With the children at school and Nonna on nap, I take a calculated risk. It’s probably the ideal, if not only time, to make dash to the post office. With a bit of luck I’ll get there and back, before she has the chance to wander very far, if at all.
I leg it.
Round trip in 20 minutes, I return to find Nonna sitting on the bottom stair by the front door.
“You ave?” she asks.
I look around, mining for clues or cats or kittens – give up. There is a worrisome smell of burning plastic.
“Have what?” I bellow as her hands hold her hearing aid.
“Yes. I do. Your son. Mike.”
“I don’t have another man, just the one.”
“Yes you do.”
“Well there’s the boys.”
“Your grandsons. Owen and Leo. They’re at school. Until three.”
I point at the clock, praying for relief.
“Not dem. Di udder one.”
“Which other one? Mr. B? My son in law?”
“Mr. B. He married Tamsin in the summer.”
“Tamsin. My daughter, your step grand-daughter.”
“Never eard of im.”
I start to edge backwards, slowly, towards the smell as she follows, still talking,
“Dat’s right, he’s in dah kitchen.”
“Who’s in the kitchen?”
“Dah udder man.”
I turn at the entry way to be greeted by a large unfamiliar male, “Hi I’m Paul, I’ve come to measure for the shelves,” he beams. I turn to glare at Nonna, who shrugs ineffectually, “wot I tell you!” I decide to deal with her later, or possibly delegate to her son. She returns to her room, shuffling and making the very annoying cat calling sound.
I surrender to the Shelf Guy, adjust my brain and make ready for some earth shattering decisions that will transform my minute galley kitchen into an efficient working space.
Paul steps towards the cupboard the size of a walk-in closet, large enough for at least two, adult bodies, because in America everything is bigger, much bigger. Behind him, the washer washes but the drier has stopped. He opens the cupboard door to see piles of miscellaneous stuff, because there are no shelves. It is the most useless cupboard in the whole house.
Paul notes down measurements and leafs through glossy, magazine choices. I make my vision blur so I have a pleasant, fuzzy, future without the fear of price.
I take a peek at the drier – just my luck - the darned thing has fused, seized and ceased, containing one load of plasticized laundry – I can hear the washing machine laughing at me, and his pal, the spare/second/emergency washing machine, bought by accident, out in the garage, tittering.
Nonna appears as Paul and I turn our attention back to the matter in hand,
"So...wot you do den?"
"Just measuring," I bellow.
"Oh you don't need to measure, I'm sure you'll fit."
"How do you mean?"
"It's just dah right size."
"The right size for what?"
"You and your fancy man," she beams.
I look over to Paul to see if this is a common American term, even though I'm fairly sure it's not. Nonna looks at him, waiting for a reaction as his skin turns a deep crimson, "wot dah matter wiv im den?" she giggles to me, "no sense of humor!"
4 hours ago