The New Year crept in while I was sleeping. There is nothing unusual about that; the last twenty-five or so have managed to show up while I was visiting the sandman. The allure of the dropping ball escapes me. I mastered the art of ball dropping long ago. Ask any of my former bosses. Every one of them took me aside once or twice a week to say, “Harris, you dropped the ball again.” They never seemed impressed.
There was a New Year’s Eve dance after supper, but I didn’t go. Penelope and Annie needed someone to deliver Table Talk. Going door-to-door in the empty hallways is much more relaxing for me than trying to maneuver the chair in a roomful of dancers. When I completed my rounds, I went to see Al. We talked for forty-five minutes. Al’s different; he knows he’s different, and sometimes that bothers him.
“Am I crazy?” he asks.
I hope he isn’t.
“I try to live according to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’” he said. “Even in the service, that was the way I wanted to treat my men.”
From what I’ve seen and from what I’ve heard from others who have known Al for many years, he does live by the Golden Rule. And he’s a crotchety old fart. It’s a wonderful combination.
There are two Catherines at Covenant Woods. One is a holier-than-thou know-it-all, and the other is a delightful lady. Covenant Woods sent the delightful Catherine a “Notice to Vacate” letter last week. Catherine hasn’t been able to pay her rent in full for several months. She had hoped to get additional money from the VA, but that hasn’t happened. The good news is Catherine has found an apartment – in a regular apartment complex – that rents for a fraction of what she’s paying here. Her right leg was amputated several years ago and she is in a wheelchair. But she has family in the area to help her. The bad news is, she is going to move.
Catherine is the second member of our dinner table to move out of Covenant Woods. Sue left a few months ago. Sue has two small dogs who failed to win the heart of the woman who lived across the hall. The woman complained, and after some back-and-forth, Sue decided it would be cheaper to move back to her own home than to move to another apartment in this complex. Sue doesn’t have family nearby. In an e-mail the other day, she said the holidays were difficult for her, because she was alone so much of the time. But, she kept busy getting a number of stories she has written ready for submission.
Helga has had health problems recently and hasn’t been around much, and when she has been around, she’s been very subdued. She has been moved to the assisted living wing and eats in the dining room over there most of time. Last night, however, she ate in the main dining room and was her old vivacious self. This coincided with my fifteen seconds of fame. It was scary.
For reasons I cannot discern, I am the Covenant Woods’ resident of the month. In the January schedule of goings on at Covenant Woods, my picture appears above a paragraph of fluff. As I was headed out of the dining room last night, Margaret stopped me to say she had seen my picture. As my head was swelling while Margaret went on about what a nice picture it is, Helga, who was at the next table, turned around.
“I too saw your picture and thought it was lovely,” Helga said. “You are a very good looking man. I’ve moved to the other wing, you know. You should come visit me when you have time. And if you’d like to stay, I have plenty of room.”
I thanked her and told her I had to run. And run I did.
I did have a less frightening brush with fame. For several weeks now, I have been sending entries to the madkane.com weekly Limerick-Off. In last week’s contest, I received honorable mention for this bit of doggerel:
The woman said mine was too short,
Of the dull, microscopic type sort.
“You’re not a sex symbol
With that little thimble.”
Perhaps if she’d sipped some more port.
I’ll be of a certain age in April, and with that in mind, I called Social Security to make sure I was squared away with Medicare. I am convinced that when I shuffle off my mortal coil and am rejected by St. Peter, I won’t be doomed to spend eternity doing the doggie paddle on the lake of fire. No, sir. Lucifer will lock me in a small room furnished with a bed, a table and a telephone. And the telephone will direct all my calls to a computerized telephone-answering she-devil.
Today, Social Security’s computer-in-the-telephone said, “Please tell me your first name and spell it.” “Thomas: T…” “I’m sorry,” the computer said. “You have given me incorrect information, and I must hang up.” And she did.
And with that, I called Russ and asked if he’d take me to the Social Security office one day soon. Monday’s the day I get to talk to real people.