Francine’s Guest Post 8

This One’s for You, Pat

 

It was the day of Patrick’s funeral. I had to find something to wear. I am not one of those people who will just wear anything to funerals and weddings. I find that  disrespectful. I finally found in the back of my closet a black dress, a little short, and some would say a little flirtatious, but quite elegant. Robbie would love it. Then I found a perfect hat to go with it.

At the funeral were a few of our department colleagues, with whom I did not mix much, since they think they are superior, being full time instructors. After the very short service, we gathered in a reception room. There was an abundance of wine at the bar, around which hovered Pam Cadell, the department know-it-all and alcoholic. She was wearing a slightly louder version of her everyday jumper-type outfit, which Robbie called “the pinaform” (a word he had coined from pinafore and uniform.) Her dreams of becoming a lawyer having been squashed by middle age and lack of brains, she contented herself with torturing her colleagues with political announcements and unsolicited legal advice. She had already put away several drinks and when she saw me, she said,

“Fancy dress! Isn’t that a bit expensive on a part timer’s salary?”

My friend Doreen, whose free and expressive use of profanity I’ve always admired, would have responded with a hearty “Now that’s none of your f***ing business, is it?”

All I could manage as my voice rose higher was, “Ha-ha thank you my mother made this dress yours looks very practical with the red flowers to hide the wine stains in case you spill it and with those big pockets you could carry out grapes crackers sausage cheese just kidding ha-ha.”

“Francine, my dear, you look divine,” Robbie said when he saw me. Robbie looked strangely relaxed, and when I commented, he admitted that he was relieved that the ordeal was over. It had been very sad and stressful for him, caring for Patrick while he helplessly watched him suffer. Robbie’s and Patrick’s gay friends were mostly elegant, except for one, whose loud handbag caught the attention of both Robbie and me at the same time.

“Cow skin? Really?” Robbie gasped. “With a leather jacket? Should I say something?”

“You know you won’t,” I said. And we comforted ourselves by shuddering and saying “Ugh!” a few times.

People kept coming, and the little reception room was getting quite crowded. The line at the bar was a twisted mess; drinks were being spilled on the nice gay suits; napkins were on the floor, some wet; but I noticed that the disorder did not bother me a bit.

I met Patrick’s young sister, Jane, and had a very nice conversation with her. She rejoined a group of their relatives, and I could see that I had caught the eye of an old man among them. He was a tall, thin, really old man with a thick shock of white hair. And he kept raising his glass to me every few seconds.

People were leaving and I wanted to say goodbye to Robbie before I left, so I went into the room with the coffin where I thought I’d seen him go. But there was no one there but Patrick, with his colorful silk ribbed tie in the Windsor knot, a beautiful contrast against the pale pink shirt. Suddenly I heard,

“I’ve been admiring your lovely chapeau…”

It was the white-haired man. I’ve always liked men complimenting my attire, even when it’s not sincere. I think it shows attention to detail and dedication to craft. And the use of the word “chapeau”, common with the gentry of the early part of the twentieth century was refreshingly cute.

“Merçi,” I replied.

“I could buy you several hats like that,” he said, “if you’d marry me.”

I looked at him, amused. I could tell that he must have been pretty hot in his youth. His body was still straight, relatively tight; he had nice teeth (not the original, certainly), exquisite clothing, and very likely, plenty of money. Half a century too late.

“I’m just guessing,” I said, “but I think we’d have only a few years together before I’d be left a grieving widow, and I don’t think I could stand that.”

“But what wonderful years they’d be,” he said, smiling, and looking deep into my eyes.

Just then, a woman about the same age as my admirer appeared at the door.

“Are you coming, Al? Jesus Christ!” She said, and downed the rest of the contents of her glass.

Suddenly Al’s shoulders dropped and the twinkle left his eye. He did bow to me, though, whispering “Adieu!” Then, mumbling “Yes, dear,” he went to join Mrs. Al outside.

On my way out, I overheard Pam Cadell say, in her most drunken, sanctimonious, over-indulgent voice, “He didn’t deserve to die.” And I thought, now, that’s just stupid. Nobody “deserves to die,” or “doesn’t deserve to die.” Death comes to everyone. And when is not a matter of merit. Otherwise, you would not still be here, Miss Pam Cadell. It certainly was sad, and it was nice that so many people had shown up to comfort Robbie and Patrick’s family. But from all the talk from those who’ve had NDE’s, the other side is pretty awesome, because they never seem to want to come back from it, what with the bright warm light full of love and everything. We, the living, are the ones who are left to suffer. So, we just have to deal with it and hope that time really does heal us quickly.

(I am going to tell you about the wedding in the next blog post as I don’t like to make things too long.)

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Francine’s Guest Post 5

The Juice Cleanse

Well, I finally broke down and told my mother about the insomnia. I just did not want to have that discussion about how I’m wasting my life in this “one-horse town” and how it would be better for me to move to “Metropolis” less than a hundred miles away where there are more opportunities and where I can live with her and share the camaraderie of her hairy hippie friends, who are always eager to include me in their sweat lodges, their musical endeavors, and their séances.   Why would an insomnia discussion invite such a response, you ask? Because every complaint or request for help from my mother does. She had never liked Mr. Wrong, and never hesitated to tell me so. When I broke up with him, no one was happier or more vocal. I try to avoid the lectures, suggestions, and advice for as long as I can, but then I always break down…. partly because I know she’s right.

This time at the end of it, she said, “Just take Valerian root.” And she gave me the name of a concentrated brand. For those of you who have never taken Valerian root tea or capsules, be warned: keep a bar of perfumed soap nearby to wash your hands. Valerian root smells like concentrated anus.

Thirty minutes after taking it, I fell asleep.

Feeling very energized and refreshed the next day, I decided to go on a diet. A severe diet. No carbohydrates whatsoever. This will be a big challenge for me, as I have a small weakness for cake. I found a diet on the internet that’s supposed to make you lose as much as 5 lbs per week. Well, it’s been my experience that only obese people can lose 5 lbs per week. The most that a regular overweight person can hope for is 1 lb., and that’s what I’ll settle for.

I have lost the link, but here is the recipe for the Super Fat Cleansing Shake in case you are interested:

  • Two bunches of celery
  • One bunch of spinach
  • One carrot
  • A few spearmint leaves

Celery has been said to have extraordinary intestinal-cleansing and weight-reducing properties. I’m not sure about the other ingredients, but I suspect the carrot is there just to give it taste, because I tasted the celery juice by itself, and let me just say that whoever invented celery was a sneaky rogue. How can something so cute and harmless-looking cause such a violent reaction in a person? It is tall, thin, graceful and shapely, captivatingly crunchy, and let’s face it, is not the color “celery” the most delightful of hues, along with “cornflower” and “periwinkle”? But extract the juice of that lovely plant, and it is the vilest thing on the planet. Celery was not a staple in our family, as my parents never saw any use for it, and when I was younger and I tasted it at parties, I always used to think, these people are just using this vegetable as an excuse to eat dip and to avoid washing spoons.

Anyway, you blend all that stuff together and drink it for one week, while eating bland protein and vegetable items for meals. “And just watch the pounds melt off!” the video said.

I hope you will have better luck with it than I did.

The first morning, I forced it down, a whole cupful of it. I had to lie still for a while to keep it down. An hour later I had one hard-boiled egg, coffee, and a half a grapefruit (no sugar). This I ate very slowly, to encourage my body to believe that it was getting a lot of food. It’s supposed to help with digestion.

Well, I stayed on this diet for exactly two days. Day 2, my body had had all it could take of hard-boiled eggs, unseasoned chicken and fish, and steamed vegetables. The food had settled at the top of my throat and was threatening to come back out. Finally, it did, around 1 AM, and I couldn’t even make it to the toilet.

 

My system had been abused and was forced to refuel with civilized nourishment.

These photographs were taken daily, at teatime.

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Monday

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Tuesday

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Wednesday

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You get the picture.

Needless to say, I did not lose one pound.

Do not let this discourage you, however, from your own weight-loss venture. There are probably lots of people who can stomach the celery juice, and I am sure that it has many benefits.

I must say that somehow this hiatus has made the racing thoughts and self-doubts and anxiety a little less severe though. And I have already addressed the sleeplessness with the Valerian. I believe I am on my way to recovery.

I also suspect that cake, especially chocolate cake, has healing properties. It’s just a theory for now, though.

 

Francine’s Guest Post 2

Pizza, Thighs, and Exercise

Well, no one objected to the cheese, so it remained in the box with the clothes. Grendel did give me a sour look when I passed by her cave yesterday. I don’t know if the exterminator truck parked outside had anything to do with it. Rats are known to like cheese. Anyway, I’ve got bigger problems.

I seem to be running out of clothes that fit. I’ve been trying to convince myself that they’ve been shrinking.  Well, that may work for the knitted items, but not for polyester or silk.

How can a slice of pizza – okay, two slices – make your thighs rub together overnight? I’m never eating pizza again.

At lunchtime, today I decided to go to the gym after work. Exercise not only helps you lose weight, says the Internet, it increases energy, improves your mood, and helps you sleep. I need all of those things.

On my way to the gym I stopped at a restaurant to get some healthy food for afterwards. I did not want to be so hungry that I would stuff myself with anything I could find in the fridge. While waiting for my food at the counter, I heard a commotion behind me in the restaurant.

“I got a seat for us, Tracy! Where’s your man?” I turned around to see that the drunken loudspeaker was Mr. Wrong’s cousin, Tim, the recipient of those nightly phone calls. I remembered hearing that he lived in a rooming house with a bunch of male and female roommates. The girl he was talking to was one of two busty, scantily dressed women, also drunk. I concluded that they were part of the group home.

“He’s parking the car,” slurred Tracy, as she lurched into the seat, gulping from the beer bottle she was holding.

I grabbed my food and slipped outside. Not twenty feet from where I was standing, I recognized Mr. Wrong’s car maneuvering into a parking space. Well, suddenly, a few things became clear. The cousin had been a decoy. No wonder he insisted that I check his caller ID every time he called Tim. Then Tim would give the phone to Tracy the Tramp and I’d be none the wiser. Slick. Well, he’s neither gay nor incestuous….and he’s still a slug.  I hurried down the street to my car, thinking how stupid they all must have thought I was.

Better her than me, I finally said to myself. Now she’ll have to deal with the freeloader. Or maybe they’re all freeloaders, living off each other in that rooming house, hiding from creditors, on that precarious raft of deceit and depravity.

By the time I got to the gym, thoughts of Mr. Wrong had completely left my head. I was very excited about this new gym-venture. I had been there before, and I had undergone their little presentation, because who wouldn’t, for a free three-day trial? This time I was determined to give it my all. So I allowed Bob, and his fellow trainer, whose name was – guess what? – also, Bob, to show me around and explain the machinery. Well, it didn’t take me long to start yawning, and I was getting pretty annoyed. I mean, after all, I did come there to exercise, not to listen to some boring information about how machines work.

“I came here to tighten up my behind,” I said to the Bobs. “Can you just lead me to the machine that’ll do that?”

Grudgingly, they did, and I was on the machine for a good twenty minutes, working myself into what felt like a sweat. Oh, I’ll increase the resistance, I thought, and pulled what I thought was the resistance-increaser. Well, it obviously was not the resistance-increaser, as everything felt really loose after that. But at that very moment I thought I saw Mr. Wrong walk into the gym, so I whipped my head around, lost my balance, heard a loud clang, and ended up in a most embarrassing and precarious position.  Fortunately, the Gym-Bobs were there in seconds. The two of them disentangled me, to the great amusement of all who were pretending to concentrate on their weightlifting,

The picture below was taken from the video surveillance camera and given to me by the gym boss, who was delighted that I agreed not to sue them.

I’m pretty sure I broke their machine.

The guy I thought was Mr. Wrong turned out not to be – much better looking.

It’ll be a while before I go back there, of course. Unless I can find some different gym clothes.  And a wig.

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