I Know Who Will Catch Me If I Fall

iknowwhowillcatchmeI was out to dinner with a friend the other night. She was recounting a story that had to do with vomit in the workplace — her vomit, her workplace. It was hysterical. It was also unexpectedly heartwarming.

It is not too often that a story involving a close friend vomiting in her office all over her boss (yeah, there was that, too) would simultaneously make me laugh until I cried (and, yes, I may have peed a little bit, too) and then cry actual tears, but it did. Trust me, it did.

Of course she was embarrassed, so embarrassed that she wondered if she could ever go back to work. Who could blame her? She worried that her boss, who had not only caught her vomit, but also caught her as she passed out, might not see her in the same light ever again.

Would she still be the competent assistant? Or was she now and forever more the woman who had thrown her guts up — and then proceeded to pass out — all over the place? Those “places”, by the way, included this dapper gentleman’s custom-made suit and expensive Italian shoes. Later on, because covering him in her vomit and then losing consciousness was not enough, she would also spray what was left of the contents of her stomach all over his luxury car. Oh. My. God.

The story took some humorous twists and turns, as a story involving vomit in the workplace and a luxury car often will. The finale, though, and this is where the tale took a heartwarming turn, is that my friend woke up in the hospital to find this kind gentleman, still wearing parts of the suit that had remnants of her breakfast (Greek yoghurt) and of her lunch (turkey on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing, of all things!) stuck to it. Oh. My. God.

He stayed by her side not only because he was concerned for her health but also to assure her that she need not be embarrassed by the events of the late afternoon. He was there to let her know that he expected to see her, once she received a clean bill of health, back at her desk. He paid her for the day and for the days that she subsequently missed as a result of what was, luckily for her, a simple stomach virus — even though she had already used up her sick days for the year.

I quit my part-time job the very next morning. I had been thinking about doing it for several weeks. It was not a rash decision, but one made far easier after having heard my friend’s story.

After receiving word from the restaurant owner that my schedule was changing for the third time in as many months, I gave some hard thought as to whether or not I wanted to work for this person anymore — whether he was the type of person who would catch me (or, God forbid!, my vomit) should I be stricken and pass out on the job. I decided that he would not; that he did not value me like my friend’s boss valued her.

I am not saying that he would step over me on the way to the cash drawer, although I wouldn’t put it past him, but I could not picture him (or, outside of one person, anyone else there) waiting by my hospital bed to make sure that I was out of danger. The people at my other job, though, they would be there for me in my time of need — frankly, they have been there for me in many times of need. Fortunately none of those times involved vomit or losses of consciousness. Still, they have been supportive. There I am made to feel that I have value.

While I am not looking forward to the grueling physicality of the 40-hour work week that I must return to, which is the reality of life in a corporate restaurant, I know that I will be happier to be home. Workplaces that house the people that care about you are like home. Regardless of the hours, it is going to be awfully nice to, once again, be among people who care about me, among people who will catch me if I fall. I know who they are.

Accepting Forgiveness

notperfectDrinking took me to places that a woman like me — white, middle-class, college-educated — never thought she’d be. Renter’s court. Criminal court. You know, THOSE kinds of places. At the time I thought that the world was against me. And so, to combat the world, I drank more. It’s what alcoholics do.

I almost lost everything. EVERYTHING. I am still, over four years later, putting many of the pieces of my shattered life back together. A few of them I just swept up and tossed in the trash, like the “friends” I used to drink with and the bars I used to frequent. Those pieces, the ones that don’t matter, the ones that never should have mattered, were easily discarded.

The relationships that do matter, that should have mattered more, those fractures are not so easily fixed. Cobbling them back together may take a lifetime. Regaining the trust that the people closest to me lost while I was lost in whatever bottle I could get my hands on, that’s the trickier part of recovery.

I had no idea that the actual act of giving up alcohol would be the easier part of the healing process. That the hard part would be the aftermath is not something they focus on in rehab. In rehab they tell you to put yourself first. I found this advice to be counterproductive. Because, really, that’s what addicts do, have always done — put themselves first. In order to get healthy, I needed to start putting other people first.

I needed, first and foremost, to stop feeling resentful. Instead, I needed to be grateful — to actually FEEL grateful. Grateful to the people who stood by me. Grateful for having done no irreparable physical harm to anyone other than myself. Grateful for being given the second chance that many addicts never are. Grateful just to be.

There is still not a day that goes by that I am not smacked in the face with the realization that I can NEVER have another drink. Not one single day. I don’t know if this ever ends. I don’t know that it should. I know that I must acknowledge this feeling and then I must move on from it before it incapacitates me. It’s really all I can do. There’s no magic to it. It’s just what my life is.

That’s the bad. Forgiveness is the good. Whether through words or deeds, I have managed to receive forgiveness from the people who my drinking affected most adversely. My husband. My child. They are truly special people.

And friends. The good ones. The kind ones. The generous ones. The funny ones. They persevered. They saw me through. They, too, have forgiven me.

My life is far better and infinitely richer because I am able, every day, to accept their gifts of forgiveness. And, because they have, every last one of them, given this gift so freely, I do my part by making every attempt to be a humble and grateful recipient.

photo credits:
Not perfect…

My Exciting Thursday

moodfabriclogoSomewhat guiltily, I shoved aside hovel purging and did a few more interesting things yesterday — not, perhaps, as necessary as hovel purging, but, still in all, far less mundane and back-breaking than filling more bags and boxes with the detritus of my life. Following what turned out to be a bus ride that had it’s equivalent in the expression “slow boat to China”, I went to Mood Fabrics in NYC and drooled over toiles, velvets, and the hundreds of other beautiful fabrics they have to offer. For a fabric hound such as myself, there is no better place to while away a few hours than on West 37th Street in Manhattan. Maybe they have more toile at, say, The Palace at Versailles, but I suspect that they would frown upon my clipping a swatch. Mood and the other fabric stores in the area actually encourage the swatching that will, no doubt, land you in a French prison. (I wonder if they still use The Bastille?). Also, I can’t just hop on the 163 Local to gaze at the toiles enjoyed by Louis XIV and his ilk. Sampling the Versailles toiles and enjoying three hots and a cot on the French government would require airline travel and a passport. I’m adventurous, but I’m not THAT adventurous. Frankly, I was antsy on the OVER ONE HOUR bus ride to the city (see “slow boat to China” reference above) — it normally takes about 45 minutes midday — a seven-hour plane ride would be out of the question.

I spent an hour trying to find the Joe Fresh location that was supposed to be on 34th and Fifth. They were supposed to be having a sale on sweaters. And they don’t sell online. (Can you even imagine?) There was no Joe Fresh on 34th Street or anywhere in the surrounding area. No one that I asked had ever heard of such a store. I did, however, manage to stumble upon a place called The Manhattan Mall. I only ventured in because I thought that Joe Fresh might be tucked away inside of it. It wasn’t. Don’t worry, though, I didn’t come home empty-handed. I still managed to feed my cashmere addiction at, of all places, JC Penney. (You all need to check out what they’ve done to JC Penney — it’s not just Worthington anymore, boys and girls!) I managed to leave the store with a cashmere sweater for myself and one for my daughter. And, GET THIS, it only cost me $40 total. Forty bucks for TWO cashmere sweaters. Unheard of.

I downed a delicious and much needed vanilla latte at Starbuck’s on 33rd Street (the one thatstarbuckslogo is literally in the shadow of The Empire State Building). I even managed to have a moment of self-awareness and a mini-adventure in the bathroom line. In a city known for its dearth of public restrooms, Starbuck’s should be commended for the fact that they have at least one in all of their locations (at least the one’s that I’ve been in). Also, there is no need to ask a barrista for a key nor have I ever seen a sign indicating that only Starbuck’s customers are welcome to use the facilities. This appeals to my sense of fairness and democracy. While I applaud the Starbuck’s bathroom policy in theory, the reality, as is often the case, is somewhat different, especially when this reality has a direct and deleterious effect on me. (Communism looks great on paper until you’re the one subjected to a lifetime of potato peeling based solely on your inability to read as well as some of your classmates in the first grade!) So, there I was. About to break out into the “pee-pee” dance in the shadow of one of the greatest architectural wonders of the Western world when it hit me that I am not as egalitarian as I like to think I am. As excellent corporate policies tend to do (Rite-Aid takes back opened/used cosmetics — no questions asked!) word has gotten out regarding Starbuck’s lax lavatory regulations. And not just to the folks that work in the area. No. Word has spread to those folks that live in the area. More specifically, word has gotten around to the local homeless population.

I have nothing against the homeless. In fact I think it’s shameless that there are homeless and hungry people living in this country at all. That being said, I must tell you that yesterday at Starbuck’s I harbored a fair amount of ill will against a few homeless people who had managed to scooch in front of me on the restroom line. And scooch they did. One minute I was alone and next in line for the W.C., the next minute they were in front of me. I honestly have no idea how this happened. Perhaps I was daydreaming or looking at The Empire State Building. Maybe I had a small seizure. I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that they had somehow taken up residence ahead of me. Sure, I could have said something. I could have made a scene. But I’m a middle-class, middle-aged suburban white woman who has never even considered voting for a Republican. Tangling with homeless people in a public place istheempirestatebuilding just not my style.

I should have taken it as a bad sign when I watched as the two women went into the loo together. I should add that they did so with all of their goods and wares in tow. This, as you might imagine, took some time and maneuvering. Oh, and there was still one more poor soul with his cartful of supplies ahead of me. I weighed my choices. I could stay where I was or I could make the mad dash across Fifth Avenue to the Starbuck’s across the street. It was a classic case of choosing the known versus the unknown. I opted for the former. At the end of the day, I don’t know whether or not I made the right decision, having no knowledge of the goings on across Fifth Avenue. Though I imagined, as I stood there with a nearly exploding bladder (why? why? why? did I order a Venti? A less gluttonous person would have gone for the Breve!) that there was no line for their, more likely, swanky and sumptuous facility. I had, by this time, reached the point of no return. It was too late to get across the street in anything resembling a dry state. Having already shopped for sweaters and been successful, I could not imagine that I would have the same luck procuring new jeans and underwear (and, God forbid!, socks), but don’t think I didn’t consider it.

I stayed put and counted the minutes (13!) that the pair spent in what I was beginning to think was a mirage of a lavatory. I assumed that they were showering and doing some laundry. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when they finally emerged (only to have their bedraggled compatriot go in behind them) looking much the same as when they had entered. For whatever reason, this annoyed me. I expected to see that they had at least made some minor improvements to their appearances. So, there I was, judging the homeless, tapping my foot, doing some kegel exercises, and, I am sure, rolling my eyes when one of the fine folks who is employed by Starbuck’s actually took notice of my discomfort and allowed me to use the employee bathroom. He was not wearing a name tag and I plum forgot to ask him his name. Whoever he was, I would just like to say that he is a fine human being who, in addition to rescuing a soon-to-be covered in urine person from her latte excesses, also has excellent taste in footwear. His patent leather kicks were to die for! Also, he wouldn’t even hear of taking the tip I proffered after emerging from the restroom. Who says New Yorkers don’t have a heart?

On most days this young man and the kindness that he showed me would have been the highlight of my day. But not yesterday. No. Yesterday I had the pleasure of being surrounded by exciting people. You see, the reason that I went to the city at all was to have dinner with a group of women from GenFab. GenFab is a Facebook group of (mostly) women of my generation. We’re not Boomers. We’re not Gen-Xers. We’re the ones that fall in between. I came to be a part of this group a few months ago at the urging of my friend and fellow blogger, Amanda Fox, over at The Fur Files. (Thanks, Fern!) They are a great group of supportive, talented, and wonderful women. Over the last few months they have been working on launching a website dedicated to issues that are pertinent to our age group. (Don’t worry, I’ll promote the launch!) They asked for contributions and have agreed to publish one of mine. This is not what drove me to join them for dinner last night, though. No. I really just wanted to be in the company of these dynamic women. (I’m hoping some of it will rub off on me!) They were all so welcoming and, given their accomplishments, not the least bit pretentious. Usually at 8 o’clock on a Thursday evening I am apologizing to some moron for bringing him what he ordered and/or dealing with my immature co-workers while covered in the barbecue sauce that I had spilled on my shirt during the lunch shift. Do I need to tell you what a nice departure this was from that? I didn’t think so.

genfabdinnernyc2713This was first “in real life” meeting with folks that I have met through blogging. I won’t lie, the idea of this was a little daunting. More daunting, though, was knowing that I was going to meet virtual strangers, most of whom I admired. For a couple of weeks prior to the dinner I was both excited and a little bit worried. I thought about dying my hair, getting my nails done, wearing better clothes, whitening my teeth, and making other adjustments to my appearance. Basically, I wondered if I should change who I ultimately am. In the end I decided to just be myself, warts and all. I’m happy to report that it went well. I don’t think anyone cared that my hair was in need of a dye job and that my nails were in need of a manicure. If my teeth weren’t white enough, no one mentioned it. And my attire? It was fine. Here’s the thing: these women were more interested in WHO I was than in what I was wearing. Many of them seemed genuinely interested. And some of them had even read my blog. And they admitted not just to reading it, but to actually liking it. Wow!

So, now comes the hard part. I really want to mention, by way of a “thank you”, everyone that I met last night. I want to encourage you to read their blogs and their books, subscribe to their web magazines, watch their movies, and, just generally, get to know them, but I fear that I will leave someone out. I’ve decided to put that fear aside and not squander this opportunity to promote them and GenFab. I’ll do the best I can and list everyone that I can remember. If I forget any of you, please remind me who you are and what your blog/website is and I will update my list. I promise you that my intention is not to exclude anyone! For those of you who fall into this “fabulous” generation, consider joining GenFab. You won’t regret it.

Better After 50
Grown and Flown
An Empowered Spirit
The Chloe Chronicles
stylesubstancesoul
Connect with your teens through technology
The Louise Log
Relocation: The Blog
100 Sleepless Nights
Books is Wonderful
Second Lives Club
Oh Boy Mom
Boomer Wizdom

photo credits: starbucks logo (starbucks.com), The Empire State Building , GenFab dinner pic (Cathy Chester), Mood Fabric logo (fashion how-to.com)

Ask Me Anything

I have a coworker who is constantly asking me questions. It’s as if she doesn’t have parents or access to Google. (She does.)

Mostly she texts me these questions at very strange hours of the day and night. I suspect she drinks. (Actually, I know she drinks.) If I had one of those phones that allowed me to upload the texts I would share them with you that way. I don’t think I do. It’s possible that I do and I just don’t know how to use it. Yeah. That sounds like me.

In the absence of this technology and/ or my inability to use it, I have decided to go all “old school” on yo asses by paraphrasing some of her more outlandish queries from last week. This should give you some idea of what I’m up against. (It may also go a long way toward explaining the limited amount of housework that gets accomplished up in this joint.)

In a half-hearted attempt to discourage her behavior, I have adopted a “fight fire with fire” approach with my responses. For every wacky question she throws my way, I try to craft an equally wacky response. It amuses me. I hope that you, too, will find our exchanges amusing.

Keep in mind that these are, more or less, our “Greatest Hits”. Sometimes she sends me five or six questions a day. And my husband wonders why I can’t manage to do the dishes.

Baby, It’s (getting) Cold Outside!

How much should I pay for a winter coat? (I received this text at 3:14 AM EST… this is the type of thing that keeps her up nights. Or, perhaps, she was just doing some on-line shopping. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I didn’t ask.)

Well, that depends on what it’s made of. Chinchilla or mink, for example… they can get a little pricey, like in the thousands. Are we talking basic parka here? I got one for Fangette, a Northface (last year’s color, I think) for $75. Woo fucking hoo! Fangette is smaller than you, though, so I was able to buy her a child size XL, so you may not get the same deal. I once got a Calvin Klein cashmere blend dress coat for $300 at Loehmann’s. Of course, Loehmann’s has been closed for years now, so you’ll have no luck there. LOL! Anyway, I thought that was a bargain. I think I’ve only worn it the one time, but it looked smashing and I received a lot of compliments on it. It’s in my closet in one of those fancy bags filled with cedar chips. I should take it out for a spin, now that I am thinking about it. Or, maybe I’ll just take it out and run my hands down it. It’s that awesome. Really. Maybe I’ll just wear it to work for the hell of it, ya know, just so you can admire it. It’s a classic, I’ll tell you that. Does that answer your question?

The Trouble with Nesquick!

How can I sign up for dental insurance? I think I chipped a tooth opening my chocolate milk.

First things first. You text me/call me for everything else, why didn’t you consult me prior to using your teeth to open your chocolate milk? I’m going to assume it was the seal on the top of the Nesquick that gave you some trouble. If this problem continues to arise, I would suggest cutting around the foil with a steak knife (steal one from work if you don’t have one at home). You could also try using a tweezer to pull up the little tab thingie. As a last ditch effort, you could puncture the top with a screwdriver or a corkscrew. (I’m confident that you own a corkscrew!)

As far as the insurance goes, you have to wait until the open enrollment period at work. I think it’s in January. But there’s a catch. You cannot seek treatment for a “pre-existing” condition for at least a year after you sign up for the insurance. Your chipped tooth would fall into that category. Because this condition will have preceded (come before) your being eligible (signing up) for the dental benefits. Also, a chipped tooth may be considered “cosmetic” (meaning it has no bearing on your overall dental health). If it is considered “cosmetic”, it will not be covered at all. If it is sensitive to hot/cold, etc. then it may be covered. Which tooth is it, by the way?

I’m not even sure it’s chipped. Thanks for the info.

Haven’t you looked in the mirror? Or felt it with your tongue? How do you not know if your tooth is chipped? Are you high?

It just feels weird.

Alrighty then.

It’s a Search Engine, Not a Mind Reader!

How old do you have to be to get that wart shot?

By “that wart shot” I am assuming that you mean Gardasil. I’m not sure what the minimum age requirement is (I think it’s down to 12 now), but the maximum age is somewhere around 22, I think. But I have to tell you that it is most efficacious (works best) for women who have no sexual history. As you have been regaling me with stories of your sexual prowess for years now, I know that you do not meet this criteria (requirement). If you recall, I suggested, no, I strongly recommended, that you get this shot years ago. I am going to assume that you did not listen to my sage advice. Slutty girls, such as yourself, are at the highest risk for contracting that warty thing. Why don’t you go ahead and Google it, as I know that things have changed regarding this immunization. Maybe take a “better late than never” approach.

I tried googling it, but nothing came up.

Try again. Use Gardasil in the search, not “wart shot”. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that was why nothing came up. I’m curious. Did anything come up when you put in “wart shot”? Might be interesting. When I get home I’m going to google “wart shot”, ya know, just for my own amusement.

Booty Call!

Your butt always looks good in your work jeans. Nice and tight. Where do you buy your jeans?

First of all, thank you. No, really, thank you. My tight butt is not a result of the jeans that I choose to wear. Partly, it’s genetic. Partly, it’s a result of years of hauling my ass around restaurants. You may want to try clenching and moving faster. Who needs a gym? Not me!

I get my “Mom” jeans at Kohl’s. I think they are flattering because they sit at my waist, not below my hips. I’m not sure if you (and some of your peers) realize this, but the “plumber’s crack” and the hint of thong may, in fact, decrease your tips. Most people do not want to see their waitress’ panties. Don’t tell me that no one can see them. I couldn’t be less interested in your nether region, but I do recall that yesterday your ridiculous excuse for underwear were fuchsia-colored and lacy.

The Morning After!

I am ridiculously hung over and I have to open this morning. What should I do?

First of all, you are not opening. I am. Check your drunk texts from last night. I think I agreed to save your ass (once again) at about 2:24 AM. You do, however, have to work my shift at noon. You only bought yourself an hour, sister. If I were you, I would try to cover it. A word to the wise, though: don’t send out a blast telling others that you can’t get your ass to work at noon because you are hung over. They may not be as sympathetic to your plight as I am. They may, in fact, want to punish you for your irresponsible behavior.

On that note, you are fast becoming, what we call in the business (of life, not the restaurant business) a “hot mess”. Get your shit together, party girl. I’m not telling you what to do or anything (yes, I am), but I would strongly urge you not to stay out til all hours when you have to work in the morning. Also, most jobs start well before 10:45 AM. Being unable to get to work by mid-morning or noon is a little ridiculous. I hope no one agrees to work for you and you have to suffer all day. Love, ya! Cheers!

P.S. I know a thing or three about hangovers. Take a pain reliever and chase it with a glass of milk. In my experience, milk helps with a hangover. But don’t open it with your teeth. We both know how that will end.

photocredit: jeddaniels.com

Meatloaf at Midnight

It turns out that eating meatloaf at midnight may not have been a well-thought out gastronomical choice. Who knew?

When I got in from work last night my daughter and my best friend’s daughter were in the kitchen making browniecookies. Some sort of concoction of brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Don’t ask.

Round about 11:30 the friend’s daughter came crashing into my room (she’s the only one of my kid’s friends who would ever have the nerve to enter the inner sanctum; she actually gets into bed with me… pervert) asking if I had anything good to eat, as in, “actual food”. She went on to explain that there is never any food at her house. Poor thing. I told her to have a browniecookie. She sat on the edge of my bed. I could tell she was gearing up to get in it with me. I know from experience that that needed to be avoided at all costs. Because once she was in the bed my daughter would not be far behind. And all the ruckus would wake my husband. And who needs that after a long night of work?

So, I dragged myself out of bed and went into the kitchen where I pulled out leftover roast beef, meatloaf, biscuits, and grilled chicken. Then they spotted the salad. They wanted that, too. With black olives. Oh, and fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers. I could go on. It was kind of like those Laura Numeroff books I read to them as children, “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” or “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”, except this felt more like “If You Give a Teenager an Inch”. After slicing cucumbers and tomatoes, dragging out dressings and condiments, and locating the jar of red cabbage that I knew was there somewhere, dammit, I had worked up a bit of an appetite myself.

I noted that the buzzards had left enough meatloaf for a decent midnight snack. I got out the rolls and the hot sauce.

We had a nice chat while we chowed down. I could tell they were tired when our conversation descended into “Yo Momma” and “That’s What She Said” jokes. I excused myself and went to bed. They were still awake and giggling when I fell asleep at around 2:00 AM. I woke up a few short hours later regretting every bite of the meatloaf with hot sauce on ciabatta bread that I had so stupidly consumed at midnight. Every last bite.

What I didn’t regret, however, was the opportunity to spend two hours in the company of a couple of very funny, warm, and intelligent 16-year-olds. It was worth all the discomfort that a 5:00 AM bathroom run implies.

photo credit: meat‑loaf.jpg simplyrecipes.com

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

My coworker, good friend, and sister-in-arms was mopping her stone floor while wearing nylon socks last Friday. As a result she suffered a broken wrist, various contusions to her body and her face, and may possibly have a bone chip lodged in her sinus cavity. She looks like a battered woman. Trust me, if she had been battered the other guy would have looked worse. Far worse. Probably dead.

I know. I know. You want to know more about the nylon socks. So did I. It’s still a mystery, though. I have no further light to shed on this phenomena. I asked her if she had procured them from some ninety-year-old man at the local nursing home. And, if so, were they still attached to their garters? Who wears nylon socks anymore? Of course, I should know better than to ask. She wears support hose. And owns a hot water bottle.

She stopped in for garbage bags today. She claimed it was because she did not want to scare any children at the grocery store. We both know it’s because she would rather not pay for them. I’m pretty sure she regularly shops for things like garbage bags, toilet paper, and other janitorial supplies at work. It’s a shame that we had no paper bags for her to put over her head.

While on her mission to procure said garbage bags, she allowed me to buy her lunch. I had to cut her meat. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Thanks, Ethel. I always suspected my life would come to this. I’m just glad it’s you cutting up my food.” I told her that I would have to draw the line at spoon-feeding and sponge baths. I am, however, going over to her place tomorrow afternoon to shampoo her hair. Because she looks like Medusa after a bender. If Medusa was a redhead who had taken a bad spill.

Everyone, except for me, was treating her with kid gloves. She’s more than a little embarrassed about her accident and about what she currently looks like. She’s a lot embarrassed that she doesn’t have any money put aside for this particular rainy day. Buying her lunch was the least I could do. She told me yesterday that we had better not be working on putting together a collection, as she will not take any money from us. She likes to say that she’s a prideful old southern lady, which, I was forced to explain to her once again, is just a highfalutin’ way of saying stubborn old bitch. Folks who need assistance slicing up their filet mignon and “pulling up their britches” have no business putting on airs. Yes. I had to help her in the Ladies. I’d rather not dwell on it. It’s going to be an uphill battle dealing with her over the next four to six weeks. God help me.

She lives alone. She didn’t always. Up until a year ago she lived with her son, his wife, and her “grandbabies”. That’s when her son’s job took him back to Atlanta. She was supposed to go with them, but stayed so that she could pay off her truck. She has two more payments on the damn thing. I’m going to pay it. I swear to God I am. She needs her family.

She’s a worker. A hard worker. She has always worked outside of the home, mostly at jobs involving manual labor. Unlike many “women of a certain age” she is not what you would call “schooled” in the domestic arts (though she makes a mean chocolate dump cake). I do not know what could have possessed her to take up floor cleaning last week. Considering that the only kitchen utensil she owns is a spatula that I gave her last Christmas, I was pretty shocked by her mop ownership. She admitted that she had borrowed it from her landlady. Of course she did. Who “borrows” a mop? Who lends one? Who wears nylon socks? Does the landlady have a bathing suit or a pair of panties I can borrow?

Throughout the course of our lunch, she must have told the story of how she became injured to coworkers and customers ten times. No one else commented on the nylon socks. I guess it’s just me. Anyway, every time she retold the tale I nearly peed in my non-borrowed underwear. The less than graceful image of her skidding across the stone tile, nylon socks failing to make purchase, grappling with the unfamiliar mop, arms akimbo, and then, SPLAT! It was almost too much for me to bear. I mentioned that this Christmas, in addition to some cotton socks, I should buy her a Life Alert necklace.

It won’t do her any good, though. Because, let me just mention this, she called ME when she fell. At work. (She actually said, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. I swear.) She refused to let me call an ambulance. I had to hunt down a coworker to collect her and take her to the emergency room. Apparently she crawled to the door because she didn’t want this good Samaritan to bear witness to her slovenliness. Breaking your wrist may mess with your cleaning plans, but not with your wits. It seemed that she was still in possession of the few she started out with. She wasn’t going to pay top dollar to “no goddam ambulance to take her down the road a piece”. So, unless I can get the good folks at Life Alert to put me on the receiving end of her necklace, I may as well buy her a whisk.