Monday, March 15, 2010
Beware the Ides of March
Yesterday was (apparently) pi day, as it was 3.14, and today is the Ides of March (get it? 3.14? Pi? No? Not dorky enough? Just me?). I have an Anne-Shirleyesque affinity for the Ides of March. The very words are just scrumptiously thrilling, don't you think? Of course, I've never known anything romantic or tragical to happen on the old Ides, but that doesn't dampen my delight in the idea.
Yesterday felt more like the Ides of March rather than pi day. We had to go to EGOD's apartment to help clear out some of her junk before she moves to another Spartan apartment that she will promptly fill up with junk. Honestly, I don't know where she gets this stuff and I really don't know where she keeps it. She's not a true hoarder, as in having piles of garbage covering layers of filth concealing the skeletons of small animals and such. But she does keep and pack away mind-boggling amounts of stuff. Is there such a thing as a very clean hoarder who hides their hoarde? Cause that's what she is.
I was trying to remember specific things to share with my sisters later (as the only ones who will truly appreciate why I needed a good, stiff drink by the time I left), but I think I've already blotted a lot of it out by too much running to my happy place in my mind (where there's always a string quartet).
Anyway, I said no to the ugly china cabinet that she tried to bully me into taking. She actually suggested I trade her my lovely, homey, most-beloved hutch that always stood in my mother's home before she gave it to me for that ugly monstrosity she bought in Florida. First of all, I don't believe she bought it at all. I have always had a sneaking suspicion that she steals things from people who've just died. Heavens, what a horrible thing to say! But, knowing how stingy and opportunistic and sneaky she is, I can't believe she's paid money for half the things she packs away! Second of all, that china cabinet is so modern and ugly and even Man-Cub can see it would not go in my dining room. Sigh. I've known about her wretched sense of taste for years, but it never fails to amaze me. You should have seen the rug she wanted me to take. Simply dreadful!
I also refused the electric juicer, orange afghan, tacky plastic pants valet, two boxes of dishes, boxes of puzzles featuring jumbo-sized, EZ grip pieces, a shapeless, worn out black skirt and a 40-year-old-plus electric can opener. I have a juicer, the afghan perfectly resembled the colors of cat puke, the pants valet was something even Harriet Carter wouldn't sell (or maybe she did--back in the '70s), the dishes were all mismatched and shabby--and NOT in a good way, and don't even get me started on the puzzles.
The skirt prompted the second time I almost yelled at my frail-but-wicked 90-year-old grandmother. I almost had to yell at her over the hutch/china cabinet incident. She's Italian; she doesn't pay attention until you yell. Then she tried to bully me into taking the skirt. I said I didn't want it. She said, "Well, maybe you'll lose some weight and it will fit you."
No. I kept my cool. Even though this was the woman who, throughout my childhood, though I was never fat until my first pregnancy, called me every single word for "fat" in the English language (and probably all those in the fake-pseudo-Italian she thinks she can speak) every single time she saw me. Even though her first comment when given a first glimpse at her first great-grandchild was a disparaging remark about my "fat" face. Even though she once tried to start the same campaign with Redheaded Snippet (before we instituted the rule that the children are not allowed within earshot of her without me or The Viking present). I kept my cool.
But, I'm afraid I did lie.
I looked right at her and said, "I don't want to lose any weight. I'm not going to."
She swatted the air in front of me and said, "You might. You don't know," to which I repeated, "Nope. I don't want to."
That, my friends, is a lie. But I have a feeling I won't be able to lose any weight until she is gone. Because I don't want to give her the satisfaction.
Then I held the skirt up to my waist and saw that it was so long it brushed the tops of my shoes. I looked at EGOD. And back at the hem of the skirt. And back at EGOD. I am a short woman, but I am a good six inches taller than she. What on earth is she doing with this skirt packed in the back of her closet??? Why did she take it in the first place and why does she still have it???
So I said to her, and this is where I almost started yelling because she was simply not listening to me and just rattling on about the quality of the skirt (dubious) as well as its beauty and utility (um...no), "Look how long this is!"
"That's how they're wearing them now!" Okay, HOW does she think she knows this? Is she secretly reading Vogue and then throwing it out before anyone sees--this the woman who won't throw away 40-year-old tubes of toothpaste or 73-year-old bottles of liniment (I am not making that up)? And, honestly, the idea that she would be telling me ANYTHING about FASHION is just ludicrous! Not that I'm a fashion plate or anything, but this is the woman who wore the same screaming-teal-green lounge-singer dress (festooned with swirls of sequins) with the same grey moccasins to all three of her granddaughters' weddings, wears the same mismatched paisley shorts and tank top every time we go out to dinner in the Summer, wears a Christmas sweater with a fuchsia and mint green poinsettia year-round because it's the colors of "It-lee", and once suggested to me, when I was fourteen, that I dress more like "that beautiful girl over there", indicating a young woman who looked exactly like a streetwalker.
"I would look Amish in this." Ignore the fact, for a moment, that it has a slit up the front that would surely result in the shunning of any Amish woman who dared to wear it.
Surprisingly, she gave in, saying, with a dismissive wave of her hand, "Yeah, I don't like to wear things long, either." That's when I actually did raise my voice.
"You don't like to wear things long, but you want me to wear it long??"
She took the skirt from me and stuffed it back in her closet. Score one for me.
I'm not entirely sure I want to talk about the electric can opener, but, of course, I will. I had put it in the reject pile when my usually-levelheaded Viking spotted it and, get this, said he wanted it. WHAAAAAT? Yeah, apparently, he was able to see from across the room (he was keeping his distance as he is no fool) that it has a knife sharpener. This cannot be a good thing. He has mentioned something before about trying to sharpen my Cutco knives. I don't want him to try to sharpen my Cutco knives because I don't want them ruined. It seems to me knife-sharpening if one of those things you need to know about before you just set out to do it. Like tuning a piano. But The Viking was not to be deterred. Incidentally, I later told my dad about it and he cracked up saying he tried the thing out a few days ago and the noise and vibrations it produces will be enough to make the neighbors call the cops. So, I'm just biding my time...
I did manage to score a few useful, nice items in my wild forage through madness. I scored an extra cutting board (can always use those) a small colander (ditto), a very pretty soup tureen that Lobelia might want, some muffin tins and baking pans, a brand new toaster oven, some puzzles I would actually enjoy, a kitschy red pitcher, two retro jackets for Redheaded Snippet (they're actually from the '60s and '80s and so totally in right now), a very nice rolling suitcase, and best of all, a set of full sheets.
These aren't just any old sheets. They were made by my great-grandmother, who was an immigrant from Italy, out of flour sacks that she'd bleached by laying out on the grass in the sun. She died back in 1956 so they're at least from the '40s. I am very excited to have acquired them. They have a feel to them that I've never felt on any other sheets; they're heftier, thicker somehow, yet so very soft, kind of like a vintage tablecloth. They're obviously homemade, but well-made, and one has pleats sewn in for the corners of the mattress. My only question is, how big were the sacks used to make them? I can't find seams, which I would expect on sheets this size, anywhere. Does anyone know how this was done? I'm not sure, yet, what I'm going to do with them, but I am glad to have something of my great-grandmother's to hold on to.
So, we all made it out alive though I must confess all four of us were cranky for several hours afterward. It's almost like being there leaves some kind of residue on you that takes some time to wear off. Like a bad spell. Something you might expect right around the Ides of March, right? Oh, I'm just grasping at straws here...
Well, I best be off. I've got a sick, little boy to nurse and, somehow, I've got to get to the grocery store anyway. I'm hoping to score me some corned beef on sale and try my hand at corned beef specials again this year.
As for the Ides of March:
"Well, the Ides of March have come."
"Ay, they have come, but they are not gone."