Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekend Update (This One NOT Featuring Tina Fey)

(I still want to write "Jane Curtin" instead of "Tina Fey"--that's how old I am!)

Friday night, I went to see "Dolly West's Kitchen" at TimeLine Theatre with a colleague from work, his wife and a few of their friends. If you live in Chicago and haven't seen this play yet, please try--it runs for one more weekend before it closes. Like everything TimeLine does, this is extraordinary. It's set in County Donegal, Ireland, during World War II (probably 1944-ish). Ireland was neutral during the war, but gave a lot of support to the Allies. Dolly West lives in County Donegal with her mother Rima, her brother Justin, her sister Esther, and Esther's husband Ned. Justin is fiercely loyal to Ireland and protective of Ireland's neutrality in the war. So he's not terribly pleased when an old family friend and British soldier, Alec, comes to visit and brings two American soldiers from Brooklyn, NY--cousins Marco and Jamie--who are stationed in Derry.

Marco is a flamboyant (and, it must be said, very crude) homosexual, which of course, was COMMONPLACE during the 1940s. That was the only part of the play that made me say "WTF?" I can understand that he was brutalized by his family as a child and now that he's in the Army, he's in "fighter mode" and not afraid to be himself, but his portrayal made him seem more like a seasoned hustler than a young soldier newly at war. His character tones down a bit throughout the play, but not by much. He immediately attaches himself to Justin, who, it seems, has a secret...

Rima, the matriarch, is a bawdy, down-to-earth 60-something who loves to tell dirty jokes and drink whiskey, and understands Justin better than he probably realizes. She's not at all offended by Marco, and indeed, almost pushes him and Justin together.

Esther is trapped in a passionless marriage with Ned, whom she doesn't love. Both she and Dolly are past the bloom of youth (their mid-to-late 30s, probably, 10 years older than Justin), but that doesn't stop Jamie from lusting after Esther. Esther doesn't exactly discourage him--she's gratified by the attention and the realization that men still find her attractive, since her husband pays little attention to her.

Dolly herself once studied art in Italy and returned to Ireland a few years earlier where she's remained ever since, carrying a torch for Alec, but is too proud to tell him.

The play unfolds through a series of revelations, betrayals and tragedy, but ultimately leaves us feeling a sense of hope that despite these things, we're strong enough to keep going.

After the play, I was beat, so I cabbed it home and crashed, and hit the road to Peoria the next morning around 8:30. My cousin Tonya and aunt Mary came up to visit also. Mom was doing a bit better--hospice had come around late last week and gotten her a new air bed and wheelchair, so she was up again. She still wouldn't eat anything, although when I saw her lunch I couldn't really blame her--it looked putrid. But I offered to bring her something back and she said no. Her head was bothering her, and by the time Tonya and Mary left, she was sitting with her head hung down from the ache, so I alerted the nurses and they gave her her pills and a new pain patch.

Mom claims that the patch makes her nauseous and that's why she doesn't feel like eating. Her memory is getting screwy again, too--she has a poinsettia in her window that she says aunt Teri (her sister) brought (I know she hadn't). Mom said Teri came down from Chicago to see her (Teri lives in Louisiana).

She then asked where Mary was. "She's sitting right here," I replied.

"No, the other Mary," Mom said. "The one who was having trouble upstairs with the laundry machine."

There is no upstairs at the nursing home--it's a one-level facility that's spread out in two wings. And there's no Mary working in the laundry center. See, this is Mom's little game: she'll get confused and when you try to figure out what she's saying or ask questions to guide her back onto the topic, she'll attempt to lie her way out of it just enough to save face. And she's adamant about her lie, too! She will not back down once she's committed. It's both adorable and maddening. I know what she's up to, because I pulled the same shit when I was a teenager. I didn't fool her then, and she doesn't fool me now...

It's funny how life comes full circle, isn't it?

I was going to stay overnight, but in my haste to get on the road that morning, I had only given Pisspot Sophie enough food and water for one day. I wasn't worried that she'd starve, but I know only too well that if the sun comes up and her bowl is empty and I'm not there to fill it, she WILL go and retaliate somewhere.

So I had to hit the road again at around 8:00 Saturday to head home to Chicago. But I'm going down again next weekend to visit for Easter and take her an Easter basket. I'll see if I can get her to wear the extra bunny ears!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really Jane Curtain was the best. Chevy Chase was a classic clown.
Good to hear your Mom is still in fighting mode. Maybe there is a secret upstairs in the Nursing Home. I know there is a secret basement in the Alamo, it's where I keep all my money (and Pee wee's bike). Ed

6:11 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Gilda was always my favorite--every episode with Roseanne Roseannadanna was a holiday for me!

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Rosanna too. She would read a letter from Mr. Richard Flater of Fort Lee, New Jersey. "First of all, You ask a lot of questions for someone from New Jersy". Ed

7:21 AM  

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