Relaxing Into the Stretch

Daria calls my house from the road. Her baby’s baptism is Sunday morning at 8 a.m. for which I plan to forgive her no time soon. Our thirteen year old sister Dara is riding shotgun and handling the Q & A.

Dara: Daria says she’s getting sushi for Sunday.
Tata: She is? Tell her I like her SO MUCH BETTER.
Dara: (To Daria) She likes you SO MUCH BETTER.
Daria: I knew she would.
Dara: (To me) She knew you would.
Tata: Because I’m shallow that way.
Dara: (To Daria) Because she’s shallow that way.
Daria: I know she is. GIVE ME THAT PHONE!
Tata: I hope you know you’re violating state laws.
Daria: Yeah yeah, I’m a menace. Whatcha doin’?
Tata: Standing around naked with half an appliance next to my head.
Daria: No really. What are you doing?
Tata: Trying to get into the shower while my unemployed sisters make small talk.
Daria: Look what time it is! You better haul it!
Tata: Watch me hang up on you.

Daria calls me at the store. She doesn’t say hello.
Daria: What do you do when people call and want information?
Tata: If I know it I consider telling them. If I don’t know it I say my sisters will be back after August 1.
Daria: I have to talk to your ex-husband about bagels. What’s his phone number at work?
Tata: I don’t know, but my sisters will be back after August 1.

The store’s open door, lovely toys and free air conditioning attract all sorts. Yesterday, I felt a rustle in the air and scanned the room for a customer I couldn’t see. Less than eight feet away stood a man who may have been there for quite some time, and he was staring at me. I jumped, then apologized for keeping him waiting. He’s an artist with work on display in the store; I recognized him immediately. An hour later, he was still talking to me.

Bill: Why do I always do all the talking? Tell me about yourself.
Tata: I lost my memory years ago and now I can’t pick myself out of a lineup.
Bill: How do you get dressed in the morning if you can’t remember which one is you?
Tata: I’m pretty sure the cold, flat one is my reflection. And I’m lefthanded.

Okay, so I exaggerated a bit. Though I’m no raving beauty I’ve had my share – and possibly yours – of stalkers; I’m very cautious around strangers who seem to have picked up my scent on the breeze. When I look up today and he’s walking though the store to apologize for something imaginary I am pleased to see Mom sashay across the floor behind him.

Some people walk. Some amble. Some stride. Mom has two modes: sashay and scurry. If Mom’s scurrying, look out: somebody’s gonna get it, if by it we mean a thorough talking-to on this subject and every other and in the name of all that is holy RUN AWAY! Mom has a penetrating gaze. When she’s listening she’s really listening, so much so that sometimes you want to slide a mirror under her chin to check if she’s breathing. I should probably feel bad about what I’m about to do, but I do it anyway.

Tata: Mom, this is Bill. His giant painting is in the window but Bill also comes in card form.

Then I shut up for forty-five minutes.

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