It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!
It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella??? I understand, but you know how I am: always prepared! I tote mine along, always, just in case. See, here? Ha-ha-ha. [Sip.] But I’m not saying my lid’s screwed on any tighter than yours, Polly — you know I’m not. Please say you do. We’re just different this way, along with many other ways. So, so many ways. [Siiiiip.]
Yes, I agree. Absolutely! They’re what have kept things interesting for us all these years: our differences.
And so an hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour??? Oh no! Poor, poor Polly… But who’s surprised? We knew we were going to hear a good story the second you opened your mouth, didn’t we? Of course we did! You and your adventures! Tell me: When does the memoir come out? Ha ha! No really! And then there’ll be a movie, too? Who will play you, do you think? Hmmmm. There’s a thought for us to nibble on while we wait for our food. Ha-ha! Ha. [Slurp.]
No, I’m just saying ….. Maybe it’s you, not our differences, that’s kept things interesting for us all these years. No, not maybe: it’s a fact. [Siiiiip.] Plain as day now, really, and you must know it. [Slurp.] But we can’t all forget our umbrellas at home and get caught in a surprise monsoon, so please, just go on with your story.
I’m not getting angry. I’m just grumpy. I’m … where is our food? [Slurrrp. Loud sigh.] Say, the chef isn’t a friend of yours is he (or she) — off having an adventure instead of making our lunch???
Oh, I’m joking, Polly! You know how offbeat I can sometimes be. Or is out of step? Out of line, maybe… . Anyway, please. Go on. You were caught in a torrential downpour and then what?
Nothing really, you say? Well, there must be something. That was an hour ago, at least. Hmmm…
My poor Polly, standing in a puddle; soaking wet and all befuddled! All at once, a …
Oh, no, Polly. It’s just that silly rhyming thing I do! It’s a tic, practically. It’s in my genes — you’ve met my mother: you KNOW it can’t be helped. It’s like you and your stories.
[Slurp.] You’re annoyed at me. Disappointed. No, no, I can see it. I’m sorry, Polly. I do want to hear your story. So much. I do. I’ve been looking forward to seeing you for so long —you have no idea. [Slight whimper.]
Thank you, Polly. That’s very sweet. It has been hard … at times. But we’re okay. Most days they’re fine. They eat what I make for them. They laugh at their shows. But no, they usually don’t seem to understand that I’m their daughter. He does more often than she, but even he, now… . It’s odd, though: they know they have a daughter; they just don’t seem to recognize… . I tell them, “Yes, I’ll do that. I’ll call Maude. I’m sure she’d love to come to visit again.” And then, a few days later — oh, this might be really bad, Polly — a few days later, I talk about the visit like it already happened. I usually try to incorporate something from before, something they might remember, and sometimes I can see a little light go off. “Yes!” my mother said last time, clapping her hands together. “Her lemon poppyseed cake! Maude knows that’s my favorite. Oh, our dear girl.” But then my dad added, “But was she well? Is she looking herself again? Seeing anyone?” I go on and on and on, all good. All lies. How bad is that of me, Polly? Tell me what you really think. I want to know. [Faint weep…]
Thank you, Polly. How sweet you are to me.
Of course you can! I’m impervious to delicate questions. Please! Don’t forget who you’re talking to, my soggy little miss!
Uh, um. Yes, we are. We’re getting by just fine. That won’t be an issue. Put it out of our head, Polly, please.
HURRAH!! I see the food! Thank goodness!!! I’m about to fall to pieces here. I’m sorry, Polly. I know I’m not at my best today. I wanted this to be fun.
Well, you’re sweet to say so, Polly. But oh my gosh, Polly, WHERE is the rest of your lunch??? How can you survive on that … bird’s snack? This is why you forget your umbrella. Malnourishment! Very hard to think straight when you’re starving. Sorry. Now let’s hear your story, please, go on with it.
What?? I don’t believe it, not for a moment. All this build up and nothing? Something happened! I can see it in your eyes and you’re keeping it from me. Something wonderful. I want to hear it. I need to!!! Tell me, Polly, please. [Gobble, gulp, slurp….] Please.
Okay then: My poor Polly forgot her umbrella, the rain came down and along came a fella. Polly said…
What? Went into an antique store and bought a what? A broche? Is that it?
Ohhhhhhh, my goodness. Yes. It is … very much like my mother’s, from the old country! She wore it only special occasions, you know. But it’s not exactly like it! Very similar, but not the same. Right, I’d know. I’d know for sure. Hers must be tucked away who-knows -where. Oh, I shudder to think about what I’ll find when it comes time. But it’s … oh, you’re very good to me, Polly. I’m going to cry.
[Sniff, sniff. Sip.] What store was it again? Well, do you remember the street? The proprietor? No? Malnourishment, I tell you!!!! What’s good for the jeans is not so great for the brain! Uh, there I go again. I sound like your mother. I’m just concerned, really, is all. [Slurp. Loud sigh.]
But was anything … do you recall anything said about the broche? Because I know sometimes there’s a story there, and I was so hoping for a story, Polly! You always come through! Ha-ha-ha!
So nothing, at all, was said about where the broche came from? Just curious.
Oh. Right. A person of any real character wouldn’t say, unless you really pried. But then a person with any real character wouldn’t pry. [Sip, sip. Nibble.]
I knew this old fellow once, used to play cards with my folks. He owned an old dump of an antique store down by the water. He’d be ancient by now so it may not be there anymore, but oh could he tell some stories. Anything you wanted to know about anything in the place, with or without purchase — all the gory details. I used to be enthralled, I admit, but now … well. Anyway, it’s really not the kind of place you’d go, or want to go, I don’t think. Dark, shabby, dusty. Just the opposite of you, Polly. I doubt it’s there anymore anyway. And now, I’m not even sure it was down by the water at all.
Oh, me. Too much sipping.
Here, Polly, have some of my fish. I’m stuffed and I’m just betting you spent the money you set aside for lunch on this broche.
No? Well, it is beautiful. My mother will … she’ll be reminded of her own. And who knows what else that will bring back? Thank you again, Polly. I don’t know what I’d do without you, your sunny self, your sunny stories. Promise me you’ll never tote your umbrella along just in case. Promise me, Polly. [Sudden loud, long sob….]