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Characters Welcome

April 29, 2010

I’ve got stuff to write about backed up as though it was the 5th day after a good round of chemo!

Right now I’m waiting for a call from the oncologist’s office. Seems I got myself a little case of swollen arm (lymphedema) and I need to get in to see if there is an infection. If no infection, I need to get back to the physical therapist for all sorts of tomfoolery.

I should probably think about putting on that prayer shrug.

Until then, I have to tell you more about my mom’s neighbors. Some of you are concerned about them being crazy and self-absorbed. They are neither. They are, however, characters. And in my life, characters are always welcome. What kind of a character would I be were I not to feed off of others?

Tom and Terry of Arbor Mist fame (by the way? I’m not knocking Arbor Mist. I think it’s a fine and tasty soda-wine. I’m at your house and you offer me a glass? I’d absolutely accept. I’ve been to homes where I’ve been offered very expensive glasses of brandy. Give me Arbor Mist, at least it doesn’t taste like it’s trying to start me on fire) … sorry. I digress. Tom and Terry moved into our neighborhood when I was 12. And they had two little kids. So guess who became their primary babysitter – a girl would be rich because Tom and Terry liked to go out alot – ? That girl would be me. And I babysat them from the time I was 12 until I went away to college. I never needed to get a real job what with the babysitting of their kids and the kids on the next block (who would leave me for a week at a time while they went on child-free vacations) 

When Terry moved into the neighborhood, all the men went crazy. She was hot. And she was European. Which to me = tiniest bikini I had ever seen in my life. She’d wear the bikini while hoeing her garden. My dad called her the “Neighborhood Hoer”. I probably have a photo of Terry in her bikini, that my dad took and I inherited. Good old dad. I miss him. He also loved characters.

On the other side of mom are Ken and Beverly. They moved in when I was in junior high school. Originally from the upper peninsula of Michigan, they’ve got the best accents.  Ken loves to tell the stories. (“Der was dirt above us, dirt below us, and dirt to da sides of us.” from a mine story once told) He and Beverly go everywhere together. She’s got a hair appointment? He’s in the reception area, catching up on People. They wear matching t-shirts. Standard Hanes in the same color. When I was working at the frame shop, they came in often. Some times to have stuff framed. Other times to drop in and let us know that they were doing fine. And to let us know about the latest senior citizen’s bus tour vacation they’d just come back from.

Behind my mom is Janet-Behind-Me’s mom, Geneva. They were there when we moved into the neighborhood in 1967. Her husband, Oscar, died a bit back, but Geneva’s still there. Still baking goodies and having my mom over for coffee. Only, my mom has to get in her car a drive around the block to go over because they’ve got a chain link fence between them and mom and Geneva can’t seem to hop over it like Janet and I always did. Nor had either of them ever thought about putting in a gate. Funny thing, my mom brought that up for the first time this week. Maybe if she lives until May, she’ll put one in. Geneva baked me an apple pie after she’d heard I had breast cancer.

The best neighbor of all (if we’re ranking on lowest to highest character ratio – this one would be a 10, for the highest) is Lois. Lois and her husband live kitty corner across the street from mom. Lois is crazy awesome. Mostly crazy. Which is incredibly awesome as she is one of the main characters in the book I’m currently writing (I’ve written 2 whole pages already!)

Lois has a very thick, Minnesota/German accent. And she messes up her words like nobody I’ve ever heard before. Which means alot if you know me and know about my maw-in-law, who once asked for an aphrodisiac when she had a headache.

Lois is also very snoopy and has decided that she is my mother’s keeper. And my mother, unwilling to be assertive for herself, has to play by Lois’ rules. My mother complains about what she has to do, regarding Lois, all the time and yet my mother will not do anything to change it. “I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

Here, for your entertainment and to keep me occupied while I wait for the oncologist’s office to call back, are some of the things my mother has to do for Lois:

  • Every morning my mother has to open her living room curtains so that Lois knows my mother hasn’t died the night before, nor come to the  harm of wandering rapists. If curtains aren’t open by some random time, Lois calls to see if my mother is okay. And once you answer the phone call of Lois, you cannot hang up because Lois has to tell you about her church and what’s on sale at the grocery store and that time in New Ulm…
  • Every night my mother has to close her living room curtains so that Lois knows she has lived through the day and is getting ready for bed.
  • If a stranger (to Lois) comes to the door, Lois will sit at her living room window to make sure no harm comes to my mother. If my mother lets the stranger (to Lois) in to her house, Lois will immediately call my mother and see if she is okay. But at least this gives my mother the excuse she needs to not talk on the phone to Lois at that moment. (FYI – somebody taught my mother the trick that if she wants to hang up from a lengthy phone call, all she has to do is go to the front door and ring the doorbell. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work as Lois is watching my mom’s house while on the phone with her)
  • Once that stranger (to Lois) leaves, Lois will again call to make sure that my mother is really okay and that she was not just saying she was because the stranger (to Lois) was threatening that if she gave away anything, she’d be murdered.
  • If my mother does not answer the phone, and Lois knows that my mother is home (Lois always knows whether or not my mother is home) Lois will come over and peek in the living room window and then ring the doorbell to make sure my mother is okay. She’ll also invite herself in and then stay for several hours. My mother has been known to tell Lois that she has to be somewhere, getting Lois to leave. Then my mother has to get in her car and go somewhere for awhile. God. I love this insanity!
  • Lois used to go to the same hairstylist that my mom goes to. And I’m talking about a gal who worked at the local Great Clips vs. Lynn down the hallway (Hi Lynn!) Mom loved her and bragged about her so much that Lois had to go to her, too. Recently the hairstylist decided to quit working at Great Clips and freelance at people’s houses. My mother does not want to let Lois in on it because if she does, Lois will insist she come over to my mom’s house to get her hair done at the same time. And my mother can not say no, because “that will hurt her feelings”.  So – get this – she makes the hairstylist wear a disguise whenever she comes over. (Hat, hood, sunglasses, scarves) What’s even better? The hairstylist does this. Lordy, I love these people!

There’s more. But my hand feels tight. Later kids!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. poolagirl permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:19 am

    I love the term “crazy awesome.” I aspire to achieve that someday.

  2. April 29, 2010 10:32 am

    oh my god, I am just rolling — literally rolling. Holy shit, Kathy I hope to hell you follow through on this book. I totally will stand in line, buy it, want you to sign it and read it from cover to cover. You give crazy such an amazing meaning – hahahahahahaha.

    That Lois and your mom stuff is killing me. You really have to start a web site — “Crazy Crap My Mom’s Says” hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  3. Gretchen permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:42 am

    Is there some kind of “Best Blog Ever” award? Because seriously, between this and the prayer shrug…

    • April 29, 2010 10:44 am

      Oh god! Don’t go there again! I once won a Diarist best all-over blog and it started a frenzy of message board slaying of me!

  4. Gretchen permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:48 am

    Oh, well, I wasn’t going to nominate you or anything. I’m too lazy so don’t be worrying about me starting a frenzy or anything.

  5. Jean permalink
    April 29, 2010 11:22 am

    This is SO a TV show waiting to happen. That can be another project for you – writing a screen play!!! That would have to be easier than a novel!

  6. April 29, 2010 12:03 pm

    The whole dynamic between your mother and Lois is classic Minnesotan. I love that the hairdresser actually plays along and wears a disguise! Hilarious.

    I look forward to your book.

    P.S. I once had a college floormate who would pretty much stare out her peephole every day and as soon as she saw me go into my room, would call me or come over, knowing I was home. I spent many nights at the library “studying” just to avoid having to deal with her inane conversations.

  7. April 29, 2010 1:58 pm

    OMG I love this so much. Why can’t I live near anyone crazy?! Although I did used to have a neighbor sort of like Lois. She wasn’t QUITE as nosy as Lois, but I did have to make sure I had my blinds open at a certain time of the morning so she’d know I was awake. And if I slept in (OH THE HORROR), I would hear about how I needed to seize the day! Get up with the sun! Enjoy the dawn! Screw you, lady, I am not a morning person.

    I cannot tell you how much joy it gives me that the hairdresser actually accedes to your mom’s demands of the disguises. That is the best thing I’ve heard in ages.

  8. Leslie permalink
    April 29, 2010 4:23 pm

    It’s like Lake Woebegone in a parallel universe!

  9. April 29, 2010 7:51 pm

    Wow. I’ve been performing Tales From Tritown, about characters in New England for years and this is totally roadworthy material! A book is fine but this has GOT to be on the radio. Surely there’s a local NPR who would run a 3-5 minute piece? You have GOT to read this aloud to people in big theaters so we can laugh together instead of all alone!

    Oh wait, that sounds sad….Ok, I got NO prayahs fah ya, no advice, no opinion re: wigs, hats, hair, breasts, areolae, or cancer. Just a fist in the air saying MORE ABOUT TOM AND TERRY!!!

  10. April 29, 2010 7:51 pm

    whoa, that’s freaky. yr program put a little guy on the side of my entry w/ITs fistette in the air….

  11. April 29, 2010 10:23 pm

    Ken and Beverly sound adorable – I love to see older couples hanging out together…oh and you crack me up every day.

  12. Jennifer permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:41 pm

    Hysterical – More Please

  13. yaketyyak permalink
    April 30, 2010 4:46 am

    You crack me up – in a very good way!

  14. Barb permalink
    May 1, 2010 1:21 pm

    OMG, What a Hoot!! Lois should be call Mrs. Kravitz. We have one, or two, or three of those in our neighborhood. If anyone of us on the block see’s something out of the ordinary, we call each other and say,” This is (name) Barb and I’m Kravitzing and there’s an unfamilar truck parked two house’s down, do you know who’s it is”? Cracks me up.
    Your dad was a awesome dad, I understand why you miss him. I remember when he would come home from work and pick up us kids in his pickup in front of my house and give us a ride around the block to your house. We thought that was so cool. lol.
    I will by a book, most definately!!!!

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