Pages

Monday, June 19, 2017

(14) IT WAS YOUR LIQUOR-INSPIRED BRAVADO.


10-30-73
B   Jack, we’ve got to do something.  Do you want to have a drink first, or do you want to do it now and get it over with?
J   What are you talking about?
B   I made a slight goof today.  [Where?]  Did you notice coming in the driveway that something was missing?  [Your car?]  The jeep. 
J   The jeep? Jesus!  Did you plow into it?
B   Well, I didn’t exactly plow into it. [You were backing out, you plowed into it?] 
I gently hooked into it.  So I thought, well I’ll just move away from it, and I couldn’t. It came right along with me.  So I head out the driveway, and I keep looking in the rear view mirror, and it keeps going along behind me. 
J   So where is it?
B   I drove down to the station—[with it on?]—Yes. Going uphill I was petrified `cause I thought, Suppose it lets go.  It could kill somebody.
J   The jeep was hooked on the bumper?
B   Yes, the towing thingamajig.  And it would sort of skate back and forth along my bumper.  Some way or other, the thing in front of the jeep, a black iron thing, was swaying back and forth, and of course people were going by me and staring.
J   You drove out of here and all the way up to the station with this thing hooked onto your bumper?
B   Yes, I went out the back way, and when I was going up the hill, I kept thinking, if it lets go, I’m in big trouble. 
J   Did you get out at all and look to see if there was something maybe you could do . . . bump it real hard and get away from it?
B   I got out when it first happened.  You know how people jump up and down to separate cars when they’re locked.  [You tried that?]  It didn’t budge.
J   What the hell, both cars are at the station, hooked on?
B   No, I kept my car.  They unhooked it, but they want the jeep the hell out of there.
J   How are we going to get it the hell out of there?
B  Well-- uh, one of us could sit in it and steer . . .
J    Can’t you back into it again and bring it back? You laugh as though you hadn’t even thought of that.  Have I got any ideas about how to get that thing back here?  [Yes.]  Is that what you’re asking me?  [Yes.]  I don’t wanna.
B   I said to the mechanic, have you got some rope?  Could you tie it on to the back of me?  He said I’d need two people. 
J   Two people to do what?
B   I said I'd tow it home if he had some rope.  He said it would take two people, and he wanted it out of the way.
J    Somebody’s got to get in and drive it and manage the brakes?
B   You can’t drive it, but you could steer it, I guess.  I hope the brakes work.  I guess they do.
J   Can’t he wait till Saturday?
B   No.  Maybe he could wait till morning.  I just hate to get involved in towing. 
J  Well, I don’t blame you. 
B  In fact, that was why I did what I did, `cause I’m trying to be thrifty.  
J    Well . . . I’d say you had a problem. 
B   The man said, “You’ve gotta get it out of here.” 
J   You’ve gotta get yourself another boyfriend.
B   I said, well, I have a friend that I’m seeing tonight.  And that was you. 
J   I bet you they were shocked as hell to see you pull in there with this Jeep hooked onto you.
B   They hardly raised an eyebrow. 
J    Ohhhh.  They’d raise an eyebrow even if you didn’t have the jeep attached, Barb. You’re gonna have to be truthful if you want me to help you.  You can’t be lying like that.
B   Listen, Jack, not everybody sees me with your odd vision. Maybe this wine will tell us what to do.
J    Well, we’ll get some rope, we’ll tie it on, bring it home.  It’s that simple.  Are they open or closed?
B   I don’t know.  Maybe we’ll get down there, and it’ll be buried behind three other cars.
J    I can’t get over this, Barb.  I actually can’t get over this, that you hooked onto the jeep and drove it up to the station.
B   Well, I couldn’t see going back into the house, calling up the tow people, waiting around while they got here, because I had too much to do.  I had a million things to do.  As it was, I was almost late getting to the bank to cover Ed's bounced check.
J    Nobody around here could help you?
B   I passed a man working in his yard, but at that point I was going up the hill, and I didn’t want to—
J   There was nobody over there at Costellos?  [I don’t know what he could have done.]  He could have jumped up and down . . . sung Sweet Sue, maybe. Geez, you could have had a little entertainment.  Hey, that’s nice wine.  I go on like this.  I hope you don’t mind.  I’m not trying to uh change the subject, you know. 
B   No, I don’t mind.  I’m good-natured about things like this.
J   So I’ll get some rope in the basement, huh? 
B  Wait, I’ll go with you. 
~~~
B   Soon we were wandering through the basement wonderland I inherited from Ed. We were looking for a chain or length of rope, both of which we found hanging between a pair of clam-digging boots and a rusted ship’s lantern.
     We drove to the Mobil Station, and Jack decided we didn’t need to tow the jeep.  I could push it while he steered.  So off we went, very much attached to each other, hoping there were no cops around.  Our safari faced a complex problem when we got to Springer Street, where we’d have to make a left turn.  Jack called out that he’d watch for oncoming traffic, which I couldn’t see, while I should look out for cars behind us, which he couldn’t see.  First, though, we had to synchronize our signals.  I yelled to Jack, “I’ll wave my hand up and down like this, when there’s no one in back of us, and you wave your hand back and forth like this when there’s no one in front of us.”   
     To the occupants of passing cars, we must have looked like a pair of drunken referees, but our system worked perfectly. We turned the corner safely, swung onto Brook Lane, and it was downhill all the way until we turned into my driveway.  A rut was all we needed to lock the jeep's thingamajig onto my front bumper.  The malicious monster wasn't through with us yet. 
J   That’s when I found out how she got into this predicament in the first place.  We came to a halt in the parking space next to the big pine tree.  I got out and jumped on the bumpers.  They remained united.  I said when I caught my breath, “When I give you the signal, back up fast.”
B   Jack climbed back on the bumpers and gave me the signal.  I stepped hard on the throttle but forgot to put the gear in reverse.  I don’t know who was more startled when we found ourselves on the front lawn.  Jack shouted, “Reverse, reverse!”  I was reminded of a similar situation on our boat long ago, in which Ed was left hanging from a dock in Provincetown.  I roared backwards onto the driveway with Jack clinging to the jeep with both hands.  “Stop!” he called.
J  I didn’t mean for you to stop so suddenly.  I almost fell off when you hit the brakes.
B   Sorry about that. Your solution was so clever, Jack.  Who but you would have thought to climb up on the roof and use it like a trampoline? Half a dozen jumps and eureka!
J   Oh, it was nothing, really.  Kind of fun, actually. 
B  Then we went into the house and toasted each other.  Very proud of ourselves we were. 
J   All I could remember was thinking, Jesus, thank God there were no cops around.
~~~
Flash forward one month to 12-24-73
Christmas Eve in Westwood with Ted and Maureen, Kathie and Dick, Tim, Vonnie and her current boyfriend, Ronnie, Mom and her current boyfriend, Jack.               

Ted   Hey, if there are any oysters in the stuffing that you don’t want, let me know.  They look like little tushes.
Vonnie  What’s a tush?
Dick  Use your imagination.
Kathie   As soon as we finish eating, you’ll have to tell them your joke.
Dick   Which one?  Oh, the First Family joke.
Tim  Have you all seen the bumper sticker, Impeach the Cox Sacker?  That’s a beauty.
Mom   Oh yes.  We’ve all misread it.
Dick   What do you mean, misread it?
Vonnie   I didn’t misread it.
Mom   Even my Community Sex group said they did when they first saw it. They couldn’t believe it.
Dick   You mean they thought it was shocking?
Ted   They read it as it sounds instead of the way it was meant.  Hi Jack, how’re you doing?  We’ll need another chair.
Jack   How are you, Ted?
Ted   Fine, and you?  You’re very lovable, Jack, but just stay out of the oysters.
Jack   Don’t worry about it, I’ll be glad to.
Vonnie (aside to Ronnie)  You’ll tell your joke about the Scotchman, all right?  No, not right now.
Ted   This is just out of this world, Mom.  The oysters, there isn’t any question, it’s good.
Vonnie   Mom, remember when you wrote to me when you were abroad, and you said you asked the Scotchman what he had under his skirt.  Do you remember that postcard?
Me   Sort of. 
Vonnie   Later on Ronnie is going to tell you about a Scotchman and somebody asked him what he had under his skirt. 
Dick  His kilt.
Ted   There are enough Nixon bumper stickers out now for somebody to collect them and create a book out of it.  What’s the one you’ve got on your car, Maureen?
Maureen   “Say goodnight, Dick.”
Ted   Yeah, “Say goodbye, Dick.”
Mom   I like the picture of the state of Massachusetts that says, “We told you so.”
Ted   I like the one that says “Nixon 49, America 1.”
Dick   It’s kind of funny, though, you go out to the Midwest, I was out in Chicago and everyone’s got the bumper sticker, “At least no one drowned at the Watergate.”
Everyone:  Oh, right!
Ted   Every Millhouse has its Watergate?
Jack to Mom   Merry Christmas, dear.
Mom   Many happy returns.
Ted   Did you see how Nixon’s now seeking immunity for all the people in the oil industry so they can make excess profits and probably slip him lots of payola?
Mom   They certainly can afford it.
Ted   There we were, sitting in the harbor, wondering whether or not we’re gonna be able to get fuel for the boat to make our trip and the jets are flying over, the airforce jets, one after the other steadily.  Pensacola the same way.
B   Billions every month.
Tim  Yeah,  boy,  the Navy and the Air Force certainly have no shortage.  They’re all out there flying away and driving their vehicles.
Ted   Taking joy rides.
Mom   They have to protect us from those Vietnamese.  Do you want those Vietnamese coming over here and bombing us?
Dick   Actually, we’ve been threatened by Transylvania.  [laugh from Vonnie]  At this point we need the protection because we’re so unpopular.
Ted   Jack, would you like to have some salad?
J    I’m done.
Mom   Yes, Jack would like some salad.  [No, I wouldn’t.] It’s my famous homemade salad. 
Vonnie   It’s delicious—mmm,mmmm.
Dick   We now can offer Option B.  Take the salad.  [general laughter.]
Ted   Just send your plates down when you’re ready.  
 Jack  Is there really a little bit left there?
Ted   Umhm, there’s quite a bit.
Dick   Did you hear they finally did impeach Nixon, and he was convicted.  He was thrown out of the White House.  The IRS confiscated every possession that he had.  He was left with  nothing.  Trish and Julie disowned him.  They wanted nothing to do with him.  Halderman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, all the rest of his old friends, they totally disowned him.  Nobody wanted anything to do with him.  He was worse than a leper.  So he and Pat ended up living in a cold-water flat in New York, no money, absolutely destitute.  Nobody’d give him a job and Welfare wouldn’t accept him, and he couldn’t get any money anywhere.
     So finally one night, they were sitting around and Nixon said to Pat, Well, there’s only one  recourse left.  You’re going to have to go out and do street work.  And she said, I could never do that, it’s beneath my dignity, after all I’m the former First Lady of the land and all that.  He said, Well, those days are gone forever, and kid, we gotta do something. 
     So finally a couple of days later she agreed and she got all the wrinkles she could out of the one dress she owned  [Mom  I thought you were going to say her face.] {mixed laughter} and fixed herself up  Did the best she could and at 8:00 in the evening, she went out and hit the streets.  Tricky stayed home and doodled on his yellow pad. 
     She came back about 3:00 in the morning, and he said, “How much money did you get?”  “Twenty-three dollars and ten cents.”  He said, “Twenty-three dollars and ten cents!  Who gave you that dime? And three ones?” [laughter]
    “The moral of the story is, if Nixon would only do to Pat what he’s doing to the country, everybody would be better off.”  [much laughter]
Ted   Maureen was telling me that while we were away we had Nixon’s secretary on television, and she was [Vonnie  Oh, that was the most far-fetched story I ever heard in my life.] telling everybody how she erased the tape by accident with her foot, and they set it all up in the courtroom and she went to do it, and she couldn’t reach the buttons?  [mixed laughter]
    And then she said, Well uh, it’s not the same as it was in the office, and so they reset it all up in the office the next day, and she couldn’t do it in the office, either.
Vonnie   Yeah, and she had supposedly done it for 18 minutes?
Ted   You know who’s really done the best, I think, with this whole situation is that guy that writes, does the--
Mom   Buchwald.
Ted   Well, he always is great, but I never really appreciated that other guy—
Vonnie   Szep.
Dick   The Globe cartoonist?  He’s great.
Ted   Oh yeah, he makes some great caricatures.
Vonnie   You should have seen the one he did about her. She was all tangled up and her face was all twisted up!  [laughter]

Ted   Jack, would you like something?

J   Just about half that would be fine. 

Ted,  serving Jack,  That’s what you’re gonna get, Jack.  Maureen, Richard, Vonnie?

Tim   He who hesitates is lost.  There’s an oyster.

Vonnie   Is that what that was?  I was trying to figure what that slimy thing was.

Mom   If they’re cooked, they’re not slimy.

Jack   I don’t know, I must have eaten one.

[Sound of something dropping and Ted groaning]

Vonnie   Teddy did it.
Mom   The tape recorder landed on your foot?
Ted   I saved the tape recorder, but I ruined my foot. 
Maureen   Poor Teddy, he’s in pain.
Mom   Vonnie, say something sympathetic.  Poor Teddy!
Vonnie   Something sympathetic.  Poor Teddy!
Mom   Is it still plugged in, Vonnie?  [Yes.]  The little wheel’s going around? 
Vonnie Yes, Mummy, while you’re talking the thing is going around.  Jack, could you use some Mountain bread?
Jack   No thanks.
Ted   Well, it’ll just go to those poor little birds out there, I guess.  They’re probably so overfed they can’t fly.
Dick  When are you going to have your news conference at the Boat Club?
Ted  My news conference?
Vonnie  We all want to know what’s happening.
Dick    Honest to God, Ted, in the last two weeks at the Boat Club, I’ve had 28 people ask me what the hell you’re doing.  I told them you were writing a book about the sea.
Vonnie   What the hell are you doing?
Ted   That’s right, I’m writing a book about the sea.
Mom   You’re not playing any squash?
Ted   Well, the courts don’t fit too well on the boat.
Mom   I know, but you’re home now.
Dick   And the water doesn’t fit too well on the court.
Vonnie  (giggle)
Ted   No, I am home now, that’s very true.  And I certainly hope to get on the courts right after tomorrow.
Dick   You missed all the innovations they instituted.  They varnished the floors [Oh?]  and they’re putting hasps on all the lockers. [Oh?] And it’s just as filthy as it always was.
Ted   That’s what I heard. Mike Windsor said the place has really slipped.
Dick   When did you see Mike?  He was one of the guys asking about you.
Ted   I saw him down at the Mall today.  Crossed the last one off my Christmas list.  I ran into Elliott Berry in the airport, just getting ready to fly home to New York, and he’s just about ready to cut his throat.  He says, “Max Turner calls me at least three times a day to change the light bulbs in the men’s room and things like that.”
Dick   He’s not doing a very good job.
Ted   Well, he may not be, but the fellow is supposed to be a squash professional, not a janitor, and if you treat a squash professional or any professional like a janitor, chances are he’s not going to be back the next day.
Dick   Well, the other thing, according to Turner, they hired him to be a manager, not just a squash coach. 
Ted   He says that, too.
Tim   How about some salad, it’s good.
Dick   The thing that aggravated Turner and a lot of other people, right when the squash season started, Berry took a two-week vacation.
Vonnie  I had six Slim Jims before we left, I was so hungry.  And a bag of potato chips.
Ted   They’re taking advantage, putting him in that position and not paying him for it.  I think that’s the problem.  He’s not making any money at all.
Vonnie   THERE AREN’T ANY OYSTERS LEFT.
Mom   Everybody heard you, Vonnie, that’s for sure.
Vonnie   Shhh.
Mom to tape recorder  That was Vonnie who said that. 
Tim   Are you kidding?  Is that thing running?
Mom   Say something!
Tim   Jesus Christ!
Ted  That was very good.
Mom   That was Timmy Malley.
Dick    As if he needed to be identified.
Vonnie   The M C is Kathleen Malley White.
Ted  The one voice you can be sure is not getting on the tape is Maureen’s. [laugh from Vonnie]  She hasn’t even said boo today. 
Dick   How about one big Boo?
Tim   Let’s see now, what would Dick Nixon do with this?
Vonnie  The microphone?
Mom   Rosemary’s boo-boo.
Maureen  She was on Johnny Carson.
Mom   She was?  Or that expression? 
Ted   Rosemary’s booboo?  What’s this about Rosemary’s booboo?
Mom   Well, this is what they called her little mistake with the tape.  Rosemary’s booboo.
Ted   Oh.
Mom   One of the cartoonists talked about Rosemary’s booboo, too, and they had Nixon hiding behind the door, looking hopeful.
Dick   Remember the great No Air tape?
B  Oh, no air, yeah.  Who was the New York motor cyclist?
Tim  Me. Boston to New York.
Dick  With no air.
Mom   Who kept saying “No Air?”
Tim and Ted   Rob.
Mom  Did you hear Rob’s getting married?  At 34?
Vonnie  [huge intake of breath]  He is?  I think he was getting bald, anyway, I’m not interested any more.
Dick  No, he’s not bald.
Vonnie  He was starting to get thin, wasn’t he?
Mom   What’s wrong with a receding hairline?  A lot of people have those all their lives.
Vonnie   I used to have a mad crush on him, and then I heard he was going to be a lawyer and make all sorts of money and then I really had a crush on him.  If he ever saw me, he’d change his mind, so he’d better hurry up and get married. 
Tim  There’s a little left, is there?
Ted   Umhm, just send your plate right down.
Dick   You haven’t eaten lately?
Tim   No, I eat quite a bit, all the time.  If we were on the boat, I’d be asking Kathie for her plate so that I could scrape it onto my plate
Kathie   You could have mine, but I have a cold, you’d get sick.
Mom  Maureen, how are you keeping him filled?
Ted   Keeping me what?
Maureen   He hasn’t eaten at home for two weeks.
Ted   We’re not moved into the house, we’re at the last stage here.
Vonnie   How many bedrooms do you have?
Dick  Twenty-four?
Ted   Three.
Tim   Fishermen never eat at home, they eat out all the time.
Dick   How many of you are there on the crew? [ Six. ]
Ted   Jackson is the cook, he picks the food.  
Tim   He makes a darn good roast.  But you know, after working for about ten hours straight with nothing to eat but oreos, anything will taste good.
Vonnie   Are you still fishing in the wintertime?
Ted  No, we’re down south.
Dick  What do you have, a big freezer?
Vonnie  Why did you buy a house if you don’t even live here anymore?
Ted   I’m staying up here and moving into the house.
Mom   Dick wondered how you stored food on the boat.
Dick   Do you have a big freezer?
Ted   We keep it on the ice in the hold.
Mom   With the fish?

Ted    No, separate bins.
Vonnie    Urrgh!
Ted    No, it doesn’t pick up any taste.
Dick   Do you ever eat any swordfish while you’re fishing?
Ted   Once in awhile.  Not very often.
Vonnie    I don’t think I’d ever want to eat a swordfish again.
Ted   One of the favorite swordfish treats on the boat is swordfish cheeks.  Once in awhile we get that.
Vonnie   Is that like the Pope’s nose?
Mom   Oh, Vonnie!  (laugh)  Why would you only do it once in awhile? 
Ted   Well, because it’s a lot of work.
B   Ordinarily you just cut the head off and throw it overboard?
Vonnie   You mean like the cheeks in your face?
Ted   You can cut the cheeks out, and they’re very good, they’re very tasty.  We even had codfish tongues on this trip.  Those are super! 
Vonnie   OH, MY GOD!
Jack   I’m glad I never got to eat that.
Mom   We had grilled swordfish tongues in the stuffing, didn’t you taste it?
Jack   It was very good, whatever it was.  (Aside to someone) Now I could sure go for a cigarette.
Vonnie   Ted, would you go get the pack of Kents and the package of Luckies and an ash tray and a pack of matches.  They’re on the coffee table.?
Jack   Hey, screw that tape recorder.
Vonnie   Oh, my nose is starting to sneeze because Teddy put so much pepper on {unclear}  Where’s the ashtray?
Dick   What is the purpose of this tape recorder, anyway?
Mom   It’s just to commemorate this holy day-- [giggles from Vonnie]
Dick   JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!  [laughter from the holy group]
Tim   That’s the word I wanted to say.
Vonnie   That was a good one.  You’re going to be sorry for that when you hear the tape.
Mom   Probably not.
Dick   No, I’m not.  I thought it was the perfect response.
Mom   I was sorry when one like that was played back where I kept saying that word.
Vonnie   Mother!
Jack   You were sorry?
Mom   I’d had too much to drunk when I was saying it and it seemed very funny, but you have to listen to it drunk, and then it sounds all right  [little chuckle from Kathie].  Never listen to it sober.
Vonnie   Do you still have the tape that you heard yourself on?  I would love to hear that!
Mom   It has Bad Word written on the outside of it.  [mixed laughter]
Kathie   When I was in the hospital, Mummy used to read to me, and every time there was a four-letter-word in the book, she’d say effing.  [mixed laughter]  I thought that was adorable.  She couldn’t say that word to me, her daughter. 
Vonnie   She’s changed now, though.
Mom   How about that sex workshop I went to where I was bragging about how much I’d learned from the last one and how I’d even talked to very straight-laced friends of mine, saying there wasn’t anything so terrible about that word, and I said there was a big breakthrough with my sweetheart, and finally I got him to say that word, and I finished my little story, and somebody said somebody said, “What word?”  And I said [in tiny voice], “I can’t say it!”  [burst of giggles from Vonnie and general laughter]
Tim  Well, I got the Clean Your Plate award.
Dick  You did, boy.
Mom   We awarded it to you even before you arrived. 
Dick   Before you arrived, we were talking about it.  Some people say Timmy isn’t fit to {unclear}.  Well, I think he is.
Vonnie   The only time you open your mouth is to put it in your other foot in it.
Dick   I know.
Mom   Vonnie!  Is that any way to talk to your big brother-in-law?
Vonnie   I heard that someplace today, I can’t remember where.
Jack    It was on TV.  That lady.
Vonnie   Was it on a soap opera?
Jack   No, on Truth or Consequences.
Vonnie   All right, Ronnie, tell the joke about the Scotchman.
Ronnie   No, I don’t want to tell it.
Mom  Oh, come on, Ronnie!
Vonnie   He can do the Scottish brogue, I can’t.  Do it.
Mom   Or else.
Vonnie   Come on, Ronnie.  Everybody be quiet.
Ronnie   There’s this lady in the street and this Scotch guy was coming with his kilt on, and she says, “Laddy, what have you got under your kilt?”  He says, “Why don’t you reach under and find out?”   She reaches under and says, “Oh, how gruesome!”  [giggle from V]  And he says to her,  “Squeeze it some more, and you’ll see it grew some.” [general laughter, big giggles from V] 
Vonnie   “And it grew some more.”
Ronnie   “And it grew some more.”  I knew I’d screw it up.
Mom   Now Maureen will tell a joke.
Ted  {unclear}
Mom   If we only had videotape,  it’d be great.
{unclear}
Ted   Come on, stop picking on my girlfriend
Mom   You started it.  We didn’t even know she wasn’t saying anything until you pointed it out.
Ted   I know it,  So I open my big mouth.
Dick   I think it’s refreshing to have someone quiet in the room.
Ted   Yes, it’s certainly the bunch of Malleys around here that step on each other trying to get a word in edgewise.
Tim  Give me your plate, Kathie.
K   I have a cold, I don’t think you should eat it.
Ted   There is more left here, Timmy.
Tim   [He has a cold, too.]  No, I’b fide, thag you.
Mom   He said stuffily.  Who’d like—let’s see, I have half a pumpkin pie, and I’ve got lots of—
Vonnie   How come you only have a half a pumpkin pie?
B   Because Jack and I ate the other half. {laughter}  And I have Dorothy Muriel ice cream, vanilla and carob.
Vonnie   Yummy, we get that, too?
Mom   And I’ve got cookies, but I forgot to bake them.  [laughter]
Vonnie  I’ll have a cookie.
Jack   I’ve been making homemade ice cream.  I got an ice cream-maker for Christmas.
Mom   Electric?
Tim  How much mechanicalness is involved?
Kathie   It’s the last five minutes that it gets thick.  It’s hard work, but when you pass it around, it’s worth it, it really is.
Tim   They had it on one of the boats this summer.
Kathie   We know a few people who have the manual ones.  It’s well worthwhile.
Mom   And you put rock salt around it?
Dick   Where do you get the rock salt?  Well, this time of year it’d be easy.
Mom   We’ve got some right in our back yard.
Ted   One of the things you learn on the boat after the first few days out is that you get to know who’s on watch before and after you.  Like you learn that if Timmy’s on watch, and your watch finishes at two,  he’s supposed to get up and go until four.  You get Timmy up at around ten.  By the time he gets dressed,  makes the coffee,  drinks the coffee, and makes another batch of coffee, you’ve stood three-quarters of his watch.  [general laughter and Vonnie’s giggle] 
Mom   Oh, I gotta be out there and write all this up, Teddy.
Vonnie   I thought you were going to go this year.
Kathie   Next year you have to bring her out.
Mom   Think what I could write!  I could write a saga.
Dick   A saga?  An epic.
Kathie   Mummy wrote Dick and me a letter about—did you hear about when she got the jeep caught on the back of her car?
Dick   She backed out of the driveway into the jeep and then had to tow it down to the center.  [shriek of laughter from Vonnie]
Kathie   She backed into the jeep, and the jeep hooked on to her bumper.  She was in a hurry, so she decided to take off [general laughter and another shriek from Vonnie].  She drove out of the driveway with the jeep behind her, all the way out to Route 109, then began worrying about what was going to happen when she went up the hill.  Then she dragged the thing all the way to through town.
Vonnie   You’re kidding! 
Kathie   I’m serious, it was the funniest letter.  And then she and Jack had to go and get it that night.   It’s like one of Mummy’s old funny letters.  I’ll have to pass it on to the family.
Vonnie   Oh yeah, she used to be able to make anything funny, but that really is.
Kathie   It’s hysterical!  Isn’t that like Mummy, in such a hurry that she can’t get the jeep off the back of her car?  She says she’s creeping along Route 109 and people are passing and staring at her, wondering what the hell she’s doing.
Vonnie   (giggling)  What did the people in the gas station think?
Dick   They shook their heads.
Ted    Did you really do that?  Is that just something you made up, or is that a true story? You really did that?
Vonnie   Oh Mother!
Mom    I was in a hurry.
Ted   You really drove out of the yard?
Mom   I backed out and—
Dick   Smacked into the jeep.
Ted   I can’t wait until I can get a job down here at the gas station.  I want to see you drive up and I want to put the gas in your car and then have you say, “Please charge that to Malley on 103 Country Lane.”  I’d say . . . .
End of Side One  [We’ll never know what Teddy’s punch line was.  BBM 9-30-01]
~~~
10-15-73
B   What’s in the envelope?
J   Tickets.  It’s kind of involved.  October 25th  is a Thursday.  That’s Buffalo, and they have some good skaters in that club.  And that’s if Connie—he said, "I have to leave that open, `cause it’s a possibility," that’s all he said.  Jeez, I hope he doesn’t because I’d rather go with you.  Connie’s  big and fat and everything.
B   And if he were slim? 
J    No, I just said that to be funny.
B   I see.  Jack, what does Connie stand for?
J   Connie stands for justice and equality. You’re not going to drink that, angel?
B   Why not?  It tastes okay to me. 
J   Something happens to drinks when they lie in the refrigerator.    
B  “When they lie in the refrigerator.”  That’s well said, Jack.
J   Oh, I lie all the time now, thanks to you.  Whether it’s right or wrong, I lie. 
B   Esther used to say—
J   Who’s Esther? 
B  She helped take care of the kids for ten years.  She was so careful about lie and lay.  She would say, “Yesterday I lied down for a nap,” instead of, “I lay down.”   I never corrected her grammar.
J   You correct mine, but I’m probably not the jewel Esther was.
B   You have other attractive qualities.
J    Jeez, that’s a good drink.  I could be an alcoholic with screwdrivers.  No, that’s not true.  I don’t have the constitution to be an alcoholic.
B   I’m glad you’re as conservative as you usually are.  I couldn’t take another heavy drinker in my life.  Notice I said usually.
J   You have a nice house here, Barb.  Nice colors.  I could make a habit of dropping by here.
B   Oh, I wish you would.  Another thing I was thinking today: it’s been a long time since you've said, “That wouldn’t be manly.” 
J   You started that again the other night on the way to Greg’s.  No, I guess I won’t go into that.   But you say things that bug me.  Nobody ever bugged me the way you do, but that’s what makes it interesting.  You really keep me awake. 
B  Yesterday morning you said you were angry because I was angry..
J   I was angry that you persisted in saying things you seem to conjure out of air, and I resented that.
B   I resented that I wasn’t with you.  I felt as I had with Ed in the past, that you were an entirely different person.  You weren’t my Jack the way you were the next morning.  When I came out to the driveway, I wasn’t sure who you were going to be.  I thought you might still have a hangover from your madness of the night before, when you weren’t anybody I could deal with. 
J   What are you talking about?  I was jovial.  What’s wrong with being jovial?
B   Because it was artificial.
J   It was, because of your conversation.  You start—
B   Listen, don’t tell me who started it.  The minute I got into the car, you started giving your orders about how I wasn’t to do thus and so, if you happened to put your hand on the dial.  You didn’t want any backtalk. 
J  That’s not true, Barb. 
B  Yes, the minute I got in the car, you referred to the radio.  You said, If I put my hand on the dial, let’s not have any nonsense.
J   You mean out here?
B   The minute we got in the car in the driveway. 
J   Never, Barb. 
B   It was your liquor-inspired bravado. 
J   That’s not true, that’s absolutely not true.
B  Well, why did you say it? 
J   I didn’t say it.  I didn’t say anything until you said, “What are you doing?”
B   Oh, come on, Jack.  When I said, “What are you doing?” that was a couple of days earlier when you were driving too fast and fiddling with the radio.  See, you had enough to drink so you don’t even remember what happened when we got into the car to go to Greg’s.  We were still in the driveway, and you referred back to that incident.  You said, “If I put my hand on the dial, don’t ask me what I’m doing.”  I was still feeling pretty sensitive over the last driving incident and how scared I had been, but I was trying to forget about it and hoping the drive to Greg’s would be better.
J   That, Barb, as much as you think you’re right, is wrong.  That thing about the hand on the dial came after the night we went to Greg’s.
B   Jack, you’re totally wrong!  This is how the whole thing started!  That thing with the hand on the dial was on our way
J   Would you just talk without screaming?
B    I was saying to Kathie today, “Why is it that people think when you act nervous in a car with them, that it’s something personal or that you’re doing it deliberately to be annoying?  Don’t they realize that if you’re scared, you can’t help showing it?”  I told her about that incident—with your hand on the dial for so long.
J   No, it was when we were driving down to Weymouth the next day that you did that. . . .[as nauseum] 
~~~
J   Hi. 

B   Hi.  Take a look at your picture and see how you like it.
WELL - UH- LET'S SEE. . . A DUST MOP?
A FUR HAT?  A RABBIT'S FOOT?
J  I won’t like it.  Oh dear!  Why am I exposed with my mouth open?  When was this?
B   At Migis Lodge in Maine.
J    Was it really?  What a goof, huh?
B   I think it’s adorable.  Look at the next one. 
J   Jesus, that caption is perfect.  That’s great.
B   I'm really not doing too well with this camera.   You’re a better photographer than I am.
J   What a stupid look, huh?  What the hell’s the matter with me?   That’s exactly what it looks like.  I’m feeling Miette’s neck with my eyes closed.  “Let’s see, is it a dust mop?  A fur hat?  A rabbit’s foot?”  .   .
B   Then in this one you’re saying, “Ohhh, it’s a dog!”  
J    I look as if I’m about to cry.  I don’t remember taking these, Barb.  Oh, that’s inside the cabin.  I was thinking it was up in the main house.
B   Remember we had a glass of wine and took pictures of each other? 
J   And then you ran out of film.  What a shame.   
10-19-73
J   I brought you  this booklet so you can brush up on how to take pictures.
B   Good.  I'll start reading it while you fix us a drink. 
J   Jeez, I hope those Patriots improve by the time we go.  (And here it is, February 6, 1902, the day after the delirious celebration in Boston.  A million and a quarter people, more than the city’s entire population, gathered to rejoice over the Patriots Super Bowl last-minute win over the Rams last Sunday.}
B   Are they doing poorly? 
J   Not well at all.  Hey, how come I’m stuck way over there in the corner, practically in the other room?  That’s as far away as I can get.
B   Well, I didn’t want to put it too close to the stove because I didn’t want the glass to get steamed up or spattered.  But I  wanted  you where I’d always see you.  
J   You never look over there, dear. 
B   I do too. 
J   You do not, you’re always looking out the window.  I’ve been relegated.
B   I was afraid that something would happen to it.
J    You were afraid somebody would come in and see it.
B    Nooo.  Oh, Jaaaaaack. 
J    Oh Jack, what?  What did you find out already? 
B   I found out that you’re distracting me
J   That’s great.  That’s what I’m here to do. 
B   What’re you going to drink? 
J   What is this?  Is this Demarara Rum, Barb?
B   It looks awfully dark.  I didn’t know it was that dark.
J    Oh, it’s beautiful, Barb.  I could drink that right out of the bottle.  Would you mind?   I won’t do that, I’ll pour out a taste. 
B  No, no, I don’t care. {reading}  “Picture is cut off.  Improper use of finder.  View subject within luminous frame of view finder.”  Oh.  Maybe I haven’t been doing that.
J    Hey, how potent is this?  What proof is it?
B   “Use all four sides of luminous frame in the finder.”  It doesn’t say anything about parallax, though.  That wasn’t much help. 
J   It’s all we have. 
B  Bye, Jack.
J   What do you mean, bye, Jack?  Oh, you mean drinking?  Mmm, ohh! 
B   Is it warming your innards? 
J   It’s harsh, it isn’t smooth. 
B   Well, it’s a hundred and fifty proof. 
J   It is?  (cough, cough)  That’s what I asked you.  It’s burning me within from without.
B   See, right down there, it says a hundred-fifty proof. 
J   A hundred fifty-one proof, hiyo.
B   Okay, for one proof you’ll make me a liar?
J   Isn’t this funny, though?  Look at this, Barb.  It’s important, will you pay attention?  Something was on top here, right?  What was on there that you ripped off? 
B   I don’t know.  Why would the label be falling off the top?
J    Jeez, maybe there has been something else put in that bottle. 
B   Maybe we’d better throw it out.
  Oh no, don’t throw it out.  We can rub it on like linament. (cough cough)  It is strong.
B   It’s like brandy.  You should inhale it.  It burns before it gets to your throat even.
J   I’m glad you saved this.  It smells good, but it sure is strong.
B   I can’t figure out what’s in it.  We used to drink it, many years ago, with coke.
J    You used to drink this stuff, Barb? 
B   Yeah, I’d get high as a kite.  Drunk as a skunk. 
J   I believe it.  [Loaded.]  Yes, I got the idea.   Well.  Now what else is good?  Vodka and what?
B   I don’t have any orange juice. 
J   You don’t have orange juice.  You’ve got plenty of this body-building crap but nothing to tear anybody down, do you?  Hey, you’ve got real Coca Cola in here, did you know that? 
B   I probably should throw that out, too, it’s been around so long.
J   Oh, that’s good, though.  That’s good for your stomach when you don’t feel good, even if it’s flat.
B   Are you going to have Vodka and cranberry juice?  [I just don’t know.]  You used to have it with bitter lemon, do you want that?  Or was it gin.  [Gin.]  I’ve got gin.  How about a Martini? 
J   Naw.  I mean, no thank you.  That didn’t sound to good, did it?  Thought I’d throw that thank you in there.  Saved my life.
B   How about a dear darling, too?  [Dear darling?]   One night when you thought you might be in trouble, you threw in an extra endearment for good measure.
J   I have a feeling when I need it.  [You think you’re safe now?]  I said it, didn’t I? 
B   You didn’t say dear darling.  I said it for you.  You said thank you.  Anybody could say thank you after being so rude. 
J   I was real rude.  Railroad.  You were real-ruded. 

B   You remind me of Victor Borge.  He does that.  He plays around with words and then smiles appreciatively.  You do the same thing.  [I do not.]  Yes, you do.  
J   I don’t like the way you imitated me just then.  Smiling away like a simpleton.
11-11-73
B   Kathie says I should get a job.  I think what I'd be equipped to do would be to organize my mother's  poems and get them going to publishers.  She has a whole lot of poems about Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.  She has two or three other collections, and there's just never going to be another Ernestine Beyer.  That's what I'd prefer, rather than be a sales clerk, which was all I was able to do last time I got a job.
J   I think whatever you did outside would require too many hours of your time.
B   That's the way it is with so many people, including you.  I know you don't enjoy working at the bank.  It's criminal, because you've got a good mind, and I know you're capable of earning money doing something you'd enjoy, something that would challenge you.  It's sad to think that people have to work day after day after day at something that they don't really like.
J    If you're going to do this, and I guess that's what you've decided to do, you know the value of it and what it would involve.
B   You mean my mother's poetry?  Well, this would be my question to Kathie:  Should I do that at this stage of my life?  I could see my doing it in the future if you found somebody younger and didn't want me any more and . . .
J   Barbara.  Shut up.
B   First I’d have to organize the eight cartons of her stories and poems.  That would be a  fulfilling thing to sit down and do.  But meanwhile I'm just enjoying life with the photography and my volunteer organizations.  I'm not making any money, but I'm having a hell of a good time.
J   Well, you're doing yourself a lot of good, as far as your feelings about life.
B   I wouldn't want to be one day younger.  Ninety percent of that is due to you.  
J   Really?  Well, Jesus, that's a big thing.
B  Did you enjoy your pancakes? 
J  Do you see any crumbs?
~~~
J   You gotta get a little car, a little car that doesn't burn fuel.
B   I would have liked the one that was down in Florida that Ed got for me, only the steering . . .   [I know.}  With power steering, it would have been fine.
J   The steering for that small car was unbelievable.
B   I worried about my mother What she would do when she went down there last winter?  I just couldn't picture her driving that car and getting it into that parking space in the condominium garage.  That's one of the plusses about the Mind Control course, going to my little laboratory and finding Mother. She's always there.
J  It's still out there?
B   Yes, it's still there. I've eliminated Dr. Schweitzer because I decided I'd rather have my mother there and be thinking of her. Margaret Mead is still there. They get along fine. 
J   When do you do this?  When you're out around the yard working? 
B   No, you have to sit down quietly and do it.   I don't think I told you about Sally Brewer.
J   What about her? 
B  I asked her how Betsy was, and she said, "It s a miracle.  All of a sudden she feels much better."  This of course could be partly due to the fact that the doctors decided all these medications they were giving her weren't doing her much good, and as soon as they stopped the medications, she began to feel better.
J   Do you think my sister-in-law would be a case to take on?  She's worried. 
B  You said it was thyroid?
J  Her thyroid's working in reverse.  What they're doing should be putting weight on, and Eileen’s continuing to lose it, and that's why she has to go to the hospital.  She asked about you the other day.
B   I’ll add her to my thoughts. 
~~~
J   I said to the nurse, I want my mother put in bed, don't you see how uncomfortable, how miserable she is there?  What is it, Sunday, you make the beds and then they sit up like this all day?  I was mad.
   And then I went over to see my mother-in-law and all I heard was it's being a sad occasion and everything.
B   You mean she gets depressed?  Talks about Marie? 
J  Yeah.   And then Eileen is off to the hospital, and daughters Nancy and Patty crying and oh boy.  The only pleasant place was with Agnes {a nursing home friend I had met through Vaughan}.
B   Ohh . . . you went there, too?  That was kind of you, Jack.
J   Agnes and her friend.  Margaret was writing names down for Christmas cards for Agnes.  I'm leaving, so I kiss Margaret on the cheek, and she says, "Let's see, how many years has it been since anyone kissed me?"
B  Oh, I bet that made Agnes jealous. [I hope not.  Agnes shouldn't be jealous.]  She's very possessive at 90 years old.
J   And Agnes knows what I'm getting for Christmas, and Margaret thinks she does.
B   Margaret knows what you're getting for Christmas from me? 
J   Well, I don't know from who, they didn't say. 
B   You know I already gave you your Christmas present.
J  I know it, I know it, so it must be from Agnes they're talking about.  Funny old lady.   And earlier, when I was leaving my mother, there's a lady in the corner, looking for something . . . oh what a nice lady, but she was making a fuss.  She says I'm goin' into closets and drawers.  I don't like to say, you know, you're ridiculous.
B   She asked you to get something for her?
J   Yeah, and of course there's nothing there, and I don't like to leave because she's an intelligent woman and a nice pretty woman but of course she gets mixed up.  And I said, "Well, would you like to say goodbye to me?"  I don't want to just say goodbye and walk away while she's talking, you know? 
      So I thought well maybe if she says goodbye, I could say goodbye quick and then leave.  This was after 15 or 20 minutes of standing there listening to this stuff I don't understand.  And she wouldn't say goodbye.          I thought how the hell else can I work this so I don't walk away?
B   Now which home  . . .  you said this was your mother's nursing home?
J   That was my mother's room.  Oh, poor mother, she's sitting there like she could never possibly move.  I never saw her legs before sitting up like that.  She's got them crossed; it looks like that's the way they go.  I tried to uncross them, and they just didn't seem to want to uncross.
B   There was an article I started reading in the paper today about people in nursing homes and how at best they sit and they watch TV all day and talk to each other about not much of anything.
J   It would be a pleasure for my mother if she could do that.
B   Yeah.  But then there was a program on TV today where they are encouraging and helping older people to find interesting volunteer jobs.  Like there's a woman in her 80's who for some years has been running the gift shop at Mass General Hospital, and it spoke of the different elderly people who were still going and still busy and happy being busy.
J   You know what I think?  I think the state, whoever pays this money, should have one person, at least one person in every nursing home, full time, just to go around and talk with the residents.  [They have social workers].  Yeah, but the social workers--oh they, they do?
B   Umhm.  I've talked to the one that's in charge at Agnes's home.
J   Yeah, but she's not there all day, every day.  [No, oh no.]  You know, one person, how much money would that be?
B   She's there just once a week, I guess.
J   Yeah, what the hell, they even know when she's coming.   Agnes had me get her watch and put it on.  I don't understand Agnes.  The other girl, Margaret was saying Well, gee, we always had the radio on before.  Agnes won't let them put the radio on.  She won't play it for herself because she can’t hear it.  And here's Margaret doing all these things for her and she won’t put it on.
B   Hey, I want to talk to her about that radio because I miss it, and if she's not using it, I’m going to be an Indian giver.  [ She's not.  She says no, not now, not at this time.  It's a real ugly situation. ]  Maybe I should put another little sticker on it explaining how to put it on.  I tell her each time I visit, but she probably forgets. 
J   Margaret could put it on, but she won't let Margaret put it on.

No comments:

Post a Comment