Petula Hanson Abernathy

Polymer clay, steel, concrete, and creative fiction.


The person behind this nose:

Petula Abernathy was born in Chicago in 1979. She lived with her parents until she turned 18 at which time she moved into an apartment with Beth Ann Mueller, a native of Milwaukee. They both worked for the same ad agency McCormick McGregor.

Everyone called her Pet and she made friends easily but had a sharp tongue and used it often. She was a pretentious child and at age nine, she negotiated rules with her mother and often wore her done to the point of getting her way. When she was 15, she convinced the operator of Z-Mark Tattoo on Rush Street to pierce her nose. When she got home, her mother was frantic and made her talk to her grandmother, who lived in Abilene, Texas. Petula promised she would but told her mother that Grandma Angela said it was important to be distinctive and follow your dreams. So there she was with the nose ring.

In 1997 she met Hank Swenson, a friend of Beth’s.  Hank was a giant smile with a personality to match. He worked at Abernathy Engineering and he and Petula would laugh about the coincidence in the names. Hank was two years older than her and a graduate of Marquette University. He was a design engineer for Hopkins, a maker of heavy equipment with an international market. He was well-respected by his peers because of his disposition and his work skills.

He dated Petula for three years and she constantly sparred with him about history, religion, and politics. She would try to entice Hank into impossible corners. He would state his opinion, listen to her rant, and then laugh so loud that the windows would shake. She would be so frustrated that she would make fists and smack then against his chest which would only make him cough and laugh all the harder. The more impossible she was, the more he loved her and cared for her.

Despite her feelings for Hank, she swore that she would never require a man’s help and would never be lead around by another person.

They got married in 2000 and Petula had a daughter a year later. Then named her Angela. In 2001, Pet entered the University of Chicago and studied behavior science graduating with an advanced degree in 2007. One evening, she and Hank and young Angela sat on the sofa just being quiet. Petula was wondering at what age Angela (a precocious child) would be wanting to negotiate circumstances. She smiled to herself and without looking at him, she told Hank that she would follow him anywhere and that the issue was not negotiable.

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© Landretti’s Art Factory 2015