’s mother’s recollection of the first Mom’s foot size, so she tried a different approach. “What size shoe does she wear?” The first Mom’s mother now thought that the second Mom’s mother was batty, but she tried to answer politely. “I don’t think she wears shoes.” “Doesn’t wear shoes! Don’t her feet get cold?” “I don’t know. I never thought about it.” At which point the second Mom’s mother thought the first Mom’s mother must be absolutely batty not to have thought about her own daughter’s shoeless feet, but she responded politely, “Well, I guess I won’t get her slippers for Christmas.” And she hung up.
Ever after, the two Mom’s called their mothers the Bats. “Who’s on the phone?” “It’s the Bat for you.” “Hi, Mom.” And Miss Boogie went through a name change.
(In fact one of Miss Boogie’s Aunts, Chris or Donna or Bell or maybe Aunt Susan, brought her a beautiful pair of red cowboy boots as a memento of a trip West. Alas, like most high-heeled shoes, they were difficult to walk in, so she could only wear them around the house—mostly she wore them on Fridays to watch “Dallas.”)
Miss Boogie’s Aunt Donna tried calling her “Brillo.” She could resemble a used Brillo pad, during the shape shifting stage just before rust sets in, but it wasn’t the perfect name—too scratchy. No. She needed something that captured her spirit, her capacity for pure joy. Then one day it happened.
The Moms were listening to a Lily Tomlin album. Lily was doing a character named, “Sister Boogie Woman.” Sister Boogie Woman was describing the life affirming qualities of “boogie.” She advised two seniors in a nursing home, who were forbidden to close the door for some moments of private intimacy, to “boogie with the door open!”
The Moms looked at each other, jumped up shrieking with joy. That was it! Muffy, Buffy, Fluffy, Miller, Millie, Brillo was Boogie personified... er, incarnate—a cotton wool on stilts who sang for chocolate, tap-danced with wild abandon on a vinyl chair, threw herself with kisses into the arms of friends and strangers, and always boogied with the door open.