Monday, August 23, 2010

She Becomes Me

I picked Sally up from the retirement residence today, where she'd been so-called retiring since the end of June. That retirement was not at her behest, of course, but mine, although I will say in my own defense that I tried damn hard to get her to visit her other daughter (yes, alright already, my sister) and/or several friends in Winnipeg instead of spending her summer in old-folks-land exile as she did.

But, my sister wouldn't have her and she wouldn't go to her friends, though they insisted they wanted her to visit.

In any event, I picked her up after six weeks of motherless bliss, and thank God I had the ute, because her luggage is always voluminous and mysteriously heavy whenever she travels, even for short times.

It takes a lot of stuff to keep her looking like the style she's become accustomed to. Heh.

Within a minute or two into the drive home, the kookiness began.

She informed me she had an "opinion" (pronounced in melodramatic, overdrawn tones) about the husband of a close friend of mine.

"Do tell," I inquired jovially enough, trying hard to maintain the Zen.

"Oh, I won't tell you. I'll show you when we get home," she announced primly, coy as a kook can get.

After a moment's pause, wherein I contemplated just leaving it at that, I plunged ahead.

"Surely you can just tell me, now," I laughed, a little sickly.

"Well, we were at a party a few years back, and Jim came up behind me and..." Here she paused, building up suspense for her grand finale.

"...and he grasped both of my buttocks."

She held her hands in the air before her nose, as if she were testing two huge invisible mangoes for ripeness. Squeeze, squeeze.

"With both his hands," she finished, in case I wasn't getting a clear mental image, which unfortunately, I definitely was.

I felt quite a confluence of emotion at this display, as you may well imagine.

A huge urge to laugh, a strident sense of creepiness, incredulity and disgust all welled up inside me, and if I hadn't been so well-prepared for her general kookiness, I may have had trouble staying on the road. I suppressed my laughter, with difficulty.

I immediately knew which dinner party she recalled.

I also knew, for an absolute fact, that no such thing had happened to her at the party.

But, if I've learned one thing with Sally in the past few months, it's to not cross her delusions.

I couldn't just accept her story, though, so I thought I'd try to make her consider its oddities a bit.

"Gee, mom, why do you think he'd do something like that?"

"I have no idea," she shot back in frost-laden diction .

"Seems so strange, for a younger man to do something like that to such an elderly woman. And the mother of his wife's good friend, no less." I looked sideways at her as I said this.

She would have been around 84 when we'd attended the dinner party. Jim would have been perhaps 55, and his wife, my friend, around 50.

But in Sally's vanity, she'd never considered that the image she painted, of Jim squeezing the quivering withered ass of an old, old woman, was possibly strange, or weird, or out-of-place, never-mind just about inconceivable. Sally remains convinced of her ability to conquer all men, no matter their age, or hers.

"Well," she tossed her head as her nose rose higher in the air. "I've always thought he'd had a few too many drinks."

Yes, enough to blind him, apparently, I thought to myself. Out loud, I said not a word. Then changed the subject.

The really odd part about Sally's story, is not that she made it up out of the blue.

The really odd, almost scary thing about it, is that I believe she's taken an experience that happened to me, and changed it slightly here and there, and then completely appropriated the memory for herself.

Because at the dinner party she talked about, I actually had one of the male guests accost my buttocks, so to speak, by placing his hand (just one) on my behind (just one cheek). There was no squeezing of ripe mangoes. Just an inappropriately low placement of the hand, very discreetly, and obviously to test the waters of my interest. Which was nil, as the guy's wife was sitting across the room from where we stood.

And that wife was not my very good friend. The guy who hankered after me that evening was not Jim, but someone else completely, someone we'd just met that evening at the party, someone whom neither my mother nor I have ever laid eyes on again.

I'd told my mother about the incident a couple of years after it happened. And somehow since that telling, the twisted neurons in Sally's shriveled mind have awarded Jim the dubious award for being the cad who grabbed her mangoes.

So it's come to this: Sally has been completely confused about many things lately, including dates and names and times and places. And she has made up memories that are false, memories of things that never happened, but of which she may have dreamed, at best.

But before this chilling little mango memory, she'd never ever stolen an entire experience that someone else has related to her, and made it all her own.

This frankly terrifies me, because if Sally is becoming me, just how far off might the time be when I become her?

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