Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Peter and Kimberly

“Is something wrong? You don’t seem like yourself today.”

Peter had been unusually quiet this morning, and his office mate, Kimberly wondered if she had done something wrong. At first she enjoyed the peace.

“No. It’s nothing.”

Satisfied with Peter’s response, Kimberly took a sip of her coffee and studied the proposal on her computer screen. She was in the middle of editing the second paragraph when Peter began.

“Well, Kimmie. You know me too well. I don’t get much past you, do I?” Peter took a deep breath. “It’s Bill.”

Bill. Bill. Who was Bill again? She definitely had heard of Bill, but couldn’t put him into context. Was he the boyfriend or one of the pets?

“Bill? Really? What’s wrong with Bill?”

“He’s not acting right. I put him in his roller ball last night, like normal, and he just stood there looking at me with his cute little beady eyes.”

Of course. The hamster. Bill was Peter’s hamster.

“Oh, well, maybe Bill was too tired last night.” Kimberly tried to appear concerned.

“Too tired! No way, not my Billy. Ever since I got him two years ago, he’s never been too tired for a roller ball ride. There’s definitely something wrong.”

“Is he eating?” Kimberly sometimes was amazed at their conversations. Peter was an engineering genius. She relied on him so much for his quick ability to solve the most difficult engineering challenges. But the poor guy’s personal life was pathetic.

“He never did eat very much, so I can’t tell.”

“Maybe you should take him to the vet.”

“Last time I went to the vet, they took my pet away. Remember Becky?”

It wasn’t Becky that she remembered so much. But she remembered the grieving period. Peter wore black for a month. Kimberly had thought all along that Becky was at least a dog or a cat the way her office mate spoke of the animal. He took Becky on trips with him. He’d curl up with a good book and Becky sleeping in his arms. He even made Becky a winter sweater. Kimberly was amused when she saw the scrapbook of Becky, the guinea pig.

“But Peter, if Bill’s suffering, you have to put him out of his misery.”

Peter was quiet and Becky felt sorry for him, despite her indifference to hamsters.

“I need a break.” Peter stood up quickly and Becky couldn’t help but notice that his pants were completely unzipped. Again. She really wished she hadn’t noticed the candy cane striped underwear. There’s no way she could tell him.

Peter briskly walked out of the double cubicle space with his head down. Unaware of his surroundings, he ran into a tall, large woman in a purple pinstriped suit. It was their boss, Dina Moore. Kimberly watched the interaction, wishing she could hear the details of the conversation.

Dina brushed Peter’s bangs out of his face, probably asking him if he was okay. She nodded as Peter talked, with a genuine look of concern. Then she furrowed her eyebrow and spoke slowly. Then Peter started to walk away. Dina quickly stopped him and said one more thing before moving on. Peter looked at his pants and immediately zipped them up.

Kimberly went back to work. Peter returned after thirty minutes. To Kimberly, his absence seemed like thirty seconds.

“Here you go, Matey.” Peter set a cappuccino next to Kimberly. He then plopped into his chair, sipping a mango banana fruit smoothy with a pile of whipped cream topping. Peter would never notice the dried whipped cream on his upper lip. “Nothing like a fruit smoothie to cheer you up!”

“Thanks for the cappuccino, Peter.”

“Anytime.”

Even though Peter was incredibly annoying, he always made the work day interesting. Just when she thought she couldn’t stand another minute with Peter, he would do something like buy her a cappuccino.

“Hey, you want to come out dancing with me tomorrow night? You promised you’d try it one of these weeks! You know, when I offered you that idea in the Misek Proposal.

Now she was obligated. She absolutely hated country music, Peter’s favorite genre.

With a sigh, she agreed.

“Hey, if you’re busy, you don’t have to.”

“No, I’ll go. I want to. It’ll be fun.”

“That’s the spirit! I worry about you sometimes, all cooped up in your apartment. Never doing anything cool.”

Kimberly smiled to herself and tried to focus on her work. “Okay, Peter. Let’s get to work. I can’t let you distract me anymore.”

Then it happened. Without any warning, flatulence overcame Kimberly’s petite body. Not only was it loud, but it was long – as if she couldn’t quit. With utter dismay, she shot a glance at Peter. Peter studied Kimberly. When the passing of the gas had passed, he asked, “Are you okay?”

As if she didn’t understand what she had just done, Kimberly responded, “Yes?”

Then Peter laughed. And so did Kimberly. They laughed until tears rolled down their faces.

“Kimberly? You never fail to surprise me! Wait ‘til Mom hears this one!”

Then Kimberly quit laughing.

But only for a split-second.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Grandma Dot's Journal

November 27: Temperature reached a high of 63. Mostly sunny. Nice for November.

Eighty-three Thanksgivings now. Today I was ready by 8:30 a.m. and waited on the porch until 9:20 for Sully to pick me up. I wasn’t supposed to bring anything, but my pies always seem to go over so well. This must sound like bragging! I made an apple, pumpkin and peach. Not one piece was left to bring home. I’m glad. I don’t like pie.

Sully has a new car. I can’t remember what kind, but it was pretty and silver. I wonder what his father would think about him driving something foreign. Sully told me that I looked nice and was glad I baked the pies. He knew Anna told me not to, but he told me secretly to bring them anyway. We had a nice talk in the car. He said that Max will be doing his residency in California. I was happy for him even though he’ll be clear across the country. Sara was promoted to a vice president and is now the manager in her division. She’s still not engaged, even though she has dated the same guy for five year. I asked about Zach. Sully said he was glad that Zach finally landed a bank job. I said that doesn’t sound like Zach. Sully didn’t say anything.

Dinner was good. Sully picked himself a pretty darn nice wife. If I would have had a daughter, I would want one like her –not that I don’t like my other daughter-in-laws. They’re pretty nice, but Anna’s a bit more sincere than the rest. She’s the only person in the family to call Sully by his real name, David. When I told her that he got the nickname because he was an amazingly moody two-year old, she said she would only call him Sully when he was in a bad mood.

Anna always asks me to help in the kitchen, so I do. Today I helped her make scalloped corn and mashed potatoes. She can never figure out why my mashed potatoes are so good. I sneak in some sour cream and put twice as much butter as she puts out for me to use. How many times have I written in this diary, complaining about the amount of potatoes I’ve made in my life? Now I look forward to it.

Everybody made it this year, except, of course, Raymond. He’s been gone for three years now, but holidays still feel strange without him. I supposed they always will now.

I was worried that my Zach wouldn’t be there today. He didn’t come last year and the entire day felt wrong. But he came today and brought a sweet little girlfriend named Claire. I can’t deny a little of my disappointment about him going into banking, but his parents are proud. I love all my grandchildren, but there’s something special about Zach. I asked him several times to play me something on the piano. He kept saying “Later, Grandma.” Finally, I told him that I wouldn’t leave until he played me something. I don’t like being a pest, but sometimes I must. He played and sang a song he’d written about his girlfriend. Of course it was beautiful. Then I asked him, “You won’t let this banking job get in the way of your music, will you?” He smiled at me. “Hope not Grandma. But like Dad tells me, I got to grow up sometime.” He said it in a way that made me sad.

When I was young and always had Thanksgiving at the house, I used to hide in the bathroom. Actually I hid in the bathroom even when it wasn’t Thanksgiving. I just needed some alone time. I always thought to myself, “If I smoked, I’d be smoking right now.” Now, I long for those days when my children were young. The noise, the action, the incessant requests. But it’s enjoyable to observe the chaos from my position now. But I still miss the craziness of that life. I even miss hiding in the bathroom. I don’t need to hide anymore. Quiet surrounds me.

I’m thankful for my kids. They all take time to visit me. Never do I want to be an obligation, but I fear that’s what I’ve become. For a person who…

Sorry, I was just interrupted and can’t remember what my last thought was. But my interruption was a nice surprise! Zach came by to drop off my pie plates that I forgot. He sat and talked with me for over an hour. I asked him why all the sudden he decided to be a banker. Then I found out that his little Claire is expecting and they are getting married in a few weeks. They were going to announce at Thanksgiving, but he decided to tell me first before telling the rest. Isn’t he a sweetie? So, that explains the job. I asked if he was going to stay in his band. He didn’t know. I told him that I was proud of him no matter what. Since his brother is in med school and his sister is an engineer, he doesn’t get as much encouragement. I love my Sully, but he’s an awful lot like his father. Zach asked me what I thought of Claire. I laughed and said she was a dish. He laughed and said he’d pass on the compliment. When he turned to leave I told him never to give up his music. He said “Grandma, I have more important things to worry about now.” I said “Zach, you have a gift from God. Don’t forget to thank Him for it.” He smiled and gave me a hug. Then he said, “I love you, Grandma Dot” and it almost made me cry, but I didn’t. I just told him that I loved him too.

I’m tired, but will go to my piano and play a song before I go to bed. Arthritis hasn't taken that away from me yet. Tonight: As Time Goes By.

Yours Truly,
Dorothy Marie

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

I recently finished reading this classic novel which takes place in South Africa in the 1940's. I'm unsure how this amazing piece of literature completely escaped any of my high school or college curricula, but it did.

The poetic, lyrical and emotionally-charged novel depicts a tragic event that exposes the demise of the native tribes along with the European exploitation of South Africa's natural resources. It gives insight into the issues of apartheid that have afflicted the country for so long.

Anyway, I end with this recommendation with a quote to give you a taste of the beautiful prose:

"Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply."

Cry, The Beloved Country Alan Paton