Communicating IN MODERN TIMES

Used to be if you had something to say, you just said it.

Not no more. Busy people want you to email so they can answer when they get a free minute. Your kids want you to text message so they have an excuse to stare at their cell phones. Old people want you to call them on their house phone so they can complain about what the world is coming to.

And certain people who won’t wear their hearing aids want you to yell. Not to name no names, such as my gentleman friend Lust, but back at Carnival time, my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, was sewing a fancy outfit for my sister-in-law, Gloriosa, to wear to a costume ball and she needed plumes for the headpiece. So she phoned me up and asked me to get her some more plumes at this costume store near where I live. Lust happened to be going out, so I asked him would he pick up some plumes.

He come back with a bag of prunes, and asked if I was constipated.

Things haven’t gotten no better.

I got to explain. Gloriosa is the Gunch family beauty, and she married into Uptown society. This week her husband’s baby sister, Coronette, is getting married, Their mother is the sickly type, so poor Gloriosa is doing the mother-of-the-bride job, even though she ain’t getting none of the credit.

The Gunches, being only distant relatives by marriage – and from Chalmette – ain’t invited. (We ain’t crying in our beer about it.)

The problem is that Coronette, like a lot of brides, chose bridesmaids just a little fatter than her. And like a lot of fat bridesmaids, they all swore to lose weight for the wedding. So they all ordered dresses in sizes they haven’t squeezed into since they was about 6. And naturally, when the dresses come, they don’t fit and everybody is hysterical, and Ms. Larda gets called into action.

So all of a sudden, even though we ain’t invited, the Gunches are involved.

Ms. Larda has to come up with a lot of crepe-back satin in Tiffany blue. She phones me up. I ain’t there, but Lust is, fixing a leaky pipe under my sink. Now if Ms. Larda believed in text messaging or emailing, she could have wrote me a message. But, being on the old side, she believes in phone calls. When the machine picks up, she tells it she knows I’m there and hangs up and then calls back, until Lust crawls out from under the sink and answers.

She explains to him she needs me to go to all the fabric shops Uptown and look for crepe-back satin in Tiffany blue. Meanwhile, she’ll comb the fabric shops in Metairie.

He writes down what he thinks he hears. “Larda needs fabric! Gray black sack 4 Tiffany Blue. Go Uptown fabric stores.”

He is gone when I get back, but the leak is fixed with duct tape and there’s this note. Now, Lust don’t have the best handwriting, and it’s worse, since he wrote this on a paper towel. As far as I can make out, it says, “Larda mmxm!

Crab sack packed 4 Txx blue. Go Uptwn Fab skx.”

Maybe she wants me go Uptown to Fab Food and get a sack packed with 40 blue crabs? I know the bridal supper is tonight, but I can’t believe Ms. Larda is doing the cooking, plus expanding all the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Then I realize that Lust probably couldn’t hear whatever she said. And I know I can’t read whatever he wrote that he thought she said. I might as well be getting my information off cable news. I better call Ms. Larda.

She ain’t home. I figure she’s at Gloriosa’s. I know Gloriosa loves text messages, so I text her.

I used to hate to text on my old phone, because I had to type every letter three times on the number keypad and abbreviate so everything read like gibberish. On my old phone, I would have written, “Srry. Lust deaf. Tell yr mama 2 call me.” And she would have had to figure out what that meant.

But on my new smartphone I have an actual letter keyboard. I text “Sorry. Lust is dead. Tell your mama to call me.”

Of course, I meant to type “deaf,” not “dead.” I thought I typed “deaf.” But this smartphone knew better, and automatically corrected me.

Well, Ms. Larda ain’t at Gloriosa’s – she’s making the rounds of Metaire fabric stores. Gloriosa happens to be taking delivery of canapés for the bridal supper from Kenny and Lenny, personally, from Fab Foods. She reads the text, shrieks, clutches her chest and tells them Lust has unexpectedly passed on. They are very upset, being as they happen to be regulars at the Sloth Lounge, the bar that Lust owns in the French Quarter.

An hour later, I stop in Fab Foods to get blue crabs, just to be on the safe side. If Ms. Larda don’t want them, me and Lust and the rest of the Gunches can eat them, since we ain’t invited to the wedding.

Kenny and Lenny, all choked up, give me condolences on the loss of Lust.

Well, I almost drop dead myself. Was that what was in that note? “Goodbye 4ever. Get blue crabs at Fab foods?” That can’t be right.

I tear over to the Sloth Lounge, throw myself through the door, and there he sits, like always, not even looking sick.

He ain’t wearing his hearing aids, naturally, but he gets the message when I clutch him to my bosom.

For once I don’t have to yell.

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