The living room. My 81-year-old mother-in-law, Mother Mary, and I are watching TV while my wife is preparing lunch. Mother Mary sits in her wheelchair, drinking a glass of Coca-Cola. A racy perfume commercial plays on television.
Mother Mary nods to the TV and says, “Those people are sexy.”
I say nothing.
She points. “Especially him. Look at him. I’d sop him with a biscuit.”
I clear my throat and study my shoes.
She takes a sip and says, “You know, this commercial reminds me, I’m out of bath powder, I need some.”
“I need bath powder fragrance. Make sure you write it on my shopping list.”
I’m not certain when I was elected the new shopping-list supervisor, but I retrieve her notepad and say, “Okay, what do I write down? Just… Bath powder?”
“No, you write ‘Estée Lauder Youth Dew dusting powder fragrance.’”
She chews an ice cube. “And I want the big one.”
“The big one?”
“Yes. Youth Dew bath powder comes in different sizes. I want the extra-large. I use it every day. It’s the signature perfume for all old ladies.”
When a woman starts wearing Youth Dew she is officially an old lady. Everyone knows that.”
So I add the item to the shopping list. Although I do require a little help spelling Estée Lauder correctly.
Silence follows our little spurt of conversation. And the television is now playing a commercial for Victoria’s Secret.
Mother Mary turns to me. “And write on there that I need a new bra, too.”
She cackles. “Oh, don’t be such a Baptist. I didn’t say thong underwear. It’s not like I’m telling you my cup size or anything, jeez. Keep your Levis on. I need a new bra. Mine’s old.”
God help me.
I wish my wife would enter the den and rescue me. I’m also praying fervently that the television doesn’t start…