My daughter Gladiola says she is getting a bikini wax.
“Wax it? I wouldn’t even starch it,” says my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda. “How are you going to swim in it?”
Gladiola explains this has nothing to do with swimming.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to wear it for Mardi Gras,” says Ms. Larda.
Ms. Larda believes if God wanted people to run around indecent on Mardi Gras, he would have put it in July. She says it’s in February so if people flaunt themselves half-naked in the cold, they have to suffer.
But this year, she says, he slipped up and put it in March when it will probably be hot. And half the population will wind up with eyestrain and the rest will be famous on YouTube.
Gladiola promises not to run around indecent, and Ms. Larda says, good, because she got enough to worry about.
“This whole year ain’t natural,” she says. “You got Mardi Gras, and right away St. Patrick’s Day, so you got to switch from doing whatever you do for long beads and do it for cabbages. Then on top of that comes St. Joseph’s Day, with more parades, plus St. Joseph altars. Never mind 2012. We ain’t going to make it to Easter.”
Well, one unnatural thing paid off for Ms. Larda. Remember the unnatural weather at Christmastime – freezing one day, then hot, then back to freezing again?
People were covering their rosebushes and tender vegetation with old bedspreads and whatever they could find; uncovering them the next morning, and then recovering them 24 hours later when it got cold again. (Ms. Larda says that kind of thing wouldn’t happen if Nash Roberts was still around. These days she watches Carl Arredondo on Channel 4, but it ain’t the same.)
Now, I live in the French Quarter, and I just plunk a sweat sock over the potted petunia on my balcony when it gets cold. But most people don’t have it so easy.
Anyway, Ms. Larda created a made-to-measure plant snuggle that you can zip onto your plants. It comes in tasteful azalea or fruit-themed prints.
She already did a good business in garden flags and trash can muumuus, but this new idea took off like roaches in a spotlight, and she spent December filling orders as fast as she could. Even so, she had leftover fabric. So for Christmas, the ladies in our family each got seven pair of panties in azalea print, and the men got boxers covered in oranges and bananas. (My gentleman friend Lust tells me in private he wishes she had been more careful about how she positioned them oranges and bananas.)
Now she is working on a St. Joseph’s altar to give thanks for all this success. She started baking right after New Year’s. (Her Italian cookies got the life expectancy of your average rock.)
Her statue of St. Joseph got washed away when the levees broke, so she sent Lurch and Leech, my brothers-in-law, over to the Church Supply House in Metairie to buy the biggest one they got for $100.
On the way home they stop by the Sloth Lounge for a quick beer, and would you believe, somebody gets in their car and makes off with St. Joseph! The cops said they ain’t surprised. People are desperate to sell houses these days, and everybody knows the best thing to do is bury a statue of St. Joseph upside-down in the front lawn.
Leech remembers my friend Awlette’s ex-mother-in-law willed Awlette a St. Joseph statue – saying she prayed St. Joseph would make her a decent housewife – and a rug her deceased Pekinese evidently used for bathroom purposes. When Awlette put the house up for sale during her divorce, she rolled that statue up in the rug and buried it upside-down in the front lawn. One of the neighbors suspected it was her husband she buried and called the police. So they dug it up, but then they had to apologize and bury it again.
Awlette’s house got washed away in the flood, but the statue might still be there. Somewhere.
So Leech and Lurch tell Ms. Larda the statue is on special order.
Now, Awlette’s house was next door to Ms. Larda’s. Ms. Larda got her house rebuilt, and she can see Awlette’s ex-front lawn from her kitchen.
So Leech and Lurch sneak over there after dark, and work their way across the yard stabbing the ground with pitchforks. They almost stab each other. Then they come to me. I call Awlette and she says they are welcome to the statue – she got the insurance money and opened a nail salon – and she’s been feeling guilty about St. Joseph being stuck down in the mud, but she can’t find him. She also flung her wedding ring in with him, which she regrets since gold prices have gone through the sky.
But she knows where she can borrow a metal detector.
After two nights of clicking around, they finally haul him out. The ring is fine, but poor St. Joseph’s nose is gone. They must have knocked it off when they were searching with the pitchforks. The police evidently re-buried him right side up. No wonder Awlette never sold the place.
So Lurch swipes some of Ms. Larda’s cookie dough, and Awlette, who is the artistic type, sculpts a nose with it. Well, it ain’t no Michelangelo nose. But they paint it with Natural Peach nail polish and glue it on. And they present it to Ms. Larda.
She frowns at it. “He looks like Carl Arrondondo,” she says. He does have a passing resemblance. Leech tells her she’s just thinking of him because of all the weird weather that made her so much money.
So she drapes him with an azalea-print cape, and sets him on top the altar. And with the last bit of azalea-print fabric she makes Gladiola a new bikini.
She tells her not to wax it.