Yesterday I introduced you to Dorothy, my office’s 85 year-old cleaning lady. Last night she brought her 60-something niece in to work with her, since the niece was Dorothy’s ride to a funeral later in the evening.
(To give you a visual, Dorothy looks a bit like a central European peasant: a stout, wizened woman whose bespectacled image might grace the boxes for a line of frozen Pierogies. Her niece looked exactly like a cross between Betty White and Bea Arthur. And I don’t use the word “exactly” lightly here.)
This was the actual conversation that took place in my office between Dorothy, her niece, and me while I sat at my computer surreptitiously reading email:
The set-up: introductions and an exchange of the usual pleasantries. (It must be noted that Dorothy introduced me as "Office girl Jessie.") Beat of silence. Then:
Dorothy, tossing a baleful, disapproving look at her niece: “Look at her. She lost 40 pounds.”
Me, already uneasy with the direction of the conversation: “Congratulations! Wow, that’s quite an accomplishment.”
Dorothy frowns at her niece and shakes her head. Then, firmly but quietly: “I liked you better when you were fatter.”
Me: *smile locks on face*
Niece, smiling good-naturedly, clearly used to Dorothy’s hijinks: “But I can move around easier now!” She swivels her hips to demonstrate.
Dorothy, ignoring her and looking back at me. “I don’t like it. Her husband don’t like it, neither. ‘You should see her now,’ he says to me.” Coughing fit. “’You should see her now,’ he says.”
Niece, still smiling, tries to lighten the mood: “Now I can chase him around better.”
I laugh in a “trapped in a funhouse after hours” kind of way.
Dorothy makes shocked clucking noises. A fog of awkwardness rolls in. Then, Dorothy in an aside directed at me: “I like ‘em better when they’re fleshy. Don’t you, Jessie?”
Me: *frozen to chair*
Dorothy won’t let it rest: “Don’t you like ‘em better when they’re fleshy, Jessie?”
Me, on the verge of hysterics: “I’m staying out of this one!”
(Niece tsk-tsks Dorothy in the background, still smiling beatifically.)
Dorothy continues: “Our pastor lost a bunch of weight. Now he’s too skinny. I don’t like it. Not one bit. He don’t look right. They don’t look right when they’re so skinny. Like sticks they are!” Coughs up some phlegm. “Strong wind’ll knock ‘em right over.”
This went on for some time until my head exploded. As soon as they left I wrote down everything they said.
Have a wonderful, fleshy weekend everyone!