Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Character Sketches: A Fly on the Wall

You know how I love a good character. I am a great collector of characters and am always on the look out for a good one. Did I ever land a whopper this morning!

The individual in question was a woman of about 50 years, dressed brightly in a blue gingham over-shirt with coordinating t-shirt and slacks. She wore flip flops and her toe nails were painted a plum color. Her hair was an ash blonde that tended more towards gray and there was a healthy plumpness to her cheeks that spoke of relative wealth and comfort. She looked like any of a hundred other suburban housewives. With her was an elderly woman who she addressed as mother and an elderly gentleman who either genuinely was hard of hearing or feigned it for his own sanity.

The family was already waiting when Officer B and I arrived. Despite our presence, Mrs. Gingham sat in a public waiting room, gossiping viciously about a young female relation – a niece as best I could figure- who was leaving for college.

“Her mother left. Didn’t I tell you?” Mrs. Gingham made some half-hearted attempt to whisper but she was obviously too excited.

“No, when did this happen?” Mother queried.

“Awhile ago. She went back to Georgia. I think that’s where she was from. Just packed up and went back to Georgia. Her mother had just been everything to her. I guess she got over it. She seems fine now. But her mother was just everything to her. She seems to have gotten over it.”

The husband was a lump of a man who Mrs. Gingham had never liked. “He would just grunt at you. I guess she had just had enough and went back to Georgia.”

Mother chimed in, “I couldn’t leave my children. Well, boys are one thing, but not girls. I couldn’t leave my girls.” (Boys are one thing?! Mothers have less affection for their sons?! Freud would be capering around his office on that one!)

“Anyway,” continues Mrs. Gingham, “She’s going to be living in the dorms. In these suites, more like suites than dorm rooms. They have their own kitchens. I don’t know how she’s affording it but that’s what she says she’s going to do. I guess her daddy is paying for it.”

The conversation detoured to how hard it must be to work in oncology (although I presume one of them was there to see the doctor). Mrs. Gingham revealed that she worked at a local hospital (the one I have had such bad experiences at) and how much she hated it, just hated it, when she had to work with the oncology patients. “I hate it, hate it, hate it.” (again, these people weren’t there on holiday so the vehemence of the comment seemed very odd.)

“So, anyway, she says she’s going to start out Pre-Med.”

“Oh! is she smart enough for that?” asks Mother.

“No! She’s not that smart! Not that I’ve seen any evidence of. But that’s what she says she wants to major in. I just told her, ‘Well, okay.’”

I think I visibly blanched at that last exchange. I don’t know if the poor girl is clever or not, but for her own flesh and blood to talk about her that way . . . as the saying goes: who needs enemies? It's sad really. An excited, hopeful teenager shared her plans with this woman and this is what was made of that trust.

My mind isn’t twisted enough to have created such a creature, but there you have, for all posterity, Mrs. Gingham.

6 comments:

Renae said...

Oh, my dear Mrs. Fox! Truth is stranger than fiction. You should write a novel, and include her as one of your pitiful side characters. You know, the ones who are there for comic relief, who everyone loves to hate?

You really should write a novel, if you haven't already.

Praying you are well.

--renae

Super Kawaii Mama said...

I am often privy to these sorts of conversations from my Mothers In Law. They take joy in telling me all about the mothering skills of my sister in law and leave me in no doubt that I would never confide anything in them. It makes me quite conscious of what they say about me to her!

Liz said...

You were sitting there scratching this all down in your little notebook werent you? Sigh. I'm so glad we're friends. :)

Elise Sheppard said...

Don't you just love the Harriet Olson's of the world?? We all know a few unfortunately. But they do give the rest of us something to talk about:)

Hope you're feeling well today.

Ms. Math said...

I don't often enjoy hearing other people's conversations because I usually end up walking away with a sadness for the human race. There is a lot of garbage filling up the sounds waves!

Jennie said...

Love that you call her Mrs Gingham! :D