In case you have recently found me, Maxine is what I call my neighbor. She frequently comes over just to talk for ten or so minutes at a time. This is the story of her birthday November 13.
Friday was Maxine’s 76th birthday. I told her earlier in the week about my soccer and girl gang violence blog being chosen for front page wordpress. She said she’d like to read it, but didn’t want to read it on her own computer. She and her husband just got a new one a couple of months ago. For some reason, which I cannot fully understand, she does not like to get on it. In fact, for the most part, she refuses to touch it. I offered to email the blog to her, but she wasn’t interested. I found out later that day that her screen is black and the writing is white. Nobody seems to know how to fix it.
Friday morning she called and asked if she could come to read it on my computer. I certainly didn’t mind. I asked if she could give me ten minutes to get dressed first. I tend to start blogging early in the morning while still in my night shirt. There’s no one around for me to bother, so it doesn’t matter to me what time I get dressed. Some days I just don’t.
She came over and quickly sat down to read. When she got to the part I had mentioned about the girls fighting in the mountains she said, “I’m gonna smack your jawls.” (That’s Georgian for jowls.) Iwasn’t sure I understood what she said, so I asked her to repeat it. “I’m gonna smack your jawls. That’s what the girls used to say to each other. Then they would hit the other girls on the cheek. That was the extent of the physical violence. But I heard some rough verbal fights. Girls today are so much rougher.”
I asked her, “Did you read yesterday about the girl who got shot on Seminary? She died.” Maxine asked if I was going to blog on that. I told her that I had decided not to because it was so close to the blog I had just written about gang violence among girls. She was only sixteen years old. She was an only child. The picture in the paper shows her grieving mother and quotes her as saying, “I told her to stay away from them because they were nothing but trouble.” And then she added prophetically, “I told her they could bring a gun next time.” The girl was born in Los Angeles but moved here for a fresh start. She was shot in the head while she and her boyfriend were tying to escape in their car. Two boys, 14 and 15 have been arrested.
No wonder I’m beginning to worry about gang violence. She was shot near a mall I had just visited a month ago. It’s less than three miles from my home. I’ve begun holding my breath as I drive in that area. Depending on where I go at night, I have to drive through that area to reach my home or go way out of my way. The interstate isn’t that much safer. It passes in front of that same mall.
Back to the lighter side of the morning, Maxine had stated when she first came in that she and her husband and niece were going to the Kimball to eat lunch. I didn’t say anything right then. After she finished reading and talking about my blog, she started to move in the direction of the door.She only stays about ten minutes at a time. I asked her, “Are you going to lunch to celebrate your birthday?” “I am,” she replied.
I had her birthday card in my hand. “Well, here’s a little something for your dessert.” I handed her the card. “Should I open it now or take it with me?” she asked. “I think you’d better open it now,” I replied.
There had been several cards at the drug store the night before that could have done the job of wishing her a happy birthday. I had picked out a couple of Maxine cards, but I really wasn’t happy with either one of them. I don’t especially like to be out by myself after dark in this whole area, so I wasn’t really thrilled about going to a different store. I had seen a whole set of cards a week or so before that I thought would be perfect, but they were all sold out. That’s the danger of not buying what I want when I first see it.
I was about to settle for what I had found when my eyes fell on the picture of this gorgeous hunk lying on his back sunbathing. I opened it and giggled. I knew I had found the perfect one for Maxine. She’s been under a lot of stress lately, and I just knew she would appreciate my sense of humor. I figured it would lighten her mood a little.
Maxine looked at the guy on the front of the card. “Oh my,” was all she said as she opened it. Then she laughed. She didn’t just laugh, she howled. She first bent slightly forward and then she tilted her head back and must have laughed for at least a minute or more. She couldn’t stop. Of course by that time I was laughing with her. It felt soooooo good. But then it always does when Maxine and I start rolling.
I suppose you’re wondering what a birthday card had to do with dessert? Well, the guy on the front was perhaps dessert enough. Neither of us is too old to appreciate eye candy. The message on the inside said, “I thought you might like some roasted nuts. Happy Birthday!”
When she calmed down she said, ” I can’t wait to share this with my friend.” She’s still in contact with a group of friends she went to school with in Georgia. “I’m going home and call her. She’ll really appreciate this!” Then she started laughing again, tickled at what her friend’s reaction would be. “She has a sense of humor like you. You’ll probably hear her laughing over here.”
She always displays cards her husband and she get on the small shelf on the kitchen window above the sink. It’s constantly full of well wishes they receive from grandchildren, children, and friends. She said a little hesitantly, “I hope you don’t mind if I don’t put this one on the shelf with the others.”
Always one for Southern propriety, she’ll giggle and enjoy the card for years, but not in public. She considers her kitchen public. I didn’t ask her what she would do with it. Maybe she plans for it to warm her on the cold winter nights that are coming! If I hear her laughing, I’ll know she’s still enjoying the card. Namaste. Attic Annie