“Would you like a half of a turkey sandwich?” I yell to Mom from the kitchen as I dragged out plates and sandwich ingredients from the frig.
“Sure,” she called back. “Are you cutting it?”
“Cutting what? The turkey?”
“No, the bread.”
I paused next to the kitchen counter, juggling a package of turkey slices, another of Smoked Gouda slices, a jar of mayonnaise, a head of lettuce and a loaf of 12-grain bread. “The bread?” I asked loudly.
“Yes, are you cutting it or getting it?”
I dumped the lunch makings onto the counter and walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. “What do you mean am I cutting it. It’s bread.”
“But the last time you made me a sandwich, you cut it too thick and I could hardly bite down on it,” she explained, opening her mouth wide, then loudly chomping her teeth together three or four times for emphasis.
“Mom,” I sighed, “it’s just a loaf from the store. It’s already sliced.”
“Oh, okay. Then it must have been a different loaf the last time. It was almost too fat to eat.”
“It’s the same bread we always get,” I said, turning to go back into the kitchen.
“Then you probably got a mistake.”
“A mistake?” I asked, pausing in the kitchen doorway. “What do you mean, a mistake?”
“You know, a mistake. Like the checker people didn’t check close enough and fat slices got put in the package.”
“Yup, that must be it,” I laughed. “Those damn checker people. And I’ll bet they probably want $15 an hour too, just like the McDonald’s people.”
“Well that’s not right. If they aren’t smart enough to know a fat slice of bread from a skinny one, then they don’t deserve a raise.”
After cleaning the house on Sunday, I was in the shower and Bill was patiently waiting his turn while he sat in the office playing Solitaire on his computer.
As I lathered up, I thought I heard the distinctive sound of the Red Menace coming out of Mom’s bedroom, which meant she was up from her first nap of the day. I quickly rinsed off as I listened to her motoring down the hall toward the living room and, I presumed, into the Arizona room where I knew she’d be looking for me.
I squirted out a blob of shampoo and prepared to wash my hair, but stopped when I heard her returning up the hall. I mentally braced myself, waiting for her to bump the door open to see if I was in the bathroom, but instead she stopped just short of the bathroom at the office door.
“Where are the women?” I heard her say to Bill.
“Women? What women?” he responded.
“You know, the women. Where’d they go?”
“I don’t know,” he stuttered. “In the bathroom maybe?”
“What in the world would they both be doing in there?” she asked sharply.
“Taking a shower?” he offered lamely.
“Well that’s just not right,” she huffed. “I never took a shower with Shirley in my whole life and she’s my sister. That’s just not right.”
“Okay then,” he replied, still sounding somewhat befuddled, “if they’re not in the bathroom, I don’t know where they are.”
This was met with an abrupt harrumph, followed quickly by her rolling away, back down the hall toward the living room once again. Thinking that was the end of it, I quickly shampooed my hair, rinsed and turned off the water.
And then I heard the Red Menace returning up the hall.
“Crap,” I muttered to myself. I grabbed my bath towel, wrapped it snuggly around myself and stepped out of the shower onto the bath rug just as she slammed into the door with the wheelchair. I stepped quickly out of the way as the door stop slammed into the wall and the door ricocheted back toward the door frame.
“Oh, there you are,” she said brightly, ignoring the paint chips that snowed off the front of the door onto the floor as she backed up. “I was just coming to tell him that you and Bill went for a walk.”
“Him?” I asked, wiping water out of my eyes.
“You know, him, in there,” she said, indicating the office with a left jerk of her head. “Anyway, never mind, I guess you didn’t go.”
“Nope. Just trying to take a shower,” I sighed.
“Okay then, I guess I’m going to lay down for a while,” she replied.
“Didn’t you just get up?”
“Yes, but I was just resting my eyes. This time I’ll probably rest more than that.” And with that she performed a perfect U-turn, then hung a left into her bedroom just as Bill poked his head out of the office doorway.
“Is it safe to get in the shower,” he whispered.
“I guess it is, as long as Shirley isn’t in there with you,” I laughed.
I was showing Mom a couple of choices of frozen meals for dinner: oven-roasted turkey with red mashed potatoes or Angel Hair Pasta Prima Vera. “Do either one of these trip your trigger?” I asked after, what seemed like, two or three minutes of her staring at the labels.
“I’m just not sure,” she said, switching her attention back and forth between the two boxes.
“Mom, my fingers are starting to go numb,” I commented, trying to evoke a decision. “So if you don’t like either of these, I’ll go get a couple more out of the freezer.”
“Well, I’m just not sure. I’m not too crazy about the mashed potatoes.”
“Oh, and why don’t you like mashed potatoes anymore?”
“Because they taste too potatoey.”
“Okey dokey, that make absolutely no sense. But what about the Angel Hair pasta?”
“I really don’t think I’d like it very much.”
“No? Why not?”
“Because I don’t imagine food made out of some kind of hair would be very good. Angle hair? What is that, some kind of cat?
“It’s pasta, Mom. It’s made out of flour and water and salt, not cat hair! And its angel not angle.”
“Whatever. Besides, that’s like the food they make out of old thread. That’s probably pretty bad too.”
“Old thread? What on earth are you talking about?”
“You know, that stuff in Chinese food. Sewing beans. I swear to God, they’ll eat anything.”
“They? Do you mean Chinese people?”
“No, not them. Those hippies that like to eat with shop sticks because they think they can. But all they do is spill rice and sewing beans all over the tablecloth.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked in frustration as I shifted my grip on the boxes to avoid frostbite. “What hippies?”
“The ones on the TV this morning on some show. They were talking about healthy food and stuff and eating with shop sticks. They looked like idiots.”
“Okay then,” I sighed, trying to get the dinner planning back on track. “I’ll get a couple more meals for you to look at. But, just so you know, Angel Hair pasta isn’t made out of hair. It’s regular pasta but really thin, you know, kind of like hair.”
“Oh, well that makes more sense I guess. I’ll try that one but I think they should change the name to something better. Maybe Not Hairy Pasta.”
“I’ll pass that on to the Lean Cuisine people next time I see them,” I called over my shoulder as I escaped back into the kitchen.
“Patty!” Mom yelled from the living room just as I was getting undressed to take a post-Pickleball shower.
“What!” I hollered back from my bedroom.
“Come quick,” she called out frantically.
Fearing another fall, I pulled my damp tee shirt back on and went quickly down the hall before coming to a screeching halt in the foyer. Mom was sitting on her loveseat, pointing the remote at the TV. “Okay, I’m here. What’s the big emergency?” I asked as I walked into the living room.
“They have a new host! Drew Carey’s gone.”
“Oh no, not gone,” I retorted sarcastically as I glanced at the TV screen which was showing Flo giving Geico advice to a biker. “So who’s the new guy?”
“I don’t know, but it isn’t Drew Carey.”
“Well I’ll check it out after my shower,” I said as I turned to go.
“No, no, wait,” she exclaimed. “It’s back. Look, look,” she said, pointing frantically at the television.
I glanced back at the TV just as the announcer bellowed out the Price is Right rally call of ‘come on down’ and watched as a large, bouncy lady name Shaneeta bound down the aisle to the empty player podium, then watched the camera show the electric scooter waiting to be priced, and finally pan to the stage and the ‘new’ host… who was Drew Carey, with a full head of smoky chestnut-colored hair.
“See, see,” she exclaimed. “It’s someone new.”
“No it isn’t, Mom. It’s still Drew Carey.”
“It is not,” she retorted firmly. “Look at him. He doesn’t look anything like Drew Carey. He’s taller and younger and maybe thinner. And his hair is wrong.”
“Then why does the announcer keep calling him Drew?”
“Because maybe he’s another Drew. Just not a Carey Drew.”
“Mom, it’s still him. He colored his hair. Again. I’m going to take a shower now,” I sighed, turning to leave once again.
“Well I still don’t think it’s him,” she muttered. “If it is, then why does he keep changing his hair? What was wrong with his old hair?”
“I don’t know,” I replied from the foyer. “Maybe he got tired of the white hair, and the blond hair and the brush cut and the buzz cut and the normal cut. I swear, he changes his hair more than a girl.”
“Maybe he’s really one of those transportation genies,” she offered. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“Sure. You know, one of those guys that wants to be a woman but can’t make up his mind. So he just wears bras and changes his hair.”
“Okay, Mom,” I laughed. “I think you’re on to something. Drew Carey’s a transportation genie.”
“Who was that yeller?” Mom asked from the office doorway.
“That was Lynn, the guy we write bids for,” I replied. “We just got off a conference call.”
“Oh? Did you get new a job?”
“No, just a new project. It came in a couple of weeks ago.”
“So you’re not retired anymore? You’re free-lancing?”
“Yes, no, sort of. We’re still retired but we do occasional work for Lynn when he needs us.”
“Then why was he yelling at you. Did you do something wrong?” she continued, looking a little concerned.
“No, we didn’t do anything wrong. He just has to talk loud on the conference call so everyone will hear him.”
“Well then I guess everyone heard him alright. I’m almost deaf and I could hear him.” She turned to go, then paused. “Did he say anything important?” she asked
“I suppose to some people. It was mainly about other stuff that didn’t matter me or Bill.”
“Then maybe he should go into politics.”
“Why do you say that.”
“Because politicians talk really loud and don’t say anything that really matters either,” she offered as she motored away.