Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On the Phone with Velma #1

“What?” I hear Velma’s voice yell out before she even brings the receiver to her ear.

“Velma? Hello?”

“What?” She seems to be breathing heavily into the phone.

“The blog is up.” I say triumphantly. Like it took years of work.

“Is that supposed to mean something?” Sometimes I think she plays this ignorant old lady thing on purpose.

“It means the general public will be reading your journals.”

“Yeah well,” she labors. “I hope it works,” She struggles to gain her breath.

“What works? Are you okay?”

A guttural cough right into the phone, “Yeah I’m fine.”

“What’s with the breathing?”

“Oh, you caught me doing yoga.” You see what I mean about the old lady act. “I was doing kapalabhati.”

“That’s crazy stuff.”

“It’s the reason I’m still alive.”

I lob a little pause in there. “So, what works?”

“What are you talking about, sweetheart?”

“You just said I hope it works.”

“The journals! It’ll make ‘em realize what’s going on.”

I chuckle, “Yeah, well, I think it’s an entertaining read.”

“I know you do, but there’s more to it.” At this juncture the reader might take note that Velma thinks some of the more
fantastical elements of her journal are not fiction. I can say with confidence that, I think, they are. We humor her. “So do you
need more?”

“More what?”


“Velma, I’ve only posted three.”

“THREE? Whatta ya waiting for?”

“Do you know how long it takes to read your handwriting? I have a day job.”

“Oh Christ, I’ll be dead by time you type out ’35.” It’s possible. “Work faster!”

Me changing the subject, “Look I called to see if there was anything you want to say about your journals? For the readership?”

“Yeah—” Suddenly I hear what sounds like a legion of cast iron skillets falling onto tile. “DAMMIT MIMI!” Then another crash
and the squishing sound of the receiver under Velma’s ear as she moves about. “Never keep a peacock indoors. They get into everything.”

Knowing what I know now about Velma Graydon this statement does not strike me as odd as it may you.

Mimi in the other room! NOW,” she yells. “You see it’s supposed to rain and I don’t want them outside.” There are two of them. “They get so ornery when they’re wet.”

“Ah huuuuh,” I draw that out because I have no idea what to say.

“So the early journals,” she refocuses. “Yeah, they’re awful.”


“They’re so sophomoric. I was in love with my own brain. I thought I was the bees-knees for going to college. Now everyone goes to college.”

“That’s what you have to say about your journals?”

“Oh God, I cringe when I read them… Skip ahead. So much flower so little root. The later ones get to the point.”

“Velma, I’m not skipping.”

A deep sigh, “No? Well, then I’ll just die before you get out of the 30’s.”

“Okay. Anything else you want me to relate.”

“Sure, let them know I don’t shit diamonds like I thought I did seventy-five years ago.”

“Right, okay.”

“And don’t say shit when you quote me. I want your civilized readership to think I’m intelligent.”

“Got it.” Little does she know that I’ve been transcribing our conversations word-for-word. She’d be fine with it, I’m sure. No use in telling her right this minute.

“You know I didn’t say my first curse until I was forty.”


“Yeah, now I can’t stop.”

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