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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

(5) "SUPPOSE MOTHER FALLS OFF THE BAR STOOL."

February 17, 1961
     I am discouraged about our poodle puppy. Her personal habits are getting wore instead of better—I’m beginning to wonder if Tokay isn’t as bright as she looks.
     I have another problem. Between Vaughan’s diet and Tokay’s diet, the refrigerator is as crammed with tidbits as it is in the summer, when everyone is home. While I was rinsing the dishes last night, Ed began withdrawing various mysterious (to him) odds and end from the shelves and making throwing-away motions.
     “Don’t throw that away!” I said. “That’s Tokay’s liver juice. I use it to flavor her vegetables.”
     Ed distastefully replaced the cover, then asked if it was necessary to have three different containers of butter. I said yes, it was, because one of them was Big Vaughan’s butter, which was unsalted; one of them was Vonnie’s butter, which I buy her occasionally as a treat; and the other was oleomargarine for us proletariats.
     “Oh,” said Ed. “Well how about this gooey stuff? Whatever it is, don’t feed it to me.”
     “Egg whites left over from Tokay’s egg yolks,” I said. “Kathryn will make a lemon meringue pie sometime.”
     “And this odd-looking concoction?”
     “Leftover vegetables for Tokay.”
     “Looks like garbage to me. What the devil’s in here?” Ed said, pinching a limp foil-wrapped package. “Feels like a couple of boneless fingers.”
     “That’s asparagus for my lunch. Stop squeezing it,” I said. I was beginning to be annoyed because only that morning I had defrosted the refrigerator and disposed of enough moldering remains to stock a penicillin factory.
     “And what’s this mess here?” he persisted, sticking his nose into another container.
     For a minute he had me stumped, but a gingerly taste convinced me it was last Saturday’s oatmeal. “I’ll have it for breakfast.”
     “If this oatmeal isn’t gone by tomorrow night,” Edward said, “out it goes!”
     “Is that so!” I said.
     “Yes, that’s so,” he said. “Let’s have a little efficiency around here.”
     I had two choices: I could throw something at him or I could think of something. I thought of something.
     “Listen,” I said, “seeing as you’re in such an industrious mood, how about going out to the playroom and cleaning that aquarium. It’s a sight, and you promised me when you had that aquarium built that you’d keep it clean, the only one who ever cleans it is my mother, suppose someday she falls off the stool and breaks a leg, she isn’t getting any younger, you know, what’s the point of having an aquarium if—“
     “Okay, okay, I’ll clean it over the weekend,” Ed said, backing out of the kitchen.
     ‘How can you, we’ll be up in Maine! I’m having two tables of bridge next week and I’m ashamed to have my friends see that aquarium, it’s a disgrace, the fish can’t see out and we can’t see in!”
     “I’ll do it tomorrow night,” Ed called.
     Wednesday night, when I reminded him of his chore, he said he didn’t think he had the proper cleaning tools; he’d bring some home the next night. I remembered that this is what he says whenever I try to pin him down on cleaning the aquarium.
     “What did you do with the gadget you brought home last time, throw it away?”
     “Gee, I guess it got lost or something,” Ed said, settling down with the paper.
     I rummaged around in the cupboards behind the bar and found the scraper tucked away in a back corner. This is the kind of efficiency Edward doesn’t admire.
     Since it took only five minutes to scrape the sides of the tank, I don’t know what all the fuss was about. The fish seemed glad to see us and wagged their tails as if to say, “By Neptune, what a long night that was!”

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