Monday
Dec022013

Simone and Enrique

As far back as Mrs. G. can remember, her grandparents never had a visitor stay overnight unless he or she was family, and since that only included about ten people, there was rarely a backlog of guestroom solicitations. Until one summer day when a distant cousin named Simone called Mrs. G's grandmother from New Mexico and asked if she could stay over a couple of days while she was in town attending a conference in Memphis. Mrs. G's grandmother immediately said "Of course" in her overtly cheerful voice, which the rest of the family recognized as her covertly put out, Oh Great voice. As Mrs. G. has said before, her grandmother was a nearly impenetrable, private person unless it was your privacy that needed penetrating. Solitary by nature, she kept friends at arm's length. Loyal and true, her family was her main concern and she roped them off inside the confines of an emblematic boxing ring. Family stayed in, strangers and often friends stayed out. Simone was family, so she had to be allowed in. Mrs. G. had never met Simone, so this was kind of an event and she was excited to see how it would all shake out.

Mrs. G's grandmother muttered disgraceful unpleasantries as she cleaned every inch of the house (including straightening the boxes in the attic) and planned elaborate menus. She brought out her best Wedding Ring Quilt from the linen closet and spread it out on the guest bed. The fuss, the flurry. It was like Crystal Gayle or Charlie Rich was coming to visit. 

"You need to calm down, Melly," Mrs. G's grandfather said.

"You need to calm up, Bob," she replied.

Simone showed up at her appointed time. She was disappointingly normal with a tight perm and baby blue, elastic waist slacks, not nearly the woman Mrs. G. had fantasized about -- a cross between Alexis Carrington and Cher. No such luck. Simone, somewhere in her fifties, was wearing a green cardigan in the middle of June with a Kleenex shoved up her left sleeve.

But there was something about Simone that instantly shut down Mrs. G's grandmother's world's rotation on its axis. Simone had brought a companion. His name was Enrique, a Hispanic man about half Simone's age who did not appear to speak English. Mrs. G's grandmother and grandfather just stared at him in disbelief, carefully calculating the actual definition of companion while extending their hand for the obligatory shake. Enrique was carrying a guitar case. The world reluctantly resumed spinning. Hell's Bells, things were getting good.

Mrs. G's grandfather invited Simone and Enrique to sit down, because Mrs. G's grandmother was still standing in the middle of the living room simultaneously phony smiling and apoplexifying (this is not a word but it should be because Mrs. G's grandmother was apoplexifying). Mrs. G's grandfather had to invite her to sit down too. She did. Then she started smoking, audibly inhaling and exhaling as if to imply with the secondhand smoke of her Camel Straights that I will not have this. I will not have this in my house.

Everybody superficially chit-chatted until it was time for dinner. Mrs. G's grandmother all but slammed the pan of lasagne on the table, but by this point everyone had come to a tacit agreement to pretend there was no tension in the house, and just ate his garlic bread. It was a quiet dinner and afterward everyone retired to the living room for coffee. So far, no one had asked Enrique one question about his life. Mrs. G. had hundreds and she knew a little Spanish, but she also knew which side her bread was buttered on

While sipping coffee, Mrs. G's grandmother casually dictated, "The guestroom is set up for you, Simone. We can set Enrique up on the couch."

"Oh, that's OK, Ramelle, Enrique can sleep on the floor in my room," Simone said..emphatically.

"It's not a problem in the world," said Mrs. G's grandmother. "I have plenty of blankets and the couch is certainly comfortable."

"I think our arrangement will suit Enrique and me nicely."

..............

Hell had officially frozen over on 2834 West Lakeland Drive.

Mrs. G's grandmother shot a look at Mrs. G's grandfather who he pretended he didn't see her. She pursed her lips and lit one cigarette with another.

Simone yawned and said she and Enrique should probably get some sleep. They said their good nights and left the living room.

"No sir! Nooo sir! This is not happening under my roof! I never!" Mrs. G's grandmother whisper yelled. Mrs. G. believed her. Her grandmother truly was never one to travel much less dilly-dally with foreigners. "I don't know what they do in New Mexico but this is NOT New Mexico!"

"Settle down," said Mrs. G's grandfather." In the morning, I'll ask them to abide by our rules or find another place to stay."

"Can't we hear Enrique play the guitar just once?" Mrs. G. asked. Her grandmother glared at her for some time and Mrs. G. realized they would not.

The three of them finally went to bed. Mrs. G's grandfather made Mrs. G. sleep on the floor in her and Mrs. G's grandfather's bedroom, probably afraid Mrs. G. would be morally tarnished in the night. Mrs. G. could hardly sleep because it was clear her grandmother was in a full-blown tizzy, tossing and turning and, undoubtedly, listening for the sounds of Satan down the hall.

In the morning, after breakfast, Simone and Enrique moved on. No one knew where. The visit was over.

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Reader Comments (22)

First !!! I love this story. Holy Crap! You give me inspiration to begin searching out the stories in my own life!

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRainbow Motel

I can feel the tension at the dinner table. Oh, how I wish you had found a way to whisper a few questions in Spanish! And the guitar!

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

I'm not sure how "apoplexifying" is not a word... It makes so much sense!

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteraphrodite

The nerve of that hussy! (I like her.)

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commentershrink on the couch

I am going to try to find a way to use apoplexifying in my lectures today.

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I remember always wondering what the word apoplectic meant in all the old-fashioned kids' books I read when I was young. Ii pictured someone with his bowtie tied too tight and his eyes popping out. I thought it was a medical condition.

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent

Be careful mrs. g, your guest writers are outshining you! I did think this story was funny.

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdana

Oh how I love this story!

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermartha.30004

This is why I come to the Manor and this is why I wait patiently for you to return from your hiatus. You craft your memories into a story that has me sitting, wide-eyed and rapt, beside you on the couch. Isn't it an interesting thought that in this day and age, no-one would bat an eye at a middle aged relative bringing a companion for an overnight stay? But all hell would ( and should!) break loose if there was a chain-smoking grandma poisoning the air while a child was present. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with your readers!

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllie

Ugh Dana. It's the holidays, for god's sake.

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Love this story!!!
And "Hell had officially frozen over..." Love it!

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterknittergran

I can imagine the thick air and the hovering combination of excitement and fear you felt that night. What a scene! What a set up!

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Girl in Wisconsin

Laughing. Thank you for your gift of storytelling.

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVivianne

We all need an inner Simone.

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisse

I second Ellie, she said exactly what I was thinking! What great fodder you have for stories! Keep it up!

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

You paint such a vivid picture with your words. Thank you. "whisper shouting" HA!

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterUse Wisdom

I wish I had the guts to say " I think this arrangement will suit me nicely" and DO IT. Wonderful as usual, Mrs. G......

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy

I love the stories about your family!

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermartha.30004

Now that I've wiped the spewed kiwi strawerry drink off my screen, I can say WELL DONE. "you need to calm up" BRILLIANT (and of course the apoplexifying is totally going in the newest dictionary because I can SEE your grandmother when you wrote that. You are so gifted.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Next Door

Love the story! (Just a little typo ...Enrique turns into Alberto & back into Enrique)

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim Akari

Thanks Kim. Sometimes when I change names for privacy, I leave one in somewhere.

December 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

Mrs. G, I wish I had the words to express how much I LOVE your writing. It is so precious to me!

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

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