Prunes and Prism

RULES FOR YOUNG LADIES: Some arch advice on snagging a husband. Exercising the mouth into a pretty shape through repetition of certain words seems to have been an indoor sport for young nineteenth-century girls; in Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens' overly bred girl repeats, "papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism." (Merrycoz.org)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Your Show of Shows

As soon as my sinuses cleared up, I was hit with a case of what my Aunt Goldie would call "epizoodie." I ache, I hack, I drift in and out of a NyQuil twilight punctuated with back-to-back episodes of Footballers' Wives and gigantic bowls of fat-free ice cream. This must be what it's like for Liza Minnelli all the time.

Around 11 on Saturday (in the 12-hour window between sinus and epizoodie) I was locking the door to my apartment when three strangers came around the corner and started talking over each other -- "That's her!" "Do you live here?" "Is this apartment XX?" I was simultaneously startled, annoyed, afraid that they were the rightful owners come to reclaim the place (in New York you never feel too secure about your real estate), and hopeful that I'd won some kind of prize.

As it turned out, one of them had lived in my apartment 45 years ago and just wanted to come in for a look. He lives in Florida now, and he and his wife were in town to see their thirtyish daughter, who lives in L.A., give a reading*. The trip down Memory Lane had been the daughter's idea; she surprised them with a car service, and after they left my building they were going to look at the mother's old place in Queens.

I got most of this information after they were in my kitchen, because of course I let them in, as soon as I raced back and yelled at the Comrade to get his pants on.

The former residents of Apartment XX kept their kitchen table where we have our Target cart, the one the Comrade slipped a disc assembling. The parents slept on a foldout couch in the living room, while the two boys had the bedroom, just the way the Comrade and Comrade frere** did when they were growing up. They had the very first TV in the building, and everybody used to come over to watch Sid Caesar.

I had to run out to meet the accountant, leaving them with the Comrade, who would later tell me he tried to offer them the rest of an opened bottle of Montepulciano in celebration. (They declined, as I guess they wanted to have all their wits about them when they got to Queens.)

Until the epizoodie crept in, I was on some kind of high, like I really had won a prize. I felt lucky and happy to have been there, and also reassured. The past couple of years have brought all kinds of enormous changes at the last minute. Enough horse doses of uncertainty, and you start to feel like you're choking on your own future. But people watched TV and brushed their teeth and ate oatmeal in this place 45 years ago, and they'll likely do it in another 45. It's like Wilford Brimley just sat down and offered me a bowl of Grape-Nuts.

*She'd written a book on how women bond over body issues but spilled out the title so fast I had no idea what she said, and no amount of Googling can recover it.

**Je jure, I still don't know how to make diacriticals on a PC. Forgive me, French majors; I know you're out there.

2 Comments:

Blogger Recovering Baptist said...

How's your epizoodie? Law, I how many times have I heard that word in the last 33 years? Incidently, if you are still sick, you may be interested to know that according to your Aunt Goldie, any and all ailments can be cured with a hot washcloth and 7-Up. Sinuses? Check. Common cold? You betcha. Flesh eating bacteria? Yes. Try it. It never works for me but that's because she claims I don't "do it right."
Love,
Your Retarded Cousin Who Can't Grasp the Concept of Running Hot Water on a Washcloth

5:18 PM  
Blogger frostine99 said...

Dear So Not Retarded Cousin,

Here's the thing about hot water on a washcloth: I have to agree that there is no better cure for sinus trouble, but the problem is keeping it hot. The heat dissipates almost immediately, so the cure lasts only as long as you're willing to sit on the toilet and lay your head over on the sink. Unless you get in the bathtub, and even that is only good until you start shriveling.

Last night I bought 7-Up (not Sprite, and not diet, either) on the way home, and while I can't say I've been Healed in the Name of Jesus ... I do think I'm better rather than worse.

Love,

Epizoodie Effie

1:02 PM  

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