1. Friday evening, the phone rang, and thanks be to Moses for Caller ID, because it was Sweet William's father, who no one needs to talk to, ever, unless he is sick or incapacitated or trapped down a very deep well. Here, in full, is the message:
Hello, William. This is your father. What has happened to you, boy? You went off to college and come back home a educated fool.This message is fantastic for several reasons:
- Sweet William's father (Sour Bill) is clearly pissed off at Sweet W, who could not care less.
- Sour Bill seems to believe that leaving an irate and insulting message is the best way to get a response.
- Sour Bill probably ought not to hold his breath while waiting for a response.
- Sour Bill seems to imply that Sweet Dub has just recently graduated from college, when in fact it has been nearly 14 years since college, and 11 since law school graduation.
- Sweet Dub decided he wanted to henceforth block Sour Bill's phone number, but only if he could record his own voice to say, "Yo monkey-ass is BLOCKED!" when his father calls.
- Not only did this message afford several minutes of amusement for us and for Diva, Sweet Dub's sister, who we called immediately afterward, but it will no doubt provide years of entertainment down the line, as the phrase "educated fool" has been added to our family lexicon.
- At the very end of the message, you can hear Sour Bill's equally sour harridan of a wife saying, "Don't do that!"
- What prompted the message? Your guess is as good as mine.
2. In the interest of fairness, so you can compare and contrast my side of the family, Saturday afternoon we received this message:
You're welcome, Lisa. This is Grandma, down in the valley. Your phone sound like you on the other side the world. It sound so far away...Well, we called to say we received the invitation [to Viva's birthday party] and we gratefully accept...[insert 2 minutes more of message here about Easter, the weather, their new house, and then:] The address is 3689 East Main Street, Caramello, CA*. So we'll see you 'round and about...Huh? [insert 30 more seconds of conversation with my mother in background here before she hangs up]I do love my grandma, but this message is rather comical for several reasons:
- "You're welcome, Lisa"? Since when is this a greeting? I don't recall thanking her for anything.
- "This is Grandma, down in the valley." Since she is north of me, how can she be down? It seems like she should be up.
- "The address is --" I already have the address, as evidenced by the fact that I sent the invitation to that address. The invitation which she is calling to RSVP for. And around we go...
- She is giving me the address so I know where to go for Easter, which is a month away. I will be seeing her before then, presumably, at Viva's birthday party.
- "Caramello" is not a real town, but that is how she pronounces Camarillo, her new home. Doesn't it sound great, though? If it really existed, I would move there in a nanosecond. "Caramello! Where the candy meets the sky!"
- Similarity with Sour Bill: there is no goodbye and no real closure to the message. It just ends.
Now there's nothing wrong with the Union Rescue Mission. They do some fine work. But I certainly could have found someplace closer to donate the strollers instead of driving through Skid Row. Man alive, what a way to put all my petty shit in perspective. We have homeless people in Hollywood, no question. But if you go down to Skid Row, there are homeless/transient people all over the sidewalk, on every street. It's a congested industrial area and it's not very pretty -- there's litter everywhere and people wrapped in blankets sleeping in doorways, people pushing shopping carts full of odds and ends, people moving slowly and looking dejected and sick and not very clean.
When I pulled into the loading dock, I eased my car in among rows of single-serve applesauce containers and tidy bins of used clothes. The Gifts-in-Kind receiver came right out with me to the car and as we were taking the strollers out, he said, "Are they any good?"
I said, "Yeah, they're in good condition. One of them got pretty much daily use, but it's in good shape, and the other one is almost new."
His expression lightened visibly. "Oh, they're not broken?"
"No, no, no," I said, realizing that people must "donate" broken shit all the time. "I just don't need them anymore."
"Wow," he said, pulling them out of the trunk and then letting me show him how to fold and unfold them. "So how many kids you got?"
"Just one," I said. I then hastily explained how one of the strollers was supposed to be used by me and my sister when we were visiting my mom. Guilt! Conspicuous consumption! Capitalism has me by the throat!
After learning that my "baby" was three, he asked me if I was going to have any more kids.
"Um, I don't know," I said. "We might adopt another child later --"
"Have your own!" he said.
"I already did that," I said.
"You know, you're right," he said. "You're serving the world better if you take in a baby that's already here."
"Well," I said, not wanting to plunge into a deep discussion, "There are all kinds of kids out there that need homes."
"Well, God bless you," he said.
"Thanks, same to you," I said. But I know that I already have been blessed, and if I didn't know it before, my trip to Skid Row shone a very bright light onto the Sweet Swell Life of Mama Blah.
And yet, here comes the ranty part, because that is how my brain works. He made a lot of assumptions, and there were so many things I could have said, like:
- If I adopt a child, he/she will also be my own, no less than Viva is.
- It's a mighty damn personal question, though people do it all the time -- why don't you have another baby/when are you going to have another baby? Particularly because you don't know what my situation is. What if I had some health issue that made it impossible for me to have another baby? What if I've been trying and have miscarried? What if I divorced or was widowed (God forbid) after the first one? It is so not cool to ask, even if you are not a total stranger. Which, as you'll remember, he was.
- If I adopt, who says I want a baby? Older kids need homes, too.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.--------------------------------------------------------------- Mark Twain
* Not their real address.
** Yes, strollers, plural. Long story. One Peg Perego for everyday use and one Combi that I kept down at my mom's, since I used to visit -- oh, three times a year. It made no sense then and I'm not going to try to explain it now.