Mirth Part 2: Peppermints

August 7, 2008
By
Scrappy yipped at my shoes. “What the hell, dog,” I barked back. “Those are my new pairs. Cut it out.” I started kicking him and calling him names.
Scrappy was this little cruddy brown puppy that we found in a shelter. Well, of coarse, being my dad, he brought him right away. We named him Scrappy after Scrappy Doo because he was my favorite cartoon character back then. As soon as he got to our house, he pooped on every room, including the basement and the tub. Oh, yeah. And he also left us another present on the kitchen table. It wasn’t long until he went from “Scrappy” to “Crappy.”
“You be nice to that dog,” yelled Dad. “I bought him with plenty of money at the shelter. I don’t want him to drop dead like your goldfish.”
“But he’s being a b----!” I called back. “And my goldfish died ‘cause you dropped him in the toilet and pissed on it. It wasn’t my fault.”
“That’s why I bought you that b----!” he shouted back. Scrappy ground his undersized face into my ankle.
“Stop it, you stupid little -- ,” I growled. Dumb Scrappy thought I was just playing and he started to do back flips on my knee.
“Where did you get those shoes anyway?” asked Dad.
“Sydney,” I lied quickly. I peeled a banana and sank my teeth into it.
“Sydney? You went to get another haircut from her?” he asked. Shoot.
“Uh, no. Actually, I just went to visit her because…she uh, you know she got this brand new gel that’s totally chem.-free?” I said.
“Oh, yeah?” he said. “How much did it cost?”
“What?” I said. What? Was he talking about the shoes?
He folded his arms. “The gel. How much was it?”
“No, no. She let me try it out because it was new,” I said.
“So, she experimented on you?”
“NO,” I said, loud and clear. “It wasn’t THAT new. I’m her friend.”
“So, you went to her salon and got gel…and shoes,” he said, slowly.
“Oh, yeah. About that,” I said. “She thought it was my birthday so she got me the slick footwear.”
“Really,” said Dad. “Let me see your hair.”
“Uh, no,” I said. “I don’t think so.” My hair was on the short side and it wasn’t straight or curly. Some where in between. Like one day I’ll wake up and it’s like a spiral mess and the next day it’s like this straight gothic style.
“Why not? I want to see what this hair product does to you. What’s the brand called?”
“I didn’t see,” I said. “She was behind me.”
“But there was a mirror, right?” he said. “I’ve been to Syd’s place. There’s mirrors all around.”
“The stuff was getting to my eyes. So, I was closing them,” I said, hastily.
“C’mon, Melly,” he said, slightly grinning. “Let me see your hair.”
“Okay,” I snapped. “You know I’m lying. What’s your problem with me buying stuff for myself for once?”
“I don’t have a problem with you buying things,” he said, still smiling. “I do have a problem with you lying to me, though.”
“Ugh!” I screamed. I stormed to my room. That’s the issue with this house. I can’t storm UP to my room. I have to storm horizontal to my room.
“You can’t lie to me, Mel,” he called. “I always know.” I could still feel his smile through my skin.
Scrappy followed me to my room. I crashed on my back on my bed. Scrappy jumped up beside me and started licking my face. I shoved his face down. “Get off,” I muttered. I grabbed the Froot Loops box and spilled a bunch on the floor. Scrappy zipped down and started vacuuming them up. It was only a while later when he laid the most creatively sculpted poop on the carpet. I kicked him and tossed him out of my room. I could still hear his paws scratching the door and his whimpering. “Shut up, Crappy,” I shouted. The whimpering stopped.
I yanked open the wobbly drawer on my desk. I reached inside and grabbed a handful of peppermints. I furiously ripped open one with my teeth and slipped it into my mouth. These were the ones Ollie gave me. They tasted special. Even if he bought them at the same CVS as me, they were different. I didn’t same them up and let them rot like some uptown sucker. I ate them whenever I felt like it, or if I needed some calming down. After all, I had a whole drawer full of them.
I sighed and burst out of my room. Scrappy sprang up and was all in my face. I nudged him down and headed across the hall. I heard a voice. It was a little girl’s voice and she was saying something like, “Okay, now it’s your turn, Mr. Tuffy…” I turned around and walked towards the voice. I opened the door of the room it was coming from.
“Sorry, Mr. Tuffy,” said the girl. “You’ve been royally flushed.”
“Candy,” I said. “What the hell…heck are you doing?”
Candy looked at me with her enormous brown eyes and blinked twice. “I’m playing poker with my peeps.” She was sitting on the ground in a circle with her vegetable-colored stuffed animals. She collected the cards and shuffled them.
“Okay, first of all,” I said. “Never say ‘peeps’. It’s a highly corny statement for someone who’s six years old and trying to act like she’s…older. Second, these are not your peeps.” I kicked a stuffed animal. It fell over on it’s face in front of Candy. “Third,” I said. “Who even taught you poker? Was it Dad? Liam?”
“Grandma Jude,” she said, a-matter-of-factly. She threw a handful of cards at each of the stuffed animals.
“Grandma Ju—okay, listen,” I said, lowering my voice. “Don’t ever let Dad see you play poker. The first person he’s going to blame is Liam and then it’s going to be me.”
She nodded but turned back to her cards.
“When did she come over?” I asked.
“Yesterday when you were out hanging with Oliver,” she said, not looking up from her hand. Candy is pretty calm for a six year old. But when she gets sugar high she spazzes like a hummingbird with a seizure attack. She bounces off the walls and all that.
“Is she still in town?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Charles Hotel, Cambridge.” She flipped over a card from the deck.
“Really?” I asked. “I thought she didn’t like hotels.”
“Will you get out of my room?” she snapped.
“God, don’t be such a teenager,” I muttered. She stood up and stormed towards me. Uh, oh.
She shrieked, “You hypocrite! You freakin’ hypocrite, get out! GET OUT!”
“Okay, geez,” I said, squeezing out of the room. I strolled out of my house and to the Center to find a public phone. My cell had gone totally out and Dad was hogging the house phone (he never uses his cell phone unless it’s an emergency). I reached the nearest phone and flipped open the phone book that was below it. I dialed the Charles Hotel.
“Hello, Charles Hotel. How may I help you?” said this snooty little voice.
“Hey, yeah. Can I get Jude Santini?”
“Miss Santini is in room 112. Would you like her number?”
“Hell.”
“Excuse me?”
“Hell, yeah,” I said. “Why did you think I asked for her?”
“Okay, hold on one second, ma’am.”
I heard some shuffling noises and then she came back onto the receiver.
“Just dial this same number but add 112,” she informed.
“Wow, it took you that long to get me that information?” I scoffed. “Look, I really don’t feel like dial another number. I never use the phone and I don’t want to have to do it again. Can you just get Jude on the freakin’ phone?”
A pause. Then she said in a very stiff voice, “And I’m guessing you are her granddaughter?”
I sighed, “Um, duh.”
“Alright. Hold on a few minutes, ma’am.”
“Thank you,” I exhaled. After what felt like an hour, I heard Grandma Jude’s voice echoing in the lobby (or what I thought was the lobby, because I’ve never really been to the Charles’). She bickered, “What? My granddaughter? Give me that!”
The phone gave a slight clunk! and then Grandma Jude’s voice rang into my ear. “Mellon bear? Is that you?”
“Hi, Grandma.”
“Hi, sweetheart,” she said all fast. “Why did you call? Is there an emergency?”
“No.”
“Oh, thank the Lord for that,” she sighed. “So, is there some sort of problem that was worth getting out of a glorious spa where I was just getting my legs waxed?”
“You’re still in a towel, aren’t you?”
“Why, yes,” she said. “What’s the problem, dear?”
I had this maniac vision of my Grandma Jude standing in a fancy lobby in nothing but a towel with her legs half-waxed.
“I just didn’t know that you came to Boston.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Mel. It’s just been crazy and I could only visit for about two hours.”
“And by that two hours you taught Candy poker and now it’s so damned crazy that you’re having a crazy bikini wax?” The man next to me, who was also using a public phone, looked at me all weird. I glared at him until he stopped staring at me like I was some freak show.
“It is NOT a bikini wax,” she snapped. “But you do have a reason to be mad at me. I promise I’ll visit again soon.”
“What are you doing here anyway? You’re supposed to be in Utah with your trainer, Mark or what’s-his-face.”
“Oh, I don’t need a trainer. He didn’t do much anyway. Did you think he was the one who taught me piano and how to read those little dots that unfortunate people like me have to touch, no matter how gross the hands of the person who had touched it before you are, and translate everytime I want to use the elevator or the lavatories,” she said. “And besides, Mark was a nice guy but just not my style.”
“No way,” I gasped. “He tried to...”
“No, not quite,” she said. “Just wanted a little more than friendship that’s all. Well, in this case, he longed for more than personal trainer-to-blind old lady relationship. And for God’s sake, I’ve been married four times and has any of those relationships worked out? I don’t think so.”
“Grandma?”
“Yes, honey?”
“You’re blind.”
“I think I know that by now, Mellon bear.”
“So, how in the world,” I said, “did you teach Candy how to play poker?”
“I was bored and Candy was playing UNO with her cute doll friends and I told her that UNO was a stupid, racist game against the Hispanic and she shouldn’t play such a crude and disgraceful game. So, I figured...”
“So, you figured that if you taught the kid a little game called poker then you would be more satisfied than if she stayed playing UNO?”
“Hey, you should’ve seen me at the casinos, baby. I was on a roll!”
“Grandma, you left all of the money to Las Vegas at Las Vegas.”
“Hey, I’m emotional about that, okay?”
“Look,” I sighed into the phone. “I just don’t want you to teach a freakin’ six year old.”
“What can I say? The girl’s got talent. Luck, more like. So, what’s the big deal? Maybe one day she’ll make some big money—.”
“Grandma, maybe you should’ve waited until she was 21,” I said simply.
“Good, point,” she said.
“Ma’am?” I heard the snooty voice snap.
“Oh, shut it, lady!” Jude shrieked. That shut her up.
“Sorry, Mellon bear. I think I got to go,” said Grandma Jude.
“Okay,” I said. “So, maybe you can drop by again. And maybe you can actually stay so I can actually meet you.”
“I promise!” She hung up. I put down the phone.





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