The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

So Far So Good

She's doing pretty well. Yesterday, somehow, in the blistering 100 degree plus heat of the San Fershtinko Valley, Mummy P. and Lillian and Plottie ended up at Jerry's Deli in Encino. Jerry's is an LA deli. This means menus as tall as your child and as wide as your head, Brobdignagian-sized booths that can fit four moguls with equal space for their egos, and food that is good but not too good, just like the movies these guys make after eating it.

Mummy P. doesn't notice any of this. It's one o'clock. She's hungry. She polishes off a huge hamburger and fries without a second thought, finishes the pickles, licks her lips and then wants to go home. She wants a cigarette.

Her needs are simple now -- sleep, food and cigarettes. Really, life becomes easy to negotiate when the road runs straight ahead, without all the left turns we throw in when we are younger. Go to sleep, wake up, food in, food out and cigarettes.

It's somewhat of a mystery -- her wrists are as thin as a mike cable now, but she keeps packing away the food. It's fun to go out with her because it takes her, and her caregivers, away from the stultifying house.

It was LA hot yesterday, that LA September Hot, when you walk outside and gasp, and stop dead in your tracks and hold your breath. If you are male you involuntarily tighten your genitals -- making sure everything is still there. What women do, Plotnik doesn't know. The sidewalk is burning and the inside of the car is like a pizza oven, but you're the pizza. Ventura Boulevard could open up and tumble into the subplanetary volcano at any moment, maybe at this red light or the next one. Smoke is already creeping through the fissures of the liquifying concrete.

Back at her house. She walks out onto the patio to smoke. God is in his heaven.

Mummy P. can respond intelligently to questions and understand the details of complex issues. What she can't do is remember what she asked five minutes ago. She knows her memory is bad, but she insists both her sons and both her caregivers never tell her anything and that Plotnik's wife calls her  but Plotnik does not, and that his brother Schmeckl never comes over anymore, even after she has just described how they were together last weekend.

It's confusion. Whatever else it is, it's confusion that slows her down. Each time he sees her she seems a little less able to sort things out, but then, of course, since she won't get a hearing aid, it's never easy to know what she is not understanding or what she just never heard. She smiles a lot.

Plotnik explains to her that the Lifeline she wears around her neck won't do her any good if she doesn't wear it. She stopped wearing it because she'd set it off at night by mistake and then the message would come over the phone: "ROSE! ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?"

It costs $46 a month so Plot was going to cancel it, if she doesn't use it. She couldn't allow that to happen, because...well, it's a comfort. And that's fine. When Plot called up the company and threatened to cancel they immediately cut the price in half.

He'll call again next month.

Everyone is disgusted with Mummy P. because of her refusing to help herself out by getting a hearing aid, so when she says "I didn't hear that," we say "No shit, Mom."

And then feel terrible for not feeling more sympathetic to her plight.

The Great Plotnik's middle-of-the-night angst goes something like this:

"Hey! You!
She can barely see.
She can barely hear.
She has outlived everyone she knew.
She's tired.
So she tells you fifty times how glad she is you've come down to see her.
She means it every time.
Have a heart. You do have one, right?"

Yes, Plottie has a heart. He knows, because it got broken in half last night. But that's only baseball. You've got to stick with your team when they don't come close or when they do come close because if you don't do that you won't be allowed to exult, to scream with joy, to cheer with a lifetime's worth of failure in the background, when, on that one glorious day, they manage to win The Big One.

Usually, they don't. Thanks to fellow sufferer Cousin Brother Two for Vinnie's quote last night: "That's the way baseball is, you win, you lose, you celebrate, you suffer."

And more thanks to Cousin Seattle, someone whose opinion Plot greatly respects on many subjects, only one of which is baseball, who says that her team "couldn't find their way out of the cellar even if each player had two headlamp-wearing seeing eye dogs."

Hee hee hee, that's right. You've just gotta laugh.

The thing is, Mummy P. would not sit in the cellar. She'd stand up, get her cane, wobble to the back patio, where those palm trees below her property have grown enormously huge, and the fire engines and coke dealers roar up and down Laurel Canyon, and the guy next door who put up the skull and bones flag sold his house to a new guy who has remodeled the entire place including the swimming pool but left the skull and bones flag, and she'd sit down in her chair, fiddle for her cigarettes, and, praise God, light one up without igniting her clothing and setting her house on fire. So far, so good.


At 2:11 PM, Anonymous HankyGirl said...

Oh Plottie, my heart goes out to you. These are some tough times you're going through.

Re the Lifeline, be sure she remembers what it's for. My mom always wore hers, but when she did fall and couldn't get up, she didn't press the button because she had forgotten that's why she wore the darn thing.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

Rough times, you are doing so much more than you think you are!


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