November 28, 2008

-image-thanksgiving snippets, part 1

~ First, everything stopped in our house during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade when Miss Kerry O’Malley appeared on screen in a medley from Broadway’s White Christmas, twirling in an impossibly swirly red gown with these wide white equatorial stripes on a vast spinning globe of skirt. Gorgeous and just so much fun, too. For me, it was the best of the Broadway show numbers. Truly lovely and nostalgic and joyful, taking me back to a time I’ve never even been yet still long for. At the end, the camera came in for a beautiful close-up of Kerry’s face and I got the distinct impression that she was in that moment and that time, too. So thank you, Kerry O’Malley and the cast of White Christmas, for those glowing heartfelt moments. They made me feel like I was completely melting into the larger spirit of the season and it was just the start I needed for my Thanksgiving day.

~ Arriving at my parents’ house, I managed to finagle a welcoming hug from The Banshee, even though she has a strict hug regimen, as previously discussed. And when I say “finagle,” I ain’t kidding. She was on the floor, playing with her aunts’ old dollhouse, so I perched on the sofa near her and said something like, “Hey! Help! I need one of those yummy Banshee hugs!” Then I had to wait for, oh, five seconds while she deliberated, Solomon-like, about the wisdom of hugging Tee Tee. Those were some long vulnerable seconds, I gotta tell you, and it occurred to me that I might not survive emotionally. Suddenly, decision made, she jumped up and crushed me in a huge hug. So hooray for yummy random hugs. And being a sycophant. To a four year old.

~ Moments later, Piper and family were arriving and The Banshee raced to the front door and stood there, chanting, all OCD, “Piper … Piper … Piper ….” She could barely contain herself, waiting in the entryway while my sister’s family rolled out of the car and unloaded Thanksgiving goodies. While she waited, she got quizzed on who else was arriving besides her idol Piper. “So Banshee, it’s Aunt ……” “Tee Tee!” she said. Oops. We corrected her. “And it’s Uncle …..” “Beloved!” she answered. Oops. Another correction. Really not fair to quiz her when she’s basically in a trance of anticipation about Piper. And when Piper entered the door, The Banshee flung herself head- first at her cousin. She’s the only person who doesn’t have to ask for a hug from The Banshee. She gets one whether she wants it or not.

~ MB had to show Elder Nephew how to use a bottle opener. Uhm, wha??? How do you not know this, dear boy?? You are 17. I guess that’s what aunts and uncles are for, though. Filling any odd educational gaps for their nephews and nieces. So, phhhew, that one’s covered.

~ I sat next to Piper at dinner and she regaled me with endless high-speed tales of I know not what. Something like, “Tee Tee! There’s this boy at my school and his name is Ben and (something insane and hilarious and incomprehensible happened to him) and he was really ASLEEP THE ENTIRE TIME!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!” Really, she was SO ramped up to share these things with me and I felt bad that I couldn’t follow the thread — or threads — tumbling wildly out of her mouth, but it was cracking me up to see her in such hysterics, so I was laughing. Just not for the reasons she might have thought. But bless her for always wanting to connect with people.

~ After dinner, my sister and Sparky the puppy and I went outside for some fresh, actually chilly air. We sat on my parents’ lawn, near the waterfall. I love that waterfall. Dad only “turns it on” now for special occasions, and even though it’s man-made, it looks so natural — huge rocks jutting out from the pine trees, water rushing towards an ending pond, the sound a backing track to so many years of memories. I can’t imagine my parents’ yard without it. After all the rain we’ve had the last few days, even on Thanksgiving Eve, the grass, so greedy-thirsty from drought, was still dry and cushy, and while we talked, we took turns tossing a fallen pine cone across the lawn for Sparky to retrieve. Between pieces of more meaningful conversation, we’d stop intermittently to laugh at his flying black hair, his teensiness, his willingness to fetch a pine cone, for Pete’s sake. A while later, we were joined by Banshee’s mom, with Baby Banshee in tow in her green plaid dress. She plopped near me, a little bottom-heavy dumpling, as the wind blew my too-long Sasquatch hair into her face, tickling her, making her laugh. Dark clouds dotted the sky, a timid sun peeking behind them, slanting her light like a sideways glance. The perfect clean after-rainy-day sky. The occasional stray raindrop did smatter us here and there, but we didn’t care. It felt so good. Later, as the three of us sisters chatted and watched Baby Banshee trying not to roll down the slight slope, Banshee’s dad (brother) and Younger Nephew started a game of Bocce ball on the lawn in front of us. At one point, a stray ball rolled towards Baby Banshee. She squealed bah bah bah!! and grabbed the ball, clutching it to her bosom with a thrill, drooling over it with love. She hugged that ball tight like a baby for a long time. Chatting continued, lazy and comfortable. We watched brother and nephew’s game, I randomly refereed, and Baby Banshee waved and giggled at her daddy across the lawn, squealing again whenever a ball came near her. I just wanted to drink it all in, slow everything down, make every second last. Sometimes you just have to tear up at how beautiful things can be, you know? I want to take those moments on the grass and sear them into my brain for later, maybe soon, maybe years from now, when I know I will surely need them.

November 27, 2008

-image-pre-thanksgiving feast snippets

~ It’s a blustery and rainy day in silly San Diego. Hallelujah! I haven’t seen a cloudy Thanksgiving in eons! I cannot tell you how much I love rain.

~ So MB and I are sort of tucked in here, up early, in our flannel jammies and genuwine Ugg boots from actual Australia, finishing our contribution to today’s family feast, waiting for the Macy’s parade to start, and preparing our Thanksgiving morning tradition: mimosas and bagels with smoked salmon, cream cheese, Spanish onions, and capers. YUM. Toast faster, bagels! I command you.

~ Don’t worry. I promise not to kiss you with this mouth. We will worry about gargling later.

~ I am looking forward to The Banshee’s latest pressing questions, which I hear are theological in nature: How can God be three people? and Is Jesus’ last name Amen? and whatever else consumes the mind of an oh-SO-precocious 4 year old.

~ On an unrelated note, I just got a “Happy Thanksgiving” text message from a friend who’s in the national touring company of “Jesus Christ Superstar” with 493-year-old Ted Neeley as Jesus. That little stinker. I didn’t even know. He’s all, I’m in Vegas. And I’m all, Why are you in Vegas? So he’s all, Oh, we need to chat. I’m in the JCS tour!!! And I’m all, AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! etc. Uhm, yes, J! We DO need to talk! Then I told him not to be a lazy V, which is an inside joke that I must one day explain on this blog. Do NOT be a lazy V, J. You are a priest now, for God’s sake.

~ On another unrelated note, I’ve discovered that if a commercial has jingling bells, I will instantly and urgently need to buy whatever the product is: mattresses, batteries, KFC. I am Pavlov’s dog.

~ So this Pavlov’s dog wants to wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings and thank you all for hanging out over here on my little sliver of the Net. You are all such a blessing to me! So eat up and have a wonderful holiday this weekend!

November 25, 2008

-image-bits ‘n’ pieces

~ I am now obsessed with Mad Men. We do not have cable, as I think I’ve mentioned before, because we have an ongoing debate in this household as to which century we actually want to live in, so I am Netflixing my new fixation now at regular intervals. I’m just digging into it, but I love the whole atmosphere. The look. The undercurrents. It’s slow to start, and you wonder if it will ever really grab you, but next thing you know, you’re caught in its vise-like grip.

~ It’s supposed to RAIN here in San Diego today and I am breathless with anticipation. Surely, fall is coming. Someday. I mean, the other day, I actually saw some palm fronds that had blown down onto our street.

~ Oh, and yes. As predicted, the now-banned doctor did drop me from his blogroll — without even seeing my REAL explosion. If only I could get onto people’s blogrolls as quickly as I get off them. Ah, my ever-present charms.

~ On Thursday, I’m hoping to ask Piper more questions about how Squash helped the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. It’s always good to bone up on one’s knowledge of our history, don’t you agree?

~ Perhaps, too, I will purposely give The Banshee the wrong muffin or something, just to see what happens when she’s awake.

~ I wish with every fiber of my being that Jayne were here to make the Thanksgiving dessert that I’m supposed to make. Does anyone have a good, easy — this cannot be overstressed — recipe for some kind of spicy, apple-y cake-y thing with frosting? I can’t have this happening again. I need a Dessert Savior, so step up, pippa, I implore you.

November 24, 2008

-image-omaha beach

I owe you all an apology for the post below. I wrote it in a crush of fury, as a way to exorcise myself, make my heart stop racing. But beyond that, when I look inside my heart — a somewhat calmer heart now — I realize I really wrote it as a way to “pile on” to the perpetrator. Really stick it to him because his lack of response to my comment made me, well, insane. My heart was sold out on the rightness of my cause so I basically declared war.

Obviously, I am not wrong whenever I’ve said, “I am occasionally somewhat unmodulated in my behavior.”

That said, I still agree with myself, my points. To the extent that any of them are even clearly articulated, yes, I still agree. It’s my motivation and my methods that were wrong. More than anything, I longed for him to come here and SEE, DAMMIT, that his comment was now the subject of its own post and even as I write that, I’m cringing with shame. I didn’t question my decision to do it. I never stopped to weigh it or say, “Hey, Jesus, sooo, whaddya think?” I didn’t want to. I wanted what I wanted and the proof is below.

I railed at fellow Christians and their untamed tongues all the while showing mine off quite nicely, thank you. Just because a person is a Christian doesn’t mean they’re free from hypocrisy. I, for one, clearly am not. I don’t expect ever to be free from it, because human-ness is a bloody mess. Everyone, Christian or no, has an Omaha Beach inside of them. The carnage of who we really are. I’m no different.

It would be so easy to just delete that post and pretend it never happened, but I won’t be doing that. (Not that I wasn’t sorely tempted.) It will stay up, as a reminder of my frequently cloudy motivations, my pettiness, my rage. If I take it down, I gloss over my own brokenness and that, too, would be hypocrisy. If I lose touch with my brokenness, I lose touch with my perpetual need for the grace of Jesus Christ.

So no. No, I want to own it. My Omaha Beach.

I have, however, gone ahead and banned the perpetrator from this blog. Judging from my stats, he still hasn’t seen any of this and now, he won’t. It’s hard for me to ban him — not because I want him to stay, I don’t — but because I was so invested in having him SEE WHAT HE DID! and RUBBING HIS NOSE IN IT! and such. Banning him before he sees any of this means I must forfeit my outcome. That’s hard. I hate that actually, because, hello, I’m a baby. All my life, I’ve longed for understanding, to be understood, blahdie blah, and this weekend, I wanted nothing more than to carve understanding into this man’s heart and mind, word by vehement word. Not once, but twice, for God’s sake, such was my fever for it.

Does he need more sensitivity? Perhaps. But, uhm, bludgeoning him repeatedly with his need for sensitivity is extremely unlikely to produce it. It’s regrettable to me that even now, at this point in my life, I’m always captivated by my methods. So sure my winning ways will make the pivotal difference for some sad misguided schmoe. It’s true: I am never not swept off my feet by my brilliant choices in any moment. They always sparkle and glow and whisper to me of my greatness. Liars.

Finally, in the post below, I didn’t mean to imply that if you believe in Jesus, you’re a dumbass. I’m a dumbass, but not for that. Plus, I know plenty of dumbasses who don’t believe in Jesus, so there’s no corner on the market here. Have I experienced dumbass behavior from Christians? Absolutely. Have I been a dumbass Christian? Indeedy. But believing in Jesus, I think, is a brilliant idea. Perhaps the only brilliant idea I’ve ever really had.

For any of you who cringed when you read that post, I totally understand.

Please forgive me.

Thank you, though, for your love and support, for being my true blazing champions. You are all such good friends to me. I’ve never met any of you in person, but you are real-er to me than some people I know face to face. In that, I am blessed.

People like you make me believe I just might survive my Omaha Beach.

-image-“fertility, or lack of it”

I have thought about this all day. No, actually, I’ve been apoplectic about it all weekend. Be honest, Trace. I didn’t want it to come to this, but something so egregious was said in the comment thread of this tiny post, that I couldn’t let it go unchecked. My response in that thread has so far gone unnoticed by the perpetrator, maybe because the post is so minor, it’s not something people check back on. Or maybe because the person has no idea what he said, has no twinge of conscience about it, which is deeply disturbing to me. So I’m linking to that post because I need to take a stand. There’s only so much a girl can take — on her own blog, no less.

Please know that I have no intention of making this a regular blog feature — calling attention to a particular comment thread and a particular person simply because I’m imploding about something. But to leave this hanging means this kind of treatment wins and it’s already defeated too much of me for too long. This is too personal and too painful and no matter how long I live, it will never not be painful to me. That’s the way it is when you struggle with infertility. It razes the most cherished assumptions about your life, forever flattens your vision, and abandons you shaking and scrambling to build a new house of assumptions from the rubble where you stand. Sure, you live your life, you rebuild, sorta, blah blah, but the rubble looms on the perimeter and you never know when you will stumble on it all over again. Sometimes you feel insane, mourning something you never even had. It’s not as if you mourn an actual person, yet you mourn nonetheless. You grieve what never was, what will never be, what other people have, so quickly or easily or abundantly. Society with its cozy families spins on its axis as you float nearby in some lonely surreal satellite, visible and separate in an oooh-so-titillating way.

And Christians, with their untamed tongues and gossipy agendas and barely hidden delight in having something you can’t — it’s sick. Sick. The callousness of the body of Christ on this issue. The judgment. The contempt. It’s sick and I WANT IT TO STOP. I’m railing here, hopefully not too nonsensically, but damn. Damn it all to hell. I have to say it: The fertile contingent of the church needs to stop being such irredeemable asses to the infertile contingent. Because you hurt us. You demean us. You give us numb sleepless nights and piercing hopeless days. You make us want to die. I’m not kidding. I will never be the same because of this chapter in my life and because of too many things said that, sadly, I could never just once grab from the ether and shove back down the speaker’s throat. Too many times, too many careless silky words sinking deep into me like a knife.

Well, not this time. I’m pulling the knife out of my chest and saying, “No, not on my blog.”

I realize I might sound completely nutso right now, but I can only hope that readers who have been with me for a while will understand this moment I’m having. This reaction. Over the last few years, they’ve heard me talk about how I’ve lost things in the struggle — dear things, treasured things, things I cannot ever get back — at the hands of the body of Christ.

Christ’s hands.

The church is the body of Christ. We are Christ’s hands on earth — he willingly risks his reputation, takes the great cosmic gamble to indwell us, his dumbass believers — and still, we treat each other like this or this or this. And I’m not even done telling my stories about this, for GOD’S SAKE.

So no. No. I don’t take that comment lying down. I won’t lie down for any similar comments in the future. I realize if this person ever reads this — and my comment in the thread there — I will win the world record for fastest deletion from a blogroll. So be it. Seriously. Write me off however you need to: Crazed, delusional, hypersensitive. Whatever you need to tell yourself so that you can feel good and justified about what you said — and, frankly, your overall vexing tone, especially in the two posts below. I don’t care if you want to label it “offhand.” Then that’s precisely the problem.

I’m just sick of the callousness from the people who bear Christ’s name. My heart has been ripped up enough.

November 22, 2008

-image-a random list of what i’m not wearing

To the fellow who made a comment — which went into moderation because I’ve never heard from you before — demanding to know “So are you or are you not wearing makeup in those photos?”:

First, wow. Whoa. Just wowie zowie wow WOW. Kind of an odd and strangely hostile query.

Second, uhm, no. No, I’m not. Really, I don’t generally get myself all gussied up for a date with my cell phone camera. I am not a Real Housewife of the OC.

And how wrong of me not to engage in full disclosure with you, a total stranger.

Seriously, I cannot fathom why you would ask that. It’s either, Uh, you look okay without makeup or Girrl, you need to slap on some Lancome, and whichever one it is, it is completely bizarre to me. On top of that, to demand to know and say nothing else? To have that be your first attempt at a comment? Just a tad icky and — well, off — for my taste.

But to spare you from asking any further questions or making any further demands — and to mend my horrible, withholding ways, here’s a list of some other things — albeit woefully incomplete and off the top of my currently very grumpy head — that I am also NOT wearing in the aforementioned photos, ‘mkay, lambchop?

~ okay, so makeup

~ shoes

~ socks

~ earrings

~ toe rings

~ a watch

~ a red Kablahblah bracelet

~ a kerchief

~ a cod piece

~ a snood

~ a frock

~ a dickey

~ a cravat

~ a petticoat

~ a corset

~ a jerkin

~ a merkin

~ “spurs that jingle jangle jingle”

~ a girdle

~ Dr. Scholl’s inserts

~ corn pads

~ an ‘Ove Glove

~ a zoot suit

~ a union suit

~ warm woolen mittens

~ a lightning scar because I am not Harry Potter

~ Crest White Strips

~ blue suede shoes

~ “an itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie yellow polka-dot bikini”

~ a dress made of credit cards

~ a rose tattoo

~ Sarah Palin glasses because I am not Sarah Palin

~ an Oscar Mayer wiener whistle

~ day of the week underwear

~ scissorhands

~ beef grinds

~ “vomit on my sweater already, mom’s spaghetti”

~ an eye patch, tho’ that would have been very cool

~ a raspberry beret

~ a coat of many colors

~ anything with kitties

~ fishnet stockings

~ fish

~ a swastika on my forehead because I am not Charles Manson

~ my heart on my sleeve

~ an Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it

~ a chastity belt

~ pasties

~ anything that’s been “Bedazzled”

~ Pull-ups

~ a TV box with my phone number painted on it because I only have to do freshman initiation once, thank you

~ Grandpa Walton denim overalls

~ coke spoon fingernails

~ a Nana

~ a toilet paper mummy costume

~ a bullet bra

~ parachute pants

~ “rings on my fingers and bells on my toes”

~ a skater onesie

~ a Speedo because I am not Michael Phelps or a 1970s oily Arnold Schwarzenegger

~ a Girl scout vest

~ a latex ape chest

~ a poodle skirt

~ a Schnoodle skirt

~ a Magnadoodle skirt

~ a fake arrow through the head

~ for that matter, a live chicken in my underwear

~ for that matter, cruel shoes

~ Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet curtain gown that she wore to convince an imprisoned Rhett to give her the $300 to pay the taxes on Tara

~ Ingrid Bergman’s hat from the end of Casablanca when Rick gives her the maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life speech

~ the red shoes from The Red Shoes

~ ruby slippers

~ blue velvet

~ a yellow ribbon because I am not an oak tree

~ a tricorn hat

~ platform shoes with an aquarium heel

~ a burqa

~ a creepy, inappropriate, and vaguely threatening curiosity about total strangers

… yeeeah ….. okay …. mama’s tired of listing ……

All righty. There you go, stranger. An incomplete list of other things I’m also not wearing in the aforementioned photos. I know it doesn’t cover everything — how could it — but I tried. I did. I really tried to put to rest at least some of the other niggling questions that may be tormenting you. My dear readers can help me add to the list, if they like — only in the spirit of the existing list, of course.

Mama’s tired and grumpy now and even makeup would not help me.

So, yeah.

Yeaaah …..

November 20, 2008

-image-mrs. lovett’s grocery store

sc009197f4.jpg
“Yes. Can I have a pound of the beef grinds, please?”

November 19, 2008

-image-things are getting hairy

I am officially a mop. A Sasquatch. Cousin Itt.

S’true. S’not attractive either.

But you know what? I figure in these dicey uncertain times, more and more people will follow my lead and choose to appear dangerous and feral as a form of self-defense. I mean, who’s gonna try to grab you and eat you if you look like a mangy demented troll? So, it’s the smart choice, the forward-thinking choice. In other words, it’s all good, as the kind of people I can’t stand always say.

Please allow me to document my complete break with the grooming norms of modern society with my uber-cruppy cell phone which apparently takes only one size of photo: unnervingly large. So if gigantic images of wild woolly mammoths unhinge or demoralize you, well, you’ve been warned.

me-hair3_1.jpg
I, uhm … feel a little lost …. maybe a little vulnerable …. about my encroaching Cousin Itt-ness. I mean, it’s deforestation in rapid reverse. (So then, would that be “reforestation,” Trace?) As a matter of fact, The Hundred Acre Wood atop my head has been officially declared “environmentally friendly” by the EPA, The Sierra Club, and Leonardo Di Caprio. While I could not give one tiny rat’s bottom what the EPA and The Sierra Club think of me and my home-grown nature preserve, Leo’s good opinion means a lot to me. It does. He’s the king of the world, you know, and that must always give a girl pause. And, now that I think of it, Obama, I think I deserve some kind of tax rebate for growing my Sherwood Forest thusly and decreasing my carbon footprint and saving the planet and blahdie blahdie blah.

Or you may send me a puppy.

me-hair41.jpg
The dementia of the Sasquatch.

“Well, helloo, Clarice.”

me-hair5_1.jpg
Oh, you poor hairy girl. I know what you’re trying to do here — trying to cover up what’s really going on. It goes way beyond the whole Forbidden Forest dealio you’ve got going on atop thee olde noggin. What you and I both know, little yeti, is that you made a horrifying attempt at deforestation the other day and chopped your bangs to smithereens and you now look like it’s picture day at Sasquatch Elementary. It’s bad. Your very own Beloved has been reduced to nervously and repeatedly uttering, “ohh, you’re … darling” — most likely to keep himself from swooning with laughter and you from slitting your remarkably hairless wrists. All too soon, he will start gently reminding you, “Heey …. don’t you like hats?” and you will fall dead on the spot. So go ahead. Smush those reckless tangles around your head all you want. I see what’s really poking out there. Foghorn Leghorn. Tsk, tsk, I say, I say.

me-hair1.jpg
The smushy cover-up continues, unabated and embarrassing. This is even worse. Scraps of bangs shoot straight out of my head whilst I try to look coy. Gah. What a wiener. I am a’quiver with self-loathing.

me-hair21.jpg
See? See?? The little tuft of banglet to the right?? Dangling like a loose shingle several feet above my eyebrow?? I did that. I DID that. AGGHHHH!!! The massive hair carnage lying limp on my bathroom counter could have combed-over many a naked skull, but, no, I threw it away. Selfish Sasquatch.

me-hair6_1.jpg
Losing touch with reality. Hair tightening its hairy grip. Calling to me. Becoming one with hair. Becoming nothing but hair. I am lost to me.

Farewell, polite society …….

-image-the banshee sleeps, sorta

Recently The Banshee’s mom took her girls on a trip to visit their great grandma in Arizona. Because of space issues, Banshee and her mom slept in the same bed. Turns out, The Banshee talks in her sleep. Sometimes loudly. And most of the night.

At one point, in the dead of night, she yelled out, “I DON’T WANNNT THAT MUFFIN!! BIBBETY-BOBBITY-BOOOOO!!!”

Okay. So I see she is exactly the same unconscious as she is conscious.

November 17, 2008

-image-out and about

~ Coming home from the grocery store, I saw a little boy plopped in a plastic chair on the sidewalk, apple in his hand, swinging tennis shoe feet that didn’t touch the ground. Yesterday was summer-hot in San Diego, but there he was, in the glaring bright sun. Next to him in another chair, was a small cardboard box propped on its side with an action figure leaning against one cardboard wall. A diorama of sorts. I wanted to see more of this little scene, but traffic started pushing through the light and I was forced to join in the fray. As I drove past, I could see some large crooked little-boy writing in the bottom of the box, the upstage wall, if you will. The action figure was placed carefully to the side of this writing, so I sensed it was some kind of ad, something meant to draw passersby to the little boy with his apple and his box and his action figure. Because it was Sunday and the Farmer’s Market swarmed nearby, there was no way to drive around again to see what, exactly, the little boy was doing on the sidewalk there. Maybe he was selling the action figure. Maybe he was engaging in some action figure street theater. I won’t ever know for sure. Whatever it was, I drove away smiling and rooting for the little boy and his box in the hot baking sun.

~ Several times a week, MB and I see them. Our neighborhood’s wandering elderly couple. They look like Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy and they are everywhere, all the time. We can be in the car, running a single errand, and see them more than once, such is the scope of their roaming. They wear khaki pants and white turtlenecks. Tennis shoes. Baseball caps. Her angel white hair sticks out from under her cap in a lump. This is their uniform, every time we see them. It makes me hot to look at them. I feel sweaty just thinking about them. Initially, we thought they had to be homeless because, literally, their clothing never changes. Her khaki pants are sort of graduated in color, grubbier and grubbier past the knee, as if she’s slogged through mud. He, on the other hand, seems quite neat, quite aware of the striking look of his tidy monochromatic attire.

After a couple of days of seeing them, we decided that they were working out. Power walking, I guess, based on the bend and movement in their arms. Or else perpetually late for the bus. Hume, I’ve noticed, always strides several paces ahead of Jessica, forcing her to trot and skip to catch up to him. He seems utterly focused on some imaginary journey in his head, obsessed with staying the course. Whatever this journey is, poor Jessica seems completely in the dark as she patters forever behind him. Just the rhythm of her steps seems to say wait for me wait for me wait for me. I’ve seen them so often I now have anxiety for her, for her balance, for her well-being. I watch her feet, hidden under the darkening khaki swell of her pants, move much faster than his and yet always always steps behind. He will never slow down and she will never catch up and I will have to accept that. Whenever I see them, I can hear that dreary Frau Schmidt from The Sound of Music drone inside my head, “The Von Trapp children don’t play. They march.” It feels a bit like that, like Hume is enforcing this eternal khaki march. I don’t know where they’re headed but, wherever it is, they are never there. I find myself wondering if they’re an old married couple. Or if they’re just friends. I wonder if he’s her personal geriatric trainer constantly pushing her harder and harder and harder. I wonder if she begs him to slow down and he simply can’t hear her. I wonder if he’s just a jerk. I wonder why his whites are so white and hers are so dingy. Some day, I’m afraid — because I occasionally have impulse control issues — I will roll the car window down and cry out from the depths of my well-intentioned buttinsky soul, “Slow down, Hume! You are marching poor Jessica to death! Slow DOWNNN, for the love of God!”

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