Mary sounds delightfully wary for this early in the morning. I shift the phone from one ear to another gleefully. “I just wanted you to know,” I say, “that I hate everything in my closet.”
Mary chuckles, the sound of mythical woodland creatures at midnight.
Possibly belly-up to a bar.
“I’m serious!” I say, smiling. “Everything. Ooooh, what’s Pearl wearing today? Is it a second-hand skirt and a cardigan? Is it a pair of second-hand dress pants and a jacket?” I wrinkle my nose in disgust, confident that my revulsion will translate over the airwaves.
“You got problems,” she commiserates. “When one tires of dressing, one tires of life.”
“Are you mocking me?”
She laughs. “Me? Mock you? You do me a grave disservice, madam” she sniffs.
I laugh. “Are you reading a book on dueling or something?” I say. “You sound suspicious.”
The shrug is audible. “I watch a lot of movies,” she says.
“Hmm,” I say.
There is a slight pause in the conversation while I retrieve my clothing irritation.
“And another thing,” I say, “Never Google ‘how to look great at 50’. The advice is insulting.”
“First of all, I’m not Helen Bloody Mirren --“
“—thank you – and she pops up every time. I mean, she’s gorgeous, she’s always been gorgeous, and pics of her in red carpet gowns don’t help me.”
“Secondly,” I continue, “advice like ‘flats are kinder to older feet’ and ‘expansive tops cover a multitude of problems’ don’t help.”
“You don’t need an expansive top.”
“A small dog, maybe, carried waist high –“
She laughs. “I keed. I keed.”
There is another pause.
“At least you have a waistline.”
Mary and I have had a running conversation on body shape for just short of three decades now. She is an apple. I am a pear. Big fans of both fruits, we have determined that, between us, we have one truly awesome body.
We are still looking for a head.
“I mean, me,” she continues, “all I want is to wear a belt.”
“You could wear a belt,” I say. Mary has recently lost just under 30 pounds. She looks 13, maybe 13 and-a-half years younger than she did 30 pounds ago.
She shakes her head, a gesture I know to house a contrary yet amused look of denial. “Say what you will,” she says, “but I’ve seen the pictures. Cinched in the middle, I look like a belted bratwurst.”
I spit the coffee I’ve been sipping back into the cup.
“Ah,” she says. “And my work here is done. You are 51, and ya don’t look a day over 46. Good bye, Pearl.”
“Good bye, Mary.”