Life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley extemporaneous.
Love is a thing which can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Roumania.
– Dorothy Parker
I wish I’d thought that up. I was thinking of it because the ‘glorious cycle of song’ part, as my friend Edna just died. She was in her eighties and suffered from this and that, so it wasn’t unexpected – the fullness of time being what it is- but it still puts a little hiccup into the relentless drone of a daily life filled with dreary repetition and hopelessness; an opportunity to reflect. Edna was the muse who inspired most of my Stories of My Sorry Life, and thus this blog. She had a group of girlfriends with whom she got together on a regular basis to play bridge or bingo or something. For all I know they assembled Molotov cocktails for the local anarchists. In my experience, underneath the veneer, those grannies you see rocking away in their cardigans are all tough old broads who are done with the niceties, and tell the best stories.
Edna, out of loyalty to her daughter Bonnie, who married my father, used to buy all her stamps here. She always wanted the commemorative stamps and the ones that said “happy birthday” for her cards. She had little use for stamps with flags or the Statue of Liberty on them. Every time I put together her stamp order, I’d enclose a pile of cartoons and a long letter, detailing my latest escapades with reckless abandon (both the escapades and the retelling included injudicious amounts of reckless abandon, I might add…). I found out later that Edna took my letters to her sewing-circle-and-arsenic-society and read them aloud to all the ladies. Pretty soon I was pen-pals with a whole posse of fine old birds. Birds of a feather, you know. When I get to the cardigan-wearing, Molotov cocktail-assembling stage of my life, I promise, I’ll not only wear fruit on my hat, but I’ll have a hot-rod wheelchair with one of those tall, flexible flag poles people put on their bikes for visibility, and on it I’ll fly the flags of various nations arbitrarily, just to see who cares. People used to care, but now, it seems, they have a pill for that.
As my popularity amongst the retirement set grew (I never knew if the husbands read or appreciated my writing. Probably not.), so did my head. A book! Why not? In my fevered imagination, I’d tentatively titled the book that was to spring from those letters “Letters to Edna”. I found some letters written by an early inhabitant of Neihart to his mother back in Ohio, and the parallels between his life and mine became more and more eerie, the more I read. He operated a hotel up in the Barker-Hughesville area, back when the mining industry was just getting started. He distributed such mail as made it past the injuns and bandits, sometimes accompanying wagon trains here and there, battling disease, the elements, stupidity and government representatives at every turn. He married an injun, and bore a passle of kids who apparently made for parts unknown as soon as possible, as their name doesn’t linger on in these parts. My name won’t linger, either, since I didn’t marry an injun or anyone else, and neglected to procreate. Oh well. The best part was that he wrote to his mom regularly like a good son, and she didn’t burn his letters in anger and frustration at him for moving so far away, marrying an injun and never letting her see her grandchildren. Will some future historian, armed with forensic web-crawling capabilities find my Letters to Edna; my Stories of my Sorry Life, and be inspired to write her own story down? Nah. Burn ‘em.