wherein i’m called an old hag…

by Bella Rum

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Bella ~ I’m sorry I went and got old on you, honey. You could be with Linda right now. I bet she’s still beautiful.

H ~ I’m sure she got old, too.

Bella ~ Uh, that was not the right thing to say.

H ~ I mean I love what I got.

Bella ~ Not much better.

H ~ (considering options now) I never wanted anyone but YOU!

Bella ~ (… thinking, thinking…) Better.

I’m sure you deduced that Linda is one of H’s “old” girlfriends – old and former. What can I tell you about her? She was beautiful and could fit a French fry in her mouth sideways. I never understood why that should be a claim to fame, but everyone seemed very impressed. It sounds a little three-ring-circus-ish to me. Now I’m being mean. This is me being mean. Quick, say something nice. The last time I saw her was awhile after she’d had a couple of kids, and she was maintaining nicely.

She was invited to my shower but didn’t attend. I don’t blame her. I still can’t figure out who thought that was a good idea. She did give us a gift. She left that nut bowl (up there) on the doorstep of a mutual friend’s house… or more likely her mother did. I saw it when we were cleaning out the attic last weekend. We get it out every Christmas and fill it with assorted nuts. A little worse for wear, next Christmas will be its 44th year.

The first year that my DIL celebrated Christmas with us, my son regaled her with what has become the annual “nut bowl story.” There’s always some remark about that nut bowl and where it came from and how it just arrived on the doorstep. Someone always asks H, “Nice nut bowl. Where’d you get it?” And then it begins anew. Hassling H about the nut bowl has become part of our ritual just as much as the snow globe and the old Santa photos of my son.

Linda’s parents loved H. My friend (the one who gave the shower for me) told me that her parents were very disappointed when they broke up. They kept H’s field jacket in hopes that he would return for it and he and Linda would reunite. When I told this to H (years ago), he said he always wondered what happened to that jacket. I told him, “They counted on you being smart enough to remember where you left it.” He said, “They always gave me too much credit?”

A few months ago, in an old frame, we found an etching of Linda behind one of H’s Vietnam photos. It was not very good, but I recognized her immediately. It did not flatter her. She was much prettier.

After a brief and horrible marriage to a horrible man, Linda found a great guy, settled down and made a couple of beautiful children. I wonder if she can still do the French fry trick. I’m not looking her up to find out.

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