Old Broads

canstockphoto4576006I picked up a call from my answering machine the other day that was an obvious misdial. The voice was cigarette-smoke rough with a hint of Jersey. The message went something like this:

“Susan. Susan. This is Blanche Molina, you know from across the street. Listen, hon, I’ve been going through some of Herb’s stuff, trying to get rid of things, and I found this, I don’t know whatcha’ call it, some kinda Masonic sash thing. I thought maybe since you’re so involved in everything around here, you might have an idea about what I should do with it. Call me, okay, hon.”

I live in a very small community, where when we misdial we often know the person on the other end, which somehow makes it even more embarrassing, but on the bright side can also be good for catching up with a neighbor you haven’t talked to in awhile. I thought I’d better call Blanche to set her straight lest she think that the Susan she was actually looking for was ignoring her call. That conversation went something like this:

“Hi Blanche. This is Susan Snyder.”

“Oh good, Susan. Listen, hon, I’ve been going through the closets, horrible job, and the thing I’m talking about is one of those sashes, you know, with the gold threads and all…”

When she finally took a breath, I said, “Blanche, I think you’ve got the wrong Susan. This is Susan Snyder. I don’t live on your street.”

“Wait, what? Just a minute, hon. This f*!#*ing television! Let me shut it off. Now where is that damn remote?”

Over the sound of shuffling and loud television voices, I thought, Oh, my goodness, Blanche is not your average LOL – little old lady – for all you texters who absconded with what once was a delightful acronym – she’s an old broad.

Old broad. I love the connotation of that – politically correct or not. It represents strong women who march through life like General Patton crossing the Rhine, the kind who may drive you nuts, but who you want on your side in a fight.

I don’t run into many old broads anymore, and that’s a shame. In fact, the world population of colorful characters seems to be in serious decline. Those manufactured for media-sake don’t count. I’m talking about real people, like those of my grandparent’s generation, with names like Shorty Briscoe, Ham, Fast Eddie, Weird Hazel, and the Telephone Girls. How could you be anything but entertained by stories about folks with monikers like that?

Man, I miss those stories.

But then, there is Blanche.

When she got back on the line, it was obvious that she had decided that one Susan was as good as another. She continued, a little out of breath: “You got any ideas about what I could do with the sash thing?”

“Well, I, um,” I answered. “I guess I could ask around.”

“Naw. Never mind.” Blanche abruptly declared me unsuitable for the task.

Too much hesitation in my voice, I guess.

“Now where is that f*!#*ing phone number of hers?” her voiced trailed off.


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