Funny at my age can become ironic. And if there is anything a woman over fifty hates it’s irony.
However, let’s say for the sake of this blog that I am doing a twist on chick-lit … otherwise known as geezer-lit.
This is the type of demented behavior that happens when boomers become eligible for social security and refuse to go gently into that night.
Before I create ways to torture a couple more of my new characters and move on to another snappy opening, I will tease you with another installment of Aggie and Eva and Life in Reverse.
Second installment …
Within six months of each other, Aggie and I became widows. We had both done the suburban thing, bought split levels and filled them with kids and stuff, had attached garages and filled them with junk, parked various moving vehicles from the front lawn to the back yard, including the rusted chassis of a Chevy Impala Aggie’s husband swore he would rebuild one day.
Aggie sat across from me at a local diner. “All I’m saying is that it’s creepy the way stuff happens to us.”
I shrugged, not at all empathetic to her analogy. “So, we got married the same year.”
“We had our first kids the same year.” She held up one finger. “We had our second kids the same year.” She held up another finger.
“And we became widows the same year.” I held up the last finger. “Does that mean the cosmos are tilted in our favor or that we’re cursed?”
“I don’t know. I just think it’s creepy.”
If I were inclined to believe in such things, I might have thought it was creepier that we had both decided to move back to our parents’ homes. My parents died eleven months apart and left the house to me and my brother. We used it as income and rented it until he decided to relocate to the west coast and signed over his share. I decided to move back in after the last tenant destroyed the kitchen in an oil fire.
Aggie’s father, exhausted after years of supporting dozens of his relatives, died from a massive heart attack at forty-five. My father concluded he was snuffed out. “Dad, there is no Irish mafia. There is no any kind of mafia.”
“Yeah?” He pushed his glasses up his nose. “Go tell that to J. Edgar and the Feds. They got the real dope on the cosa nostra and those sons of bitches that smear all Italians.”
The extensive network of Aggie’s siblings, nieces and nephews, in-and-out-laws, and cousins climbed to the double digits and not a one came to Mrs. Boyle’s rescue. Two of Aggie’s brothers were doing time in Sing Sing, two more of them had become hippies during the sixties and the last she knew they were living in Canada. Her three sisters married and divorced and dropped a half dozen no-neck monsters onto the planet and left them with Mrs. Boyle while they trolled bars for new husbands.
All of this came to me in comic rewind. “I’ll tell you what’s creepy. Your damn brothers and sisters are creepy.”
“Well at least, Linda got married and left again.”
“What about Terry?”
“Terry and her four kids will live with my mother forever. Or at least until she drops dead.”
Mrs. Boyle was in her eighties and still cooked and cleaned and ran after unruly children. “Your mother deserves a break.”
“Like I said.” Aggie dipped a French fry in ketchup. “Until she drops dead.”
“We didn’t move back to Brooklyn to babysit.”
“You moved back to restore, redecorate, renovate and accumulate equity so you can sell out to some ass-hole yuppie and move to Florida”
“I don’t want to move to Florida.”
She slammed her fist on the table and rattled the cups and saucers. “Yeah, but you want to sell out.”
“I never said I wanted to sell.”
“Why do you live in that big house all alone?” She took a big bite from her burger. Saliva welled up in my mouth. I wanted a juicy burger and French fries. Not a sensible salad with no dressing. “Stop looking at me like that and order your own damn burger.”
“I enjoy living alone.” I took one fry lifting it to my mouth, feeling my nostrils flare from the wonderful scent of grease. “This is my green day.”
“Green day, orange day. Why the hell don’t you have a brown day and enjoy eating for a change?” She pushed the plate of fries to my side. “You won’t even get a cat.”
“I don’t like cats.” I dove into the fries and suddenly green was no longer my color. “I don’t like dogs either.” I waved for the waitress. I needed carbs. I needed grease and sugar and cream. “Unlike some of us, I don’t have the desire to live with a menagerie of animals and humans of varying sizes.”
And like her mother before her, Aggie had taken in her four grandchildren while her daughter went out into the world to find herself. “And if Senade needs to find herself, get her a full length mirror.”
She sat back, a contented cat after a fancy feast, dabbed her lips with a napkin and reached for her iced-tea. “You want to sell out to make a bundle.”
“We could both make a bundle and leave all this shit behind us. Take the money and run. Travel and have fun.”
“I have responsibilities and I want a business of my own.”
“Well get over it. You don’t have a business kind of mind.”
Her lips poked at me into a major pout. “I could if we had the right kind of business.”
We left the diner and walked along the avenue. Our houses were in neighborhood of Bay Ridge and within walking distance of Owl’s Head Park, where there were the best views of the Brooklyn Narrows, the bridge and the ocean beyond. We found a bench and sat and watched the clouds dancing in the sun above the water, heard the twitter of birds and smiled at other people’s kids.
I thought it was a good time to approach her again. “Aggie, it’s not that I don’t want to be in business with you.”
“It is so. Every idea I’ve had you poo-hooed. You make believe you’re supportive, but underneath it’s like school.”
“For the love of heaven. We’re almost old enough to collect social security and you’re talking about school.”
“Because you were always tracked in the number one classes and I was in the idiot classes. Because you were going somewhere and I was going nowhere.”
“We both had good husbands and good marriages and lived in identical houses, just like when we were kids. Where is this somewhere I was going that excluded you?”
“It was the principal of the thing. You’ve always been the smart one.”
“So I suppose that means you were always the stupid one?”
“Exactly.” Her head bobbled. “That is exactly what I mean.”
I stood and looked at her, this tiny bit of a thing with the heart of a lion and the strength of an ox and was baffled. No, I was annoyed. “No, I’m angry. I’m angry that you think so little of me.”
I walked down the path towards the entrance of the park. “Go home to your menagerie.”
She caught up with me and pulled on my arm. “Oh, stop it. You aren’t angry at me. You can never be angry at me.”
I swung around. “Why do you say things like that?”
“I don’t want you to sell out and leave me all alone. That menagerie is barely tolerable and that’s because I can always cross over from my front to yours.”
“Like when we were kids?”
“It’s the same again. Only this time I don’t have your mom to bake me cookies and fix my hair. I don’t have your dad helping me with algebra. And if you sell out, I won’t have you anymore either. Then I’ll have to stay put in my own house and live with those morons.”
When we turned the corner of our block we saw two of Aggie’s grandchildren chasing each other with water pistols. She shook her head. “Look at that. Not a brain between them.”
The noise level coming through the front door was enough to frighten off the devil himself and following it, Mrs. Boyle. She stood on the landing with a broom and batted each of them squarely on the head. “Get in here this minute or today I’ll be rolling heads.”
She spotted us and waived. “Top of the afternoon girls.”
I laughed. “Top of the afternoon to you, Mrs. Boyle.”
Aggie giggled. “You go get’em ma.”
“Sure that I will, darlin’”
Mrs. Boyle herded them into the house. I looked down the alley. The same alley that had made me the most popular kid on the block, the very same alley that was once again strewed with bikes, toys, balls, bats, baby carriages, and one bent plastic baby pool.
Aggie patted me on the back. “If you move, where the hell will we park our baby carriages and bikes?”
We sat on my front steps. “Yeah, yuppies aren’t into clutter.”
“I can’t do that to her. Act like a wild horse that shits and runs. Leave her with that mess like the rest of them.”
“Fine,” I grinned. “But I refuse to spray paint Mason jars.”
Tell me good and true
What does funny mean to you?