Monday, June 11, 2012

Notes from the Home XIII

   The other evening, I was talking to Lynn and Ed, her gentleman caller, as we waited for the dining room to open for dinner. Lynn glanced toward the dry erase board on which the activities for the day are listed, walked over to it and did something, but I couldn’t see what.
   “I erased an apostrophe that shouldn’t have been there,” she said, when she rejoined us. “That stuff really bothers me.”
   “You and Lynne Truss,” I said.
   Truss is an English writer who has been known to go about correcting the punctuation on signs. Several years ago, she gathered her ideas on punctuation in a book titled Eats, Shoots and Leaves. The title is from an esoteric English majors’ joke about a cute panda that eats shoots and leaves, and his gun-toting brother, who goes into a restaurant and eats, shoots and leaves. I would have given Lynn my copy of the book, but it didn’t make the cut when I was packing to come down here.
   I sat with Lynn and Ed at dinner, and William was also at the table. About halfway through the meal, William turned and started talking to a man at the next table. I don’t know what they were discussing, but, over and over, William asked the man, “Where’s it at?” The more he asked, the more exasperated Lynn became, until she finally said, “Right before the at.”
   “Were you an English teacher?” I asked.
   “I’m sorry. Is it that obvious?” she said. “I shouldn’t be so persnickety, but I can’t help myself.”
   I told her to go ahead and persnick. I was enjoying it.
   Friday, a group of us got on the Covenant Woods’ bus and went to lunch at The Market. Ellen, a feisty woman who will turn eighty this year, dominated the conversation. Among other things, Ellen was upset because one of the women who went to dinner with us last Friday told Penelope she was shocked that Penelope had chosen to have the mystery dinner at a restaurant that serves alcohol. As Ellen went on about this woman, I realized that she was the lady who sat next to Roger, the new general manager, and across the table from me. Roger had a Bud with his meal, and I had a Guinness. I hope she noticed that both of us drank responsibly.
   Sue was also at The Market with us. A new resident, Sue was an antiques dealer, and in the last few years she has been doing some writing, mostly fiction and memoir. She hasn’t published anything, but she’s entered some of her stuff in regional writing contests and done well. I’m going to have to find out more.
   A few of us went to the Columbus Lions’ indoor football game, Saturday. While we waited in the lobby for Penelope to park the bus, Helga and Russell got into a science vs. the Bible discussion. Russell, who has all the physical attributes needed to play Santa Claus, including the beard, came down firmly on the side of the Bible. The conversation was short and without rancor, and neither Helga nor Russell changed their position on the matter one bit. The surprise came a little later, when Russell and I, due to our limitations, sat apart from the group, and Russell seasoned our conversation with the liberal use of the F-word. Apparently, the range of acceptable Christian behavior has expanded dramatically since I last checked.
   No one at the Columbus Civic Center Saturday fanned himself in an effort to offset the heat. But many people, myself included, wished they had worn long pants and a sweatshirt. I haven’t any idea why the air conditioner was cranked up so. I wonder if the Lions were trying to put the crowd into a proper football mood by making it feel like November.
   As seems to be the case with every professional sports event these, the people in charge did everything they could to keep the decibel level in the triple digits. Between the recorded music, a high school band drum line, and a public address announcer who spoke in a yell and never shut up, every second was filled with noise. Why? Shouldn’t the game be enough to hold the fans’ attention for a couple hours? Or should I accept the fact that I’m getting old?
   I talked to Beth Thursday evening. I could hear the enough-already tone in her voice when she talked about all the rain they’ve been having. And I could hear the excitement in her voice when she talked about the chicken coop she and Ken have built, and the huge garden they are working on when the weather cooperates. And, most importantly, I could hear the love and excitement in her voice when she talked about Hayden. Bethany has always been full of life, and now she is enchanted by the wonder of life as she and Ken watch Hayden grow.
   And Russ is quite a guy. He spent several hours Wednesday chauffeuring his old man. I like to think he does it out of love and respect. But, when he is the chauffeur, I have to use the manual wheelchair. So it is possible he does it because he enjoys pushing me around. On Wednesday, he pushed me around Target – which he and Karen call Tar-jay, in the manner of Hyacinth Bucket on Keeping up Appearances, who pronounces her last as “bouquet.” I needed a few things, but my real purpose for shopping was to be a doting grandfather and get a few gifts for Hayden. I found a couple books, which I hope he will enjoy. And Russ and Karen dropped in Friday evening to pick up the package for Hayden and take it to the post office.
   Whether it was skillful parenting or dumb luck, the Harris kids turned out pretty good, and I’m proud of them.

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