Thursday, August 29, 2013

sonny's closet

I expect to find many strange secrets in my father's house when he leaves this earthly world, in fact I already have. Like most Depression era babies he wastes nothing so the seven green beans are carefully sealed in a baggie and plopped in the freezer next to all the other little baggies and a chunk of cream cheese two years expired.

He left for ten days on a vacation a couple of months ago and when I dropped off the first day's mail I saw a blackened banana on the kitchen counter. He will return from southern Missouri expecting to slice that gooey thing on his morning Grape Nuts.

Under his bathroom sink is a three-gallon-sized basin filled with tiny slivers of soap, all too small to use and I surmise there is about ninety of them. Why they are there remains a deep-seated mystery to me, does he melt them down and put the sludge in ice cube trays to harden and reuse?  I don't know, nobody knows.

His closets are scary. He never throws anything out and he takes great pride buying used stuff at Goodwill and other such places. His corduroy slacks have smooth shiny seats and he retreads his forty-year-old shoes at the shoe shop. Who goes to a shoe shop? The shirts are so tightly packed it is difficult to extract one and why do you even bother ironing those shirts? All that compression just wrinkles them up again.

I pick him up on  the fourth of July and I cringe at his clothing choices. He is wearing copper-colored jeans, an ugly color like something you would see at the bottom of a smelting pot and they are three inches above his ankles. And this tight white nylon shirt circa 1990's  that looks like a woman's blouse. There are red and blue stripes bordering the hem and sleeves and the front pocket, thus the patriotic angle. And little red and blue flying bird appliques dotting the front. Seems it belonged to my Uncle Flash now deceased ten years and he always had a huge honking cigar in his mouth and the hot drifting ashes made quick waste of that highly flammable material. So my aunt pasted on these little flying birds over the holes.

I love these old people in my life and I plant red geraniums on that uncle's grave every year. He wore red jumpsuits and had Milky Way dark chocolates in his pocket and he fried potatoes and onions at our lakeside cabin when I was a youngster. Tonight I fry those same potatoes and will deliver them to his widow in the morning.

no more wire hangers, yo mummy dearest

Thursday, August 22, 2013

for sale

"We need to sell our townhouse and move somewhere else."  I say this to Big Dave and he is blissfully munching on a piece of pig intestine at our farmers' market.

Just a few moments earlier I ran into Jillian, a nosy bossy neighbor of mine who has been stalking me all summer trying to get me to volunteer for a neighborhood committee.

A few days ago she pounced on me as I was walking to my front door and I saw her coming, peripheral vision, but it was too late. My flip-flops were no match for her Nikes. She said I needed to fill out some kind of form regarding a construction request and I told her, I really hate forms. I worked for the government and that job left me with a deep-seated hatred of  forms and meetings. I dropped that scalding statement in her lap and she replied, "Well, isn't that a sad story? You're going to fill this one out anyway."  Drip, drip went the sarcasm from those nasty words.

And now she wants me to come sit at these useless committee meetings and hear her rattle on about how the mowing crew needs to cut the grass another 3/4 inch shorter. Seriously, I have seen the woman kneeling on the ground with a ruler.

So today again I am staring into her beady little eyes and I don't know why, I'll never know why but I answered yes to her request. It was too late the words were out there hovering above my head like a  cartoon bubble with a tail pointing to my mouth. As much as I wanted to I could not pull them back.

Jillian stared at me in disbelief, her usual caustic attitude tampered down in the bright light of my acceptance. She even told me I would be good for the position because I am a thinker. For the remainder of  our conversation she was pleasant and soft-toned and that must have killed her and she probably had to vomit after I left.

Drat, drat, drat.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

quit eating in the bathroom and other post-its to my husband*

- Quit eating in the bathroom. This is gross on so many levels.

- Don't buy any more sleeveless t-shirts. Any man over the age of 19 should not be wearing these. It's a well-documented fact that armpit hair never stops growing.

- Quit leaving prints on the glass door and don't blame the granddaughter. No five-year-old has hands the size of hams.

- Five pairs of dirty underwear on the floor by the bed. Deal with it.

- Quit eating in the bathroom. I have better things to do when sitting there than pick cracker crumbs out of the rug.

- Don't clip your toenails in the living room and throw them behind the couch.  Go outside on the deck like I do.

- You have too many t-shirts. When you get a new one and you probably will in the next 48 hours get rid of an old one.

- I read frequently that owning a dog reduces blood pressure and other health risks. Considering those extra pounds you are carrying a dog might save your life.

- Got your note that says, I don't have to cook for you tonight.  I don't have to cook for you any night.

- Pick up bag of flour at the store. Pillsbury enriched unbleached flour, five pounds. That's all you need to know. Do not call me from the store using some stranger's cell to ask a lot of questions on this one simple purchase.

- Get a cell phone.

- We're getting a dog. This is not a point for discussion, this is an announcement.

- You seem to think because you do the laundry in this house you really work hard. You're retired, I'm semi, how much clothing can that be and it is not unusual for me to wear a dress all day, use it for my nightgown that night and wear it again the next day.

- There are winged insects flying out of our cupboard. This is probably due to the box of peaches and cream instant oatmeal you have had on the top shelf for three years.

- You are not allergic to dogs. You're just saying that because you don't want one. I insist on a certified letter from an allergist proclaiming this to be medical fact before I change my mind.

- Quit eating in the bathroom, in fact quit eating snacks altogether. You need to lose weight. You don't listen to me, you don't listen to your doctor, who will you listen to? The cardiac surgeon who visits you in the ER?

- You're lucky I married you. Your mother felt the same way, God bless her.

Disclaimer: in all actuality this is fiction except for the eating in the bathroom post-its. They and their content are indeed factual and correct. It has cost me lots of sleep and encouraged my already ample liquor dependency. Okay, the sleeveless t-shirt has some credibility as well.

*with love and respect to the fabulously talented Jenny Lawson and her book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Thursday, August 8, 2013

greg, are you there?

I am trying to swim in our city pool. And it's not easy when there is only one lap lane and it's filled with cretins who think they can swim but can't and they keep interrupting my routine.  God, I hate people, always have. One very big fellow has six pounds of dreadlocks coiled around his head and he's wearing large orange sunglasses. He can only swim ten yards and then holds onto the rope breathing heavily and I think persons carrying extreme poundage should wear more than just the basic swim gear. How about those Chinese silk pajamas with the long sleeves and pants and the ever popular yet sensible elastic waist. It would make gazing around the pool a more attractive activity.

Two other people are walking, damn it walking, in my swim area and I give them my cool hand Luke look, booga booga, leave this place, get outa my way. And then Husband joins me and I assign him outside my lane, there's just so much a dedicated swimmer can handle when surrounded by amateurs.

And then there's the screaming fifty teen-agers trying to prove they are the coolest by shoving and splashing their opposite genders and I vaguely remember this ritual.  Greg Hammel was a rotten little weasel-faced kid who threw snowballs at me when I was in the fourth grade and he put rocks inside their icy centers. Some delusional grown-up actually said to me, "oh that's because he likes you." What would he do if he loved me? Come at me with a chainsaw?  Greg was in love with the idea of me having a concussion.

I need to leave and I mouth to Husband, "LOUD" and move towards the ladder. He says,"this isn't loud." No, of course not, this is the normal noise level of your family parties.  I come from a family of cave dwellers who were loathe to answer the phone or attend pretty much any social event and they lingered in quiet, self-absorbed pools dwelling on their navals or whatever.

I need to go home. There are trailer trash people all around me, people who have homemade tattoos, the kind they carved onto their arms with a ball point pen during GED class before they got kicked out. People who keep losing their kids and don't seem to care as they laugh it up behind their tobacco-stained teeth. People who let their pre-teen daughter wear a bikini bottom labeled Wild Thing and whose kids I keep fishing out of the deep end because no one is watching them.

And I'm thinking this situation might be calling for a Greg Hammel kind of solution.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

you are

My five-year-old granddaughter sleeps with me tonight and she can't lay still.  Earlier she played in the bath and hid behind my rose silk shower curtain and said, grandma can you see me?  No, cannot and I know she is washing those Barbies with my expensive Kiel's shampoos and that's all right.

We lie together and her body dips and dives, like a baby seal she undulates and presses herself against me.  I pull her towards me, kiss her damp brow and feathery hair and she releases.

 Her heaviness next to me reminds me of another girl some thirty-plus years ago.  She had uneven bangs thanks to my amateur efforts and the softest hazel-green eyes, luminous and startling.  She still shivers in my old lady dreams, always a young girl, never aging.  My Carrie never wrestled with demons, her dreams went uninterrupted, angels would visit and nestle next to her. She slept without effort, not like her daughter, not like her mother.

I want to hover over this grandchild and convince her she is the only one and Carrie, you are.