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24 July 2006
I have often written of my aunt Barb in this journal. The one with Alzheimers. Barb has been my writing inspiration throughout my life. I remember when letters would come from her, always so wonderfully witty that we would be convulsed with laughter reading them. It's one of the reasons why I find it so sad to see her in her current state she no longer has that humor, and she can no longer remember having written anything.
Some time ago, my cousin collected all of our aunt's writings and put them into a book so that members of the family could have their own copies. I told her that I would like to share a few of them with readers of this journal, so from time to time, I'm going publish one. This one is my friend Char's favorite....
I suppose everyone has, at sometime in their life, dreamed of being a social success, the belle of the ball, or the toast of the town. Years ago when I was young and foolish, I had such dreams but as the years took their toll, and I got old and foolish, these wild fantasies have given way to more practical things, such as, How can I fix the hamburger different tonight. Little did I know that so late in life, social position, and honor by my fellow man would come to me. Here is how it happened and I have entitled it:
I MADE MY SOCIAL DEBUT AT FORTY-ONE
Since the big man and I have been living in these parts, the local Rotary Club has been after him to become a member. This particular club is very elite and their membership roster reads like the Whos Who, if we had a Whos Who up here in the boonies. Unlike the Elks and the Lions Clubs who are a notorious bunch, this group sips their booze daintily and performs their leg feeling and butt pinching very discreetly under the tables. Up until now, father has avoided joining them mainly, I think, because he felt that he would be unable to sip the sauce as frugally as was required and if he should happen to over-perform, he would be promptly booted out. This, of course, would be social disaster. Since the booze is no longer a problem, he felt that now the time was ripe to make himself available, should they still want him. They still wanted him and he was duly initiated. The night of his initiation, he was given an engraved invitation to the social event of the year, which was the annual Christmas Dinner and Party at the Top of the Wheel.
Now you are aware of my fondness for these gambling establishments and this type of thing its not my cup of tea. However, I thought that I could make a concession just once and go along who knows; I might have fun! As we were riding up in the elevator with our best bibs and tuckers on, the old boy turned to me and said, Please try and behave yourself tonight will you?
For some strange reason, this struck me as about the funniest thing he has ever said to me. Probably because I had spent many years telling him the same thing and to hear it in reverse, was more than I could bear. The only reason I can figure him saying such a thing is that with him it was sheer intuition. Or perhaps when he said it, it knocked on the door of my subconscious and as it was entering that dark mysterious place all sorts of unexplainable things that were in there escaped to rumble around inside of me only to come roaring out into the open later in the evening.
We made our grand entrance into the room only to find that father had made a mistake on the time and we were a half-hour early. Not a guest had arrived only the bartenders and a few waiters were there. To make up for this faux paux, the old boy allowed that we could sit at the bar and have a tidily. He had Calso straight and I had a martini. The party goers began coming in by the bunch and before long there was quite a crowd around us making with the happies and lapping up the idiot oil to a fair-thee-well. Someone suggested that we should go into the dining room and sit since the booze was free in there. Everyone wildly accepted this and off we marched like the troops we were.
The Top of the Wheel, in case you havent been there is a very plush joint. The decor is Polynesian, with tiki gods, tapa cloth, giant plants, shell palm trees, and fish ponds. The dining area is especially elegant with its blue green carpeting, monkey-pod tables and exquisite rattan chairs. Our party consisted of about two hundred and fifty people and we took up only half of the dining room, so you can imagine how large it is.
When we were all seated and the drinks were ordered again, (this was my third martini) I felt that old urge and excused myself to go to the powder room. As I was traversing this very large, beautiful room, I noticed a man standing by one of the tiki gods near the door. He was short and skinny, slightly bald and he had a nose that matched mine. This was the poor soul type that you certainly wouldnt choose if you had romance on your mind, or anything else for that matter. I dont know what in the hell came over me, but I had the wildest compulsion to put my arms around him and kiss him, which I promptly did. He didnt seem to mind it too much; in fact I think he rather enjoyed it. I asked him his name and he told me, which I quickly forgot he then asked me mine, and I told him which I hope to God he forgot. We shook hands real friendly like, and I went on my way to the john.
The john at the Top of the Wheel is about the most elegant crapper in the country. You enter into a very large sitting room that has floor to ceiling gold-framed mirrors along two walls. In front of these are marble-topped tables with purple valor vanity chairs. Along another wall there are gold brocade lounges and in the middle of the room the largest most beautiful marble topped coffee table that I have ever seen. In the center of the coffee table is a vase the size of twenty-five gallon milk can with passionate colored giant sized ostrich feathers in it. The room where all the dirty work is done is almost as elegant. The wash basins are gold and the faucets are golden dolphins. Other than the sink tops, which are Italian marble, the entire room is done in different shades of tiny green tiles shaped like fingernails.
I was standing at one of the gold wash basins tidying up when a woman at the basin next to me started to make small talk. She was quite a large hefty thing, with stone gray hair done in a boyish cut, here eyes peered out of coke bottle type glasses and she wore a violent blue satin dress which hung on her very large frame like a saddle blanket.
After a few minutes of talking of this and that she told me that she had seen me go up to a man in the dining room and kiss him. Since I was evidently a stranger to him, she wondered what ever possessed me to do such a thing. I was more than pleased with her interest in me and feeling very garrulous at the time, I poured out my intimate feelings to her. I told her that he looked like such a poor forlorn soul and that his wife was probably a big fat gruesome bag that treated him like a weasel. Also that he needed a little kind attention and I thought that I was probably the one to give it to him.
Well as you have probably already guessed, it was his fat gruesome wife that I was addressing. She told me in a voice loud and clear that I was to keep my SKINNY HOOKS off her husband or she would stomp on me like a bug! While she was stomping out of the room I was trying to pull my big foot out of my very large type mouth. Now you know that anyone in their right mind, would have, at this time picked up their boots and gone home. Things were not too good to start with and they didnt seem to be getting any better. But I had lots of the spirit of Christmas in me and I, sad to say, intended to pass it thither and yon among the multitudes.
When I returned to the table, I asked the lady sitting next to me if the afore-mentioned woman was a native or a visitor. She then gave me the good word that the fat womans husband was the very high potentate of all the Rotary Clubs in California. Jeez Id picked a winner, didnt I? Bill will probably be drummed out of the club for my actions but Im not going to tell him why just yet. I like those kinds of things to come as a surprise dont you?
We were sitting at a table with a bunch of world travelers. Most of them had just gotten back or were soon leaving for some far off place. Hong Kong, Paris, Mexico City, Monte Carlo you name it and they had been there. I felt sort of out of place with our two puny trips to Hawaii, but I was not about to let these boobs out do me. The gentleman across the table had been to the Islands many times and asked me what had impressed me most, I told him that the many different types of people was what impressed me most and went on to illustrate my point by telling him of an incident that happened to me while we were there. Why in the hell I told this, Ill never know. Its certainly something you dont tell at social gatherings you dont even discuss it with your close friends unless they have stomachs of iron. I believe that I mentioned it to you the last time I saw you.
One morning Pat and I were having breakfast under the Banyan Tree at the Moana Hotel. An Indian woman came in with her blind husband and sat at the table next to ours. She was a gorgeous thing with long black hair, the black spot in the middle of her forehead and a jewel in her nose. Her sari was made of gold and red material with a very intricate design. I was so fascinated with her that I could hardly eat my underdone eggs for watching her. She and her husband ordered corn flakes and ate them out of the box dry. While in the midst of munching her crunches, she stopped and began picking her nose. Her nose picking finger vanished up her nostril to the last knuckle and she drew out a long snotty wad which she held in mid-air and jiggled around on her finger, watching it all the while. By this time, my eggs didnt look so pretty good and my stomach was churning like a washing machine. When she got tired of playing with this lump, she snapped it off her finger and it landed on the floor next to my feet. Pat and I left hurriedly and took our rumbling stomachs with us.
I finished this lovely story expecting some sort of comment but got only dead silence. The man across the table left his spoon that he was eating noodle soup with in mid-air and vanished. All the others just stared at me at least I thought they were staring at me until I looked down at what I was eating, and noticed that my elbow was resting in my bowl of French Onion soup. They were staring at my elbow! It just goes to show what poor food they serve in these joints the soup is so cold, you cant even tell when your elbow is sitting in it.
Youre probably wondering just what my husband was doing all this time? Thank God he wasnt sitting next to me or he would have killed me. He was down the table a ways and couldnt get to me.
Have you ever tried to wring French Onion soup out of an elbow? I mean an elbow that has a red velvet sleeve on it? After wiping and squeezing and patting the damn thing, I thought to hell with it. It isnt everyone that can have an onion soup elbow. While I was pondering over this, the booze that I had been so daintily sipping all evening somehow caught up with me. All of a sudden I was so bombed that I didnt even know my own name. I motioned to Bill that I was leaving the table and I think he was more relieved at the prospect, so, Im sure, was everyone else.
My second tour across the dining room was not quite like the first. This time instead of stopping to kiss a stranger, I ran head long into a waiter who was carrying a tray of leftovers to the kitchen. As we lay on the floor amid the debris, he said to me, Lady what football team do you play for and why in the hell did you tackle me? As sick and drunk as I was, I was not about to let him insult me. With all the indignation I could muster and this is hard to do while lying on the floor with a mess of dirty dishes on you, I said, I play half-back for the Oakland Raiders, and I most certainly didnt tackle you, you ran into me.
We helped each other up and the Matre D came over to dust us off-----I should say pick us off. Besides the onion soup, I now had crab legs, fish bones, boiled rice, gravy and baked potato skins all over me. The Matre D was dabbing and swatting at me with a towel and I told him just to leave me alone that I was capable of taking care of myself.
By now I was so stoned that my legs had turned to wet noodles and I had one devil of a time navigating the room. The wide open spaces that I aimed for somehow eluded me and I found myself face to face with one of those jeesely tiki gods they have up there. The things are about six feet tall and they sit on pedestals youd think they would be sturdy theyre not all I did was breathe at it and it flopped over into a fish pond much to the amazement of the fish and the amusement of the people that were sitting far enough back where they didnt get splashed. Those that were sitting closer were furious.
By this time my legs were not only wet noodles but I also had a very sick stomach and I knew that I had to get somewhere fast. I made it to the restroom reeling and spinning like a whirling dervish. When I opened the door, the attendant took one look at me and said, Oh Jesus. In fact, these were the only two words she spoke to me. I tried to console myself with the thought that she was merely expressing a different type of Yuletide greeting, but I havent quite made myself believe it since she bellowed it loud and clear at such odd times. Like when I heaved all over the ostrich feathers, again when she slapped an ice bag on my head and I do mean slapped. She said it VERY loud when she tried to drag me to the crapper and I wouldnt budge. The last time she sighed it this was when she pushed me out the door to the waiting arms of my husband.
I must reverse my motor here and tell you something very unusual. Its about those ostrich feathers. Did you know that regurgitated vodka will turn ostrich feathers all the same color this is how you do it? Ill bet the Wagon Wheel is thanking me right now for this bit of information.
After I was rudely shoved out the restroom door, father grabbed me rather rudely from the other direction and he did have a quizzical look on his face. Luckily he was oblivious to my run in with the waiter because he couldnt understand why I had the debris all over me. Also he didnt know about the tiki god because he said, Jesus, you and the stupid drunk that knocked that tiki god into the fish pond must be in about the same shape!
I was very happy to get into the elevator because I knew he wouldnt do anything too violent while there were witnesses. When we got down to the main floor I was confronted with another minor problem. We had to cross this gambling area to get to the escalator that takes us to the floor where the cars are brought around. This room is almost a block long and its filled with all sorts of booby traps for one in my delicate condition. Father wouldnt walk with me and I cant really blame him because if I had been sober, I doubt if I would have walked with me either. He stayed a very dignified ten feet behind me as I ran this obstacle course, and I want to let you know that I ran it like a shock trooper. I hit a crap table here, a slot machine there, bumped into people knocked hats off.
When we got to the escalator, I paused a minute to decide just what I should do. I dont mind getting on those damn things going up, but going down I have one devil of a time finding the step sober. I was able to solve my problem by my rational thinking. Dead I was going to be one way or another. If my sickness didnt get me, I knew that Bill would see to it that something else did, and I might just as well take my chances with the step and die a mangled mess on the escalator.
When I stepped off into the air, not giving a toot where my foot landed, he caught me. After we got to the bottom, he drug me over to a round leather seat to wait for the car. I buried my head down in the fur as far as possible and shut my eyes. There were quite a few other people waiting for cars and I pretended not to hear what they were saying. A mans voice said, My God, she sure hung one on. A womans voice said, Lord wouldnt you hate to be that sick, I feel so sorry for her.
Another mans voice, "Sorry for her, Hell no, its her old man I feel sorry for; imagine having to drag that thing around.
The car finally came and I was drug outside and not too gently pushed into the front seat. We then drove that long silent last mile home. I know that you would appreciate how I felt at this time, because I believe that you have ridden a few silent miles yourself. Not a word did the old boy say only tremendous sighs that he brought up from his very toenails the kind of sighs that make you feel so glad youre alive!
When we reached home I reminded myself of a slow motioned rechocheting bullet going down the hall to the bedroom. Gram had been kind enough to baby-sit for us and since she is a worrywart, she was waiting up for us. I didnt know it, but Bill told her that I had the flu.
I dont think there is anything quite so disgusting as a man having to undress his wife. Unless, of course, he has romance on his mind. As much as this hurt, I couldnt help but laugh. I was thinking that it was certainly a good thing that men didnt wear garters as many times that I have yanked his shoes and socks off had he been wearing them, he would still be carrying the scars.
The night was one long nightmare, and Gram who was taking pain pills for her back and nausea pills for the sick stomach that the pain pills caused, met me many times in the hall as I got up to heave or take aspirin. She always spoke to me kindly, thinking I was suffering from the flu, but I was just too sick to answer her.
I crawled out about nine a.m. to find that Bill had gotten Pat off to school and Gram and Kelly were entertaining each other. Gram said se was so sorry that I had the flu and before I could bite my tongue, I said, Flu hell, Ive got a hangover that just wont end. For some reason or other this tickled her funny bone and she really had a laugh. Her nausea was still with her and so was mine so we spent the morning crawling in and out of bed while Kelly had a hey day. She made Kool Ade all over the kitchen, cracked nuts on the living room floor, and mixed great quantities of cereal which was left in bowls all over the various floors. She must catch the bus by eleven, so at 10:30 I dressed myself and got her ready for school. Three little friends came by to pick her up. Since she didnt have anyone to talk to all morning, when the friends arrived, the dam broke and she babbled on like a brook. My Mommy is sick this morning she doesnt have the flu, she has a hangover Mommy, whats a hangover? Does it hurt much? Do you put a bandaid on it? Can we see it? Four little darlings staring at me waiting for a peek at my bloody bandaged hangover.
All the while this was going on, Gram was lying on the couch with the pillows over her face in hysterics. After I shoved the kids out the door, Gram and I collected ourselves together and crept out to the car. She had all she wanted of me and desired to go home. I stumbled around the super market getting her groceries. Lots of people spoke to me but I didnt answer back. We then went to the Post Office and then I had to drag her groceries up a flight of stairs to her apartment. After unloading the groceries and saying my good-byes, I crept back down the stairs and as I passed Marys door, I thought, if she dares open that door and says anything to me, Ill hit her. Mary has a super sense of timing she knows when she can talk and when she cant she didnt open the door.
When I got back home, and stepped into the house, I was confronted with the worse mess you can imagine. I thought, Oh God, at least Ive got about six hours to clean this place up before the old boy gets home with the hatchet.
I had just taken my coat off, when I looked out the window, and there he was with dear brother and a V.I.P. from Salt Lake. They had stopped by to have a cup of coffee and meet O/D.s charming wife. Scott was full of funnies concerning my big head the V.I.P. was more than bewildered and O.D. decided after gazing upon his charming wife and his charming house that they wouldnt have coffee. As they went out the door, he said, There will be a Captain's Mass tonight at SIX BE HERE!! Ive never heard of a Captain's Mass before, but I think thats where they make you walk the gangplank or hang you from the highest yardarm!
(c) Barbara O'Donnell
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Barb, in better days