Monday, December 10, 2007

Mommom Jewel Kicks Ass Again, Without Aunt Janey This Time

Yesterday I called Mommom Jewel on the phone. I try to call my grandmothers in Millpond every week or two, mostly because it gets them to get up out of the easy chair to go answer the phone which is bolted into the kitchen wall so that if a tornado came the only thing that would be left in place would be that telephone on that wall. Neither one of my grandmothers have cordless phones, voice mail, cell phones or even those old school kinds of answering machines with the gravelly cassette tapes inside. It would be too much for them to have to contend with, so they stay firmly stuck in the 70s (the Nixon part of the 70s) and they're very happy there.

When I get ready to call my grandmothers I have to psych myself out because both of them have identical issues. First they don't shut up. They answer the phone with a "Hello" and literally just launch into a very long conversation about whatever is on their minds. I don't even think it matters who is on the other end so I can only imagine what its like when telmarketers from the Phillippines call. I guess they get treated to the same endlessly detailed stories about who died in Millpond last week, as I do.

Mostly my grandmothers tell me who died since I talked to them last. After that they tell me who is going to die and of what disease followed by their elaborate theories of how the diseased individual contracted the illness they are about to die from. Memere Marie favors government conspiracy theories. She believes that crop dusters fly over rural areas and spray the sparse populations of country folk living in those areas with pathogens. The crop dusters are piloted by the Masons. Sometimes its the Illuminati or shadowy figures from the World Bank. All I can say is THANK GOD this woman has no Internet access or we would have to institutionalize her.

Mommom Jewel blames every disease in Millpond on New Jersey. New Jersey is killing the residents of Millpond. Yes, you heard me right. To Mommom Jewel New Jersey is the equivalent of the lowest ring of the Inferno. The Devil himself lives somewhere outside of Trenton and from his home there he looks down South towards little Millpond and plots its destruction. According to Mommom Jewel all of the factories and industries in New Jersey spew filth and toxins into the air which are carried due South by very specific air currents that end in Millpond, dumping all of the pollution right onto Main Street to mutate the DNA of everyone in town so that they will all die of cancer. There may be some truth in this, but she overlooks the local cattle and chicken factory farms that produce their fair share of carcinogenic poisons too.

Usually I stagger my phone calls. I'll call Memere Marie one week and Mommom Jewel the next. I can't really take them both in the same week, plus since they only live a couple miles from one another, their news is the same and I'll have to hear it twice. For instance, I could call Memere Marie and she'd say:

"Last week Mildred Kleinhopper died. She was 87 years old, God rest her soul. She was a fighter."

To which I would reply that I already knew all about it because Mommom Jewel had alread told me in great detail how Mildred suffered and had bleeding sores all over her head but loved Jesus til the very end anyway, but then Memere Marie, not wanting to be topped would have to tell me even more gory details about Mildred's death, completely ignoring the fact that I have no idea who Mildred even was and don't want to know about her convulsions and morphine hallucinations. Then, and I am sadly not kidding about this, Memere would have to follow up our conversation by clipping, circling and sending me the obituaries of the dead people she told me about who I don't even know. Presumably this is to prove that she was telling the truth. I have no idea.

This week was Mommom Jewel's turn for a phone call and I was all ready to hear about who New Jersey had murdered most recently. I mentally prepared myself and dialed her number. The first time Pop Byron answered the phone which was odd because he is on oxygen and can't get around very well. He never talks on the phone because he is too frail, so I was kind of glad to hear his voice for once.

"Pop," I asked, "Where's Mommom?"

"Oh, she's got herself into a little situation so she can't come to the phone. She's got a police officer and a reporter from the Millpond Chronicle over here interviewing her. She said you'll have to call her back."

"What?? Is she ok?"

"Yeah she's all right. Your grandmother was in an armed robbery this morning."

"OH MY GOD!!!!"

"I'll have to let her tell you about it. I've got to get back to my chair sweetheart. Give her a call back in about an hour or so and they ought to be gone by then."

The he just hung up leaving me to freak out and wonder what happened for an hour. I'm imagining all sorts of terrible scenarios - gun shots, people bleeding, explosions of glass. By the time the hour was up I had envisioned a scene from a big budget, summer action movie involving a car chase, undercover asassins and someone with a microchip containing government secrets who was being chased by three guys with automatic weapons and trailed by another guy who was a jewel thief trying to make his last big heist before he retires.

I called back and Mommom answered the phone.

"Mommom, oh my God are you ok??"

"My durned eye won't quit waterin'. It's about to drive me out of my mind. I got that cataract surgery two weeks ago and then Dr. Hasheen or whatever his name is took a vacation to Iran and I have to wait 'til he gets back to see what's the matter and that nurse they got over there at that office tries to tell me there ain't nothin' wrong with it and I said to her if your eye wouldn't quit waterin' like mine is I bet you'd be singing a whole different tune Missy. Now who goes to Iran on vacation? I don't care if he's from there or not. Anyone with any sense in their head knows better than to go over to that I-Ran with that lunatic I-ma-leek-hee-jock -"

"I'm not talking about your eye! Pop told me you were in an armed robbery!!"

"Well, yes I was. Are you callin' long distance?"

Mommom Jewel is very concerned about people making long distance phone calls. I have tried to explain to her a million times about how cell phones work but she tells me they're dangerous.

"They make them things in New Jersey you know."

"ARE YOU OK?" I repeated.

"Well I'm talking to you aren't I?" she said.

It took a long time to get this story out of her, so I will retell it for you because Mommom Jewel's version would cause your eyes to water as badly as hers after getting cataract surgery from an Iranian.

That morning Mommom Jewel went to Payless to get herself a new pair of flats to wear with the polyester slacks she ordered from the Sears catalog last month. I will cut out all the parts about how she had to scrape ice off the car when yesterday it was 70 degrees because New Jersey is causing the weather to go awry and how she also had to get my cousin's kids some shoes for Christmas but she couldn't find the paper she had written their sizes down on so now she'll have to go back a second time and she didn't really want to do that. I will also leave out the 15 minute exposition on the smell of Payless and how all of them smell the same bad way and she knows the bad smell originates in China and she wishes she didn't have to buy shoes made in stinkin' China, but Payless has the best prices and selection.

In the aisle of Payless Mommom Jewel, with her waterin' eye, could not decide on brown flats or black flats. Then there was also a very cute pair of plaid flats with a bottom like a sneaker and they were on sale so she thought they might be really cute, but she couldn't make up her mind. She set all of the choices out on the floor and weighed the possibilities of each one.

Mommom Jewel tried on the black flats and considered all of the things she had to wear with them. Then she moved on to the brown flats and they were tight although they were the same size as the black ones, so she retried the black ones with socks and without socks. She got up to get a sales person to help her reach a larger size from the shelf (she's very short, unlike her granddaughter).

Mommom Jewel looked around the entire store for a salesperson and they were all gone, which irritated her because when she came into the store there were at least four people working. She called out and thought she heard a racket coming from the back, but no one came out to help her, which just figured because obviously these people took no pride in their work at all. They had made a terrible mess all over the check-out counter. Mommom Jewel made a mental note to write a letter to the regional manager to tell him how awful this Payless store was being run.

She went back to her aisle and continued trying to decide which shoes to get. A couple seconds later a large, young man walked briskly down the very aisle she had spread out her shoe selection in. He stopped in his tracks when he saw her, as if very surprised.

"Do you work here?" Mommom Jewel wanted to know.

"No," said the man.

"Well I can't find a gosh durned sales person in this place," Mommom complained.

She then recounted that the man looked at her in total disbelief as if she had monkeys flying out of her behind. This is a direct quote.

"I didn't know anyone was here," said the man.

"Well I seen four or five people when I come in but I can't find a soul now. That always happens. Whenever you need somebody, ain't nobody to be found. I'm writing a letter."

The man looked mildly amused and astonished.

"Can you get me down a pair of them brown flats and a pair of them black flats in the size six?" Mommom Jewel asked the man.

The man got her down the shoes. He looked at her and shook his head.

"Thank you young man. You have a Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas ma'am."

The man left the store in what seemed a big hurry. Mommom Jewel supposed he had somewhere to be and was late. She heard tires squealing outside the store and thought how ridiculous it was the way young people were driving these days. He was probably driving one of them SOBs.

Mommom tried on the size sixes and was admiring her left foot, pointing it towards the mirror as if she were an 80 year old prima ballerina, when ten police cars roared into the parking lot, erupting with officers who stormed the store, weapons drawn.

Mommom Jewel threw her arms in the air as one cop grabbed her and led her outside.

"Do you need an ambulance ma'am?" he asked.

"Miraculously no, although you just about gave me a heart attack! What is the matter with you people? What's going on?"

Mommom Jewel learned then that she had been in and completely oblivious to an armed robbery.

Having been so caught up in trying to decide which shoes to get, Mommom Jewel never heard when a gunman entered the store and locked the employees in the backroom while he emptied the cash register and store safe. Since Mommom Jewel was so quiet and since there were no other customers in the store, the robber didn't know she was there until he had finished. He ran into her on his way out and realizing that she was totally unaware of what had transpired, he first thought she was senile and/ or crazy and secondly he thought he had really lucked out and would get away. When Mommom Jewel went to the register to look for an employee to get the shoes for her, the robber was in the back taking the contents of the safe, which accounts them not seeing each other sooner and also explains the big mess Mommom saw at the counter. The employees locked in the backroom had hit a panic button, which alerted the police that a robbery was underway.

The best part of the story is that since Mommom Jewel had not been frightened or panicked like the employees, she was able to give a very accurate and detailed description of the thief, which the employees were not. Based on her description the police knew who to look for and the man was caught later that day trying to rob a dairy mart.

The best part of the story for Mommom Jewel, besides getting to be in the local paper and besides having something to talk about other than who died and of what, was that it turned out that the man was from New Jersey.


jeff said...

In Millpond, everything is low-rent, including the crooks... I mean, c'mon, armed robbery of a Payless Shoe Store and a Dairy Maid?!?

Subservient No More said...

What do you live there or something?

MP said...

That is great...LOVE that story. At first I was thinking you have been talking to my mom on the phone.
..which shoes did she get? I would have gone w/ the plaid!

Miriam said...

HAHA. That is just awesome. Lucky for you now she'll refer to this occasion every time she wants to complain about New Jersey. That is hysterical.

I'm glad Mommom Jewel wasn't hurt.

Anonymous said...

When I read "SOB" (my 90 year old dad calls them that too!) I laughed so hard at my desk at work, that I think I'm in trouble... thanks a LOT for being so damn hilarious!!

As always, love you...

~Shari Ann

Eric said...

Great Story.

Many Chuckles said...

I'm glad to hear she wasn't hurt, but that is a damned funny story. She reminds me of my kickass grandma, who owned a bar for many years and kicked many asses.

Anonymous said...

This is priceless - thank you for making me smile. And I think that I love your wacky family. maybe.

anon. reader

Anonymous said...

Your family is such a riot!!!

I'm glad Mommom wasn't hurt........

Green said...

First of all, Mommom is right - New Jersey is disgusting, even worse than Staten Island. Second of all, you left out the most important part of the story - which shoes did she wind up buying?

Laurie said...

that was freaking hilarious!!!!

just kristen said...

I'm from New Jersey and I'm extremely upset that you people are finally on to us....

Oh well...Off to make the cell phones that cause cancer in the factory who's toxic gases are formed to ONLY go to Milpond...


sadi said...

I have to stop reading your blog at work. I'm seriously laughing too hard to be sitting at a desk working.

Thanks for the much needed smile today.

Neurotic Snowman said...

that is a fantastic story! I'm so glad she is alright too!

Chiada said...

Oh, you! You sure know how to tell a story, and how to wrap it up with the very last sentance, making it come full circle. Another good one!

Charlotte said...

The Devil lives right outside of Trenton? Wow, I've been neighbors with him all this time and didn't even know it!

Pumpkin said...

Oh My God!!! Despite the knowledge that I am surely repeating myself for the umpteenth time......your family is utterly amazing, in every respect and I swear I've just snorted coffee through my nose from laughing so hard!

The way you wrote that tale was utterly fabulous lass, your page plus my daily jar of coffee is what keeps the smile on my face!!!

Brilliant. Have a great week hun!

JoeInVegas (who can't log on) said...

But, the critical question, did she get the black ones, the brown ones or the plaid? I bet you didn't even ask.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I love your Mommom Jewel! She totally reminds me of my Granny.

Reb said...

Oh that is so funny. Glad Mommom Jewel is okay. Ice @ 70 F? How does that happen?

Kore said...

"The Devil himself lives somewhere outside of Trenton and from his home there he looks down South towards little Millpond and plots its destruction."

Why is it that I'm picturing a Godzilla-sized Tony Soprano?

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