Doctor's fixing my right bunion and my grandson has downloaded podcasts--to distract me. "Plug in to the fun stuff, Grandma," he says, fixing the earphones in place, "and block out the lame-duck whiners and the tit-naked crazies."
Chopin should be soothing, but it crumples my sheets into lumpy chords and twists my pillow's four corners into triplets. "Nurse, the rhythm's not right here," I say. She plumps the pillows, pats me on the head. "Better, Ducky," she says?"
Last month, I went in for the surgery on my left bunion. The doctor said he'd do them one by one. The woman in the next bed removed her hospital gown, revealing breasts as long and listless as her hair. She was scheduled for shock treatment. "Gall me Galleycat," my naked friend said in a toothless whisper. Without her teeth, she couldn't pronounce 'C'.
Her daughter tottered in kitten heels, high enough to make my remaining bunion throb. She told me in the same stage whisper that her mother's name was Alison-Catherine, abbreviated to Ali-Cat. "And my name is Catherine-Alison. You can call me Cat-Ali!"
"It gives us an air of mystery," said the daughter, affronted. She sucks on her dentures, then lets the air out again. Her full circle skirt had promenading poodles along the hemline, appliqued in black satin. Under a jaunty lilac newsboy cap, her hair colour matched the outfit, just a deeper shade, almost purple. I figured she was the same age as my grandson. I didn't know the youth were doing retro.
Later the mother shuffled over to my bed holding up her bosom, and recited lines from the movies: "Don't you love the roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd?"
"Sure do, Dolly Dog," I said. I couldn't remember her name.
"Vicious snark," she hissed and slapped me. I wiped the flecks of spittle from my face and pressed the button to call the nurse. Her breath smelled like the sulphurous bog downtown, where the will o' the wisp leads travellers to their end.
"Didn't mean anything by it," I apologised.
She flounced out, bumping into my grandson as he entered, and spat, "Your mother wears Army boots."
Today I wait for the doctor to reappear. The nurse has given me the pre-med, a little pink half moon that makes the clouds shimmer. On the iPod, Bat Segundo's philosophical question -- some competition from his show -- revolves slowly in my brain: "If you were a fish, what type of fish would you be, and why?" My first thought is any type of fish that doesn't suffer from bunions, but actually, I'd rather be a terrapin. I like the option of terra firma. Aquatic excess makes me feel woozy. My head is a muddle. The light flickers.
In the corridor my grandson speaks to his boyfriend: "Tomorrow, Babe... sure... drop everything and give me ten... books? Grandma's doing well, thanks. Nurse says she's keeping her clothes on this time."
Miss Snark doesn't quite know what to think here...other than she needs an Altoid..or ten.
Scoring to come