I’m down in Florida right now visiting with my Aunt Margie, who has recently relocated to what is known in these parts as an independent living residence.
There is an orderly progression in these matters. When everyday life in one’s own residence gets to be too challenging, one relocates to independent living. When medical issues dictate additional levels of help with the tasks of daily life, the next transition is to assisted living. When that is still not enough, the next stop is the nursing home, AKA “very assisted living.” One of our doctor friends has characterized the residential progression as “Go-Go - Slow-Go - No-Go.”
Margie still has all her shit in one sock, to use a vulgar expression: Her main issue is difficulty in walking, with the attendant risk of falling. Fortunately, she is a wisp of a thing, and when she falls she generally doesn’t get too banged up. But you do not want to (Gawd forbid) break a hip, and so it is best to be in an environment where you have plenty of help getting around.
We had a delightful home-cooked meal this evening: roasted sausage and grapes in a wine reduction, steamed artichokes with melted butter, tossed salad, and a nice Merlot. And, as always, good food brings out the stories.
I love Margie’s stories. Back in the day, she was one of my mother’s closest friends, a connection that ended up with her marrying my mother’s elder brother - Uncle Phil! - and becoming family. And now, with both my mother and Uncle Phil gone, those long-buried stories are getting more and more interesting.
Margie grew up in Atlantic City during the latter days of Nucky Johnson’s reign, moving to Brooklyn when she was a mere sprat of nine years. And right away, she discovered that Brooklyn people sounded different when they talked.
One of her young friends, on their morning walk to school, announced that she wanted a “fucko.”
Not wanting to appear ignorant, my little Margie did not ask exactly what said “fucko” was. That was a question she saved until she got home, lobbing it out as her mother was mixing the water for Margie’s bath by swishing her hand back and forth in the tub to blend the water from the separate hot and cold taps. The shocking enquiry caused said hand to stop dead in the water. “Don’t use that word. It’s not nice!”
But the Great Fucko Mystery was resolved the following week, when Margie’s friend showed up for the post-luncheon walk back to school... wearing a brand-new rabbit coat. “Look, I finally got my fucko!” she said, with a runway twirl.
Fucko, indeed. Is it any wonder I’m crazy about my Auntie?