Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fish on Fridays

Nora once told me that Friday's lunch was the her favourite part of the week. I hadn't thought of it that way, but I guess it was like a party - my kids loved Fridays because dinner was leftover Fish and Chips - Nora, Marlene, and the others, loved it because there was wine.

Marlene is well... how to describe Marlene... she is unfailingly polite, as if eternally grateful that we're working here. Like Nora, she is a chainsmoker, and she doesn't always seem to be "all there". She almost looks like a caricature of herself: round circles of red rouge on either cheek, bright red lipstick, lashings of blue eyeshadow and permed hair. Marlene is up and out of the village every morning after breakfast. Where, I hadn't a clue, but it was her daily routine, and she was never present for lunch - except on Fridays. Every Friday was Fish and Chips. There was only one resident who turned it down. (It was Dawn, the round lady with her chin permanently on her chest, and she always had a slice of Thursday's left-over meatloaf instead. Shudder.)

It was one glass per resident, which we poured in advance and took in trays to the dining rooms. It wasn't usually my job to serve Marlene's dining room, but one day there was a new girl and I grudgingly agreed not to send the poor lamb to the slaughter make her job difficult by subjecting her to Barrett and the Royale. So we swapped.

I had only just given out the wine in the Barrett dining room when Marlene asked for another. This was new to me... but why not, so I went back to the kitchen to get more. It was only after finishing dessert that I overheard another resident also giving her glass of wine to Marlene. Oh, dear. This was not going to be good - she sometimes reminds me of a miniature Hunchback of Notre Dame who shuffles along unsteadily, grinning from clown makeup.

I spoke to Maria about it, who agreed that while they were adults, we kinda had a responsibility not to get them sloshed on a Friday afternoon. Maria, in turn, asked the residents not to hand their wine around to each other. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

The following Friday I turned down Marlene's request for more wine, using the porky pie that we'd been told we weren't allowed. She looked utterly crestfallen. But it turned out she had planned in advance anyway! Sweet Bette, who wasn't a drinker, had today asked for a glass - which she handed to Marlene later. (It's not like she'd have remembered not to, anyway.) Several other residents were only too happy to also give theirs to Marlene. As far as we can guess, she managed to get four glasses down in less than half an hour.

Maria found her sprawled in a Barrett hallway, with her skirt hiked all the way up, wearing red high heels and stockings with suspenders, and giggling non stop.

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