The Ladies in Waiting (part 1)

Actor-pianist-bon vivant Matthew Kern and I have been occasionally working on a short apostlitory novel. Letters, emails, faxes, text messages, court transcripts and more will eventually tell the story of senior citizen sisters in small town America and their adventures in these ever changing times. Okay I know immediately you're thinking, What the fuck?  

I admit this isn't exactly what I thought I'd set out to write for a new book either but it's liberating in many ways and hopefully you'll find these gals as delightful as we find them.


With Love I dedicate my work on this book to the memory of Elnora Norman.

Dearest Irene,

   Well summer's here and as usual its hotter than a frying pan. Long days are here and I'm constantly sweeping up the carport from all the dust and dirt from the road. You know they've been saying they were gonna pave this road for the last twenty-five years and nothing. How are you and yours?  George is nearing retirement, well he should have retired from the autoshop about two years ago but he wanted to keep on keeping on. As much as I'm ready for the poor man to stop working himself to death I must say I'm a little nervous about having him around the house so much. A woman needs her space you know. And well I've always kindly regarded the house as my space. I mean I know he paid for this house but I made it a home. I cooked and cleaned and raised the kids and well lordy I don't want to sound ungrateful but I just don't know what I'm gonna do all day with him up under me like some toddler. The kids are doing good and say they both will be here for the fourth of July. Karen's bringing the kids. She looked real skinny last time I saw her so I'm gonna try and fatten her up. You know me. I love a mouth to feed. She said Stanley had to work and wouldn't be coming. Well I thought what a shame. It's not that I don't love my son-in-law but you know Irene as good as I do that he wasn't the right boy for her. I mean just the other day I saw Randell DuPris at the IGA and I thought what a shame. You remember Randell? Bessie Mae Dupris' middle boy. Well he made a lawyer out in Jackson, Mississippi.  I mean Stanley, he does something with computers, some IT. Well I don't know what it is but I do know that it ain't a lawyer. But lord Karen was crazy about that Stanley. So what you gonna do? They gotta make their own messes I guess. Jeremy's coming home from college for the summer, well he's staying with a friend down at the beach but they're coming up. Lord Irene his roommate is from Saudi Arabia. I mean can you believe it? I don't know what too cook or to say ? I mean next thing I know I'll make some horrible offence and his family will declare a Jihad on me. I know that almost happened to that Diane Sawyer. I'm gonna ask some of the ladies in my book group. Did I tell you I joined a book club? I mean its just like Oprah's! We're reading our first book. It's called Rebecca. 

Much love, Viv

 Dear Viv,

  I got your letter today. Why don't you use the computer I sent to you and George? I will have to set it up for you again the next time I am down there. I certainly understand your nervousness about having George underfoot when he retires. Sakes alive, I would go stark raving mad if Henry were here all the time. People often ask me "Irene, doesn't it bother you that your husband is on the road so often?" And I say honestly no. That is part of being married to a successful inspirational speaker. He is the one who gets lonely! But he is traveling with that nice young assistant Pamela these days, so I guess they keep each other company. I'm so busy myself with my volunteering at the library and the hospital that the time just flies by! It really is lovely to hold a baby with the AIDS. It makes me feel like I am helping. The kids seem fine when I hear from them. Rachel seems fine and busy with her real estate. I do wish she would make me a grandmother soon, but she says that her job comes first for now. You know I never stick my nose in, Viv, but I hope she knows what she's doing. That Troy really wants kids and they've been married going on four years and at thirty two she does not have forever. Troy is a handsome man and alls I'm saying is that I hope she holds onto him. Robert is not coming home for spring break from the university. He and his roommate Max are going down to that Key West. They sure seem to be joined at the hip! Well I'm sure two such handsome young men will enjoy the sight of all those young ladies in their bathing suits. They are so revealing, Viv. Honest to Betsy, we would have died before we would have left our bathroom dressed so skimpy when we were girls! Times change though, as Agnes reminds me constantly. I do not mean to speak ill of our sister but I am so tired of her forcing her Ms. magazine and her up- with- the- women nonsense on me. Do you know that she actually suggested to me that Henry might be having an affair with that sweet Pamela? I nearly hung up on her. Just because she was the oldest and left home early to burn her brassiere at every possible location on the east coast does not mean that I am naive, Viv. I swear sometimes she makes my blood boil. Oh the phone is ringing, I bet it's Henry. Much love, Viv. 

Your sister. Irene.



    I hope this right I am using the computer. Karen surprised me with a visit and set everything up for me. She say it's just like writing a letter. She's pretty sullen these days not sure what is a matter with her. But bet your buttons I'm going to get to the bottom of it. Tracy and Jackie the twins are running around the house on cellular phones like little starlets. I remember when we only had one phone in the whole house, what is it the kids need to talk about so importantly. What could be so pressing? Did Barbie break up with Ken, lose Skipper at the park, lord sound the Amber Alert! Jeremy and Ahmed, his Arab friend just got in last night. Late. They locked the door to the bed room and slept half the day. I swear you should see how Jeremy is dressed his Levi Strauss' are so tight you could read his credit card number, I told him I wanted grandchildren. Ahmed told me he could always adopt, well isn't  that something. Now really? What in the world, wouldn't that look great on my Christmas Card, Me and George, Karen, Stanley and the twins and then Jeremy with a Chinese baby.  Oh Yes He said he wanted a Chinese baby, our family was "too white" . Well I never.  don't let Agnes stick in your craw. She's a fruity one if you ask me. She's as stubborn an as an ox. I mean really Pamela is what, 23? Now what in the hell would a pretty young thing like that do with wrinkly old Henry. Lord I'm just kidding you. But I don't think you have anything to worry about. Oh Jeremy just said to tell Robert to call him, they need to talk about some stuff, he said it was "you know mom, guy stuff". 

Give my love to the kids and Henry



Not only did I get your letter email, I got it four times. My you seem to have a house full down there.  I will soon know how you feel as cousin Eunice is coming this weekend. I'm always excited to see her but she is bringing Trisch and you know what that means.  When Eunice asked if she could come for a spell I did not think she would be bringing her daughter and grandchildren. I realize Trisch is alone with no man, but she does seem to take advantage of her mother's kindness and babysitting. I hope the twins behave better this time.  What's wrong with them again? Eunice goes on and on about it but they just look gimpy to me. And all that fuss with the needles and the sugar. Last time Trisch looked at me as if I were a Communist just for serving one of them an itty bitty slice of my upside down pineapple cake. Honestly, she is their mother but I think it's rude not to eat at least a little of what the hostess provides hypoglcemia or no hippoglyecmia. You know I'm vain about my cakes. Oh here I go getting myself in a state and they aren't even here yet.  Be serene, Irene. That's a little phrase I repeat to myself in the bathroom or wherever..  I guess I've just gotten into a snit becuase Henry won't be coming home for the weekend. He says its a busy time but I think it's because Eunice is bringing those little wheezing ruffians with her.  Honestly, Viv. I feel put out. I can't very well tell Eunice to not bring them. Can I? She worries so about Trisch. I guess it's tough being a single mother but no one made her go on tha church retreat and let some total stranger do God knows what to her.  Now she's saddled with those two but I don't see why we all should be. Agnes would tell me to "empower" myself and "confront" Eunice but then again Agnes has three ex husbands so what does she know about what to say to whom?  Oh my, I meant this to be cheerier. Good luck with your crew, don't let those boys sleep all day. I hardly see Robert even when he visits. He's always on that computer and then scurrying off somewhere.  Where's the fire I ask but he just keeps going. I have to go vacuum now. Trisch gets very ruffled about any dust near those two. Awfully snooty for a single welfare mother if you ask me, but no one ever does.  Oh Viv, if our Mother could see what we put up with from these kids these days. She's probably give us both a big smack in the mouth. Love, Irene.


  Them kids are allergic and have the diabetes you best not be giving them no sugar or it'll be like steal Magnolia's , except without all the baby making and that Julia Roberts. Eunice to needs to stop depending on others to fix her messes is what I say. I am so tired about hearing about poor Trisch . She's been a bad egg her whole life. Rotten like a Easer egg you find on labor day. Oh someone's at the door. I'll write you again in a little while. 



I'd lock up my medication if I were you Eunice and Trisch both tend to make things go missin.

Dear Vivian,

I should not write this as I have much work to do (I'll explain that in a bit) but if I don't get some of this out of my system I 'm liable to go crazy like that Delta Burke from the Golden Girls. I just got off the phone with Eunice who has emailed me a suggested menu complete with a shopping list for her upcoming visit with Trisch and company. Apparently they are unable to eat any real food. The sugar aggravates their insular levels and the wheat has glue in it or some such nonsense. Where am  I supposed to find keewee? Well, this just got my blood boiling, Viv. First Trisch invites herself and her sickly children to my home and then she tells me what I can cook. Well hell's bells, I'm not going to spend all that money in that overpriced fancy salon of a "market." All those bins, and free range this and that and it smells like a candle exploded in there.  I think that organic thing is a load of hooey. The A & P was always good enough for my family. I am going to make what I want and if Trisch doesn't like it she can sit on a tack.  Maybe the twins will have one of their wheezing fits and have to go to the hospital and Trisch will just stay home. Then I can work on my crosswords and watch my programs. There's a lovely one with that Lynda Carter adapted from a Danielle Steele on Saturday but Trisch only lets the children watch programs that "nurture their minds." Certainly their brains could use some nurturing, but  I don't know why Trisch gets her panties in such a bunch. I don't think they can see the tv that clearly what with those thick glasses strapped around their heads. And I know they can't hear. Trisch speaks to them through this megaphone that just sets my nerves atwitter.  Oh here I go on and on again. Best keep this short as you know I'm supposed to be in search of some veganearian polenta. 

Love, Irene.


     Polenta? Ain't that like cold grits? hell just stick it a bag and roll it, they won't know the difference. i read that in Southern Living I think, or on that Dean lady's cookin show, or something. I don't get all this uppityness of Eunice, just cause she came into some money by suing that guy. I mean she didn't earn that money her ambulance chasing husband got for her I mean hell all she did was be too dense to look both ways crossing the road. Hell Irene, Sally our cocker spaniel has enough sense it pea brian to look both ways. And Trisch hell. I'd tell her to stay home , ain't nothing wrong with them younguns except their mother smoothing them. Well speakin of cooking Jeremy announced that he and Ahmed don't eat no pork. Irene I am trying to be a good mother but I think there mighht be something fishy going on between Jeremy and Ahmed. I am afraid he might be convertin to Muslam and might have joined one of them terror cells. I mean he's majoring in Liberal Studies! I mean You know what that Anne Coulter said about them liberals. Ahmed seems nice enough for those people. He speaks real good english on account he was born in Trenton , New Jersey. He keeps saying that his grandparents were born there too but that just don't seem right you know? I mean he's so Arab looking. I mean he don't have a beard or one of them head wraps, but he's still browner than a bean. My lord No pork. Now how I am I gonna make green beans? Stanley called earlier and asked to speak to Karen, which was odd cause she wasn't here.  That man ain't got a lick of sense, he's lose his butt if it wasn't attacked to his backside. Agnes called this morning too. Always a pleasure. She wanted to know if  Jeremy wanted some books that belongs to ONE of here husbands, I bet she didn't even know which one. She is so damn uppity. She said I was just resentful because of my oppression she understood that. she's read Tillie Olsen. Excuse me? I looked her up she wrote about ironing, can you believe that? Does she think people wanna hear about here standing there ironing and talking to her self like a ding bat? And really is that all Agnes thinks I do? I mean lord know I do more than ironing.


Your sister 



 Grit Cakes- I thought this might help.

  •  2 cups water                                               
  •  2  teaspoons butter                                      
  •  Salt and pepper                                      
  •  1/2  cup grits    
  • 1/4  cup  grated Cheddar cheese                              
  •  Flour, -- for dredging                             
  • 2  -4  tablespoons vegetable oil                             



Oil a large sheet pan. In a saucepan bring water and butter, seasoned with salt  and pepper, to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in grits. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Pour grits onto sheet pan, spreading them evenly. Cool and cut into cakes with a 2 1/2- to 3-inch biscuit cutter. In a large preferably nonstick skillet, heat enough oil to coat bottom of pan over medium-high heat.

 Dredge both sides of cakes in flour and pan-fry about 2 minutes on each side, until golden. Drain on paper towels and keep warm before serving. Yield: About 8 cake





Jesus Mary and Joseph, you know I was not looking forward to this visit but it has already trumped by worst fears.  You know I love Eunice but any pleasure I take in her visit is more than made up for by Trisch and her little problems. They had not been here two minutes before breaking a vase and having a diabetic asthma spasm.  I don't know what it's called. I gave on of them a cookie just to shut it up frankly and you would have thought I were a Communist the way Trisch gave me what for. Out come the needles and the inhalants and they are just puffing away and sniveling.  Oh Lord Have Mercy, I just heard a tremendous crash and now wailing. More later.






     Would you please talk to Vivian for me as she is incapable of listening to an ounce of reason.  I have simply had enough of her inane forwarded emails promptly followed by two to three personal emails then if that wasn't enough she calls. The office, the cell and the land line- she knows they are in the same damn apartment! Please tell her that they are not charging her 37 cents per email like a stamp, nor are they making SPECIAL stamps for the ISLAMIST terrorists. Chiefly because ISLAMIST in not  a word! For goodness sake she is all in a tizzy about terrorism, homosexual indoctrination in preschool and wrote to me about Harry Potter, (years late on the uptake there).  And  frankly I am tired of the pro War machine she sends out. She knows I do not perscribe to that paticular flavor of retoric and feel she would better manager her time educating herself and other with facts instead of Fox News briefs. 

 Hope all is well

Agnes Delphi



I just got off the phone with Agnes. She says she misses you and hasn't heard from you in quite some time. She also thinks she accidentally deleted some emails from you, maybe you should resend them? I guess she's too 'busy' to ask you herself, but I always leave messages on all of her phones when I call, one never knows where our busy career woman may be! I swear to Jesus in heaven I am going to drop kick that Trisch back to Louden County. The 'children's' constant digestive problems have made a mess of our plumbing and I am sure Henry will not be happy when he sees the bill.  Then again, he isn't here is he? It's easy to swoop in and critisize the decisions I make in a crisis after the fact. Their drooling and wheezing has taken a toll on my sheets. Note to Irene: stop by the Target and look for those rubber sheets.  No mattress can withstand that kind of repeated dousings, tempurpedic or not.  I have accepted that I will have to throw out the living room rug. They lie on it and just sputter and ooze. I would happily replace every piece of carpet and bedding in the house in exchange for a clear answer as to when Eunice is planning on taking the whole wretched gang home. It's been a week now. I thought it was going to be a weekend.  She seems to be having a dandy old time. She and my plumber Tom have taken quite a shine to each other it seems. They went on a walk yesterday and right now are out for "coffee." We have coffee here I said but I guess my company was not wanted. Now I am eagerly waiting her return as Trisch has been prattling on about gluten free pastries and the din of wheezing and smell of excrement is making me contemplate a medicinal glass of peach shnapps. Why don't they ever go visit Agnes?  Spaking of which, do call Agnes right away,Viv. Iit will make us all feel better.



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