Aging & Swearing
I looked out the window, and sure enough about a third of the fence was already covered in red paint, coincidentally enough the same amount covering the old man. I had a few movies to mail back and, upon my return, grabbed a brush and joined him. We worked from different sides because, for some reason, my dad has never wiped one side of the brush on the inside edge of the can. He dips, then lifts, leaving a trail of spatter. He claims wiping the brush on the can wastes more paint, but I think he loses just as much if not more with his method. In any case, I didn't want red hair. Occasionally as I worked in even strokes, he'd spot areas I hadn't gotten to, knots in the wood, and tell me how to mash the brush into the uneven areas. Prefacing these remarks with “I'm not criticizing you, but...” didn't help, but I still kept my cool and may have only said “I know” once, through gritted teeth. I managed not to get much paint on myself, except for when I had to crouch over one of the bushes along the fence that my dad had gotten paint on. When I stood up, I noticed paint on my legs and forearms. Miraculously, my clothes remained clean for once.
Later, when my mom returned, I accompanied her to a five o'clock mass. As we backed out of the driveway, her purse rolled from the center of the floor and hit her leg. “There's something wrong with the car!” she exclaimed, as we continued to back up. “The brakes are gone!” We were now in the street and she cut the wheel frantically, now backing toward our neighbor's yard. “What do you mean?” I asked, picking up the purse and moving it out of the way. “This car isn't right; the brakes moved!” I pointed out that she was stepping on the floor and the brakes were in the same place they always were. Fortunately we were going slow, and she found them before we struck the curb or worse. As we continued on our way, she insisted that the brakes had moved while I joked that it might be time to put her “in the home”. Eventually she accepted the fact that when the purse hit her foot, it was her foot that moved to the left, and not the brakes that had moved to the right. Traditionally, she drives to church and I drive home, but I think the proper thing to do going forward is for me to drive both ways.
After mass, she spotted an old friend who recently lost her husband, within a day of my aunt's passing. He had been recovering from gall bladder surgery and was feeling particularly tired one day. She called 911, spoke to him that they were on their way, and went to get dressed. A few minutes later she looked in on him, he said something before his eyes rolled back, and she couldn't find a heartbeat. She went downstairs to get her son, and he was only able to find the faintest hint of a pulse. It sounded very sudden and shocking. As we walked out with this woman and her cousin, their conversation shifted to old times, when they worked together back in their twenties, and of the changing parish, of a time when there was standing room only. Now there are many empty pews. As I pondered the hardships that come with age, my mom's friend mentioned that her son started shaving his head when he started to go bald. In the spirit of conversation, my mom said that my hairline was receding too, and turned to point it out and confirm her statement. As three ladies looked up and studied my forehead, I managed a polite half smile as a parade of curses erupted in my brain, followed by the sudden self-conscious need to find a mirror. “Does he have a lot of stress?” my mom asked, turning the conversation back to the woman's son, and I thought of a few events from my day that could have caused me stress.
I'll close with a quiz of fictional expletives. How many of these do you know without clicking?
5. Blathering blatherskite!