Friday, March 27, 2009


When the Matron was but a Young Miss, she met her beloved John.   They were immediately simpatico.  Love had been proclaimed, cohabitation established and friends shocked –within two weeks.  That was nearly 18 years ago – so there, mother (and everyone else).

Young Miss and her future husband shared common views on nearly everything—love, art, politics, spirit and soul.  With one staggering exception:  sleeping naked.

John slept naked.  She did not.  

He always slept naked.  That man dropped his pants for a 15 minute midday nap.  Camping trip, complete with sleet and soggy sleeping bags?  Buck naked.  He simply could not catch a wink without complete exposure.  Young Miss?  After the lovemaking (and back then, in the Heyday, there was plenty), she wiggled away from his warm skin and put on his t-shirt.  Every night.

Now, with three children under their roof, not only does the Matron not sleep naked, the t-shirt has been replaced by real pajamas, should Fire or Threat of any sort require her to flee the house, herding children.  She goes to bed with an emergency mentality, slippers, phone, and eye-glasses at her side.

John still sleeps naked.   And that sexual Heyday?  Gone to seed.  But that’s another story.

This story is not actually, only about sleeping naked -- it is also about the time the then Young Miss and John decided, on a whim, to drive from Minneapolis to Chicago and spend the night with some friends of friends of friends, sort of.  Being young, they spent about one minute thinking through logistics like this   “Oooo – what CDs should we bring?” and “plain or peanut?”  before heading off without securing said lodgings.

Their attention to detail also meant that they brought no map.  This is pre-cell phone era (remember, she’s now The Matron).

Such careful planning found them driving through Chicago’s poorest, scariest, neighborhood (she’s certain none could be worse) around 2 am—with no friend of friend of friend successfully contacted or directions, secured.  They were exhausted.  Still, they drove.  They witnessed drug deals. Ignored waves for them to pull on over to the curb.  Circled around dilapidated building after dilapidated building.   They risked robbery twice to get directions at gas stations and still couldn’t understand the lay of the land.

Finally, at 3 am, the body triumphed.  They needed sleep. 

With some trepidation, they decided to secure a room at the only hotel they’d seen all night:  The Hotel Irving.  This building looked as if it had recently been fire-bombed.  The neon sign out front had lost half its letters.  The door didn’t even shut.

John carried the suitcase.
  Young Miss clutched her purse.  They parked the car and ran in. 

The lobby had more in common with a prison block than hotel, right down to the cement floor and industrial yellow walls with no decoration.  A huge, bald, toothless man sat behind a bullet-proof window.   Let’s call him Squid, sort of an endearing version of Sid.

John:  “We’d like to get a room please?”

Squid:  “How many hours?”


  “Half an hour is $20.  A full hour is $30.”

John:  “Oh, the whole night.”

Squid lifted what appeared to be an eyebrow.
  “That’s fifty bucks.”

Young Miss:  “Do you take Visa?”

  “Are you messing with me?”

Cash, only. 

The couple behind John and the Young Miss required only one hour.  The quite probably illegally young woman wore a skin tight leopard print body suit and black leather boots skirting her thigh.  The man?  He wore Eddie Bauer, a gold wedding band and guilt.  

It wasn’t until this moment that Young Miss fully understood precisely what type of ‘sleeping’ establishment she had entered.

Still, a bed waited.  They gingerly tiptoed their way through halls so filthy that Young Miss was offered a whole new appreciation of the word ‘organic.’

They took tentative steps into their room only to be felled by the wretched, rancid air coming from the heaping dumpster that sat immediately below a wide open, unscreened window.  

Young Miss:  “John?  Do you feel that?”

  “You mean the floor?”

The molding carpet was so filthy it was wet and went
slurp, slurp under their feet.  Needless to say, the toilet had been a DNA depository for about 50 years.  The window shut but didn’t lock.  There was dried vomit on the phone, feces piled by the nightstand, and a load of rotting clothes in the corner. 

But the Young Miss was stumbling by this point, as the clock neared 4 am.
  So she went to the suitcase to find:  a) clothes she didn’t care about to put on top of the bed as barrier between her body and the filth that was the bedspread and b) her heaviest coat to use as a blanket.  Her strategy for emerging intact?  No actual contact between her skin and anything in this bedroom.   She figured she could hermetically seal herself away from any physical interaction with her environment, and sleep.  She planned to throw away her shoes in the morning.

She turned from the suitcase to find John naked between the rotting sheets with his formerly desirable head on the pillow—and a look she knew well on his face.

John:  “Aren’t you even  just a little bit lovey?”

It’s okay to gasp in horror here.

Young Miss:  “We are the only people in this hotel not having sex.”  She took another look at the sheets.  “I may never have sex with you again.”

The next day, she would not kiss him good-morning or hold his hand pre-fumigation.    She left behind the clothes that she had slept on.  Turning in the key, she gave Squid a good, outraged piece of her mind and described in sharp detail the police report and health complaints she would be filing!

Squid:  “Do you have a hidden camera guy somewhere?  You can’t be for real.”

Later, they finally found friends – real friends.   Fumigation ensued. 

See her bed now?  To this day, John need only whisper “Hotel Irving” and the Matron must strip these sheets.  Sorta like a gag reaction.

 And now in the midst of a tested but true long marriage, when she watches this man shed his clothes, gleefully climb into bed and pitch that ever-hopeful question:  “Aren’t you just a little bit lovey”? she’s not infrequently returned to the Hotel Irving, one of the earliest stops on their shared, sometimes disgusting, life adventure. 


The Matron wrote this long ago when she was less busy; some day, it will appear in the Women's Colony, she anticipates!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bringing Home the Bacon

The Matron is in the midst of a three day whirlwind in which she -- really -- has about forty-seven seconds of unscheduled time.

It's all about the job, the theatre, the baseball try-outs, the science fair, and the trips catering to Grandma Mary.

Wit and verve?  Returning to this space soon.  Please don't go away!    The Matron is a junkie:  she needs readers!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This is the Nod to Near Daily Blog Posts Which May Go the Way of the Economic Downturn

See that feather?

See this Matron?  

You could knock her over.  

And this is all she can sputter tonight.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Crawling to Finish

Family Lore holds that Jekyll was born on April 1st.  Really, because he was a 'rescue dog,' the Matron and her husband just picked that date.  He's turning 16!   Really, really really old in dog years!

For the past few weeks, this old man has been awake for about 1 hour out of 24.    He will falld own the stairs if he gets too close because he can no longer see them.   Today, he climbed out of his chair not knowing a big bouncy ball was there and he went rolling.   Every morning, the Matron tiptoes to the chair he is sleeping in and gets real quiet.  To see if he is still with them.

Dear Jekyll, the Matron heard a vet on the radio discussing when to help end a beloved pet's life.  She was very happy you didn't meet the criteria!  You still enjoy your food-- very much (when you know who doesn't steal it)!   You smell your family and that sense allows you to follow us for fondling.  The ocassional accident aside, you are good on the elimination end, too (better than you know who, in fact).  

The Matron hopes you can just sleep-ease your way into death without intervention.  The only thing that concerns the Matron is that, as of late, it takes you a very long time to get up or down -- those tiny hips just aren't oiled to move like they used to.

You shake now, sometimes, without reason.  Perhaps the Matron will shake too-- like those late leaves that keep hanging -- when she knows she is late in her season.   

Snout kisses?  Time to bestow one upon your faithful pet.  

Monday, March 23, 2009


When Merrick was 8 months old, his beautiful little left eye reddened and swelled.    The Matron could not quite understand this as he had no other symptom and the eye didn't appear to bother.  But over the course of a single day, that little eye puffed like kangaroo pouch and beat crimson.  This didn't look like pink eye or strep or anything the Matron had seen.

So she grabbed her guy and took him to the Emergency Room.

Imagine the odds!  Her very own pediatrician was walking out of the building just as the Matron and Merrick walked in.   The doctor-- a lovely woman (younger and far better looking than the Matron oh curse her) stopped to say hello and then?    The doctor stopped and took a long, concentrated look at Merrick.

Doctor:  "Did this happen quickly?"

Matron:  "Why - -yes.  His eye was fine a few hours ago."

So the doctor nodded and  snatched that child out of the Matron's arms and turned, heel on a dime, back into the ER.  "Follow me."

Oh my!  The Matron followed!  Her heart?  It had resituated itself in her throat - and was pounding.

The doctor blew past all Nurses and Procedures--Merrick firmly in arms-- and said in a loud firm voice:  " I need blah- blah-blah, and blah-blah-blah -- and this other mega-thing -- right now.  Not in one minute, now."

Now, the Matron can't remember the precise drugs the doctor wanted to immediately administer because she was already numbing into a state of shock as medical personnel dropped what they were doing and descended upon her baby -- who disappeared in a sea of pea green and chemical blue scrubs.

While the flurry flew, the doctor took the Matron aside:  "Mary?  Complete gut instinct.  I think he has periorbital cellulitis, an infection of the optic nerve that can spread to the brain.   Again, just instinct and nothing to write home about, but I think the infection has settled in pretty well and is moving quickly enough that we want to bypass all the administrative stuff.  We'll pump him full of antibiotics and watch that optic nerve behave in no time.

It did not take the hypochondriacal (but very smart) Matron long to understand that periorbital cellulitis can kill or blind you.

And those antibiotics?

Did not work on Merrick.

The Matron's child hung in the balance, in the hospital, for three excruciating days while the doctors waited for that antibiotic to work.   

For some reason, that eye continued to bloat and beam.  So the breast-feeding Matron lived in the hospital (again -- this was Merrick's second stay and there's another story), sleeping on a cot at her child's side and trying to keep an unhappy, feverish, 8 month old happy for 16 hours a day while worrying about his very survival.  The Matron is the kind of mother where those things counter each other:  A) why can't you be happy and sleep all day instead of being uncomfortable and needy for 82 hours?   and B)  if you cease to exist I shall perish.

And she endured this without wine.

Merrick slowly, eventually recovered.   When he was in process, the Matron pulled that child and his army of IVs, and poles and medications, around the hospital in a little red wagon.  She knew they looked ragged. 

But still?

One day, a man in the lobby  tossed a $5 bill into the wagon. 

And Merrick got better.