Weekend Wanderer: When Mom Stands You Up for Dinner
My editors ask that I submit this column by Thursday each week.
They say Thursday. What I hear is Tuesday because Thursday is just preposterous.
I mean, come on, guys. What if something catastrophic happens to my submission? A Thursday deadline leaves only Friday for corrections.
Friday. Twenty-four hours before publication.
Who, exactly, are we trying to be? Evil Knievel? Bear Grylls? Fonzie?
No. We don’t walk on the knife’s edge of life that way.
I like to submit by Tuesday. Which really means Monday. Which means by Monday night, I’m fretting.
Why? Because invariably, I haven’t finished the week’s column, what I do have is drivel, and I’ll never get something readable written by the end of Monday.
By Tuesday, I’m sleepless with stress. Words and phrases jump in and out of my head like fish catching bugs at the river’s surface. They’re there, they’re gone, and new, inferior words take their place.
By Wednesday, I’m submitting my work, berating myself for my tardiness.
It is my process.
But last week happened and now I’m questioning this self-imposed Monday deadline. The fretting. The avoidance of the Fonzie approach to life.
As you may recall, last week I shared that Willie has been downright vanilla since Indy went to Marion’s bar in Nepal.
She doesn’t call me at midnight, asking for a ride from the train station.
She hasn’t demanded I get a helicopter to airlift her friend to a better hospital.
She hasn’t texted me pictures of my hospitalized uncle’s naked backside, asking why his skin looks like that.
So I lamented last week how difficult it is to write a column with Indy in Nepal, Willie on her best behavior, and no real hunting going on.
You know — all my usual complaints.
I mean, there is some hunting. My husband went to Penn State two weeks ago for a meeting. He left at four in the morning. He came home twelve hours later.
With pheasants. That we ate the next day.
I am not suspicious of the meeting part of his story. This is how he takes meetings. And I don’t resent the pheasants. They’re actually quite tasty.
It’s just amusing that he came home from Penn State in goo-stained pants and birds who started the day not in a Tupperware container and was just like, yeah. The meeting went well.
Anyway. Last week. I wrote about boring, pedestrian Willie, clicked “submit” on Wednesday, then went to pick up Willie for dinner.
And that was when I learned that maybe — just maybe — if, as Indy used to say, I would hold my horses, I might have an actual story to write about.
Instead of writing about the absence of a story.
When I arrived at the Temple of Doom, there was not a Willie in sight.
I probably shouldn’t put it that way. But it’s a true statement, in any context you take it.
Now, the Temple of Doom has twice-daily resident check-ins. And before you ask, yes. Those check-ins have yielded injured Temple of Doom residents. Sick Temple of Doom residents.
Dead Temple of Doom residents.
Still, I felt the need to check on Willie. I let myself into her apartment. The television was on. Willie’s purse was next to her chair, right where she keeps it. Her cell phone was buried under papers on the end table.
Right where she keeps it.
But no Willie.
Even after I left, I called and called. Finally, hours later, I texted the entire adventure to my brother.
“I’m on the phone with her right now,” he replied. “She had dinner with her neighbor.”
Of course she did.
On Saturday — admittedly too late for last weekend’s column — I received a disquieting call from my sister. She and my aunt were scheduled to have lunch with Willie. They were at the Temple of Doom, knocking on Willie’s door and calling Willie’s phone.
But again, no Willie.
So I went to the Temple of Doom. My sister and I had her kids stay with my aunt in the lobby while we let ourselves into Willie’s apartment.
Just in case Willie was, you know, at Marion’s bar in Nepal.
Again, we found Willie’s purse and cell.
But we did not find Willie.
My sister and aunt decided to make themselves at home in Willie’s apartment, diving into lunch and firing up the InstaHot for tea.
Willie surfaced nearly an hour later.
And when lunch was over, she texted me. She thanked me for letting the lunch crew into her apartment. Then she texted me this:
“I was busy washing a friend who had three fractures in her left arm. She hadn’t been washed since she broke her arm.”
Generous? Sure. Supportive? Without a doubt. Could it have waited until after lunch so we all didn’t think Willie was dead on the floor of her apartment?
Was I angry? I mean, I did have other things to do with my Saturday besides play doorman at the Temple of Doom. Do you know how much energy it takes to mentally rewrite a column that was published that morning?
Or how much energy it takes to refrain from pleading with your editors to change what you wrote?
But I wasn’t angry. I was amused. This is the Willie I know. The Willie I maybe even need.
The Willie that helped me finish this column by Monday.
Even though I won’t submit it until Thursday.
Just in case.
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