Wrong Shoe/Right Hat/Spaghetti Breast

“Are you coming up town?”

My ex-boyfriend Bill, the one who lives in my studio apartment, calls me from his work. He’s been at the bank for two hours now and I wonder why he’s asking me if I am coming up town. I’m suspicious and as it turns out, I have a right to be.

“Well,” he continues, “…..I just noticed that I wore two different pairs of shoes to work.”

I’m quiet, soaking in the picture.

“Well, OK, so it happens, ” he says. “I need you to go in my room and find a black shoe with laces. Get the Tom McCan one, I have to match it with the other shoe on my right foot. So, get the left foot, would you?”

I start laughing. And laughing. I snort through the rest of the phone call where I promise to bring him a matching shoe.

I run out to Bill’s place and root around in his shoes. Grabbing the one he wants, I run into my house and find my housekeeper. Isabel doesn’t speak any English but when I pantomime Bills’ trouble and shake the shoe in the air, Isabel gets it. She laughs and laughs as she waves and shakes a blue duster in the air.

On my way up to the bank to salvage Bill’s reputation, I stop to see my mother. I have to tell someone Bill’s hilarious news.

I say, “Guess what Mom! Bill wore two different shoes to work and he didn’t even notice it for two hours!!”

I’m jerking and grinning and giggling and ha ha ha-ing.

Mom looks and me and says thoughtfully, “…..I’ve done that.”

“Oh geez Mom, you would.”

Mom doesn’t see the humor.

“You and Bill are just alike. I don’t know where you two live in your heads.”

I sigh and mumble, “Dang, a good story wasted.”

My mother has recently dropped a heavy load of books on her left foot which has laid her up for days. When my brother in law calls to tell me she’s done this, he shouts, “Do you know what has happened to your mother!!?”

I say, “No. I don’t.”

Ron sounds exasperated and says, ‘I thought not!’ …….and hangs up.

Which leaves me to wonder, ‘what happened to my mother?

I have to call back and have a sister tell me. Ron hadn’t bothered to tell me because once again, Mother hadn’t bothered to mention something of note. She just doesn’t notice things that other people might think are extreme, like strokes and lung cancer, which she has had and which passed by with little comment from her.

Since I’m here at Mom’s we might as well have tea. Mom is in the tea leaf reading ‘biddness’ now. At least, she thinks she is. She is almost 87 years old and has been insisting she needs a job for years now.

A few weeks ago she was asked to read tea leaves at the local Historical Society’s Tea. My sister Barbara helped her pack up her tea pot, leaves and the *tea leaf reading book she wrote, watched her dress in one of her usual odd outfits and drove her to the party.

When I arrived later at the Society, there was Mom, sitting at one of the tables with about six ladies, reading their fortunes in a cup. She was wearing her red velour pants, her blue plastic gardening shoes, a little yellow sweater with spaghetti dried on the breast of it and an old brown jogging jacket. On her head was a magnificent glossy creme colored silk version of a large mixing bowl draped with huge beige flowers, pale netting and pearls.

As I popped into the room, I noticed three tables of women at full attention as Mother was reading one of the guest’s tea cup. The lady appeared to be in her late forties or early fifties, with thick dark hair, full red lips and a giant hatted head full of stuffed spotted birds and colored chiffon.

“Oh…” Mother was saying as she peered intently into the cup, “ummmm…I see a man! He’s a handsome man with dark hair and he has lots of money. I see that you have been going on trips with this man and it’s a very tempestuous, passionate relationship.”

Mother looks up into the woman’s eyes as all the other women gasp delightedly, titter and ‘oh’ and ‘ah.’ The lady in question looks pleased and demure.

Mom stares back into the cup and continues, “yes, he’s very rich and he has a well known position in local  society, and oh my, he’s married!”

The room erupts with startled and happy shrieks and Mother looks pleased. She must be doing a fine job. The guest snatches her cup back and manages a wan smile.

“Let’s read someone else’s cup,” I say as I trot over to Mom.

Everybody wants their cup read. Apparently, Mother has proved herself.

Later, the woman with the married boyfriend asks me if I can bring Mother to read leaves at her next function and someone else from another table tells me she wants my mother to come to her party, too.

Mother is in business. She’s officially in the tea leaf reading business.  Mom tells me later that I am her business agent.

Just what I need. Another job. I can see myself driving an almost 90 year old spaghetti breasted tea leaf reader dressed in gardening shoes and an enormous, flapping, flopping hat, all over the county. Heck, maybe I can get her on Oprah and then I will really have a big job.

*My mother’s book (It’s how to read tea leaves) is “Tea Leaf Tales” by Margaret McWhorter. $10 plus $6.00 Priority Mail.  Mail your request to Margaret at 3601 Main St. Ramona, CA 92065

(You see, I am acting like a business manager, already!)

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