Today had all the beginnings of a hard day. I was up and dressed while Bing and Liv had the day off, so they stayed in bed. Even Socks didn't get up to see me off.
I dressed in what Bing refers to as my Stevie Nicks skirt. Actually, it is just a golden and brown peasant skirt, but I had an appointment with one of my favorite children today, a five year old child with autism who absolutely adores that skirt and fingers it lovingly as we work. So, I put it on for his sake and just as I was heading out the door, I noticed that my hem was sagging badly.
No time for a quick fix. Piper and Julie are on vacation this week with their staff, so it is just me and Elly minding the store and I had the key, so I needed to be on time.
I ran upstairs and quickly changed into the simplest outfit I could find, a black long sleeved silk tee shirt and some nice black pants.
I glanced at myself in the mirror and quickly turned away. I looked positively matronly.
I drove to work. It was freezing and had snowed again last night. But, it is amazing how quickly one learns to drive in this mess.
I parked and went to unlock the front door. It is an old fashioned, heavy door and there is a trick to the key. You have to turn and pull up at the same time.
The door swung open and before I could step in, there was Jacky, the neighborhood junkie, smiling widely at me and pushing the door open for me.
Jacky is old. He lives in a tiny room on top of the bakery down the street. He is an old queen. I have heard that in the 60's, he was quite lovely and dressed to the nines. I heard that he could sing People better than Barbra Streisand did herself. And he dressed up like her frequently.
He is just Jacky. His hands shake frequently. I don't know where he gets his rent money. Or his drug money.
He smells like a Goodwill store although he tries hard to look neat. Sometimes he wears a dress, sometimes he wears a tattery pantsuit. Once, I am told, he wore a pair of leggings and platform shoes.
Jacky is tolerated and taken care of by the neighborhood. He often gets rolls from the bakery, a bowl of soup from the cafe. A taco from that taco place.
He likes the coffee at my office. I make it strong and he says it helps him get going.
Today, as he came into the office, his hands were shaking worse than usual. I took off my coat and he watched me anxiously as I scooped out the coffee and chicory, made coffee. He wanted a cup badly.
Elly arrived and without saying a word, handed Jacky the rest of her bear claw. He smiled hugely and sank his yellow teeth into it, his eyes glassing over in an instant sugar high.
I poured his coffee into a plastic cup and told him that he had better get going now, I had a client coming.
Elly popped her head around the corner to tell me that our first two kid's parents had called to cancel.
"No one wants to get out in this cold," she said.
Jacky smiled at me. "Hey, now that you aren't in a hurry, I have something for you," he told me. "A Christmas gift."
I told him that he did not have to get me a gift. He shrugged and pulled a long multi colored silk scarf out of his pocket.
"I laid it out flat after I washed it," he told me. "I washed it in very hot water in my sink. Do you like it?"
I picked it up and fingered it. It was real silk, but it had some sort of burn in the corner, probably from a cigarette. And it was wrinkly as silk gets when it is washed.
"Well, I was hoping you wouldn't notice that," he said, looking crestfallen. "It isn't perfect, but it is pretty, don't you think?"
I told him yes, that it was absolutely gorgeous. I tied it around my waist to show him how much I liked it.
"Oh, woman. You look one shade of divine," he gushed in his girlish voice.
I laughed. But then I stopped and told him that I didn't have a gift for him. He said that it was fine, that all that coffee was a great gift.
"And thank you for not running me off," he said. "But, you know what? I do think there is a present you could give me that I would just love."
I told him to name it.
"Well, I noticed that you have some bottles of fingernail polish in the bathroom," he said. "Do you think you could maybe paint my nails for me? I can never get polish on straight anymore," he told me, showing me his palsy hands.
I went into the bathroom and came out with four different bottles of polish. He immediately picked the most garish one, a bright chili red color.
I poured some dish detergent from the break room into a small bowl and added some hot water and had him soak his fingers in it. If we were going to do this, we were going to do this right. I kept thinking of that commercial I used to see where the manicurist soaks her clients hands in dish detergent. Remember that one? God, I am old.
Jacky loved it. He sat smiling down at his hands as they soaked in the small plastic sesame street bowls, the only ones we had in the break room.
And then he laid his fingers out flat on my desk and I painted his nails a nice fire engine red. He leaned back to hold his hands up against the heat grate to make them dry faster. He did have nice hands....
Then, I told him that he had to go, I had to get to work. He flounced into the waiting room, and waved a ta-ta wave to Elly, waving his fingers at her delicately, in a true beauty queen wave.
And then he was gone.
I felt good about Jacky all day. It took so little to please him. My sister would be repulsed. ("You let that horrid man SIT in your nice office and you TOUCHED his hands??")
Yeah, I did. And you know...that scarf really did make all the difference. I didn't look so much like a matron, I had a little gypsy in me. It is on my dresser now and it is, indeed beautiful...
And now to end with some questions...
Rose would like to know if I am a competitive person.
Yes. I. Am.
I am one of those people who cannot stand to have someone get a better grade on a test. I was always very competitive all through my long school years. It is what made my resume look so great. I had the grades.
But, it is not something that I am proud of. I wish I were more wise and less competitive.
Rose also wants to know if I am a risk taker.
Not so much anymore. When you have a child, some dare devil part of you sort of dies. It is hard to be a good parent and be devil-may-care. I am a mother, now. I think like one. I act one. I feel like one. I don't take many risks anymore.
And yes, I was a terrible risk taker before I had Liv.
I once got completely and totally stoned at a Bob Dylan concert and have no idea how I got home.
Not only was that risky, it was so incredibly stupid that just the thought of Liv doing something so insane almost makes me sick.
Dive asks if Bing has a sister, an identical twin, who has a thing for Englishmen.
Bing has two sisters. And believe me...you want to stay clear. One is married, but she is one of those people who talks VERY LOUDLY all of the time. She also laughs loudly. It is unnerving. Bing's other sister is an FBI agent. I kid you not. And she is single, but she is very bossy and domineering. Somehow, I can't see you with her, Dive, my love.
Scout wants to know if I can drive a stick shift.
Of course, I can! Silly! I grew up on a farm. I can drive a frackin' tractor. With one hand. I can also drive a hay baler and a combine. A little stick shift doesn't scare me.
But, no..in answer to your next question...I cannot parallel park to save my life.
QuJaBaKa wants to know if I ever get to the southern hemisphere if I will come to her place for coffee.
Yes. Make that coffee strong, please. I like it to slide down my throat like tar.
MLC asks if I like camping, sex in the morning, and what my favorite book is.
I HATE to camp. Thankfully, Bing hates it too. Liv, on the other hand, camped with her father last summer and had a ball.
I am not a fan of sex in the morning, either...although, I don't hate it or anything. :)
I just don't really wake up until nearly noon and I would have to brush my teeth first, because I hate morning breath. Bing, on the other hand, likes sex in the morning more than any other time. So, we compromise. She brushes her teeth faithfully before trying to snag me back into the bed. We also have Liv to consider...when you have a child, sex in the morning is rare.
My favorite book is a common favorite: To Kill a Mockingbird with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as a close second.
I only have ten more questions left! Next time, I will discuss people who inspire me, how I lost my faith in god and what Bing's real name is.