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Copyright © 2004 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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i don't want to be a wineglass
february 1, 2004
From the e-mail bag:
In my Lately for April 26, 2003, located here, I related different errands Mary and I ran during one of our now infrequent visits to Dallas. One of the errands was bringing our Honda CRV in for its annual check-up at Lute Riley Honda, the same dealership we purchased the car from in 1999.
Here's what I wrote about Lute Riley Honda in that Lately:
So imagine my surprise, a few weeks ago, when I received the following e-mail from an executive at Lute Riley Honda (He gave his full name and title in the e-mail, which I'm not including here, out of a general principle of not embarrassing people more than they need to be embarrassed, but he knows who he is):
I did a search on "Lute Riley Honda" on Google, out of curiosity, and in fact my Lately entry is number two out of 468 listings.
I looked at some of the other search results, and many of the other sites, other than those sites which have an obvious commercial affiliation with Lute Riley, are personal postings, such as mine, but highly critical of the service they've received from Lute Riley.
So I'm thinking, here's a search result, mine, which is unreservedly positive about Lute Riley, and in fact shows up rather prominently in the search results, and this dope is trying to get on my case?
Plus I didn't appreciate the bullying threat of a lawsuit, something the low-browed have such touching faith in, without any inkling of just how difficult it is to pursue a civil action.
So I wrote the ape back the same day:
I haven't heard a peep from the creep since. But he's the perfect example of why so many people have contempt for corporations.
Many of you have asked for an update on how Mary is doing since her stroke of April 17, 2002. I thank you all for continuing to inquire about her health.
As long-time visitors to this site know, our healthcare benefits for speech therapy ran out early in 2003, so Mary hasn't been receiving formal speech therapy for about nine months. Since then, we've continued with lessons at home, sitting around our breakfast nook table.
Physically, Mary has some difficulty walking, but not much. The right side of her body has remained slightly numb, her right hand, for some reason, often feeling cold to her. When we're in bed, she had taken to wrapping her right hand in the top of the sheet, for warmth, but what we've done now is buy several pairs of woolen gloves, discarding the left glove of each set, so Mary can wear the right glove in bed. Our cat Lady, who gave birth to five kittens in late 2002, filches one of the left gloves sometimes, usually in the middle of the night, mewling over it, licking it, carrying it around in her fangs to find a safe place to keep her new baby.
All of us do weird things, and one of the weird things I've done, the past two years, without really thinking, Why am I doing this?, is to collect all the small plastic bottles Mary's medications come in, the two and a half inch high cylinders with orange translucent bodies and big white counter-clockwise twist caps containing thirty days' worth of her pills. I've got hundreds of them now, which I store in a thirty gallon garbage bag I keep on a shelf in the garage, like a bumpy bean bag you could use for a chair. Maybe it's because we never had to take pills before. Maybe it's because I want something huge and touchable to remind me of how far we've come from that day. I don't know.
In 2003 we applied for Social Security disability for Mary, and are still waiting for an outcome. Mary's initial application was denied, as well as her first appeal. Mary's long term disability insurer, who provides Mary with disability benefits each month, has hired an attorney to represent us at the next level of Mary's appeal to Social Security. I've spoken to the attorney, and he's told me Social Security routinely denies disability benefits during the initial application and first appeal. Most people get discouraged at that point, and give up. But those who persevere to the next level of appeal, usually win. For this next level, Mary will need to appear before a judge (with me by her side, of course). We requested the appeal late last year. I was surprised to hear, from the attorney, that our appearance before the judge will probably not happen until June or July of 2004. "They're way back-logged," he told me. So we'll see what happens. I'll relate it all here, blow-by-blow.
The other night, I just couldn't get to sleep. I tried one position after another, thought I had my limbs just right, the tilt of my profile against the pillow just perfect, but then something would be wrong, the short sleeve of my pajama top was cutting into my bicep, or my pelvis wasn't exactly flat against the mattress, or the comforter had slipped off the rise of my shoulder, and I'd have to toss and turn some more.
(I'm sure I disturbed Mary's sleep during these shiftings, but that's inevitable when two people choose to sleep in the same bed. On TV in America right now they're advertising a bed where a couple is able to control their own side of the mattress irregardless of what the other partner chooses. The commercials feature women who joyously declare they're "Sleep Number 30", while their mates are "Sleep Number 60", the two sides of the mattress such that they can be calibrated for each sleeper's separate firmness preference. The ads include a demonstration of how one side of the bed isn't affected by the other, placing a full wine glass on one side of the mattress, while a woman, standing on the mattress, bounces on the other side, the level in the wine glass remaining level, not at all see-sawing. Have we really come to this, where our self-centeredness about "Me" has reached the point where we want to be able to sleep with someone else without really experiencing sleeping with them? No leg-shiftings, no exhales, no dream murmurs from another world? I don't want to be a wine glass.)
What aggravated my sleeplessness was that for whatever reason, I was also, besides being wide awake, extremely thirsty.
Lately, instead of filling a mayonnaise jar with ice and water for my night table, I had been putting a bottle of Deja Blue there instead, next to the red digital readout of the alarm clock. Sometimes it wouldn't even be a full bottle, but it would get me through the night.
But this night, my mouth was dry, tongue sticking to the backs of my incisors, and though I drank long, cold gulps from the blue plastic bottle, after a minute my mouth would go dry again.
At some point, probably around eleven, I realized I wouldn't have enough water to last me through my wake-ups until morning.
So I started conserving, taking little sips, until I only had one sip left in the bottle, and it was only eleven-thirty.
Plus, I had to urinate.
That's a bad situation. When I go to bed, when Mary and I kiss and I turn out the lights, roll over, I want to stay under the covers until morning. I know I'm going to wake up a few times, but I can normally just readjust my hips, and fall under again.
But being so thirsty, and knowing how good it would feel to coldly slake that thirst, gulp, gulp, gulp, Adam's apple bobbing, even picturing the one blue bottle of water I knew stood proudly in the electric illumination of our refrigerator, and also having to pee really bad, I sleepily accepted I'd have to get up. I rolled over onto my back, groggily aware I was doomed, I'd have to swing the covers off me, then finally decided, Okay, let's do this. I got out of bed, standing up in darkness beside my abandoned sheets and Mary's blanketed shape, decided to get my water first, then pee.
I padded out to the kitchen, head down, feeling walls with my right hand. At least I'm getting this over with, and I can crawl back under the covers.
Opened the refrigerator. There it was, that tall, cold bottle of water. On the shelf above it was a mayonnaise jar full of water and ice. I knew Mary had a similar jar on her nightstand. When had she started storing a back-up jar in the refrigerator?
Then it dawned on me. Fuck! I'm still in bed, dreaming I got up.
I woke up, stuttering, parched, aching bladder.
I got out of bed before I could even think of the inconvenience of what I was doing, walked out to the kitchen, yanked open the door. Do this while I'm still half-asleep, get the damn bottle of water, pee real quick, get back in bed.
I pulled the bottle out from its plastic-wrapped six-pack, the other four bottles wobbling, and drank about half of it right there, in the brightness from the opened refrigerator door. They say water doesn't have a taste, maybe because we're born with water in our mouth, and left with water in our mouth throughout our lives, but I have to tell you, those long, esophagus-descending swallows had the sweetest taste in the world.
So I pull the now less heavy blue bottle away from my lips, looking in the fridge, and you know, I start thinking, wait a minute, why are there four bottles still in there? There was only one bottle when we went to bed.
And I wake up again, mouth dry, bladder swelling.
I'm bothered now. How will I know if I'm really getting out of bed to fetch more water and pee, or if I'm only dreaming I'm doing what I need to do?
I get out of bed, and really concentrate. Can I feel the texture of the carpet on the soles of my bare feet?
Would I be able to feel that texture if I were dreaming?
I don't know. I decide to pee first this time, fumble my way past the cats into our master bathroom, flick up the light in the toilet stall, and urinate for an extraordinarily long time.
Standing above the toilet bowl, arching my spine back, I sincerely hope I'm not bedwetting.
Mary's dad lives in Milwaukee. He spent two weeks with us over the Christmas holidays.
The phone rang in our bedroom this past Wednesday, January 28, while we were watching TV. I got up, looked at the caller ID. "It's your dad!"
Except, when I picked up the receiver, said, "Hi, Joe!", it wasn't Joe at all, but someone I've never spoken to before, one of Joe's neighbors, calling from Joe's phone.
He introduced himself, told me Joe had fallen the past Thursday, January 22. What happened was Joe came home from buying some groceries, was raising his garage door, slipped, landed hard on the driveway, breaking his elbow and hip.
At the time of day this happened, the temperature in Milwaukee was below freezing.
The neighbor was inside his home, unaware of anything being wrong, when his dog started whimpering. As he watched, the dog ran over to the back door, whimpering some more. The neighbor told me on the phone, "He never does that, even when he has to go outside to pee."
The neighbor got up out of his chair, looked out the back door window. Didn't see anything. His dog kept whimpering, trying to get outside, so he opened the door, stepped out himself, looking around. Saw Joe lying on the driveway.
Joe's body temperature was so cold, lying exposed on the driveway in below freezing weather, the paramedics couldn't get a temperature reading for him, at first.
Last Friday, the day after his admission, he had an operation to have his hip replaced. His elbow is in a cast.
We called St. Joseph's, where he's staying.
We didn't know what to expect, were braced for the worse, but in fact his head was clear, his voice strong.
"That dog getting up, whimpering at the back door? That was Joan." (Joe's wife, Mary's mother, who died several years ago). "She's still looking over me."
My novelette This Moment of Brilliance will be appearing in issue five of Lullaby Hearse, due out in about a month or so. Lullaby Hearse is a great magazine, dedicated to printing fiction other magazines are too timid to touch. Highly recommended.
My longish short story (8,000 words) The Woman in the Walls is in the final cut for one of the very best of the annual genre anthologies. I don't want to say anything more at this point, just in case. Wish me luck.
Chet Cunningham, who's had over 300 books published (that's the type of work ethic I need), contacted me about an anthology he's putting together, on turning fifty. He read my Lately column on turning fifty, located here, and asked if he could include my piece in the anthology. I'm flattered.
The venues selling my novel Father Figure continue to expand, and now include the on-line Target stores, and several other vendors. Father Figure briefly landed on Bookbooter's Best Selling E-Books list, in the number five position. Number two on the list was the new International Version of the Bible. Although I have enormous respect for her, it would mean a lot to me to outsell God. If you haven't bought a copy of Father Figure yet, in e-book or trade paperback, please consider doing so. Information about the book, including some of the sites where you can buy it, is located here. If you have bought it, and liked it, please help spread the word.
Finally, in a recent column I mentioned I had been hunting all over, trying find the metal, hooded serving dishes used in Chinese restaurants. Many of you had suggestions on what I might do (I particularly want to thank Kevin Fanning and Chuck C8). As it turns out, Steven Burnett had been on a similar search, and located some of the serving dishes in his parents' basement (his father bought them from a Chinese restaurant). Inside the hood was stamped, American Metalcrafters. He located the company on the Internet, and sent me a link. If anyone else reading this is wandering around the Web looking for the serving dishes, here's a link: . Don't thank me. Thank Steven.
See you in March.