26 July 2006


I loves me some Mikey. We spent many long hours together in his hospital room throwing butter pats on the ceiling, skate-boarding on his IV pole, and sticking oranges when he found out he was diabetic in high school. That's how they teach you to use syringes--they give you a bag of syringes and an orange. Good times. They took them away when we started playing darts with them. (In return, Mike showed up on my hospital doorstep with a pint of my favourite Ben & Jerry's, his beloved Tigger slippers, and hours and hours of taped X-Files episodes when I had cancer. He let me keep the Tigger slippers, which made me cry. He graduated high school wearing those things. They were legend.)

I also recall one demented evening right after high school graduation when I went back into Mike's room to get something I'd forgotten, after starting the car and taking off my shoes (I drove barefoot in high school. Actually, in high school I did most things barefoot), and I didn't bother to turn the light on because I knew where whatever it was, was......and I knocked over his sharps bucket.

So there's me, whining at the top of my lungs, "Miiiiiikeeeeeeeey! I just dumped a big bucket of syringes on the floor and I can't reach the light switch!!!!!!" and then standing perfectly still in the middle of the room until he heard me and came inside. Where he proceeded to turn the light on and stand in the doorway and laugh his ass off at me.

Mike is also the friend whose father once went to Chincoteague Island in his red VW bus and came back with an auctioned wild pony where the seats had been. True story. We have pictures.

24 July 2006

Runs With Carrots

Yesterday I was accused yet again of being a veritable font of useless information. This, when Mom and I spontaneously broke into "The Battle of New Orleans" at the dinner table.

The reason for this is that just as we sat down to the second course, Rocky from next door got out and was seen bolting past our house. Sadly, Rocky is not a poodle, or even a boxer, or for that matter a boxer whose last name is, in fact, Marciano. Rocky is a horse. A miniature horse, to be sure, but still nearly as tall as I and weighing a shitload more, as horses do. So, being me, I immediately kicked into mom's moccasins and ran to the fridge to get a bag of carrots and went to head him off at the pass, as Hedley Lamarr says.

The pass turned out to be the railroad tracks.

Actually, he was being a good little horsey and after his head-up, look-at-me, I'm-running, ha-ha, I'm-free-you-fuckers! was heading as fast as his little hooves could carry him back to Marciano's barn. Sadly, no one told him there were two layers of fence preventing that. So I cornered him down the embankment along the first layer of fence, where he looked like he was about to roll his eyes and charge at me, being of course the big bad stallion that he is (not), whereupon he promptly got a look on his face that said, "You have come equipped with those orange crunchy things!" And walked over to me calm as you please and stuck his horsey little head into the pocket of my shorts, where the bag was. So I grabbed his halter and walked him up and down and up and down and up and down, because there was no way he was standing for any of this holding still business, while the idiot stable hand who'd let him escape in the first place went to go get a lead. He also came back with Barbara, who looked at me and calmly said, "Oh good, finders keepers." Um, no. No thank you, Barbara. Really. But very funny.

So while they were discussing how best to get him back to Point A, Rocky and I looked at each other and said, "Really. Well, we got down here," and I held a carrot back behind me with one hand and the lead with the other (because I had tried this with no lead and the only thing that happened is Rocky stepped on the back of mom's shoe and I thought, "This could get ugly,") and the two of us tromped right on up the embankment and onto the railroad tracks, and then had a lovely stroll home again. I was sorely tempted to bring him to the back porch and say, "Mom, Barbara said I could keep him!" but then realised that Mom was in control of both my wine glass and my legal domicile at the moment.

How does this relate, you ask, to "The Battle of New Orleans"? Because mom asked where I went when I followed Rocky and how did I get him out. And after pointing out "the same way we got in there" we both said, "I ran through the briers and I ran through the brambles......." etc.

Dad was about to hide under the table.

The postscript to this is that after my run this morning (not chasing anything, thank you very much) when I went past the barn, Rocky stuck his head out of his stall and tried to stick his head down my running shorts, thinking I might have more of those orange crunchy things.

Ever been frisked by a horse, even a very short one?

08 July 2006


Every time I cut mangoes, I think of Samira's father. Ramesh was a round little Indian man, stereotypical in a lot of ways, jolly but also very soft-spoken, and he spoke quickly and decisively, always sure of his opinions. A few years ago he had a stroke the week of his son's wedding that put him in an irreversible coma. (Next week is the anniversary of his death, which gratefully came before the family had to make any decisions about withdrawing life support and feeding)

It was Ramesh who fed me my first mango. It was a little underripe, and so was tart and green and had that strange tingly flavour that green mangoes have. When I demurred at being served the second half of my mango, he castigated me mockingly, "You don't like mangoes? Shame on you! What kind of Indian woman would you be?" This, of course, made us snort with laughter, since we had to constantly remind Ramesh that the reason his wife and I are so pale is because we're both white.

A few months later, Samira and I were visiting her grandmother in North Jersey. Mangoes were in full season now, and we brought some with us. Ramesh had introduced Carolyn to mangoes, too, when he first married her daughter. We brought a plate of the fruit into the living room to snack on with our iced tea, and after a while we noticed Carolyn hadn't had any. We asked her if it was still too green for her, and she got a piously outraged look on her face. "It's not how Ramesh cuts them!" Of course, when we got home we were instructed on Ramesh's Official Particular Way to Cut a Mango So that Carolyn Will Eat It.

I brought mangoes to the funeral home instead of flowers. I knew Samira and her mom would know why, even though I felt stupid piling the three fruits onto a table filled with huge arrangements of lilies. Sure enough, when Carolyn was wheeled into the viewing area, she clucked her tongue at my handiwork. "That's not the way Ramesh would have done it," she said softly, moving the mangoes into the casket with him for cremation.