Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Killing Me With Kindness

Everyone wants to help the widow. On line at the supermarket if I happen to be wearing black and I happen to let it slip that my husband recently passed away it's a sure bet that I'll be ushered to the front of the line.

Perks of widowhood are a double edged sword like losing five pounds by way of an intestinal flu. A perfect example is from an episode of one of my favorite shows
"Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Larry's mom passes away and he discovers that he can get out of going places by just hanging his head and saying,

"My mom just died."

People genuinely want to help me in any way they can and it isn't an empty gesture like in real life (which will probably begin again when it is a full year) when your sister offers to pick you up at the airport and she's praying you'll say,

"Don't be silly, Barbara. I'll just hop in a taxi."

Women like me who have never dealt with finances (except for spending, of course) are
approached by our husband's financial friends, the ones he did business with and they patiently explain that a balance sheet does not have a thread count.

An extra car needs to be dealt with. Do I sell Jimmy's car? Should I sell it on eBay or cars.com? Do I really want crazy people coming over to see the car and then killing me and putting me in my own trunk?

It's hard to be a woman alone. We're vunerable. I know if I had died 'broads' would be knocking each other over to bring Jimmy casseroles and lots and lots of cleavage. He would have been a great catch. I know. I broke him in.

My men are pure and they only want to help, though. No agenda. They loved my husband and they reach out to me with no funny business attached. They imagine themselves the deceased husband and would want their widows taken care of.

Fair enough, but, sometimes, I'm doing them a favor when I let them do me a favor. This is why I 'allowed' Pete to help me clean up Jimmy's 1964 Avanti Studebaker that had been sitting in our garage for years and years and had collected so much dust that I knew it was red only from memory.

I love Pete. He's known Jimmy since they were five and me since I was eighteen. His wife, Bonnie is my best friend. He was aching to do something for me because he was aching period. But, the Avanti wasn't really bothering anybody. It was just sitting there used to being not being touched or washed.

Pete arrived Sunday morning ready to tackle the job armed with his own special soap, sponges and some kind of three way attachment for a hose that made the water soft so that it would dry on it's own or something. I'm not sure. I wasn't really paying attention. I zoned out. It was kind of like when Jimmy would attempt to explain a football play to me.

Anyway, that car sparkled. That car smiled. That car was definitely red. Wow. Pete and my son Doug had pushed it out of the garage into the driveway and there it stood in the sun, shiny and proud.

Suddenly, the sun went away and it began to sprinkle. I sat in the drivers seat as instructed and Pete and Doug struggled to push the car back into the garage. They were a man short. Jimmy may have been watching and smiling, but he was useless.

Pete, who has a 1960ish Corvette and drives it a few times a year decided we should do what he does to get his car started - add a thimble full of gasoline. So, we went to the gas station - got the gas and I watched Pete put just enough gas in to drive it into the garage. Thrilled that it even started we closed the garage went inside to have lunch.

A little while later Pete left for home beaming with pride. I was happy and grateful and Doug went back to his apartment in the city. I was left alone with a shiny, red car in the garage. Good times.

About 11:30 that evening I had to go down to the basement (now I call it a playroom because I fixed it up for Skylar, my granddaughter, but that has nothing to do with this story) and I smelled something awful as soon as I opened the door. Then, I opened the door to the garage and it was stronger. Before I knew it the bathroom on the main floor that shares a wall with the garage was kind of stinky, too.

I imagined myself being affixiated in my sleep so I went on line and googled around until I found a 24 hour poison or odor control number in my area.

"We'll send the firemen over right away, Mame."

Ten minutes later I stood by my front door in my flowered pajamas and slippers as the fire truck with lights twirling around and siren blasting pulled up to my house.
Five giants in fireman costumes jumped out and before I knew it I was opening the playroom door and asking,

"Do you smell something funny?"

One whiff and the biggest guy said,

"Are kidding lady? It reeks."

I was sort of happy about that - I was afraid it might have been like going to the doctor, your symptoms disappear and you look like an idiot. I looked enough like an idiot in those pajamas.

I led them to the Avanti and they looked under the car before I knew it they were pushing it out of the garage and showing me a huge puddle of gasoline where the car had been. It was like looking at an outline of a body at a crime scene.

They explained that even though Pete had put only a teeny tiny bit of gas in the car since it hadn't been started in years there must have been old clumpy gas in there and that little turn of the key got the gas moving and there must be a break or hole in something to cause it to all leak out.

I asked them

"Is this like not eating in a long time and then having a tiny taste of something and getting sick?"

I think they nodded. Anyway, they put some white pads to soak up the gas and then all five of the firemen ran around the house opening windows. One came down to the playroom and told me how nice it was - I beamed.

"You wouldn't believe what we see, Lady. People call us and have no
time to straighten up. This is some basement."

I was a little disappointed that it wasn't clear to him that it was a playroom, but I let it slide. He got busy setting up and turning on a huge fan that they use in fires to get out the bad air and pull in the good so we just stood there together waiting for the bad air to leave.

And, soon they all left, too, but not before they asked if there was anything else they could do for me - is there a place I could stay overnight? I said I was fine.

And, I guess, I will be. After all, I have so many people around me to help out.