SPECULATIVE ITINERARY FOR MY GRANDMOTHER*, Friday circa June 1984
6:00AM: wake up, brush hair one hundred times. Use same pure silver vanity set you have used since you were twenty; spend inordinate amounts of money over your lifetime replacing bristles and straightening teeth. Attribute the retention of your healthy full head of grey-blond hair to this vanity set, and the small fortune that has gone into its upkeep.
6:21: overdress for a 74-year-old woman: White button-down blouse ($12.95, Target), gold velour sweater ($38, Dayton's), white pleat-front pants ($65, Dayton's), gold leather slip-ons ($75, Dayton's).
6:34: apply makeup. Choose one from several nearly identical pink pearlescent lipsticks, the one that matches your gold attire most closely.
6:40: in full-length mirror, admire outfit, hairstyle, trim build, natural breasts. Mock old ladies in head.
6:47: prepare toast, coffee, small glass of juice with vodka. Consume.
7:17: walk Schatzie, your Miniature Schnauzer. Note time on digital clock in kitchen: you are running a few minutes behind today. Unacceptable.
8:00: call son. Accuse him of not loving you. If he loved you, he never would have married that woman. Confirm dinner plans: cocktails, Southern Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, greens, cocktails. Five o'clock. Hang up. If he is late, it will be proof he does not love you.
8:14: make shopping list: gold spray paint, birthday gifts for children. You do not think of them as your grandchildren, you think of them as your son's children. Therefore, they are sort of your children as well. Tablecloth. Chicken. Corn Flakes. Wesson. Pop-Tarts. Peppermint ice cream. Vodka. Rum. Coca-Cola. Vermouth. Green olives. That cherry-flavored stuff you never remember the name of. Ice. Fire extinguisher. New collar for Schatzie. Matching raincoat.
9:12: arrive Dayton's. Tablecloth, check. (Blue and white flowers, plastic. On sale for $25.50.)
9:26: ask salesgirl for advice on which velour sweater a teenaged girl would most enjoy. She responds, "Red." You have always liked this salesgirl, and frequently ask her advice while shopping. You tell her about the children, about whom she has already heard everything you know. She is well aware that you have been purchasing the same red velour sweater in the same style for the same granddaughter for every gift-giving holiday including Hanukkah, which you do not celebrate, for four years. She thinks this is funny. She is a horrible person who hates her job and her customers. She has only retained employment by sleeping with her floor manager, which she only does on company time. You like her because she has taken a perverse interest in you. Sweater (red, velour, $32.80), check.
9:39: find gifts for boys in Toy Department. Boys like trucks. (Fire and pickup, plastic, $16 ea.)
10:02: purchase goods. Describe in great detail your intent for each purchase to your cashier. Remain assured throughout conversation that she is interested in how much Jamie will enjoy the fire truck, and about Anne's potential enthusiasm for the red velour sweater. Assure cashier that something tells you she will like it.
10:12: have gifts wrapped. Watch while they wrap your purchases; sometimes they try to remove the price tags. Disallow this. Price tags and late-night phone calls are your primary means of displaying concern.
10:58: arrive Target. Gold spray paint, check. ($3 per can, purchase two cans.) Fire extinguisher you do not need and could not figure out how to use but makes you feel safe to own ($50), check. New collar for Schatzie (light teal, $14.95) and matching raincoat (light teal, $32.95), check.
11: 47: arrive Lund's. It is your grocery store because it is the best grocery store in town. This has been determined through price comparisons of the goods available at other grocery stores. Your grocery store is more expensive, and therefore better. You enjoy your grocery store but wish it was not so expensive. Purchase cookies, although they were not on your list, because they are on sale. Food items total $48.83.
1:18PM: arrive neighborhood liquor store.
1:34: return home. Discard fully checked-off shopping list with satisfaction, if not pleasure. Retain receipts for return of goods, if necessary. Place in receipt drawer in kitchen. Receipt drawer extremely full of reminders of purchases going back six years. Replace those receipts that pop out of the drawer when opened. Admire your thoroughness.
1:36: place wrapped gifts in front hall closet, where you also hang the coats of guests who come by. The children know they are there and who they are for but you assume they do not read this as torture. Or you do not care.
1:42: place food items, even those you are about to utilize, in refrigerator because you fear the growth of bacteria. Refrigerators, you believe, retard bacteria growth.
2:14: place spray paint in back hall closet. Note that an entire shelf is now filled with gold spray paint, and feel satisfied.
2:22: prepare afternoon cocktail. Consume.
2:40: prepare secondary afternoon cocktail as you begin to prepare for dinner.
3:00: begin preparing chicken batter. Your Southern Fried Chicken recipe is your only secret, and when you die, it will die with you. It will be proven again that this recipe is your only secret later this evening when, drunk, you describe the loss of your virginity as a 14-year-old to the children, only one of whom is approaching that age herself. As you go about your secret preparations, pace your cocktail consumption. Your son will be disappointed if he discovers you drunk when he arrives.
3:39: change into work clothes: large man's shirt, dungarees.
3:41: spray-paint wicker table gold in three-season porch. This is a part of your ongoing project to refinish your wicker dining set in gold, which itself is a part of your ongoing project to refinish everything you own in gold. You no longer allow visitors onto the three-season porch, as it is semipermanently redecorated as a spray-painting studio: newspapers cover every surface, including the Astroturf floor, the walls, and the screens. This makes the room somewhat difficult to breathe in after several spray-painting sessions, which may be part of why the project has taken close to eight months. Additionally, it is taking so long because you purchase things frequently and are never at a loss for new items that could be greatly improved if they were gold. Test yesterday's project, the ceramic Schnauzer tchotchkes that decorate the living room. Dry!
4:12: change back into outfit of the day: White button-down blouse ($12.95, Target), gold velour sweater ($38, Dayton's), white pleat-front pants ($65, Dayton's), gold leather slip-ons ($75, Dayton's).
4:18: begin heating oil slowly.
4:23: cocktail hour.
4:39 check makeup, change shoes. Heels (gold, Braun's, $68) are more appropriate for a dinner party. Admire figure in mirror. You do not tire of this.
4:45: replace tchotchkes around living room; straighten up a bit while you're at it.
4:59: sit on couch with a cocktail and prepare for the arrival of your family. They have one minute to arrive. Although you cannot smell it, the spray paint fumes mask your liquor breath. Move the phone closer in case they do not arrive by five. Wait.
Anne Elizabeth Moore's Hey Kidz! Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on Corporate and Governmental Propaganda and Artistic Activism for Short People is highly recommended. Check it out.