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Sunday, July 23, 2017

MIMI THINKS IF SHE WHISPERS SHE ISN'T INTERRUPTING. (24)

Saturday, September 8, 1962, Falmouth
     Tokay and I and our master left the house around ten, drove to Falmouth, arriving at  11:15.  Didn’t know yet what we were going to do or where we were going to go.  Ed told the Portas later, “I kept trying to steer the boat somewhere else, but it headed for Oak Bluffs like a horse going back to the stable.”
     Dropped the anchor outside the Beach Club, swam ashore and chatted for an hour with Gene and Grace, who were sunning themselves on the sand.  Grace said that since her sister died, their niece Joy had been depending on them a great deal for help and advice, and it was like having another daughter in the family.    
     “As far as money goes, though, she’s in good shape.  She’s better off than we are.”
     Gene snorted and said, “Is there anyone that isn’t?”
     They still don’t have any idea what they’re going to be doing this winter.  Gene leans toward the idea of running a ski lodge.  Grace would rather run a hotel in the south where their income wouldn’t be quite so much at the mercy of the weather.
     Swam back to boat, weighed anchor, and returned to Falmouth.  Had baked stuffed clams for hors d’oeuvre--recommended by proprietor of local liquor store.  We soon understood why he was selling them.  Filled with hot peppers and other spicy ingredients, they make you very thirsty.  Had steak, potato salad for dinner, went for walk with Tokay.  Ed said, “Maybe I’ll make a pitcher of Martinis around 9:30 or 10:00.”  By 9:00 I was feeling drowsy, so I said, “If I’m going to stay awake at this party I think I’d better  take a nap for half an hour.”    
     “I think I will, too,” said Ed.  Our nap lasted for eleven hours.
Sunday, September 9, 1962, Falmouth
     Up at 8:30.  Ed walked over to neighboring slip to ask Captain of red boat where he had caught all those bluefish.  Off Nantucket, the man said.  There were others running off Chappaquiddick Island if we didn’t want to go as far as Nantucket.  For a lure, he uses a white feather and a bit of pork rind.
     We walked to the Pancake House for breakfast, bought Sunday papers, called home.  Kathie said everything was fine. As we walked back to the boat Ed said we should have called his father and invited him to go for a day sail with us.
     “Yes, and we should call Dave Buell and his wife, and we should have called the Stapleses two weeks ago, and we promised to take the Portas out some time before the summer’s over.  Why do you wait until the middle of September to burgeon out with all this hospitality?”
     “Can’t rush these things,” the Captain said.
     Inspired by the bluefish expert, Ed spent an hour working over his fishing equipment, which until now has just hung there looking decorative and expensive.
     “How brave are you?” he called to me.  (I was out in the cockpit, writing a letter to Ted.)
     “Not very. Why?”
     “How about going over and asking that guy on the red boat for a pork strip?”
     “I would, only I’m not hungry.”
     Hammerhead!  Tell him I thought I had a jar, but I don’t.  All I need is one.”
     “Why don’t you go?  Is he some kind of ogre?”
     “No, but I made such a nuisance of myself this morning, I don’t dare. You’re a female, all he can do to you is say no.”
     The man not only said yes, he gave me two pork strips.  We cruised out to the Muskeget Channel and trolled for bluefish for a few hours.  Had a can of beer, cold steak, potato salad. 
     “Why did you give me the potato?” Ed demanded.
     “It's leftover from last night.  No one’s forcing you to eat it."
     “You know, I’m convinced that deep down inside, you want me to be fat so none of the other girls will look at me.”
     “No, I just don’t want you to spend all your calories on booze.  I’m saving you from yourself.”
     “Aren’t you the thoughtful one!” Ed threw the potato salad overboard. I stretched out on the mat to  sunbathe . 
      Ed said, “We’ll take one more turn around the length of the channel, and if we don’t catch one, to hell with `em, I don’t want the stinky things anyway.’
     Didn’t catch one.  It’s four o’clock and we’re headed back to Falmouth.  Ed thinks it would be fun to spend a few days in Oak Bluffs week after next.  He has the notion that I could pilot the boat from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs by myself, then he could come by plane.  He keeps trying to give me navigational pointers, but I put my hands over my ears because I don’t want to learn.
     “I should think it would be a challenge,” he said.
     “It might be if I didn’t have so many things to worry about at home.  I can concentrate on just so many worries at a time.  Like sinking the boat.  Or drowning.  Worries like that require my undivided attention.  I can’t be worrying at the same time about whether Vonnie got in at a respectable hour or Tim stayed up all night playing poker.”
    Arrived Falmouth 4:30.  Stopped at Gulf Station for gas and water.
The Home Front, September 12, 1962
      Ed’s mother paid her final visit of the summer and tried very hard to establish with Mrs. White the same sort of you-can-confide-in-me relationship she had enjoyed with Kathryn. 
     “You look upset,” she said.  “Would you like to talk to me?”
     Mrs. White was upset because Mimi followed her around when she was trying to get meals and insisted on doing things like cleaning the stove (“It looks dirty”) or telling her how Kathryn used to do things.
     “I felt like screaming, `But Kathryn isn’t here now—I am!” Mrs. White related with a twinkle.
     Mimi further endeared herself to Mrs. White by claiming that she, too, had once broken a bone in her foot, “only I didn’t give in to it.  See this bump?  Look at me, here I am still walking around.  I can’t afford to give in to these things.”
      On the Today Show a discussion concerning a controversial movie was about to begin when Mimi walked into my room.  The movie had been judged obscene because it used a four-letter-word that is slang for dope in street language.  As I tried to listen, Mimi kept talking.
     “Wait a minute, Mimi, I want to hear this,” I said.
     My mother-in-law imagines that if she whispers, she isn’t interrupting.
     “Barbara!” she whispered.  “Hasn’t he got thin!”  (Hugh Downs.)
     “Mimi, I turned this on because I want to watch it—will you please wait till it’s over?”  The please had  little effect.
     By dinner time Mrs. White was so unhinged that she sneaked up to her room and had a slug of sherry.  Mimi came out to the kitchen and asked her if she wanted a cocktail.
     “No thanks, I’ve already had a sherry.”
     “I know,” said Mimi, sticking her nose in Mrs. W’s face.  “I can smell it.”
      It’s hard to be patient with someone like my mother-in-law.  What with poking around around in our wastebaskets to see what perfectly good paper napkins someone has thrown away, pumping Kathie on how often we entertain and how much we spend, telling Mrs. White, “You just wait, when Timmy gets back you’ll find out how terrible he is,” I’ve had about enough for one summer.   That's the saving grace about the coming of fall—Mimi returns to Florida.
     Mrs. White says she likes Timmy!  “I’d heard so much about this monster all summer that I was scared to death.  I thought, my goodness, he must really be a horror.  But he’s just as nice as can be.  He always brings his dishes over to the sink and thanks me for the dinner, and if he has any little criticism, he says it in a very nice way.”
     When I kidded Timmy about the way he had Mrs. White fooled, he said, “Well, I’ll tell you this—as soon as I got to know her, I knew I was going to like her.  She treats me with more respect than Kathryn ever did.”  
     To be fair to Kathryn, she dealt with Timmy during his most argumentative years and more than once threatened to quit.
Saturday, September 14, 1962, Falmouth
     A beautiful day on the water.  Bluefish running.  Too fast for us, unfortunately.  Cruised up and down the reef off Chappaquiddick Island.  Tokay and I didn’t like the choppy water churned up by the reef.  She threw up; I complained.
     Started a long letter to Kathie.  “Do you see how hard I work on these letters?” I said to Ed.  “Two hours and all I have is three pages.”
     “I know.  It’s a wonder they aren’t better, isn’t it.”
     Admitted defeat by bluefish, headed back to Falmouth around 3:30.  After we tied up, Captain  ordered me to go to forward deck and catch the line from adjoining boat, which we had cast off when we left this morning.  As he stood on the other boat's deck and prepared to toss the line, I said, “That looks awfully heavy.”  
     “It is,” he said.    
     “Suppose it hits me,” I said. 
     “Just watch what you’re doing and it won’t hit you,” he said.  “You’ll have to stand closer to the edge than that.”    
     “I don’t want to get a black eye,” I said.
     “Try it once, and if you can’t catch it, we won’t bother.  This guy’s boat is all right without us, anyway.”
     Ed tossed the line, which was more like a cable.  I shut my eyes and ducked.
     “You’ve got to keep your eyes open, dum-dum,” he said, reeling in the cable.  (Years ago, he used to call me honey.)  “Come on, pay attention!”
     He heaved the massive thing again (it was the size of a python and twice as vicious), and this time I kept my eyes open and caught it about four feet from the loop at the end.  The loop whiplashed over my shoulder and struck the back of my neck, rabbit-punch fashion.
     Ow!” I cried, rubbing my neck and glaring at the brute.  “That hurt!” 
     Was he overwhelmed with remorse?  Did he rush to my side in order to catch me in case I dropped dead?  No, he was slapping his knee and exchanging mirthful glances with the fellows on the dock.  
      "Women are so uncoordinaed!” he snickered.
     I punished him by not talking to him as we drove to the fish market for some clams.  He enjoyed the silence so much, I punished him by talking to him again. We had them as an hors d’oeuvre with our first drink.  A sprinkling of salt and pepper, a dash of limejuice, and we slurped them out of the shell with gusto.  We felt sorry for the patrons of the Flying Bridge, who must perforce resort to their forks and refrain from licking their fingers.  Hey, that’s rather poetic, I notice.

        Say, that’s rather poetic. “Perforce resort to their oyster forks and refrain from licking their fingers, whilst we disport with a loin of pork till only the memory lingers.” Actually, it was a sirloin of steak, but Lewis Carroll and I are permitted these liberties.
 Sunday, September 16, 1962, Falmouth
     Another glorious Indian summer day--the gods are indeed good to bless us with such a weekend.  We are trolling for bluefish out by Hedge-fence Reef.  The sun is shining, the skies are clear, and the ocean surrounding our floating island is a sparkling blue.  In a while we'll have an ice-cold beer and a snack.  Then perhaps a nap in the sun.  What more could anyone ask?
     Called the house before we left Falmouth.  Mom’s sacroiliac is hurting her again.   She’s afraid she might have an attack on the way to Florida or in the middle of a lecture next winter.  I urged her to see Dr. Cline
[Ernestine gave lectures on the Power of the Subconscious Mind to solve writing and other problems.  She also gave talks in schools about her poems and stories for children.  The kids loved her, nd teachers forwarded fan letters she enjoyed enormously.]
     Invited Portas to join us today, but Grace wasn’t up yet and Gene said he had a lot of work to do.  Thought about calling Ed’s folks or the Buells, but couldn’t seem to get beyond the thinking stage.
Later:  
     Bluefish jumping outside Beach Club at Oak Bluffs.  Ed lowered skiff after we anchored, trolled for a while, then went into harbor to see what the Portas were doing.  Persuaded them to go fishing with us this afternoon.   
     Near Hedge-fence Reef, Gene saw a man in a small cruiser waving a flag.  He had run out of gas, asked if we'd call the Coastguard and request a tow.  Talked to Coastguard, told them location of distressed vessel.  I took exciting movies of the towing procedure  No bluefish to film. 
     Tied up at Beach Club at 4:00.  Ed and Portas took swim, heckled me and my goose pimples into joining them.  The reason for this jerky handwriting?  It’s hard to hold a pen with frozen fingers. 
     We’re on our way back to Falmouth.  Ed says we’ll be in Cohasset in time to go up to the club and get into trouble with Blake.   
September 24, 1962
     “Why is it that sometimes you file a flight plan and sometimes you don’t?” I asked Ed as we climbed into his Tri-Pacer and fastened our seatbelts.  Flying up to Waterville to see Ted play football is easier than driving, I‘ll admit, but I’m still far from relaxed about Ed’s hobby.
     “It depends on how far we’re going, usually.  If we’re just on a sight-seeing tour I don’t bother, but when we have a specific destination and intend to stick to a definite course, I file a flight plan.  That way, if anything goes wrong, they’ll know where we are.”
    “And who we were,” I said gloomily.
     We were no sooner aloft than I was sure I smelled something burning.  Ed laughed and told me not to worry, it was just the engine heating up.
     “The last time I smelled something like that, our boat was on fire.”
    “It’ll go away in a few minutes.”  A few gray hairs later, it did.
     Instead of reading my book, as I usually do, I found myself becoming interested in this flying racket.  I asked Ed a lot of questions and I studied the chart, and once I even helped him.  We were nearing Lebanon, he thought, but so far he hadn’t been able to correlate anything on the terrain below us with our probable position on the chart.
     “How about that lake down on our right, the one that’s shaped like a boot,” I said.  “Doesn’t that look like the lake on this chart?”
     “Could be.  It’s hard to tell, though.  Everything looks like everything else up here.”
     “Yes, but look at that other little lake right near it, that arrow-shaped one.  See, honey?  This one on the chart looks like an arrow, too.”
     “You’re right!” he said.  “Say, you’re pretty sharp.  That’s exactly the way you’re supposed to figure out where you are.  You try to make the puzzle on the chart match the puzzle on the ground.”
     As we flew over Concord, Ed asked the man on the radio how the weather was at Montpelier. 
     “Only a thousand feet!  I don’t see how it could be that low.”
     “He said `one zero thousand,’” I said.  “Wouldn’t that mean ten thousand, maybe?”
     Ed looked at me in amazement.  “That’s just what he meant!  They always say `one zero thousand’ instead of `ten thousand.’  Good for you!”
     I think I’m going to like flying better than boating.  On the boat my loving spouse is more apt to yell at me than tell me how bright I am.  Perhaps the salt water has a corrosive effect on my brain.
     When we got back to Norwood yesterday afternoon, we took a scenic tour over Cohasset and Scituate, and Ed gave me more pointers on the art of flying.  I still get butterflies when he lets me hold the wheel, but I’m beginning to think it might be fun to take a few lessons some day.

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