If I lived in certain geographical locations, I think I would feel a certain pleasure every time I told someone where I was from, because the name of some places is fun to say. “I’m from Falfurrias,” or “It’s just little ol’ me from Kankakee!” “Not my booty, Djibouti,” I’d smile. “We’re Walla Walla Strong!” I’d say proudly. “Where ya from?” people would ask, and every single time, I’d sing, “Menomonee, ba-deedy, ba-deedy!” If the name is a word, I wonder if it would affect my mood. Would being a resident of Uncertain make me feel noncommittal? Would I be depressed or resigned in Death Valley? Would I figure out important things and feel smarter in Ponder, or be perpetually pissed off because Paradise is never as great as I’d hoped it would be? All I know is I’d never really feel safe in a place called Rohypnol.
Every morning I wake up feeling like I’ve been run over by a Hummer, which, by the way, I am shocked to find are still being driven. They get five miles to the gallon! Suburban America is not a war zone! Unless there is a rebellion at Target (This just in – heavily armed WalMartians rebels just stormed the Target Dollar Aisle screaming, THIS CRAP IS TOO HIGH QUALITY!!! WE WILL CRUSH YOU!!!!), nobody needs a Hummer – but I digress.
I wake up feeling all jacked up, sore and bruised. My hips hurt, my back aches and my neck feels all crooked. Every morning I’ve decided that I slept funny.
Coincidentally, I went on vacation with people who have spent the night at my house. After telling them how well I slept in the hotel, they pounced. “Hey bucko, guess what? You slept well because the hotel mattress doesn’t suck! Your bed is horrible!”
A little harsh, perhaps, but something to consider. Maychance my sleep number is expired. I’ve had the same mattress for, well, I don’t know…twenty years? Maybe it’s time. If I get a new one, I’ll put the old one in the guest room. “Sleep well, bucko!” I’ll coo. “Don’t let the Hummer hit you on the way out!”
My sister was talking about this girl we used to know Rachel. She said that everyone was jealous of her, because she was so gorgeous. “She was really pretty,” my sister said, “but her face was too wide. She looked like a beautiful meatball.”
I’ve thought about that a lot. I get it.
I’ve been thinking about my Aunt Lil and Uncle Mo. They weren’t really my aunt and uncle, and to be honest, I don’t know much about them. They were friends of my grandparents, and came to play Bridge with them. Aunt Lil had a nasally voice, and looked like an inquisitive bird with a white cotton candy wig. She always wore a necklace with a misshapen yellow pearl on it that I told my sister was really a witch’s snaggle tooth. Mo was bald and round. He looked like a beetle, and he had a grin jam-packed with little square corn-teeth. As a kid, whenever he smiled, I thought of the word ‘mandible’. Maybe Aunt Lil’s necklace was one of his spare bicuspids. Sometimes we all went out to Luby’s before the big Bridge game, during which I retired to the living room. With the adults all absorbed, my sister and I could sit in the big orange corduroy chair and watch “Love American Style”, and we could hear the clack of the red, blue and white plastic chips being pitched to the middle of the card tables as bets were placed.
That’s really all I remember about Uncle Mo and Aunt Lil, but I’ve been thinking about them a lot anyway, especially in the morning. Since I don’t have any verifiable life material to draw from, I have to make thing up about them. My favorite fantasy goes like this:
Lil: Mo! Mo! Are ya listenin’, Mo?
Mo: Yeah, yeah! What?
Lil: Ya want some breakfast?
Mo: Yeah, sure. It’s morning, right?Do I ever say, ‘Lil, today – no breakfast!’ No! Every morning for 36 years, morning comes, and I eat breakfast.
Lil: Most important meal of the day, yeah? Mo? Mo! Earth to Mo!
Mo: Yeah, Lil, Yeah! Whaddaya want?
Lil: So, what’s for breakfast? You want I should make French Toast? Eggs? Pancakes? Oatmeal? Cream of Wheat?
Mo: I’m trying to do the crossword here! I don’t care what’s to eat! Whatever, Lil!
Lil: You want cereal? Mo? Mo! Are ya listening?
Mo: What? I have to listen every second? Say something new, then I’ll listen!
Lil purses her lips and gives the zipper of her blue house coat a vicious tug. Tufts of Kleenex bloom from the pockets. Her feet, in low –heeled mule slippers, stomp and then shuffle against the brown and gold linoleum. As she works, she builds a rhythm. She makes coffee methodically, gets bowls and pans, pours juice into tiny glasses, orange for her, prune for him. There is much opening and closing of cabinets. Everything that is taken out is wiped down and sealed tightly, the put back in the exact spot from which it originated. She cuts a grapefruit in half and runs a knife through the outer edges of every triangle segment and the outside circle. She sets it on a small plate with a thin, serrated spoon, and gathers other silverware – butter knife, jam spoon, fork, cereal spoon, coffee spoon. The silverware is gold colored, heavy, with an elongated shell on the handles, and she holds a knife up to examine its surface. She sees the long thin oval of her reflection, just her eyes, and she thinks she looks tired.
Mo: Lil. Lil. Whadda ya doin’, Lil?
Lil: What am I doing? Whaddaya think I’m doing? You’re driving me crazy, Mo!
Mo: Whaddaya making?
Lil: Oh, whadda you care? Go back to your crossword!
Mo pushes his high backed chair from the kitchen table that seats eight, but now is used only by two. He puts both hands on the cloth and hoists himself up, beetle back bowed. He walks behind Lil, grunting at the eggs poaching in their little rings, nodding at the coffee perking in the pot, checking to make sure the toaster hasn’t swallowed the bread. He circles her hips with bear hands, and puts his thick lips to her ear. She stiffens at first, but then relaxes, like butter left on the counter. His top lip tickles her ear lobe.
Mo: (whispering) Lil….Lil! How ‘bout a little whitefish to go with? Maybe some purple onion?
Mo sniffs Lil’s hair. He’s thinking, even first thing in the morning she smells clean, like Jergens and cotton. He inhales deeply.
Lil, her back still to him, smiles. “Sure, Mo,” she says. “We got purple onion. Thirty six years, and purple onion, we always got.”
I read the news today, oh boy.
Headlines from the NYT, section one:
ASSAULT SIGNALS TALIBAN’S REACH AND RESILIENCE – CAPACITY FOR MAYHEM IS UNDETERRED BY SPLIT IN GROUP’S RANKS
A REMARK IN FRANCE IS ASSAILED AS RACIST*
RUSSIANS FIND FEW BARRIERS TO JOINING UKRAINE BATTLE
IN BRITAIN, SCHOOL REPORT CITES DIVISION OVER ISLAM**
…VIDEO OF SEXUAL ASSAULT…TEST OF EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT’S PLEDGE***
PRISON FOR 5 IN MURDER OF JOURNALIST****
ANTIGOVERNEMENT OBSESSION PRECEDED…ATTACK IN LAS VEGAS
I also had read an email that talked about this:
People are crazy. Why was it so funny when Rodney King said “Can’t we just get along?” I’m going to come out on record here and say that I am anti-Taliban. I am against Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Isis, Nazis, zealots, Klansmen, fanatics, militiamen, racists, fascists, misogynists, and all those who feel like it is their right and duty to impose their ways of life or belief systems on others, particularly through violence, intolerance and coercion. This stuff makes me sad. All of that came from one day of news. Just one day.
I know every generation thinks society is going to hell in a hand basket. I know things have been much worse, and that there is a lot of good out there. I am actually kind of a rose-colored glasses kind of gal. But maybe every generation is right. It really does seem like as a species, we are slow, perhaps even incapable, of evolving.
So yeah, this stuff makes me so sad, and it pisses me off. But still, I think it’s important to know, to pay attention to what’s going on. These events that are so enormous poke holes into our consciousness and remind us that we still have so much to do. And though those holes are rather small…I have to count them all…
A friend sent me this via facebook. Suddenly I am remembering the 90’s – my 90’s, anyway.
Happy birthday to Micheal, Sheri, McAdams, and Chm Chm, the resplendent. I love you all!