Thursday, January 28, 2010

And Then What Happened

Our friend Cee died last Friday. So, not weeks, but days, unless you count the preceding 16 months. She was 46.
Getting dressed for the funeral on Monday, I thought, well, it's a good thing it's cold out, since my only black dress that's not a Little Black Dress wouldn't be too comfortable on a hot day.
Then I wondered if I had a hat that would go with it, since I've always wanted to wear a fabulous black hat with a veil. Then I wondered what the hell I was thinking.

I left the house a little late. I really wanted a hat. The only one I could find in my box of vintage stuff was a little 50's headband-type thingie, too Vegas cocktail lounge for a southern funeral. Especially a Lutheran funeral.
Five minutes into the 1 1/2 hour drive and my bottom lip is already doing that spastic thing it does when I'm trying not to cry.
I should have worn the headband thing. It even had a little veil. Cee loved hats. Maybe the navy blue velvet one. Didn't I have a red cloche somewhere? Dammit, I need a fabulous hat. She would have loved it, and I owe it to her to wear one. Because face it, I am not going to be able to sustain emulating her in any other way -- she was organized, driven, positive, athletic, successful, and never even glanced over her shoulder at the past -- but by God, I can and will wear hats.

No, I cannot turn around, because my dithering has caused me to cut the time a little too fine.

By now I am imagining something akin to that huge serving platter hat Kate Winslet wore in Titanic. With maybe a few more plumes, and some artificial fruit and birds.

Some women hereabouts wear traffic-stopping hats to church on a regular basis. This is a benefit of living in the South. I may not wear them to church, but I know where I can find them, you betcha. So, as I pass the shopping center and see Belks [department store] I know what I have to do.

I am going to find me a hat. I am going to go in there and find the foofiest Sunday-go-to-meeting hat they have, if it matches my outfit, and I will buy it, and when I get to the church people will raise their eyebrows at me. And I will square my shoulders and sail on in and they will know that I am thinking,"Shut up! She would have loved this hat, and you know it."


As I pull into the parking lot my phone rings. It is my husband, asking if I have left the house yet and if I am bringing the shoes, to which I reply yes, I have and no, because he told me he'd found a pair of shoes. Well, they're Dad's and they don't really fit, have you really left the house?

By that last question you can tell that we have been married eighteen years and he knows me pretty well. "I'm already passing Belks now," I lie as I ease into a parking space. "Can't go back. Bye."

Can I find and purchase the hat in under 5 minutes? Of course. God will help me, because God wants me to wear that hat. He will lead me to it. It will be there, fabulous, the first thing I set my eyes on.

Except, of course, Belks doesn't open for another hour.

As I pull away I toy with the idea of a detour to the mall, and then tell myself to stop being ridiculous and get your ass to the funeral. If God wants you to have a hat he will have to drop it onto your head. Step on the gas, girl.

No one seemed to notice that I wasn't wearing a hat.

PS The other great moment involved the minister cracking a diet Mountain Dew in the pulpit to toast Cee. It came very close to being a Chuckles the Clown moment. I'm wondering if she paid him to do it.

Myrna Loy would have kicked ass at a funeral. Even Lutheran ass.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Damn Punks Get Off My Lawn

The Him and I have come to understand that we are now grownups in the chronological if not intellectual sense.
We are slightly post-Boomer so we have been used to being either granchildren or younger siblings in the greater schema of American culture. This has tended to compound the natural human delusion of perpetual youth.

But the wolf is at the proverbial door.

The principal delusion-puncturing device is our
Hold on a minute.
Thanks. The dogs were into the trash, I hied thence and banished them to Padua.
Close approximation of their work

I was trying to say that lately we keep hurting ourselves in the most laughably mundane ways.
A sampling:
-turning over in bed
-carrying a pillow
-turning around
-standing up
-folding a shirt

None of these injuries requires medical treatment or even a bandaid, but when performing an action as simple as the above causes something to go sproink and all hurty, I can't help but be astounded and a little angry, I mean


Suddenly the comments of elderly friends and relatives take on sinister hues; one extrapolates the trend and realizes that when they say it hurts to walk, they may mean it HURTS. As in actual, nauseating, I'm-not-getting-out-of-this-chair-and-you-can't-make-me PAIN.
Empathetic fear is a good thing, I guess, if it makes us more compassionate. What I regret most about my sense of humor and my impulse-control deficits is that the combination makes me seem callous.
My mordant sense of humor does help me cope but sometimes it opens a little window on something frightening. I've noticed that as the decades accumulate the "firsts" among one's peers get darker. That joke about introducing the person you're married to as your first spouse gets more painful, making it either truly funny or tasteless, depending on one's disposition. When we were thirtysomething a friend died in a car accident and I made the comment that this was our first dead friend. Fear that deep makes me laugh, I don't know why, maybe it's chimp wiring that makes a scream indistinguishable from laughter.

In a few weeks we will know what it's like to lose a friend to cancer. It is essential to acknowledge that what is happening to her is far more important than what I feel about it, I'm not asking for sympathy. I'm laying the groundwork because this is the place where I can blurt those awful connections my mind makes, so that I don't blurt them at a time or place that severs yet another relationship.
So I'll be getting back to you soon. It will be something really, really funny.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In celebration of the New Year, some things I am thankful for.
The Him and Tigrrl top the list, of course. And I am thankful to have my parents close, 5 minutes close. And now my brother and sister-in-law and their remaining nestlings are living a mere hour away: that is high on the list of thankings. We hosted the mob for Christmas dinner and I seated twelve people around my dining room table, which makes me a bit misty just thinking about it.

But wait, there's more...
Note, at left, a new photo: as of August we are parents to a remarkable young woman who came to us fully formed, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. Except without the armor and thunderbolt and stuff. Athena is on loan from Munich, ostensibly for a year, but we think we will have to keep her. She is much, much smarter than us, and also much nicer than we deserve. She thinks we're crazy but she's even nice about that.
She makes coffee in the morning.
She makes dinner whenever I ask for help.
She makes wonderful food, dumplings and apfel thingies and chocolate stuff -- there's this one called chocolate sausages that are AWESOME, no actual sausage involved, trust me

-- and bredzels, and gingerbread hearts for Octoberfest.

She is witty and asks lots of questions about American popular culture and language -- is there anything The Him and I love to talk about more, than our observations on these topics? Can you see that this is a match made in heaven?

Athena is also endlessly patient with Tigrrrl, okay not endlessly, she's learned the necessity of setting firm limits, but WAY more patient than I am, which sets a good example for all of us, and makes Tigrrl happy. After four months T has not yet tired of saying, (to Athena, about us) "do you SEE what I have to put up with?!"

I am in awe of her parents, and more than a little jealous of the wonderful job they have done.
Welcome, Athena. We are not worthy.