Thursday, September 10, 2015

Golden Grrls

Mrs. Everhart lost her husband in August 2013. She was sure she’d taken him down to the laundry room to help with folding, but when she came back down with the Bounce® Fresh Linen Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets she’d earlier forgotten, there was no sign of him. In any event, she moved in with me just before Thanksgiving of that year, and we discovered that we have lots of common interests. Neither of us ever tires of reruns of The Golden Girls, to the point at which we can often say the various characters’ lines before they themselves do. We both enjoy flower arranging, and cats. We were both the second female leads in our senior plays in high school, and did lots of little theatre when our kids grew up. 

Such was the pleasure we derived from acting, in fact, that we decided one  night, while watching a 1976 edition of the Carol Burnett Show after Golden Girls, that we would put together a little troupe to perform our favorite skits and songs. We recruited five more actors by pinning up notices on the laundry room bulletin board, and then ran an ad on craigslist for a director. We hoped for a stereotypically gay one given to hyperbolic pronouncements, eye-rolling, and snideness. We dared hope for one who wore a cravat and a pinkie ring, but in the end settled for just the latter. His  name is Billie Gene, with Billie spelled that way, but we are to call him Clement, with the second syllable accented. We were impressed by his having done lots of Shakespeare in the Park in Tucson, which we believe to be rivaled only by Hamtramck, Michigan, in terms of confusing spelling.

One of the cast, Kaceigh, the youngest of us, doesn’t actually live in the building. Her aunt, who lives on the 9th floor, saw our little notice in the laundry room and emailed her our number. She’s perky and fun, but very unpunctual, forever arriving for a 6:00 p.m. rehearsal at 6:18 and explaining that her bus (she’s the only white person in Los Angeles without a car) was delayed by heavy traffic.  I have on several occasions pointed out to her that she might think in terms of catching an earlier bus, but it doesn’t seem to register, possibly because she’s perpetually preoccupied with either reading or sending text messages. 

This has caused a rift between Mrs. Everhart and I. When Kacee arrives late for rehearsal, I always want to yank her pigtails (figuratively, as she doesn’t actually have pigtails) and bellow, “Show up on time, for Pete’s sake!” On the other hand, Mrs. Everhart, forever the perfect hostess, always conducts a little symposium about what Kaceigh wants to drink. Juice? Sparkling water? Coffee? While they negotiate, I commonly want to pull my —or their! —hair out with my bare hands! Why, when Mrs. Everhart’s time is wasted no less than my own, does she leave all the admonishing to me? Why does Clement? Why do the others in the cast?

Well, I know why “Hank,” as I’ll call him, does. Because he wants to “get into her pants,” in the sense of having intercourse with her. Does he really imagine that the rest of us fail to see that? Does he think we don’t notice that, at a rehearsal Clement’s given Kaceigh permission not to attend, he doesn’t wear a third as much cologne? Does he suppose we’ve failed to not that he’s very careful about popping a breath mint into his mouth before a skit in which he’s addressing Kaceigh, but that he takes no such precaution when it’s me, Mrs. Everhart, or “Hank,” on whom I strongly suspect Clement might have a little crush?

Sometimes, I will confess, I want to creep quietly into Mrs. Everhart’s bedroom late at night and hold a pillow over her face until she ceases to struggle, though, knowing her as I’ve come to know her, she would probably figure out that the best way to survive would be to play dead. The moment I reduced the pressure on her, she would spring up and strangle me. Oh, I know her very well!

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