It seems that my mind is like a farmer’s field: memories, like field stones continue to break ground. And like the farmer, which stones I remove and which stones remain is largely one of effort: some stones rise wholly like a new moon; others merely crack the surface, their real mass remains solidly rooted; these unearthed boulders are marked like land mines. But unlike the farmer who can adapt to the obstacle, I am intrigued by the coincidence of its appearance. So I am willing, on occasion, to recall an incomplete memory: as a writer of a particular age I no longer rely on the creative end of creative writing. Instead I dip my hand into the cold creek of memory where most recollections lay scattered, scoop up what my numb fingers can manage, and attempt to detail, at best a mosaic of my memory. For instance:
Not yet school age, one early afternoon I watched my mother organize her ironing station in front of the television in anticipation of the daily broadcasts of her favorite soap opera’s No more than three minutes into the first program the telephone rang. My mother, hypnotized by her program, allowed the phone to ring six times before answering. I vaguely recall the immediate change in my mother’s telephone voice (from pleasant to pointed) she confirmed leaving a message, and agreed to hold for that department. Moments later she was complaining to a sales clerk in the lingerie department at Gimpel’s that the bra she’d purchased three months earlier had lost its elasticity, which without, failed to uphold its purpose.
The clerk understood my mother’s tone immediately and transferred the call to a junior manager who was, I gathered, an obstinate, pushy and unapologetic salesman who strongly suggested that my mother purchased the wrong size. Speechless, my mother put the phone down and stormed to her bedroom. I picked up the receiver just in time to hear the insolent salesman male suggest to one of his minions that my mother might wish to engage my father’s help in gauging her size, as he (the salesman) was quite certain your husband (my father) was absolutely certain as to the size of her breasts. At that moment my mother yanked the phone from me: I repeated the salesman’s suggestion: pause: slam!
Ten minutes later my mother was dragging me in one hand and her bra in the other uptown to Gimpel’s. Never before and never since have I heard my mother use so many words in such a short period of time in such a loud voice which naturally attracted female shoppers, then clerks from other departments, department managers, and finally three men in dark suits that parted the crowd like royalty, and in a vain attempt tried to interject while my mother’s consternation whirred on like the blades of a window fan.
We rode home in the back seat of a large black sedan, just my mother (who actually radiated a self-confidence and fragrance (thanks in-part to a gift from Chanel), and I. And at our feet were bags and bags and bags of bra’s compliments of the three dark suits; Executive’s, my mother said proudly; Chief Executive’s, the chauffeur added with a little laugh.