Monday, November 05, 2007

Widows

They just don't make widows like they used to. Bubbe didn't have many friends: she was too busy managing the family, in the same sense that Queen Victoria managed the British Empire. She didn't gossip. She didn't call people on the phone just to chat.

But there were a few ladies who showed up from time to time. They had names like Minnie, Flossie, or Fanny. I, as a young person, however, would not call these august personages by familiar names. They were Mrs. Cohen (Shapiro, Grossman) to me.

These ladies, most of them widows, had one kind of figure: full. From collarbone to waistline was a large bolster, and from there on down, another, smaller one. They were generally short. They dressed in dark colored dresses ornamented decorously with a few discreet flowers--nothing gaudy, mind you. Lisle stockings--think stockings made of Ace bandages--encased their legs, and they wore old lady shoes: 2-inch heeled oxfords.

According to the widows, they each and every one had been married to a man of sterling attributes; a kind and generous fellow whose loss made their lives an empty shell. Wow! There must have been a lot of really fine Jewish guys around Columbus, Ohio before my time! By the time I came along, the quality of men in the area had deteriorated seriously, because I never met one of these living saints my own age.

The few who still had husbands had not done nearly as well in the matrimonial market: The surviving husbands were just ordinary chaps, with their full share of annoying and exasperating qualities. The widows had gotten all the good ones, apparently.

Bubbe's friends all had mysterious ailments: gall bladders, varicose veins, arthritis generally. I am now more in sympathy with their aches and pains, having grown old enough to have pains of my own. But some of their ailments were more picturesque. One of Bubbe's friends told me that she had dropped organs: all her organs had slid down her body and were about 6 inches lower than they should have been, causing her untold grief and sorrow.

3 comments:

dick stanley said...

Ouch. Dropped organs. That must be painful.

prairie biker said...

I dropped an organ once. Right on my big toe. smarted like the dickens.

miriam said...

I'm sure a dropped organ is painful, but it's better than a dropped piano.