Saturday, February 02, 2008
So the phone rings at 6 am, and Jon says, "This isn't good", because there are blizzards in the state and Dinah's at Lake Tahoe. We went out last night so I'm not at Lake Balboa already.
It's my mother. She's in a tizzy, and thinks she's called my brother Cricket. Jon hands me the phone and Mom's hung up. I run to my desk to call her back.
She tells me she's really worried about my brother. Why, Mom? What's wrong?
I think he's gone to South America and I'm really worried.
I say no Mom, he's going to Africa but he hasn't left yet. (Which is potentially much more of a worry, considering the situation in Kenya.) We try to line that information up.
Then she gets on the real issue. Someone's lined up all my liquor bottles like soldiers. It's either Cricket or the cleaning woman. I always have them on the shelf in twos and now they're stiff against the wall like soldiers and there's not much in them.
(Not this again) I remind her that liquor evaporates. The liquor she has is from last millenium and she's never been good at screwing on tops. My brother had gone to see her mid January when she had a similar panic attack. He told me he cleaned the refrigerator, straightened the liquor bottles and threw out a lot of odd food items found in unexpected places. Her eyesight isn't good anymore, and she forgets a lot. And these liquor bottles seem to be a jag in her brain.
She goes back to worrying about the liquor bottle soldiers, how strange they looked. And why he had to line them up like that. She's laughing now, but still upset. I urge her to get over it, that there's really nothing wrong. If the cleaning lady were actually slugging the booze down, other fussy residents would have noticed the drunken cleaning lady. And too many weird accusations will lead to losing the apartment and getting moved upstairs.
Back in the 70's my mother conducted estate sales after my father died-- she knew a great deal about antiques. The estate sales happened when someone died, or moved to Florida, or-- I'd forgotten the third possibility: the big crack-up. One sale I remember was at a large country house near Bernardsville, NJ. There were lots of books in the den on ufos and psychic living, and the railing of the staircase leading to the den was a piano keyboard, which was lovely and odd. I don't think it played music though.
But I remember hearing the reason the house was for sale was the lady had lost her marbles. She liked to call the police out on false alarms, and when they'd arrive they'd see messages painted in big letters on the walls like: "Officer Robinson is a Fat Pig".