My mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, says all this hurricane stress has given her nerves and prostration, and worse. She also got gastronomical problems.
“Hurricanes can cause more than one kind of wind, if you know what I mean,” she says to me, out the side of her mouth.
She has had this problem before, and she cured it with Bean-o and a candle to St. Jude, but neither one is coming through for her this time.
MODINE's NEW ORLEANS: “Larda’s Gas Surplus” – is it a problem or the solution?She says she wouldn’t worry about it usually, and just let it pass, so to speak, but this FEMA trailer she is living in is too small for that. “Somebody strikes a match in here and the whole thing will blow up, Modine,” she says to me. She saw a story about that on TV one time, but it was cows in a barn in England, and they barely got out with their lives.
So she carried her statue of St. Jude outside before she lit the candle in front of it.
She knows she needs to go to the doctor, but her doctor ain’t there no more. All his patients are supposed to go to this other doctor out in Metairie, who is so busy even his nurse got voice mail. You leave a message with your name, date of birth, health insurance company and what symptoms you are experiencing, and she will supposedly get back to you one of these days.
Ms. Larda answers the first three questions. Then she gets to the part about describing her symptoms. She don’t know how to do that in a ladylike way. So she hangs up.
God knows what the nurse will do with that voice mail. Maybe she will secretly play it to all the other nurses on their lunch break and they will have a good laugh. Maybe they will send it in to “World’s Funniest Videos – the Voice Mail Version” and she will get her fifteen minutes of fame for flatulence.
She calls this nurse back and says she got chest pains, because she figures a actual human being will call her back for that, and she can explain.
Meanwhile, my daughter Gumdrop is calling me, but her cell phone don’t work where she is and I only hear every other word she is saying, “Mama … in-law … RACCOON … too far … come.”
She and her husband Slime and my little grandbaby have moved to the country, up in Folsom.
Well, I intend to evacuate to her house when the time comes anyway, and I might as well check the place out, so me and my gentleman friend Lust and my littlest daughter Gladiola, we cross the Causeway and keep going, past all these acres that have grass and horses and split-rail fences like in western movies, down a long road and up a hill to the log cabin where Gumdrop is. I am astounded. A hill. Gumdrop was never on no hill except Monkey Hill in Audubon Park in her whole life, and here she is on a hill.
She comes running out and flings her arms around us like she hasn’t seen us for a year, instead of a week ago when she moved. Then, she shows us around the house, which is pretty nice, because it ain’t really made out of logs; it just gives that effect. It belongs to Slime’s parents, but Gumdrop and Slime are living in it for now because they can’t find noplace else.
Then she brings us out to the back acre – this is what they call back yards in the country – and there is a little small log cabin that matches the big one. I ask if this is for the goats or what, and she says this is the mother-in-law house and lots of people build them these days. Then she drops the bomb. She asks would I come live there for a while and look after the baby while she goes back to work. She says Gladiola could even go to St. Scholastica Academy, which is around there somewhere.
Gladiola reacts to this like she stepped in pig doodoo, so I know she don’t like that idea. And me … I got Lust. I got a life. Gumdrop says to think about it. I think no, but I don’t say so.
When we get back home, Ms. Larda is on the phone saying the nurse called back about the chest pains. Ms. Larda was ready for her. She says she solved that by getting a bigger bra, but now she got her on the phone, she wants to talk about a more delicate problem. And she does. So they run a bunch of tests, which Ms. Larda don’t want to talk about.
After a week, the nurse calls and says Ms. Larda ain’t going to die from this problem – which is good, because how would that look on her tombstone, Ms. Larda says. But she is supposed to take some pink pills and avoid stress.
“So how do I sit in a FEMA trailer during hurricane season and avoid stress?” she says to me. She lit another candle in front of St. Jude, but she don’t know how much good that will do, even if he is the Saint of the Impossible.
I have a stroke of genius. “How about a nice little cabin on a hill?” I say.
“Hill? Like Monkey Hill?” says Ms. Larda.
So I explain, and the next week we truck Ms. Larda and her statue and her massage recliner over the Causeway and through the woods to Gumdrop’s place, which we now call Monkey Hill North.
I don’t know how long she is going to last up there. You can only stand so much peace and quiet. But she says she’ll hang in until hurricane season is over.
Meanwhile, her gastronomical problem has evaporated into thin air.
You can always count on St. Jude.