In a perverse move understood all too well by those living in the temperate climes, Mother Nature has done an abrupt about-face. Gone is the smiling sun. Here is a pummeling mixture of rain and snow.
The pines several houses down, the tops of which loom fully five stories above their herbaceous neighbors, sway in gusts reaching up to 40 miles per hour.
I had reflected on this when I had dialed in, sick, to work.
Three hours later, I am discussing it with Mary.
“Ahh,” Mary says wisely. “Eye problems, again?”
I move the phone from one ear to the other. “What’s that?” It’s 9:00, and my lipstick’s not on yet. Makes me slow-witted.
“An eye problem,” she repeats, grinning. “Couldn’t see going in, could you?”
Now I am grinning. Lipstick applied or not, wit is the way to start a day.
“I, well, I kind of – “ I sniffle, cough pitifully into the phone.
“Pffff,” Mary hisses. “I’ll see your head cold – if that’s how you want to describe it – and raise you a facial spider bite.”
“On the face?”
“On the face. Left side, disturbingly close to the mouth.” Mary Beth, a woman with the exquisitely white skin of the certifiably Irish, reacts badly to sun, mosquitoes, dust, wind, pollen, heavy starches, and spiders.
Her pet peeves are judgmental people and believes that life happens while you are making other plans.
Mary laughs, a sound reminiscent of late-night bonfires and hugging, swaying singers. “Surprisingly, I’m not a fan of home surgery.”
“Except for a bit of light trepanning,” I say.
“One must find ways to enjoy one's self,” she demurs.
There is silence.
“OK,” I say. “Tell me about the spider bite.”
“Remember that house I cleaned last week?”
“Voila,” she says. “Spider bite city.”
We distract ourselves, momentarily, with several bars of
Bowie’s Suffragette City.
“Seriously,” I say.
“Seriously,” she says, “Jon’s giving me crap about it, but I’m going to the doctor later this morning. It’s looking a bit volcanic, if you get my meaning, and I’m going to
this weekend for a wedding.” Milwaukee
She sighs heavily. I hear T-Bone’s dog tags, know that she has bent over and is scratching him behind the ears in a sophisticated and complex series of movements she refers to as “giving him the business”.
I sniff mightily. My head hurts, but I smile, picturing Mary, T-Bone’s beaming Labrador-ness as his favorite person hits just the right spots.
“Who’s a sensitive person with sensitive skin, T-Bone? Who’s a sensitive person?”