Pamela Carey's Blog
January 24, 2023
After hibernation in bed for several days,
with energy only to drag ourselves to the bathroom, a slow rise in our desire to eat or brush our teeth followed in succeeding days, during which we lost our fever, chills, swollen glands, sinus pains, and sore throats. We were among the fortunate who had no major respiratory issues and had doctors overseeing our care via teleconferences.
I love to make plans, to have a "to do" agenda each day. I thrive on goals and accomplishments, as small as they may be in retirement - experimenting with a new recipe, winning a tennis match, or outlining a new blog or book.
What's changed since our COVID experience? Everything! I now look forward to a "palate-cleansing" year (NY Times, "Realistic Expectations for the Year Ahead" by Alyson Krueger, Jan. 8, 2022, Sunday Styles) - that is, one of calm and simplicity, with expectations in check. I want to move on, while calmly processing each day. Let's face it - we were bombarded by a lot at once: COVID, flu, RSV, mass violence, war in Ukraine, recession, loss of loved ones, etc. Perhaps if I lower the bar on my expectations - for writing a new book, for extensive foreign travel - the risk of disappointment will lower, too. It's a self-defense mechanism in an attempt to simply BE.
My college roommate, a widow compromised with multiple health issues, experienced eight weeks of COVID symptoms in the fall of '22. On Christmas Eve Day she welcomed her son from California, who that night had to undergo an emergency orthoscopic appendectomy. He flew back to California in pain two days later, after which my friend's dog ingested a pack of sugar-free gum, which necessitated a stomach pump and multiple shots over several days.The good news...everyone is back to good health!
So she and I are processing 2023 together, one day at a time. I will take my time submerging myself in the writing of a new book, whose topic will be the calm and enrichment found in the walks Charley and I have taken around the world.
I'll face the reality that awaits me every day, correct what I can, and accept what comes.
December 14, 2022
Dear Association Members,
Happy Holidays from your President and the Board of Directors. We are hoping for a bright New Year!
As you know, we have had a difficult 2022. The roof leaks that began in tropical storms this summer have been remedied with an entirely new roof which, fortunately, was completed before the storm of the century in November. Roof repair was not budgeted until 2025, but the emergency assessment covered most of the cost and our insurance policy covered the remainder.
The garage floor was painted over the summer. The result was squealing tires and skid marks, as some of your vehicles slid across the garage. The floor has been completely repainted and there have been no further incidents involving cars sliding into one another. The second emergency assessment covered the cost of repainting. However, two of you have sued the association.
The pavers on the driveway were cleaned and resealed under budget. However, the storm of the century in November dislodged some of them. The compay is so busy that they have yet to repair the holes. We've installed neon cones to prevent any damage to vehicles. Please practice making "S" turns in the garage, before proceeding up the driveway.
The air conditioning units on the roof, as many of you know, took direct hits in that storm. The one unit that blew off landed in our neighbor, the Sea Cove's, office, with a resulting lawsuit. Fortunately, no-one was injured. Insurance companies are "talking."
Some of you might have noticed a different "look" to our landscaping. It is the result of neglect for two months, during which our contractor did not show up and all attempts to locate the owner were futile. We have hired a new landscaper, Green Design. They will be slightly more expensive, with a resulting minimal increase in your quarterly fees. The Board will follow up with a letter of explanation to all homeowners. We have also hired a detective agency to find the previous contractor. The cost will be covered in the increased quarterly fees.
Finally, I'd like to compliment our new manager, Mr. Howe, for the spirit in which he decorated the lobby for the holidays. There was a glow in the entry we've never had before, due to the multitude of colored lights. Some of you requested Mr. Howe remove half of the decorations, especially the gingerbread houses, which were attracting ants. I conveyed this wish to Mr. Howe, who removed almost everything and was despondent until the leak occurred from the plumbing fixtures in the apartment above the lobby. We could have had gingerbread batter spreading across the floor, if the houses had remained. Mr. Howe will return half of the decorations for credit. The Board has vetoed all further expenditures, including the replacement of the wallpaper that was ruined in the lobby.
Effective immediately, I am resigning as your President. I will be out of the country imdefinitely and thank those of you who supported me. Peace be with you all!
Ann Beckwith, President
November 15, 2022
After age sixty, there were things I could still wear (but really shouldn't have):
1. Skirts too tight or too short. Mini's were out. No-one's bumpy knees or calves knotted with varicose veins were attractive. Likewise, the rolls around my gut couldn't be hidden by anything tight-fitting unless it was a corset, which aren't produced anymore.
2. Plunging necklines. Wrinkled or leathery cleavage wasn't an asset.
3. Red dresses. I looked like a male cardinal on steroids.
4. Anything that had "pouf" in its name. Why did I want to look as though I had additional cellulite around my thighs or hips?
5. Sleeveless tops, unless exercising. The flaccid "angel wings" hanging below my arms were hideous.
6. Pants with pleats around the waist - added ten pounds!
7. Pencil-thin jeans. My muscular calves were bound so tight they cramped.
8. Pants with wide cuffs. Heels got caught in them (who wants to tumble?) and they got filthy as soon as I sat down.
9. Heels that were pointy or over three inches high. My bunions screamed and the formerly dislocated disc in my back warned me, "You'll be in therapy again!"
10. Anything that didn't have an underwire in the bra (as in swimsuits). No such thing as perky, pointy boobs anymore!
After age seventy, there are things I THINK I'm ok with (but really am not):
1. Making an introduction. I may have no clue what my best friend's name is, even if I'm staring at her!
2. Walking into a room without having written down why I'm entering. I may have to leave and re-enter to remember what I'm there for.
3. Spending all morning looking for my glasses. They're usually on the top of my head.
4. Eating anything with garlic. The reek lasts well beyond several applications of toothpaste and mouthwash.
5. Removing my shoes for any reason in front of anyone but my husband. The bunions are grotesque! At least at the beach I can bury them in sand.
6. Getting out on the dance floor to join twenty-somethings in their latest groove. Especially true for limbo contests! My body refuses to become a pretzel.
7. Eating any food in any quantity. Ditto for liquor.
8. Skipping the flu or Covid shots or forgetting to take my eight vitamins and cholesterol pill each night.
9. Travelling alone. I'm not looking for any kind of adventure without a guide to rescue me.
10 . Signing up as a chaperone for a teenage grandchild's class trip. Child will never speak to me again.
11. Applying make-up that will cover blemishes and bruises. Must be scraped with a putty knife!
12. Applying mascara that looks like cat's whiskers except they've relocated around my eyes. Or wearing those old cat's-eye glasses!
13. Going through a buffet line more than once. There wouldn't be enough Tums in my nightstand to get me through the night.
14. Wearing stockings. They eventually sag around the ankles and they're sooo 70's.
15. Trying to copy Jennifer Aniston's waist-skimming or feathered hair styles. Ear-length is the asolute max that won't blow into my eyes (or glasses) and make me look like a wanna-be 60's hippie.
16. Attempting to set up anything electronic unless my grandchildren have already pre-programmed it.
17. Attending a grandchild's sporting event and cheering so loudly the opposite team turns to stare at the old lady, while my grandchild's team whispers behind their hands, "Is that your grandma?"
18. Trying to sleep through the night (unless you're a man). Herbal and green teas, sleep aids, reading till midnight, bathtub jets, bath oils, and sleep masks do not perform as advertised!
September 19, 2022
I rushed home from grammar school along a dirt path behind the parking lot, through the ravine we called the “snake pit,” up the other side, to the road in front of our house. The thought of a long slithery black snake lying in wait got me to the macadam in no time.
Our gravel driveway curved in an “S” around the evergreens my dad had planted and back over the brook where he’d built the bridge. Mom had already tuned into the Yankees’ first game of the World Series when I barged through the door, breathless. “Hi, honey! It’s just started,” she said. “Take off your sweater and give me your lunch box.” She wasn’t really a fan, but she knew that I, like all my friends in southern Connecticut, was a true believer in the miraculousness of the Yankees.
Our picture was black and white and a little fuzzy. Rabbit ears reached toward the ceiling, but I was grateful to get anything on the screen. I was in charge of my sister, a toddler who played on the floor at my feet while Mom started supper. Dad soon appeared from the NYC commuter train, and while he prepared a Manhattan cocktail for my Mom and himself, I gave him a rundown of the game.
The Yankees won the Series, as they always did - one of the reasons I became a Yankee hater after I married a Red Sox fan from Massachusetts.
We’d been married a year in 1966 when Charley was assigned to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Viet Nam, during the War. When he returned in ‘67, we landed in Warner Robins, Georgia. It could have been the moon – we didn’t care, as long as we were together. For me, it was the moon, landing there directly from graduate school in NYC, where I'd spent my time while he was away. In Macon County, Georgia, no liquor was served in public establishments; my junior-high students crossed the street if a black classmate approached on the same sidewalk; wooden paddles were used by the assistant principal for discipline; and the laundromat’s window declared, “Whites Only.”
The antenna on our T.V. could only pick up three stations. “The Beverly Hillbillies” was on every single night in living color. We attached tinfoil to the rabbit ears to get a picture and separated the two, turning them in different directions till we could make out human figures. “Damn it! The Red Sox have a chance to win the Series!” Charley yelled. “Get more tinfoil, honey. I’ll keep turning the ears.” We were able to watch the Red Sox lose in seven games to the Cardinals.
In 1975, we'd settled in Rhode Island and still used rabbit ears with tinfoil, but the channels were many. The Sox were in game six of the World Series, down 2-3 to the Reds. Eventually Carlton Fisk hit a ball that his body language nudged fair, as he left home plate.
“It’s curving, it’s curving,” the announcer yelled. “It hit the foul pole! It’s a home run! The Red Sox have tied the Series!” Thanks to the tinfoil, we’d bent our bodies to the right side of the foul pole along with Fisk. Participating in his homer made the upcoming loss to the Reds easier to swallow.
Now we have a cable box, a 70” flat-screen television, splt screens, two remotes, and a device to record so we can watch later. “You have to press the top left white button first,” Charley tells me, demonstrating. “That will bring in the cable, too. But if it doesn’t, I’ll get the cable company to give us a boost.” Once the wad in the pitcher's mouth and the drool on his beard pop in with living color, we are sitting in the box seats behind home plate.
After the game, I hit the “Guide” button again to select a movie. “We don’t get Netflix here in Massachusetts,” Charley said. “We only subscribe in Florida.”
“Well, what channels do we get?”
He hands me the list of channels with stars next to the ones we subscribe to. There are only three for movies. “Why don’t we look into getting more movies here? These three never seem to have anything we’re interested in or we've watched them already.”
Charley responds that since we’re only in Massachusetts four-and-a-half months a year, it would be a waste of money to add more subscriptions. “All that’s really important are the Sox and Pats,” he says.
I choose “Pretty Woman” for the third time.
August 23, 2022
"Please sit down!" I raised my voice, using my most authoritative "teacher" volume without frightening the rest of the kids seated in front of me. One of my 12-year-olds had gotten up from his desk, refusing to read aloud the paragraph we were dissecting from Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea.
"Where are you going?" I demanded, heading down the aisle toward him. Fortunately, he didn't have anything metallic pointed at me.
"Toby, please sit down so we can go on!" By this time, Toby had one of his legs dangling out the awning window cranked open in the sweltering heat of Warner Robins, Georgia. I headed for the phone on the wall.
"Please send the Vice Principal to my room immediately! One of my students is climbing out the window."
By the time I finished the second sentence, Toby had managed to flatten his body plank-link through the pane of glass that extended outward and had disengaged himself from our study of Ernest. I heard a thud and crack of branches in the lantana, planted just six feet below and ran to the windows. The orange, yellow, and purple blossoms lay crushed amid the splintered branches on the ground. The back of Toby's blue-jean jacket and pants were visible, running through the parking lot toward the street in front of the school.
The Vice Principal threw open the door to my classroom. "Toby Mulcahy climbed through the window and is heading across the parking lot!" I shouted.
The back of his jacket was the last I ever saw of Toby Mulcahy.
Later that year, my students gathered around a black-and-white television projecting downward from the ceiling. Together we watched coverage of the shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr., in April, 1968, and in June that year, the assasination of Bobby Kennedy. My student reactions were mixed.
July 11, 2022
In the early days of our marriage, before I had kids, I could still wear plunging necklines. In fact, I enjoyed the sidelong glances I got walking into a party, sometimes with just pasties under my dress. The bras I bought were lacy blacks, plunging reds, or strapless florals that could be easily unhooked. Sports bras were no problem, their crisscross straps slipping easily over my head. In those days, before arthritis began its slow march into my shoulder joints, I could raise my arms over my head.
Now I walk through department stores, looking at strapless dresses I remember purchasing in a distant past.
My favorite was a white with bright pink hydrangeas that had a built-in bra which I didn’t fall out of.
Today I shop for bras that are beige and have heavy-duty straps with underwires that lift and shape. They support the sinking boobs that have nursed nine-pound babies and hang like melons waiting to be lifted into their bra cups. My husband claims drooping boobs don’t matter to him. But they do to me. My back and shoulders have begun demanding, “Help!”
Fortunately, I have found the perfect bra that does as advertised. First I had to be measured by a consultant. No problem there, since my daughter-in-law knew the routine and this was a piece of cake for her. The bras were shipped to me, they lifted and separated, and I bought one each in black, gray, and nude. They definitely performed their advertised task, but no-one would call them sexy!
My fondest memories of bras are those that remained in the drawer, never-worn. Gone are the days when I didn’t need any…
Mrs. Claus apron
March 29, 2022
Borrowed from Karla Araujo's "Why You Should Never, Ever Tell the Truth in Tennis"
"Sorry about that! Are you OK?" I mutter to my partner, as she dusts the optic yellow fuzz and dusky green dirt from her skirt...My attempt at an offensive lob has fallen woefully short. Instead of rising to soaring heights over the net player, my shot peaked instead at the perfect height for the nearly six-foot-tall, Lululemon-garbed opponent to crush it at my partner's left thigh...What I'm really thinking is, "Why did you turn your back and run off the court like a chicken? If you had just held your ground, you could have reflexed that back over the net player!"
TennisSpeak...It's the unspoken language that lurks beneath the words we use on the court every day. The following is a glossary of TennisSpeak that every doubles player will recognize to keep the peace with both partners and opponents.
"Yours!"Translation: I closed too tight to the net and if I tried to back up, the twenty extra pounds I'm carrying will make me tip over like Humpty-Dumpty.
"Mine!"Translation: You missed the last four overheads, so I'll trample you if you don't get the hell out of my way!"
"Short!!" Translation: You're going to get creamed.
"Good idea!"Translation: That was a really stupid shot you tried but I'm trying to stay positive because you're my partner.
"Bounce!"Translation: Take that ball out of the air and I'll kill you because it's flying to the back fence.
"We'll do better next time, partner."Translation: I'm dumping you for a taller partner who loves to poach.
"Are you sure that was out?" (to opponent)Translation: You lying broad! You know it caught the line.
"Have a nice match." (to opponents before play begins)Translation: Were going to kill you b------.
"Nice match." (to opponents after you won)Translation: We kicked your sorry asses.
"Nice match." (to opponents after we lost)Translation: You guys didn't deserve to win. You hit all that soft, slicey-dicey crap and we're going to kill you the next time we see you. I wish I hadn't had that second Cosmo last night and hadn't stayed up to watch the last six episodes of "The Gilded Age."
February 4, 2022
Ira secured his racket across his back and checked the front pocket of his shorts for his cell phone. Despite the shallowness of the pocket, he could feel the phone nestled against an inside corner. He flung his leg over the bar on his bike and began pedaling two miles to the tennis courts at Countryside Estates.
Sweat poured onto his headband in the August heat, but the biking gave him an extra workout. With black elastic bandages wrapped around both knees, he planned to stay fit as long as his knees held up.
The bike ride gave him extra time to figure out his roster. He had volunteered to captain two of the teams in his community, and he suspected that without him, his teammates wouldn’t have had any idea where or when to show up for matches. He didn’t think some of his teammates could organize a grocery list, let alone team matches.
The morning’s effort proved worthwhile, as Ira’s team won at every position. Before sitting with a fresh bottle of cold water, he dug into his pocket to check his messages. He found nothing but lint.
“Hey, guys, did anyone see my cell phone on the court?” he yelled. He began a search of every inch of clay where he’d played, as well as the patio where the teams had met before and after. No luck.
“Oh my God, I need my phone!” Ira started to panic. Although he never locked it (no password necessary) and he didn’t do business on it, he checked his messages hourly. The only times he didn’t have it on his body were when he was on the court or filling his stomach. All the grandchildren’s photos, his doctors’ appointments, an address book with two hundred contacts, texts, Facebook and FaceTime links, as well as emails were stored in the device. His shirt, soaked from the match, began dripping onto his shoes with the thought of trying to replicate the device.
“I’ll help you along the road,” Stuart said. “I can follow in my car.”
Ira jumped on his bike and began to pedal out the gate onto the bike lane, stopping every few yards to scour the pavement and grassy shoulders. Stu drove at 10 mph against traffic with his door open and flashers blinking. Although traffic was minimal, cars had to veer around him.
No luck. “I can’t believe it!” Ira shrieked. “I don’t know how I’m going to retrieve everything.”
“Do you use the ‘cloud?’” Stu asked, beside him on the grass where he’d pulled over outside the gate to Ira’s community.
“No, never took time to do that. I’d better get home and ask June to help. Thanks, Stu.”
Ira clunked his bike against the wall of the garage and stumbled through the door. “June, you’ve got to help me!” he gasped.
“What happened? Are you hurt? Oh my God, you’re gray!” his wife uttered in spasms, rising from the sofa on the other side of the kitchen. She could taste the acid her stomach was sending to her mouth. “Sit down and I’ll get you some water.” June helped him onto a kitchen chair and ran filtered tap water into a glass.
“I don’t need water! I need my phone!” Ira took a sip and tried to catch his breath. “It must have fallen out when I biked to the match. We need to go back!”
“Here’s a paper bag. Breathe into it for a few minutes to catch your breath. Are you sure you’re not hurt?”
“We need to go now. I already looked with Stu, but we couldn’t find it.”
“Ok, calm down and breathe into the bag for a few minutes. I’ll get my keys and phone. We can take my car.”
“How can I calm down? I need it to function! I’ll never wear those shorts again.”
June parked at the beginning of the bike path under some trees and left the flashing lights on. She locked the car and took her keys and phone. The two of them retraced Ira’s path, bent over like bloodhounds. It took well over an hour in 90-degree temperatures to cover almost two miles.
June and Ira approached the entrance to Countryside Estates, where a guard admitted visitors. “Has anyone turned in a cell phone?” Ira asked. “I lost mine on the way to the tennis match here this morning.”
“Sorry, sir, no-one’s turned in a cell phone.”
“Well, I need to leave my name and phone number with the manager at the courts, in case someone finds it.”
“I’ll need to see some identification, sir.”
“You have my name from the list of guests playing a match this morning! I don’t have anything with me.”
“Does this lady have any?” the guard asked.
“I’m his wife. We were in such a rush to get here, I didn’t bring mine.”
“Please just look at the list from this morning,” Ira begged. “My name’s Ira Kosloff.”
“Just a moment.” The guard disappeared into his “guard-house,” and in a few seconds the electric gate rose. Ira and June headed to the courts. After talking with the pro managing the courts, they had the same news. No phone had been turned in. Ira left his home number and he and June gulped water from a cooler before they began their trek back to June’s car.
“I have an idea,” Ira said, turning to June along the bike path. There was no answer from June, since she had decided not to speak to her husband until the phone turned up. “I need your phone, June.” June handed him the phone. Ira dialed his own cell number and heard it ring. After he heard his message, he spewed out, “This is the owner of the phone, Ira Kosloff. PLEASE, if you find my phone, dial my wife’s number at 708-939-0677. That’s 708-939-0677,” he said more slowly. “My phone is unlocked. I’ll offer a reward if you return it. Thank you.” Ira held June’s phone in his hand, afraid to put it back in his pocket. They continued to June’s car in silence.
About halfway down the path June’s phone rang. “Hello? Is this Ira Kosloff?” the female voice said.
“Yes! Who’s this?”
“I found your phone along the bike path this morning. I live in the trailer park just beyond the tennis courts at Countryside Estates. Are you nearby?”
“Oh, my God, I can’t believe someone found it! Yes, my wife’s car is parked under a tree with the lights flashing at the corner of Military Trail and Lake Ida Road. We’ve been looking for it all afternoon.”
“I’ll drive over to meet you.”
“Oh, I’m so grateful. I’ll be happy to give you a reward.”
“That won’t be necessary. I’ll look for your car under some trees at Lake Ida Road. What color is it?”
“Tan. We’ll head back there now. We’ve been scouring the bike path.”
“See you there.”
“June, we’ve got to get back to the car. A lady found my phone! Do you have some money to give her?”
“No, Ira, I just grabbed my keys and phone.”
When June and Ira got to her car, the lights were no longer flashing. “What now???” Ira moaned, grabbing June’s key to turn over the engine. There was nothing but a screech.
“Do you believe this?? You’d better call the guy who does your tune-ups, June. He can charge the battery.”
“Any more orders, Mr. Know-It-All?” June dialed the number for her local garage. “It will be about an hour till they get here,” she said, “but it may take longer. You can amuse yourself catching up with your messages while you wait. Maybe the lady can drive me home.”
“She said she didn’t want a reward, but we can get her name and address and mail it to her anyway.”
“She’s not the only one who’ll be getting a reward! I saw some shoes I’d like in Bloomingdale’s. I’ll be making a trip there tomorrow.”
December 23, 2021
I took my seat at the table attached 90 degrees from where Julie had just finished trimming and polishing my claws. That’s what my split, sawed-off nails looked like after I’d wrapped two dozen Christmas gifts. I stuck my hands under the blower when Julie said, “I have to warn you, Pam. My next client is a stage show. She changed her name from Florence Pasokaski to Flo Gold.”
“We just humor her along, but you’ll get a lot of blog material,” Liz chimed in from the station behind Julie. “She’s a real looney-tunes.”
At that moment someone flounced into the salon, waving at Julie and yelling “Hello, ladies,” under her imaginary spotlight. She swirled to the coat stand and deposited her boa and puffer coat, both purple. Next to it she placed the fake fur babushka from her head, revealing a purple wig that stuck out above her ears in stiff strands. Layers of black mascara spiders crawled against her eyelids and down her cheeks.
“Just call me ‘Flo,’” she said, introducing herself to me as she bent toward Julie’s forehead to plant a loud smack through her mask. “My last name is ‘Gold,’ so if you put it together…get it? Flo Gold…like my Grand Marquis outside – all gold.
“Hello, Julie,” Flo continued, waving her arms above her head to all five of us getting manicures at that moment. “How’s the world’s best nail girl?”
Julie managed a thin smile toward Flo. “We prefer to be called manicurists,” she said. “I’m fine, Flo. Thanks for asking. This is Pam.”
I nodded in Flo’s direction and smiled behind my mask. Flo plopped into the chair behind the Plexiglas separating her from Julie. “How’s your fibro myalgia treating you today?” Julie asked.
“I’m not due for a shot till Monday. It hurts like a pisser. I’ve got to keep my arms above my head as long as possible. And I’m always cold, especially since I had to shave my head. The damn synthetic wigs don’t keep my pate warm. The temperature could be a little warmer in here, by the way.”
“I’ll put it up two degrees while you’re here, but if the other clients complain, I’ll have to turn it back to 70. Why didn’t you wear your purple turtleneck?”
“The pink one matched my pink and white sneakers. Anyway, I’m a Fibro Warrior. I’ve been to the Outer Limits and back.”
“We know that, Flo,” Julie answered with a smirk, adjusting the thermostat. “How’s your love life?”
“Well, I met a new possibility at Starbucks this week. I stopped in for my usual mocha latte and he was sitting at the next table. He’s in his forties and we chit-chatted. I flirted a little and he asked me to dinner on Wednesday night. I met him at Applebee’s and we hit it off. He called me his ‘cougar,’ but he seemed a little scared. Don’t know if it will last.”
“I thought you were still seeing Davy the lifeguard?”
“He was a summer fling. We went out a few times after that. I was making day trips down to Newport to see him but he expected favors in return. Back in September when I asked him to keep the pool temperature at 85, the management fired him. They said members were complaining it was too warm. He blamed me.”
“Didn’t you have a problem with the temperature in your apartment building?” asked Julie, grabbing a shimmery purple polish from the display. “By the way, I assume you want your usual polish?”
“Absolutely no other!” Flo shot back. “The temperature dispute was because I had the apartment on the first floor right inside the outside door, and when it opened, my apartment got cold in the winter. So I asked the maintenance man to turn the thermostat in the hall up five degrees. Well, the other tenants on my floor complained to the landlord it was getting too warm. I don’t know why drama follows me wherever I go.”
“Did they insulate your front door?” I asked, trapped in Flo’s web. Her spidery mascara should have given me a clue.
“They didn’t do anything and I couldn’t stand it. The cold air seeped right under my door. My purple satin sheets and comforter didn’t keep me warm! I have to sleep in satin, you know, because they’re easy on my fibro pain,” she said, turning to me. “But I had to move. And it was right around the time I lost my job.”
“What a shame!”
“I used to be a legal secretary before the fibro got bad.”
“Did you wear purple to work every day?” I asked, trying not to giggle.
“Only in winter. I love to see the smiles when I wear my purple! In summer my favorite is my fuchsia camisole and orange short-shorts. I wear them to clean my Grand Marquis, along with my pink neon baseball hat. And I have my tattoo that I can show off.” Flo pulled her pants above her sneakers to reveal a six-inch palm tree against a setting sun. “I got a few good dates with that outfit!”
I could imagine Florence Pasokaski, a.k.a. Flo Gold, sloshing water over her car in her short shorts with her ample bosoms hitting the hood. My guess was she couldn’t be a day under sixty-five.
“The worst was in the summer when I went to the pool at the apartment complex. The chairs have plastic slats and my skin would stick to them and rip. So I wore my wet suit down there. But then I got too hot. I could only stay a few minutes.”
“If you have a wet suit, did you ever snorkel or scuba dive?” I asked.
Flo held onto the edge of the table, doubled over in laughter. “Oh, you just smudged your polish, Flo!” Julie scolded.
“Sorry, Julie. Oh, that’s hilarious – me scuba diving! I’d have to wear a swim cap and I know what the shape of my shaved head looks like – a peeled egg. I need fluff around it. No, I had to get the ridiculous wet suit to sit in the sun. But like I said, it got too hot, even though it was real thin and I’d sit in the shade.”
By this time my nails had dried and I had to give up my seat for Flo. I was reluctant to leave the free entertainment, however.
“Julie, I need to book once a month for the whole year. If I have the appointments in my notebook, my life will be organized. Would you mind writing them in for me?” Flo asked.
Julie picked up Flo’s notebook and the purple pen Flo had placed next to the dryer.
“Every month on a Tuesday, starting four weeks from now?” Julie asked.
“Oui, mademoiselle,” Florence Pasokaski answered.
“Pam, do you need an appointment?”
“Yes, please book me right before Flo’s. I’ve enjoyed every minute,” I said, flinging a scarf around my neck with some of Flo’s flair.
“Likewise, darling. See you next time.”
September 24, 2021
In the heat I’m struggling to hold up my end of our twosome. At least I was able to win my serve, setting up my partner at the net for overhead smashes and touch volleys. We change ends and I tip my H2O bottle, guzzling water mixed with Diet Gatorade. Liquid resembling iced tea drips down my chin and spills onto the clay. I may need some cases when I hit the grocery store.
Did I put apples on my shopping list? “This humidity is brutal,” one of our opponents says on the change-over. “We really need a cold snap to break it.”
What else is on my shopping list? Water, Gatorade, and apples. The apple tree in our yard was cut too harshly by the arborist and this season won't bear any of the Delicious variety we love. We could always go to the orchard in Rhode Island, where we took one of our granddaughters.
It was hot then, too. I had worn a sweatshirt and had to wrap it around my waist. My forehead dripped onto my sneakers, which began to resemble tie-dyed patterns of fallen apple residue and sweat. Yellowjackets swarmed over the saccharine remains, and trying to escape them made me glisten more.
The orchard owner had pointed out on a map where the different varieties were growing. Eight-year-old Arden and I balanced the bright orange metal picker vertically between us, her auburn curls bobbing up and down with each step. The ten-foot picker rocked like a metronome to her bobbing. We took off down row three for the Delicious variety, with their deep red heart shape and bumps on the bottom.
“Grandma, I can’t reach,” Arden said, looking up at the tree we selected. The lowest apple was about ten feet above her head.
“Don’t worry. I’ll lift you."
I got behind her, while Arden lifted the orange basket with its long metal prongs into the air. The picker began to swing back and forth like a flag in a soft breeze. “Aim for that big one in front. Sit the apple in the basket, then pull down. The prongs will grab it.”
I lifted her hips and heaved upward. “I can’t reach it,” Arden yelled. “I’ve got to let go!”
“Hold on! I’ll lift you higher." My thighs started to shake. The long orange shaft waved right and left like a flag caught in a storm.
A thud and then another resounded in front of us, as the bright metal shaft hit the ground and bounced under our tree. Arden, wrapped in my arms, landed on top of me, facing the hanging apples. We lay together in the middle of the cidery, gelatinous mash.
"You okay, granny?" she shrieked.
I pulled a dented, brown Delicious from my twisted sweatshirt and tumbled over her, alternating laughter with kisses in her neck.
“Five-four,” Shelly says from the other end of the court. "First serve."