Friday, August 15, 2008

MumbletyPeggy (pt. 2)

The black veils rustled as the little figure turned to Marcie then looked away. Peggy muttered and made intricate  motions with her clawlike fingers in the air in fron of her, waving them at the rows of painkillers.

I stayed back and was going to go wait by Maia when I heard the mumbles.

"Oh, oh, oh no. Oh no!" she said, her voice low and her. "Oh what does she WANT?! Oh, dear, what does she WANT?"

I stayed back bnut just within earshot as I saw Marcie's toes lift... and fall. Lift... and fall. She waited, then spoke.

"Would you like a basket for your stuff so you don't have to carry them in your pocket, Peggy?" Marcie asked, looking smug and absolutely not in the least bit fazed as the gestures became more agitated and rapid.

Marcie stepped back and grabbed a blue hand basket, then held it out, its two handles open. "Just put them in there and you can carry this while you shop for all your things," Marcie said.

Peggy's hand clenched into a crooked, aged fist and then her fingers flicked and shook as she made repeated grabbing motions in the air.

"So she so she so she so she does, does, does that she does, and she knows, knows, knows." the croaking voice, clearer and older now, crackled. "Fine."

Her gnarled talons, now clearer still as she turned to Marcie, flicked in unison, then her left hand snaked into her dress and the other shook and waved up and down a little. A box of Advil rattled several times, two or three in the air above the basket, before she dropped them in it.

Marcie handed Peggy the basket and Peggy took it and marched away, her veils clinging to her face a little as she walked rapidly down the aisle. Marcie waited and watched in th mirrors, then changed lanes to the snack aisle.

Marcie watched her like a hawk. The woman wandered the aisles and threw random items into the basket, her hands each time making a pattern of passes and gestures in front of the shelf before dropping the items in.

A cinstant stream of gibberish punctuated by her stream of thought in words poured forth:

"Msh mup mup mup Mup MUP!

"Whir whir whir whir whir whir whir were not whir word."

"Where did she go where did she go where did she go? Go go go?" she said. "No. No. No. She didn't go, she didn't go."

Whenever Peggy noticed Marcie watching, the babble took on a different tone and Peggy would make wild, lingering ritualistic gestures, occasionally freezing her hand in some contorted state and turning back to the products.

Marcie looked over at me and shook her head, then turned her attention back to Peggy.

"Are you ready, Peggy?" she asked. "Should I help you carry your stuff?"

Marcie walked down and Peggy handed her the basket, loaded with yarn and candy and various  medicine and drugstore items. Marcie waited and put out her hand.

Peggy reached into her clothes and produced a container of Maalox.

Marcie sighed, putting it in the basket and putting her hand out again. Peggy this time produced a large bottle of Centrum vitamins, a small stuffed Winnie the Pooh car mirror hanger, and a silver-topped ball point pen.

"Oh, that's all, all all," she muttered. "Smumf smuf smuff smumf."

Marcie gestured for Peggy to go to the front counter ahead of her and the crone's wobble turned into a rustling, off-kilter but high-speed stagger. She walked right past me, past the registers and to the door.

"No, I don't, I don't, I don't," she said as she turned and this time flicked her hair and veils off her face, revealing her angry snarl of a visage and raising her hand, which slipped and flopped and grasped and made fists of itself at a fever pitch.

Her free hand flipped her veils away from her shoulder and she opened her left eye. She appeared to be aiming, but then I noticed her right eye was closed as if sewn that way, and the skin there did not frame a socket so much as sag and pool atop the cheekbone.

"Mmmm, mmm, mmm you," she said as Marcie came and stood next to me, staring at her dispassionately. "You you you you YOU! MMMM! MMMMMFSH!"

Now both her hands flipped and clawed at air in intricate patterns that had to be killer for any arthritis she may have suffered, but she persisted and her face twisted into a grimace and a one-eyed squint.

"Huu- UH!" she said, then slipped through the door, pulling her veils back down as she mumbled off into the mall, her voice fading as she went past the store glass. "She, she, she she does and she knows, and mmm mmm mmm..."

I turned to Marcie and she closed her eyes and shook her head, then sighed. "She is so crazy," she said. "If she didn't shoplift every time, almost, I would enjoy watching her anyways."

Marcie looked at me as I stared at her and rolled her eyes, then mocked Peggy's hand movements, closing one eye. "I, I, I have, have have, have to put it all back, back back!" she said, exasperated, then turned and got to it as I guffawed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I went and visited Marcie at CVS several times, all but two of them completely against her will. Nevertheless, her coworkers were nice and she admitted years later that she enjoyed my visits.

One of those visits was more than a little entertaining. It happened to be one I was invited to conduct. Marcie and I were going to head to the cafe by May Company and enjoy a lunch, then after her work day ended see a movie.

We needed no movie that night.

I was engaging Marcie in very light banter, whiling away time in the near-vacant store as she tended the front counter. Her eyes locked and then narrowed and she looked past me as a hunched, black-garbed figure tottered in.

"Smsh mup rummum mubbum mum," a distinctly female but whispery voice said, the sounds wafting out from under multiple veils of black lace under a wide-brimmed hat. I saw no face.

Marcie watched and made eye contact with a coworker named Maia, who came to the front and took over the counter. Marcie slipped out from behind it, eyes locked on the slow, unsteady figure as it lurched and hobbled into the aisles.

The words became clearer but no more sensible as we got closer.

"So she so she so she so she does, does, does, goes there, she does, yes, yes, yes," the woman said under her masking veils. "I know. I know. I know."

I looked at Marcie, who stood with one arm under her breasts and the other propped on its hand, playing with the curls by her ear as she watched intently.

"Who is..." I started to ask, but her hand stopped me cold.

She leaned in close. "That's Peggy," she said, quietly. "She's a regular but you have to watch her or she leaves without paying. She hates me because I watch her the whole time and I make her show me ID when she writes her checks."

Peggy had offended Marcie by screaming bloody murder when she was caught leaving the store with unpaid-for goods. She made good, but a security guard had yelled at Marcie for stopping Peggy and bringing her back in by the arm.

"Everybody was looking at me and thought I was totally abusing her," she said. "And that's just too bad, because I don't care what age you are. Nobody shoplifts from me."

But her actions had ended with her boss allowing the woman to return. That did not mean Marcie let her get away with anything. In fact, Marcie was now even tougher with Peggy.

"I do not like her," she said. "So I just watch her and let her get pissed off at me. I don't care if she doesn't like it."

Marcie cut off the conversation and marched forward as Peggy pulled a large container of Advil off the shelf and into her many layers of clothes. She smiled and turned her head a bit, looking down at the woman.

"Can I help you with that Advil, Peggy? Do you want to know how much it cost?" she asked.

And that's how the MumbletyPeggy game began.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Call for Input-When Marcie made you laugh

Okay, folks. I need your help. I am going to write about The Mumbler and RiverMannonite next, but Marcie had a beautiful wit and a very unique sense of humor. I would like to share that side of her, as well.

Marcie interacted with me differently from how she she interacted with her friends. Share some of your stories about your moments of silliness, joy or humor with her with me and let me know if i can post them.

Moments of her wisdom, intelligence, cleverness or quirkiness would be wonderful to share, too.

Thanks, folks!

Monday, August 11, 2008

San Francisco Trip Part 2

Ah, vacation(s). On August 29th, I will be in San Francisco, visiting Jane and Christina and perhaps scouting. This is something I have been forced to put off time and time again as the school district and other items have thrown me curve balls.

Just know that there will be many images and possibly some films. Unfortunately, the long trip along Big Sur from last time will not be repeated. I am a flying fool.

There will be a visit to Izakaya for sure. I wonder if everything is still "gorgeouth."

Muahaha. I plan to wreck the place. Hell, I need to. In a Marcie-approved way, of course.

When booking my little room in Japantown, I noted all rooms are for two adults (assumed) when reserved. Sure I am happy to be going, but those little things really sober you up.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Remaking the Bed

Before Marcie passed, I had been suffering in the bed. No in the way you might infer I intend to convey, but in regards to comfort. It was a strange thing to have a disagreement on.

It started two years before she passed, and it was a seriously bad item to discuss.

"The bed is tilted," I said. "I hate my side of it, I feel like I am going to roll off."

She huffed a little and looked over as she hospital-cornered the sheet and shook her head. "We can't buy another bed," she said. "It's not crooked, you're just crazy."

"I swear it's off a little," I said. "There's a serious slope on the bed. I feel like I am going to just roll off and I wake up all night worrying."

"Whatever, Frank," she said. "But for me, this is just your latest crazy obsession with something. If it isn't the television having a hum in it, which I don't hear, then it's the phone being hot or the water being metallic. My response is the same."

I looked at her and shook my head. She was just not interested.

"You're crazy, you're obsessive, and I love you, but please, don't drive me crazy with this, okay?" she asked, holding my hands in hers and pouting a little.

"K, fine," I said. "But why not change sides and you tell me?"

She glared. I had asked her to change sides on the bed and the universe had just gasped in horror.

"That is my side of the bed and I cannot sleep on yours, it doesn't have a window and it's by the door, which I totally hate," she said. "Now stop it."

Of course I mentioned it every couple of weeks when i would slip into bed. It remained that way until the week she took to a new bed in our living room, a hospital bed, whereupon I slept nearby on the couch.

For the last 9 months I have tried to sleep on our bed and have finally found that her side of the bed is flat and comfortable. The mystery of my still-sloping side remained that. Finally, today, the mystery was solved.

Perhaps I had been so fat the mattress flattened under me? No, I flipped it often. Perhaps it was the floor? No, I checked it with a level. Perhaps the underlying box spring was propped?

I have flipped the king-sized mattress a dozen times. This time, when I did, it became stuck on the light fixture. I looked and saw, wedged up on the base of the box-spring half of what was my Marcie's side, the headboard side of my own box spring, its base overlapping by a centimeter.

Only the top was wedged up, hidden against the wall and under the mattress and obscured by the foot, which was not wedged. The box spring eventually settled normally at the foot of the bed, the distance and weight allowing it to look well-seated, preserving the mystery all that time.

I took it all apart and found out the frame was bolted narrower at the head end. I fixed it and popped everything into place.

As I slept in it this week, I remembered asking her in those final weeks, before she was hospitalized and when she was just tired, whether she felt a slope. She had to use my side, as it was closer to the bathroom and easier for me to help her out of bed.

"Frank!" she growled through clenched teeth, fiery and beautiful and sick but stubborn. "There is no stupid slop on the stupid bed, so just drop it and move on! I asked you not to drive me crazy about this and for two years it has been your thing. Now knock it off!"

Thoroughly chastened, I kissed her on the cheek and nodded. I was happy. She had not been so animated in two weeks.

She called me back when I left. "Frank, I love you," she said. "I'm sorry I yelled. It does feel lumpy, but it doesn't feel crooked or anything, okay? I am sorry I called you crazy."

"Okay, sweetie," I said, hugging her."

And that was fine.

She said, "Okay, you can go now, I need to sleep. Good night."

I love that, even as the end approached, she felt it more important to stick to her guns than placate or indulge me overmuch. She had such a strong and stubborn spirit. But she was not remorseless in it. I know she realized I had been putting up with it a long time.

I think she was secretly pleased that I would when she found out, and that's fine, too. I would have put up with even more to lay next to her, this was just a little proof.