December 5th, 2005
For the past several months, I have been suffering from a leg problem that prevents me from walking unaided, or without pain. It has been almost like having to learn to walk all over again, getting used to these crutches, and I have developed a brand new empathy for children struggling to take their first steps. On Saturday night, I had to go to a function without my daughter, in minus 25 degree weather. (For you Americans out there, that is Celsius, not Fahrenheit, which loosely translated, means: “FUCKING COLD MAN!!”)
The function was supposed to be a sort of appreciation dinner for those individuals in the housing block that volunteered their time to make it a better place. How I got invited is, frankly, beyond us all, as I tend to crawl under my chair and suck my thumb when they request volunteers for various functions/committees. However, as Ginny had spent quite a bit of time doing various jobs about the complex, and required a date for the evening, I went along with the whole thing for her sake out of a) the goodness of my heart, and b) the fear that she would hit me if I didn’t. For a four foot shit Grandma, Ginny has a formidable left hook! I opted not to take my chances as I’ve always been rather fond of my nose just as it is, thank you.
Let me pause here to explain the dynamics of this happy little housing complex, and its residents. The vast majority of individuals living here are either a) seniors, or b) individuals like myself, with little income and even less common sense. It is, for lack of a better description, a small town within a small town where your neighbors congratulate you on a bodily function well performed if you forget yourself and release your flatulence too loudly. Not only does everyone know what everyone else is doing, they are also more than happy to tell you how you can improve your way of life to best meet their expectations of you. A day doesn’t go by without gossip being spread about the complex like wild-fire, with reality and truth playing only a minor role in their utterances. Try as you might, you can not escape being the target of their pious views and slanderous tongues; as such, most resign themselves quickly to hearing things about their lives of which they were previously wholly unaware.
That said, you can well imagine the trepidation with which most of us attended this wee event; each one of us terrified someone would notice our underpants protruding from our trousers, making us the target of gossip for weeks! There was no smoking in the banquet hall, and as such, all of us puffers had to head out doors in the freezing cold to satisfy our nicotine cravings. I, personally, was living in fear the entire evening that someone would lick my crutches, and become permanently affixed. The highlight of the evening, which consisted primarily of people making small talk with false smiles pasted on their faces so widely I feared their dentures would pop out, came at the time of the Christmas toast.
Lou-Anne, a rather large girl with a face reminiscent of a basset hound and a personality liken unto a polar bear, had been asked to say Grace prior to the meal. She stood shakily on her sausage legs, looked around the hall sourly (causing me to vaguely wonder if she’d eaten something that had turned), and grabbed for a shot glass. “I can’t do this without taking a drink first.” Lou-Anne explained flatly, and then she downed the shot and belched loudly. God and His Son were smiling down lovingly and proudly at this moment to be sure, unbelieving in their good fortune at being given such holy recognition.Six seniors at my table clutched their chests in agony. One only man, a dear old soul by the name of Denis, sat benignly smiling as Lou-Anne stumbled through her sacrilegious tribute. (I found out later that he’d taken the liberty of turning off his hearing aid the moment she’d stood up in an effort to avoid another stroke.)
The rest of evening was relatively uneventful; blessedly coming to a conclusion a mere two hours after it had begun. (I’ve had bowel movements that lasted longer…) Ginny and I loaded ourselves in our cab, and headed for the home of my best friend/babysitter for the evening... My daughter was ready to go, having had her radar go off the moment I got into the cab heading her way. I am unsure to this day how precisely she manages to do this. My theory remains that the doctor placed a tracking device in my cervix shortly after I gave birth, and cheerfully handed her the control panel. The cab ride was short, and soon enough, my daughter, Ginny and I were released back into the annals of the housing complex.
For some reason, at this point in the evening, the skill of walking completely eluded me, and I tumbled headlong into a fresh drift of snow. Only my feet and crutches were visible, sticking out pathetically atop the massive snow mountain. My compassionate daughter was unable to assist, as she had peed herself laughing at my predicament, and now stood by the door crying and steaming in the cold night air. (She almost looked like an angel descended from heaven, with billows of mist surrounding her in this fashion. The only elements shattered the illusion being a) her howls of indignation at having made such a drastic bladder misjudgment, and b) the strong smell of urine emanating from her every pore.) I finally managed to pick myself out of the snow drift by rolling through it and squirming upwards. This scene cheered little one immensely, causing a few more hot dribbles to hit the porch.
When we finally got ourselves into the house, I crawled into my bed and pulled the covers over my head, much to the disgust of my cat. ******** wanted to be fed, and couldn’t understand why I was stubbornly ignoring him. Realizing that my indifference called for drastic measures, he resolutely crawled under the covers and bit my toe. Fortunately for all concerned, Pudding had gotten over her indignation at wetting herself, and fed the poor beast prior to joining me in bed. “Mama?” her little face was inches from my own. “Ugggh.” I moaned, hoping that my incoherent nature would cause her to give up and go to sleep. Pudding poked me in the ribs and put her nose on my check, “MAMA?” I jumped slightly, and sighed.
“Yes dear?” She hooked her little leg around my own. “********’s litter stinks, Mama.” I nodded, “Mmmmm.” Not that easily dissuaded, she took my face in her little pudgy hands. “Do you think I should have a box to pee in for when I’m outside?” My eyes flew open, and my mother alarm bells immediately began to ring. “Why are you asking me this?” Pudding put her head on my bosom and sighed, “Cause it worked when I pooped in it…” I felt the room growing dark.
“When did you poop in it?” The little imp curled her fingers lovingly through my hair, “Now…cause ****** was being mean to me.” I suppressed the urge to pass out. “Just now?” She nodded. “Is that why his litter stinks, Pudding?” Again, she nodded. “Go and scoop that out…NOW!” All the calmness had left my voice as my mothering instincts entered full panic mode. “I can’t.” Pudding replied simply. “What do you mean you can’t??” The room fell silent for several seconds. “Cause he ate it.” She replied simply. I began to hyperventilate.
“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrg!!” Pudding sat bolt upright in bed, obviously shaken. “What’s wrong, Mama? Where are you going?” I crutched my way firmly out of the room. “Nothing, and I’m going to boil my lips; the cat just licked me.”