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By Mel White 

My gypsy stories

On the Bright Side


And the gypsies dance

and the gypsies sing

and the gypsies holler

and they stamp their

feet to the music,

fala lalala, la la la,

fala lalala la laah!

When I was a wee child, I asked my mom why my stomach made noises when I was hungry. She told me, very matter-of-factly, that there were little men in my tummy whose job it was to shovel food from my stomach into the intestines. She said those men loved their work, and when they didn't have anything to do, they banged their shovels against the wall of my stomach – and yelled and stomped and shouted for food – which made my tummy sound like it was growling.

I loved that explanation, and while I didn't completely buy it at the time, I found myself expanding on the idea as I grew older. First though, little feminist that I was, I didn't want little men in my tummy (but little women didn't seem much better) so I started thinking of them as little gypsies. Little non-gender-specific gypsies who wore colorful clothes and big boots and lots of jewelry... and those little gypsies started to become my own explanation for everything I did, both physically and mentally.

In addition to the colorful gypsies who shovel food (and who still make those odd, demanding noises when I'm hungry), I have little gypsies everywhere. For example, I have a bunch of little gypsies in my head, and a bunch in my heart, and quite a few in every other organ. Sometimes it seems that I control my little gypsies, and sometimes it seems they control me.

You see, the gypsies in my head don't always like or agree with the gypsies in my heart (and vice versa), which sometimes causes me consternation. The gypsies in my head might be shouting "Don't do that!" while the ones in my heart are singing "Let's do this now!" So it goes.

Sometimes that turmoil between the gypsies affects other parts of me: when the head and heart gypsies argue, sometimes the stomach gypsies or the bowel gypsies get depressed and don't do their jobs. Sometimes out of spite, a gypsy will poke a hole in something important and I'll get really sick. Sometimes the gypsies who fight off bad gypsies just can't keep up and the bad gypsies leave a trail of destruction in their wake (i.e. all sorts of illnesses there). This year, for example, the flu gypsies are particularly violent in a lot of people, but so far my gypsy army has held up against them. Knock on wood.

Sometimes all of the gypsies in me just feel great – like when I'm doing something I love doing. The head gypsies are singing, the heart gypsies are dancing, and most of the other gypsies are on holiday or just resting. Of course, if I'm hiking or biking, some of the gypsies have to work harder, pouring out the sweat that builds up, refueling the muscles, cranking out more energy cells; and others have to work harder to make sure oxygen is coming in and circulating and going out correctly. But even they love their jobs too so they don't mind working extra hard when I need them to.

Of course, if I just stand up and start running after weeks of sitting down, the leg/thigh/foot gypsies will let me know in no uncertain terms that they are unhappy by poking at muscles, scraping along cartilage, or sometimes just tearing something in two. I try not to mistreat those gypsies any more than I have to as they can make things quite painful.

And sometimes I break a bone – and you should see those repair gypsies get busy! They do what they can until someone (usually a doctor) fits the bone together, and they work furiously to get it to stick together again.

I love my gypsy stories, and I have a bunch of them. My mother is probably still shaking her head at some of the explanations I've come up with – and probably some of her own little gypsies are falling all over themselves – but she started it, after all. Fala lalala la laah!

© Copyright 2018. Mel White, a local writer/photographer, has been writing "On the Bright Side" columns for various newspapers since 1996. She is also co-owner/founder of the unusual and eclectic Treasure Trove in downtown Tehachapi; she welcomes your comments at


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