What a gorgeous spring day. Muriel and I had agreed to meet in the park, as usual. I was late, as usual. I had been held up by an hour of phone calls back and forth to lawyers, dealing with a horrible woman who was threatening to sue me, based on nothing. One great thing about America, anybody can sue anybody for anything or nothing, and you have to deal with it. I was pretty worked up by this point, mulling it over and over on my twenty block walk to our spot in the park. By the time I got there, steam was coming off the top of my head.
“What’s the matter?” she asked.
“Argh!! This c**t is driving me crazy!!”
“NO! No no no no no no no. Never never ever say that word. Ever!”
“Muriel, I never use that word. But she really is a c**t.”
“Stop it! Don’t say it again.”
“I know the difference between a bitch and a c**t, and in this case this is the right word.”
“I don’t care what she did to you, there’s no place on earth for that word. Don’t ever say it in my presence again. I’m not kidding.”
“I’m a writer. You don’t think I chose that word carefully?”
“You’re not funny.” She starts to scooter away, angry. I run alongside.
“Okay. I’m sorry. But sometimes it’s the only word that fits.”
“Never. Do you want a tissue?”
“A hard candy?”
“Well, that’s all I have.”
What a gorgeous fall day. I go up to Muriel’s apartment, because she can’t come to the park. Her scooter has been dying in the street for months. She’s been dangerously stranded more than once, definitely relying on the kindness of strangers to get her home. She needs a new scooter. Medicare has been stalling her all summer. She has been a virtual prisoner, under house arrest, missing the most gorgeous weather in New York City history. It’s unconscionable that a system set up to serve the elderly literally leaves them trapped in their apartments months on end for no reason except bureaucracy. Or maybe stupidity. They don’t know or care if she has a support system. For all they know she could be down to eating cat food. Or kale. It’s not right.
“What’s the matter?” I ask.
“Argh! I still can’t get my scooter.”
“This is still going on? I can’t believe it.”
“They’re waiting for me to die. They look at my age, and they keep stalling. They think if they can avoid paying for a new scooter long enough I’ll drop dead.”
“What can you do?”
“I just spent SIX HOURS on the phone with a woman at Medicare. I decided I was not going to hang up until I had a DATE for that SCOOTER to be delivered here. SIX HOURS!!!”
I had never seen her so angry.
“My God. Six hours for real? How? What did she say for six hours?”
“Nothing!! She kept putting me on hold!! I was on hold for four out of the six hours!!!!! But I wouldn’t go away!!!! And she kept STALLING me, and coming up with all kinds of EXCUSES, and leaving me on hold again and again AND AGAIN!!!!!!!…….
“Wow. Was she a c**t?