Friday, September 18, 2009


The Greek is one of a dozen people, maybe two dozen, who’ve been helping me out in more ways than I can count—in fact, probably in more ways than either he or I know—and I keep him supplied with oatmeal and raisin cookies in, uh, trade.

Cookies from BJ’s Wholesale Club, don’t you know, not just any oatmeal and raisin cookies.
Big cookies, with maybe a quarter-to-a-half box of raisins inside every one. Suz gets them for me.

Fresh, too. Fresh.

I make sure. I eat the cookies fast, so they’re replaced fast, so The Greek never, never suffers stale cookies.

All right, it’s not that much of a trade, but he likes them, and I like them, and that’ll have to do for a while, at least.

And stories, now that I can talk.

Yeeesssh! That a was tough year. The back half of it more than the front half. Because, if memory serves (and mind you, it does not. Does not serve at all. It has tricks to fool both itself, and later, you, just when your preparing to show off.), you know that you’re blithering the first time you blither. Maybe the second time, too. After that, well I don’t understand how it works.

At first, you notice something, let’s say, the TV remote, over on the table you’re about to learn you can’t reach, and you hear something, a gargoyality—I had to invent a word for that, because, I don’t know what made the sound—coming from you. It was an awful sound, sort of an old man’s howl, which you know wasn’t you, but, well, who was it, then?

Maybe that’s it, you’ve scared yourself. And now, whatever is going to come out of your mouth is going to be screened and reworked, so as to not frighten you into not speaking. However, nobody else is going to understand it when you are speaking, and you will not know that.

You likely will be repeating bolardoford, over and over, and not know it, because your system refuses to accept it. The people who love you will just smile, so that you will think that they are crazy.

Anyway, that stage is over.

So, here is a story I recently told the Greek, on the ocassion of the passage of Mrs.Yizzle, which my mother, with her incredibe memory and dedication to the obituary page, alerted me to.

One of my many crazy aunts lived in Lindenhust—636 North Erie Avenue—and when my mother got her license and my father let her use the car, she and I would drive from Amityville to visit her mother and her youngest sister.

Next door to her, when a next door got built, lived a woman whom I understood to be Mrs.Yizzle.

I would be reading, or putting on my coat to go outside, or taking it off, having come inside, and occassionly hear my Aunt Gerry, in the kitchen, mention Mrs. Yizzle, quote Mrs. Yizzle, even imitate Mrs. Yizzle’s high, funny-sounding voice. But I never saw Mrs. Yizzle, not once, during those trips.

One day, a warm day in late fall, I was out in front of my Aunt Gerry’s house, instead of out back, my normal haunt. Suddenly, Mrs. Yizzle’s front door opened, and there was activity inside that indicated a rare sighting of Mrs. Yizzle. I stopped whatever I was doing, and waited.

She appeared. It had to be her. She was calling in some kids to dinner.

“Hi, Mrs. Yizzle,” I said. Cheerfully.

She paid me no heed. Perhaps she hadn’t heard me.

“Hi, Mrs. Yizzle! Mrs. Yizzle, hi!”

No response. What was wrong?

“Hey, Misses Yizzle, over here. Hi. Hi, Misses Yizzle. Hello, Misses Yizzle…”

Suddenly, the red front door of my Aunt Gerry’s house blew open, followed by the aluminun storm door. Except for the abject horror in their expressions, I recognized the faces of the otherwise attractive mid-thirties women, one, my Aunt Gerry, and the other, my mother.
Both tackled me and lifted me backwards and up and over the stoop and into the living room and into the kitchen where they deposited, no, flung, me onto the floor.

They fell down beside me gasping and laughing, and then more laughing, and then more, and then, gasping desperately for air, trying to say something, but, interrupted by laughing.

Finally, one of them said, “Honey, Mrs. Yizzle! Mrs. Yizz…Her name is not Mrs. Yizzle!”

“Not Mrs. Yizzle!” the other one said. “Not Mrs. Yizzle!”

Followed by a return on both their parts to peels of laughter. “Not Mrs. Yizz…”

“It’s not? But you always call her Mrs.…”

Bedlam. Both of them, on the kitchen floor, laughing.

“No. It’s not her name. It’s just that…well, when she calls the kids…”

I think I was laughing, now, but I didn’t know why.

“…she tells them, ‘Come in and put on a sweater. Yizzle catch pnuemonia. I don’t what’s wrong with yizz…”

The other one chimed in: “Look at yizz, without a coat. Yizzle catch pnuemonia!’”

More laughing. And more. They laughed until they were exhausted.

And I never said, “Hi,” to the woman again.

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