Emptyness and Schlub
I awoke this morning crying. In my dream, there was a terrible void, a marked feeling of immanent distress and turmoil. I knew, in the dream, that Mom could “fix things.” I looked in the car, but couldn’t find her. Instead, in the trunk, was her empty sweater. It was her off white, thick, winter sweater with the lines running down it. I grabbed it up and hugged it, empty. Tears poured down my cheeks.
I remember my dream the night before. I found Mom’s grey coat under a pile of clutter. I said to E, “I found my Mom’s grey coat.” “That was the one she fell down the stairs in,” he responded. “Yes,” I said, “but there is no blood on the collar. Would it all have come off? I know she took it to the dry cleaners.” “Maybe so,” E responded. I looked and looked at that coat. I remembered all the times Mom grabbed it, rushing out the door to State Farm. And now it was empty. Again, I woke crying.
Are the lines down sweaters called something? Mom and I were told the pile on drapery is called “schlub.” We were out getting drapes for her new place. She wanted so badly to match her bedroom drapes to her bedspread. It was the bedspread she’d had all those years in Westlake. It’s great condition reflected the care it had been treated with. Mom never considered buying a whole new matching set of bedspread and drapes. I’m sure it also reminded her of Dad.
Of course it was in great condition. Mom treated such things with respect. A nice bedspread was like a chunk of gold to her. Each morning Mom would ask my help in making her bed. We’d lift the carefully folded bedspread off her highboy dresser and set it down at the end of the bed. One of us on each side, we’d unroll it, tucking the pillows in just so at the top. We never, ever sat on it. And when we wanted to watch a movie or if Mom was going to sleep, it would again be neatly folded, and set atop the highboy.
Mom and I scoured the city looking to match drapes. We went to the fabric shop on T.O. Blvd – the very shop Mom and Dad ordered the drapes for Westlake from fifteen years before. The shop wasn’t the same, though, and Mom was disappointed.
“They seem very highfalutin these days,” Mom remarked. The woman in the shop seemed to treat us in a condescending manner, likely because we weren’t dressed like typical Westlake women.
“The texture on this sample.. I don’t know,” Mom hesitated, wondering if it was too formal for her country theme house.
“That is called the drapery’s schlub,” the snooty woman corrected us.
“Oh, I see,” replied Mom, “Okay…”
I was offended! I began whispering to Mom frantically as the lady busied herself elsewhere. “What a snot!” I was mad. “The schlub…. oh, that’s the schlub…” I imitated slightly too loudly.
“Shhh, honey,” Mom suppressed a smile. “She’s right, it’s important to know the proper name for things.”
As mad as I was, Mom seemed more amused than angry! I quieted down, eyeing the woman’s backside with disdain. Mom continued to comb through the drapery samples, and in time decided they didn’t have what we needed. The woman approached us as we stood to leave.
“Didn’t find anything?” She patronized, likely thinking our taste was somehow too unsophisticated for her fancy shop.
“Well, we rubes typically like to use last years bed sheets on our windows,” I wanted to blurt out. Mom, knowing me too well, quickly interjected, “No, thank you. We may think about it and be back.”
The shop’s belled door clanged shut behind us. I kicked cement parking stop outside and twirled around, fists clenched. “Uhhh!” I exclaimed, “How could you be nice to her?!” I questioned.
Mom smiled, almost laughing. “Honey, I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction.”
“What do you mean?” I was baffled. In my estimation, that woman’s elitist behavior called for a good, swift, verbal kick in the groin.
“She would have been delighted if we were upset. There was no way I was giving her that. Besides, she has to go home and live with herself. That’s punishment enough. Thank God you don’t have to bring her home at night.”
That thought has often brought me comfort when dealing with life’s idiots. Sometimes it’s just best to thank God you don’t have to bring them home at night.
Mom and I continued to have such fun at that woman’s expense. That schlub brought us a thousand laughs. In the weeks following, as we traversed the city looking for drapes, one of us would don an aristocratic air, “Oh that schlub is clearly inferior,” “Are you suggesting that pithy schlub?” “That schlub would be a travesty with my decor.” On and on. Mom never did find those drapes, but she refused to replace the bedspread either. A mismatched room with heart is better than all the schlub in the world.
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