Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Love at 83 - Part 1

At my age, I had honestly begun to despair of ever finding love again. Where once, when I sauntered into Carlos ‘n’ Charlie’s on Sunset Blvd., lovely young women would pout and stick their breasts out as I passed, no woman I haven’t paid has seemed so much as to notice me the past 15 years. I blame the fact that my ears and nose are almost twice their original size now, and that the hair that no longer grows out of my scalp is growing out of them in profusion. I blame no less the fact that my neck resembles poultry’s, and that, however much Old Spice I might douse myself with every morning, it isn’t nearly enough to make up for the stench emanating from the diapers into which my incontinence has forced me.

But the old Dean Martin favorite turns out, to my infinite relief and delight, to be true; somewhere there really was, and is, a someone for me. Her name is Consuelo. I am unable to pronounce her last name, as it isn’t familiarly Spanish — not Gomez or Lopez, not Ramirez or Martinez — but a weird Indian one. She is from Honduras, not entirely legally, I don’t think. She speaks no English, at least that I can hear, but that isn’t saying much, as my hearing took a powder at approximately the same time my continence did. I have a hearing aid, but it amplifies everything, rather than only that which you’re trying to hear, and is unpleasant to wear. Consuelo and I communicate primarily with our eyes.

She is a member of the staff here at Golden Years, to which my sons and daughter had me committed after each of them had taken a turn trying to accommodate me in his or her respective home. Todd’s brat children couldn’t bear the way I smell. Eddie’s prima donna wife Janet got bent out of shape about having to help me out of the bathtub a few times, and about my peeing in the kitchen sink that one time, and Ella got even more bent out of shape about my going for a walk on the freeway one afternoon when I was supposed to be looking after her two kids, who aren’t much more palatable to me than Todd’s.

So I occasionally call them by Todd’s kids’ names, or Todd and Ella! You’d think they’d admire me for being able to remember any name at all, but no. They act approximately as Mary Ellen Lavis did when I swallowed my pride and applied for a clerical job at San Francisco’s biggest fascist law firm in ’65 or ’75 or whenever it was; I'm pretty sure there being a 5 in it. She had me put a bunch of index cards in alphabetical order — real difficult! — and then had me fill out this Minnesota something-or-other “inventory” to make sure I didn’t believe aliens were trying to communicate with me through the fillings in my teeth, and only when I’d passed both with flying colors did she finally offer me a job, and I, trying to be sociable, trying to do that Dale Carnegie thing of pretending to find someone else interesting, asked when she was expecting, and she wasn’t expecting at all, but was just big-bellied, and you should have seen the hatred in her eyes!

I guess there were legal reasons she couldn’t retract the job offer just because she felt insulted, and it was a good thing, because with three children and a wife who every afternoon like clockwork went through a fifth of gin, and was absolutely nobody’s idea of a “good mother,” may God rest her poor, troubled soul, I badly needed that paycheck.

But weren’t we talking about something else?

[Continues tomorrow.]

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