Friday, March 27, 2015


Aunt Odie and Cousin Glee come to visit Miss Floy every Saturday. Every. Single. Saturday. And except for seeing each other at church, the three of them must each think the other spends her whole life with her hair on rollers and a gauzy scarf all tied around---Aunt Odie and Glee with a tucked-in top knot like Rosie the Riveter, and Floy with hers drawn down to a knot at the back of her neck---she seems to be still wearing the soft blue cap of her hair dryer.   Aunt Odie favors the small pink rollers in her short perm, whilst Miss Floy is partial to the larger size for smoothing her long silver hair, and making it conform to her upsweep and bun.    Glee wavers amongst whatever style she sees in Modern Screen and True Romance,  and once when she was letting her own hair grow out, she emerged from the car looking like fallout from an atomic lab---she’d found the enormous turquoise poufy rollers for a dollar at Fred’s, and she bought four packages---enough to last her ten years.

The two short little pigeon-women, one middle-sixties, the other in her forties and more like a sisterish clone of her mother, drive that long blue Lincoln slowly up the long gravel drive to Miss Floy’s each week, windows up, creeping along to keep the red gravel-dust from flying. Tiny Aunt Odie drives with her arms out straight and her eye level just above the dashboard; her doctor told her that women should drive with the seat all the way back, to keep from getting blood clots in their legs, and though her own short frame would get the same benefit from a half-way notch, she took the directions to heart, stretching out her toes to gas and brake.

She loves Floy like a daughter, and gives her motherly advice right and left, prying into topics of a too-personal nature, her own modesty evinced in the long list of euphemisms she tosses into the conversations regarding love and marriage. The three ladies  whisper the word “pregnant,” and on occasion, slip and give the same demure delivery to “expecting.”   And, despite Glee's forty-odd years,  several times  the other two lean away from her, cocking their heads conspiratorially toward each other, when they utter either word---the initiate's deference to maidenhood.

Glee is a roundish woman, in double-knit pants with the fake cording-crease up the front, sweater sets in Winter, and sleeveless button-front blouses the rest of the year, all topped by her add-a-gold-bead necklace which grows with every gift-giving holiday. She wears pumps, always, her tied-in-the-middle form slanted forward by the incline, and the muscles of her little round calves knotting with the effort of each step. She speaks softly, mostly echoing her mother’s opinions and phrases in a gentle chant; she accepts a glass of 40-weight tea and a slice of the just-cooled poundcake, sliced still on the rack, with tiny crumbs sanding the counter beneath.

She squeezes the lemon into her tea, stirs it with the long spoon, and leaves the spoon in the glass, holding it in place with the crook of an index finger as she drinks. She flutters her hands a bit when she talks, her Sally Hansen Natural Pink making little swoops in the air, and when she chews, her jaw clicks in little smicking sounds, like a cat licking its fur. 

Miss Floy knows Glee must long for more from life, in those joined-at-the-hip jaunts with her Mother. She imagines her solitary room, with the Hollywood bed and "antiqued" white dresser with its smears of gold paint and the mingly scent from all the Avon bottle-shapes on the top. Glee is almost androgynous despite the lipstick, from all the vast sameness of her days with her quiet, dull parents---she exists in a kind of estrogenic void that Floy would find stifling. She ekes a life in the house she was born in; her conversation consists of TV plots and articles from Farm Journal and Woman’s Day, and she’ll tell you a new-clipped recipe for Sloppy Joes, step by step, starting with a half-pound of ground beef, “plenty to serve me and Mama and Daddy.”

The decades appear to have just missed Glee---she just seems to accept that she is to stay "at home" with her parents until she is aged herself; she's had a job or two, and nothing seemed quite right for her. Floy imagines that with a little encouragement, she might be an independent woman, with a career, or at least a fulfilling occupation, a degree, a life.

Glee still has a stack of True Romance in her closet, from back in her teens, along with a frequently-replenished stash of Nutty Buddy bars. If you’d ever want to take up watching Another World, you could jump right in anywhere, thanks to her---you’d know as much about Bay City and the Matthews clan as most any real fan. 

Miss Floy would so relish ONE weekend to do something else besides sit with those two ladies for those interminable Saturday afternoons; even a houseful of visiting family or other company of her own doesn't deter them---her  sister and her family would drive over from Durant, and Aunt would come over. Or Aunt's other children would be down for the weekend and they'd ALL arrive for the Saturday sit-down, and eat the whole cake---to Aunt, it just meant more people to visit with.

The sameness must have had the gentle grind of water-on-rock, and the small inconsequentials, discussed week after week---the church bulletin, the shower for the Martin girl, the new house going up out on the Bennett place---must surely have grown stale, or perhaps Floy’s  homeness gives them such common ground as can be.

Never a word of mean gossip ever passes amongst those lovely, plain-living women; they deal in verbal popcorn, and their kindness and sweet dispositions and genuine regard for each other are one of the great boons of living in a place like Paxton.

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