Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Trudy is from Sacramento. She was born in 1933, the youngest of four daughters. Her father worked in coal mines in Kentucky and then after moving the family to California, he ran floating crap games. He was shot to death when Trudy was 11 over a gambling debt. To support the girls, her mother pumped gas in a filling station during WWII. It sounds to me like they were poor and kind of ... trashy, but my mother won't admit it. She will turn up her nose and say, "We were broke. Not poor. There's a difference."

Trudy married for the first time at 17, had a daughter and a son, divorced, married again at 28, moved down to Los Angeles and had me. Shortly after that, she took a job back up in Sacramento and flew down to LA to live with us on the weekends.

Trudy is 5'2. In her prime she looked like a movie star and she knows it. Not Liz Taylor exactly, and not Debbie Reynolds really... but someone else kind of like that. She poses for every picture the same way: one leg forward, hand on hip, head slightly cocked, perfectly calibrated smile. Not too toothy. Trudy NEVER leaves the house without her face on. She used to spend hours in her bathroom putting on makeup and talking to me and my friends through her bathroom window while we laid out in the backyard. People used to sometimes mistake her for Suzanne Pleshette when she'd be shopping in Saks or Bonwit Teller. Trudy hated it when people mistook her for Suzanne Pleshette.

Trudy expects to be treated like a movie star and usually is. Everyone loves Trudy, and Trudy loves anyone who doesn't bore her. Random men were always sending her flowers and doing her favors. My father brought her coffee in bed every morning of her life until he got Alzheimer's and forgot how to use the coffee maker. Which is probably why for a long time she insisted my Dad was, "faking it for attention."

Trudy is permanently on a diet and always cheats. In the 70's she used to go to Dr. Peacock for "vitamin shots," and she kept a bag of Black Beauties in a drawer in her bathroom that my brother dipped into on a regular basis.

There is a clear lucite sign sitting on Trudy's coffee table that reads, "Thank You for Not Smoking." She also has a four foot tall metal sculpture of a clown standing next to the fire place. She likes to brag that the only other one in existence is owned by Jerry Lewis.

Trudy always grocery shops in the middle of the night. She claims she can cook, but never does. We ate out or had take in almost every night. She keeps medicine and food long after it's expiration date. She once gave my friend cold remedy that was 12 years old. She can also get a stain out of ANYTHING. It's weird.

Trudy is prone to temper tantrums. She always threw one on Christmas just before the guests were to arrive, then she'd retreat to her room for a good cry. At about 10 or 11pm, after everyone was assembled and dying for dinner, she would reappear, her face on, charming and cheerful as ever, and looking glamorous.

Sometimes she would lie in her bedroom, in the dark with a cold washcloth over her eyes for days. Anyone who dared go in there to ask what was for dinner, or if you could go outside and play, could get something thrown at them, or worse, have to hear her moan, "No one cares about me. No one helps me around here. I don't care. Do what you want." Then, suddenly, the next day she'd bounce out of her room, perky and fresh-faced, shouting, "Come on! Let's take a bike ride to Dinah's for pancakes!" or, "Who feels like going to Disneyland?!"

It's Trudy's world, we just live in it: Trudy always parks where ever she likes and throws away her parking tickets. Just after my sister got her driver's license at 16, she was pulled out of class and sent to the principal's office. Trudy was on the phone. She wanted my sister excused for a "family emergency." She then told my sister to hitch-hike to the airport, asap. It seems that Trudy had been late to catch a plane and so she left her car running with the keys in it, curbside. You know, where the skycaps stand? There. My sister arrived just before they towed the car away.

Trudy fantacizes about doing some kind of charity work but never does. For awhile she talked about holding crack babies at a local hospital, but that dream inexplicably faded away.

When Trudy likes something, it's "fabulous." She whispers when she says someone has, "cancer," or that they are "Jewish," or "Black." I am fairly certain that Trudy has never used the word, "vagina," but if she did, she'd whisper it for sure.

Speaking of vaginas, my mother thinks virgins can't use tampons. When I was a teenager she would sometimes poke me in the breast, or slide her hand down my back when I was on the way out the door with a boy and whisper, "Are you wearing a bra?" At 17, I asked her what she used for birth control. She gave me a haughty look and said, "I manage." To this day, Trudy continues to menstruate because she, "isn't ready," to finish going through menopause, "yet." In other words, my 73 year old mother could still get pregnant.

Trudy shops like a maniac, buys in bulk, and doesn't like to throw anything away. She has kept all of our school papers and board games, every piece of clothing she ever wore, and until recently, several rooms in their house were filled with empty boxes, "in case." And for some reason she keeps a giant garbage bag full of novelty Christmas watches on hand.

Trudy is highly sentimental. She keeps one of those big paper calendar blotter things in the kitchen so she can keep track of special days. For instance on March 7 it will read: "Leo's 35th Birthday!" and she'll draw a little happy face next to it. Or say, on May 5 it will read, "Karla and Jeff's 10th Anniversary!" and she'll draw little wedding bells next to it, or on August 27 it will read, "JB died." And she'll draw a sad face with tears squirting out of it's eyes.

1 comment:

deb said...

This is my kind of shit!