XXV. Airing the Laundry

My grandmother told me that when she was a girl she thought the name of the hymn they were singing was “Bringing in the Sheets.” She later learned, of course, it was “Bringing in the Sheep.”

This reminds me of the Monty Python movie, “Life of Brian,” where the spectators in the back at The Sermon on the Mount thought he was saying “Blessed are the cheesemakers.”

Things have been quiet and peaceful here since Emma settled into her hospital bed in the living room and our 30-hour a week attendant services aide began. Emma is given compassionate care morning and night – bathing, dressing, feeding – and she sleeps in the afternoon. She rests peacefully there, sometimes smiling contentedly, along with her blue teacup poodle, Jetta. So I thought I’d use this time to rummage among stuff moldering in my mental closets and air the laundry.

Maybe I’m in a Maze

Vous êtes un grand fromage, my father used to say to my brother or me, blessing us with his French language expertise, when we were kids.

Cheesing up my life currently are the rats employed at M&T Bank – yes, I feel compelled to name the entity here because, after our 2008 economic crises, didn’t the banks promise to behave? Oh, well, I hallucinate when feverish. These rats in their merger-acquisition of the venerable, albeit stuffy, Wilmington Trust Company failed to think their way through the maze. It’s like they just grabbed it and swallowed it whole. Consequently, among their other indigestible machinations lobbing nightmares at me, I will have to download and store somewhere two years and two months worth of electronic statements, before the end of 90 days when they will all disappear.

If I light some sage and swish it around inside my computer, will all this go away? I’m always seeking an easy way out. The takeover of Wachovia Bank by Wells Fargo was seamless. They have posted on their homepage that all Wachovia statements can be found in their archives online. How simple could this arrangement be? Voilà! Let’s just move it all on over. Nothing tricky there.

Ah, the Writer’s Friend

A few weeks ago, my friend R’s car was parked, at the curb, engine off, unoccupied, when the alternator caught fire. Passersby called the fire company, located a block up the street. Fortunately, there was little damage and he was able to have the alternator replaced. A few days later, he was waiting in line to ship some packages at the post office. A woman called across the room to the man behind him, “Hi, Doctor Patel!” R turned to the doctor and proceeded to tell him that he is a friend of his patient Emma’s daughter, Samantha, the writer.

“Ah, the writer,” said Dr. Patel. It was hard to tell from R’s description whether it was our Dr. Patel or some other Dr. Patel. There are a number of Dr. Patels in this area, and our Dr. Patel would have been somewhat out of his territory, though it is possible.

Soon after this encounter, R fell down the hole into the cellar when a worn hinge on the door in the alley pavement next to his place of business gave way. He’s madder than a hatter. In the incident, he ripped open the pad on his big toe and had to drive himself to the hospital emergency room a mile or so down the road. Now he has a medical bill worth roughly all the tea, bread and butter, knives, plates, cups, saucers, spoons and napkins in China. A close relative of his said, “Well, if you’d been wearing shoes, it wouldn’t have happened.”

“No, because – let me think this through,” I told R – “you would have fallen, still, because the hinges were weak; but, wearing shoes, you would have caught your heel on a rope or chain by the steps or the string to turn on the light – something – which would have catapulted you into somersault, landing you on your head on the mud floor and splitting open your scalp. Then you would have had to drive yourself to the hospital with a broken ankle and split open head, and with blood streaming down your face, unable to see, thereby running into a city bus and setting your alternator on fire. With a broken ankle and unable to see, it would have taken you a while to get out of your car. Luckily, though, you were able to get out safely, and for that, certain family members should be grateful. Then, thankfully, too, you were able to hobble the next nine blocks to the hospital emergency room, where, when you opened the right-hand door to enter, getting the handle all bloody, of course, a 19-year-old exited, thanking you for holding the door open. After you filled out a 10-page form printed in 6-point type and ticked off all the correct boxes, a Dr. Patel passed through the lobby, saw you holding the bloody papers and said, ‘Ah, the writer’s friend.’”

My Name Is White

Since my car died last winter, I have been getting plenty of walking exercise, whether or not I actually need it, rather than sitting here at my computer accumulating long hours of screen time. And when my wine stash ebbed, one hot day I walked a mile up to a liquor store to see if they had Red Zinfandel, preferably Woodbridge, specifically in the 1.5 liter bottle. Their reds and their whites were all jumbled together.

“What kind of organization do you have here?” I asked the Pakistani or Indian woman.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s my husband’s store. He does the organizing.”

“Oh, so you’re just babysitting,” I said.

“Baby?! What baby?! I don’t see a baby. Do you see a baby? What are you looking for?”

“I’m looking for Red Zinfandel,” I said.

“Here it is, right here. See?” She pointed to a large bottle.

“That’s white,” I said. “It says WHITE on the label.” So when she accused me of being rude, I left.

Then I walked another mile back, down to another liquor store – easy to spot with the white, 2002 7-series Beemer parked out front that the store-owner father gave the son – and bought a 1.5 liter bottle of Woodbridge Merlot (they don’t carry Red Zin, either) and then spotted the Cupcake Red Velvet and the Apothic Red, both for a good price, and carried them another mile home. Ithought I was just going out to pick up one bottle of wine, but then…. I do not do humidity well. On further thought, maybe I should have walked the mile to the supermarket and bought tea. It’s lighter to carry.

I should point out that here in Delaware liquor sales in grocery stores are illegal, even beer and wine. Apparently, whoever sat there and thought this prohibitive law through decided that rather than be safe in a supermarket, alcoholic beverage drinkers need to be shot in liquor store robberies. This is one way of ridding society of drinkers, since liquor store robberies occur commonly.

Ohun Impooped*

I returned home from my circumambulation of our town carrying three bottles of wine, which I should have drunk before leaving the liquor store so they wouldn’t be so heavy, to find a phone message from Crystal at a creative temp agency. Her message said to call her because she found my resume in their files and she was so very excited that this job they have available would be a perfect match for me. I’m pretty sure I filled out that application in, oh, 2005. She left a 215 area code phone number. That meant calling long distance from Delaware to Philadelphia, Pa. So, since I don’t have a flat rate phone plan, I had to pay for the call while I waited on hold. Dum-de-dum-de-dum….

“Are you working full time?” she asked when she got on the phone.

“What do you have available?” I asked.

“Are you working full time?”

“I’d like to know what you have available so I can see if I will be able to work it into what I am currently doing.

“Well, I have two jobs.”

“Can you tell me about them, please. I am calling long distance.”

“Oh, do you want me to call you back?” she asks.

“If you will, please.”

She asks for my phone number and I give it to her. “Why don’t you call me back when you’re done talking long distance,” she says.

“I’m talking long distance to you,” I say.

She hangs up. Well, the work was online copyediting jobs. I thought I was speaking English to her, and I believe I gave a lucid demonstration of my command of the language.

*Orhan Pamuk, author of the novel My Name Is Red, won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Nite Lites

Recently our town crew came around and replaced all the bulbs in the street lamps – with nite lites. It’s downright creepy outside at night now. It looks like the power’s out. I can’t wait to purchase my black hoodie.

Night lights – you know, those little 4 or 7 watt bulbs you thoughtfully place in electrical outlets in rooms around your house so you have as much light at night as maybe one candle would produce, so you don’t trip over the cat nestled in a meatloaf position in the middle of the floor. Oh, and I would advise that you don’t wear shoes, so that if you do accidentally kick the cat, you won’t hurt it.

–Samantha, September 8, 2011




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