Monthly Archives: February 2014

Back to Boca

“Well, I retired to Boca after my husband died. My kids were not too interested in me, to tell you the truth. Anyway, they have their own problems. One of hem has a retarded boy and she’s been trying school after school since he was five, and now he was thirteen and to tell you the truth, it drove her a little crazy. The boy was a quiet kind of trouble. He would sit down on a bench in the park and refuse to move. On the other hand, you could leave him there for hours. He was waiting for “the ducks” he said. Go figure.

“Not that he was ever wild. He’s the kind of boy who ties his shoes over and over again to make the two ends come out even. Or once she taught him to comb his hair, he had to comb it over and over again to make sure the part was straight. You wanted to kill him for the hours and hours it took to get him moving.

“Not from my side of the family, believe me. That daughter who used to be my rock is a nervous wreck from this boy. Ask me, she should put him in a home, but she’d die first she says. I see what she means. He’s retarded, but he’s her kid and the husband left them long ago. He couldn’t take it. But where does that leave me?

“My own son, he’s like a rolling stone. He’s always going to make a killing, so he goes around the country where the money is. Last time it was with a sweater manufacturer who figured out a way to make a fortune with a new kind of (all-) weather jacket. Guess how that ended.

“I used to slip Justin a little of the house money on the sly. A son is a mother’s pride. A daughter can always marry a good provider, although it’s true my daughter’s husband didn’t stick around when he found out the boy was damaged goods. Could be my daughter could have paid more attention to him than to the retarded boy and kept everything going. He gave her warning she had to put the boy in a home. Her husband, Josh,  couldn’t live with everyone catering to his son. And he didn’t. I’d tell her she’d lose him—a good provider! A mother knows something.

“I could have lived with them, but with the retard—you know he can actually go to school a little—everything’s topsy turvy. So that’s why I’m in this verstunkener
assisted living.

“When I realized I couldn’t live with Rosalie because of the boy,. I first went to Boca and found a little furnished apartment. I met some nice girls my own age and got along real good. We played bridge, canasta, gin rummy, you name it. Ate out-not too expensive because of the early-bird specials. They knew the best spots, those girls. I was lucky to get in with them. A place for cheap shoes, but gorgeous. Discount dresses,. End-of-season sales you wouldn’t believe. I got some wonderful white slacks, latex in the waist—yes, latex—dirt cheap. A sports outlet they knew. They were teaching me pinochle, but I had no head for it. I’d be there yet, but I got pneumonia and complications.

“My daughter had to come down and take care of me. But she was always looking up plane schedules back, or checking her watch to call the boy to take his medicine. He has a lot of allergies. It comes with not being all there, I think.

“With me in Boca, she left him alone and he made out okay. He’s nineteen and can do a little more for himself than she thinks. ‘Rosalie’, I said to her, ‘the boy can take care of himself more than you think. You could come down to Boca more. Maybe even place him with his own kind.’ She gives me a funny look and that’s the end of that.

“Ask me, she’s too attached to him. I don’t resent him, but in his own quiet dumb way he knows how to work her. So that’s why I’m here in the old folk home where I don’t belong. I can’t drive, is all, which is why I’m not still in Boca. The girls I knew have their own cars. Even Eva, who’s almost ninety, and they’re not crazy about doing an errand for you, and I can’t drive anymore.

“I’m figuring I’ll use my time here to get on my feet and maybe take a few driving lessons, then go back to Boca. I can’t stand it here. Everybody’s walking around half dead.”
.

Roger Angell at 93

Roger Angell wrote a vigorous article abut aging in a recent New Yorker, but he begins the article by describing his decrepitude. Even so,  a couple of gnarled knuckles in his left hand and the beginning of macular degeneration and a stent in his heart do not keep him from declaring “I’m feeling great.” There’s a photograph too in this issue (February 17th and 24th 2014), of Mr. Angell  walking his dog in Central Park, cane in hand. He looks robust but somewhat  resigned to all the  vicissitudes of life—the triumphs and failures, the reversals of fortune that occur in a long life. “I’ve endured a few knocks but missed worse,” he says. But he appears to be hardy and seasoned. In his eighties he had  surgery. The doctors clamped shut a congenital hole in his heart.

He’s the last of a famous breed. He was an editor at The New Yorker for over  forty years which spanned the tenures of E.B. White, Katherine Angell White(his mother) and William Shawn.

He is mindful that most of the people his age are dead, as are all the editors listed here. In a long,  life he has survived many other deaths. (inevitable, he says, for anyone over sixty): Carol, his wife of 48 years, his daughter, Callie, New Yorker staff members, many of them friends and New Yorker staff writers, many of tem friends.

One of the most endearing aspects of his essay is his commemoration of the dead. Life goes by so fast that the dead are too soon forgotten, but not by Roger Angell. He names them liberally, from fourth-graders he remembers fondly to great aunts also long gone. “These names are best kept in mind rather than boxed and put away somewhere.” You can only feel grateful to him for keeping count, especially as he says of himself, quite wrongly, “People my age, and younger friends as well, seem able to recall entire tapestries of childhood. I can’t do this, and it eats at me…”. But effortlessly he then  remembers  walking uphill toward home with his two young daughters. He is 93 now.  He was in his late thirties then, the girls about nine and six. He even remembers what they were talking about!  “I’m complaining about the steep little stretch of road between us,  and our house just up the hill.”

The trait he chides himself for must really be one of his strongest! He has an outstanding track record for remembering in the famous Christmas poem he writes for The New Yorker at year’s end. There, each December, he  sums up in rhyme the achievements of friends and strangers for  the preceding year. He himself was a legendary sports writer, especially baseball, and editor. He wrote for Talk of the Town and did full-length  profiles for the magazine as well.

Dogs have meant a lot to him throughout his life as well as people, and he reminisces about them in this essay. He is a dog lover, has had a series of fox terriers and still walks the lastest  incarnation, Andy, in Central Park. Harry, a smooth fox terrier, was especially friendly. When friends came to visit, he toured the table at dinner “in imitation of a three-star headwaiter”, to make sure guests were being treated well . These were usually old friends. Unlike most dogs, he also enjoyed riding in a kayak.  Harry exited Angell’s life in a way that seems more human than doglike: on a muggy day in June, when Harry was eight, he was alone in the fifth floor apartment.  He became unhinged by a noisy thunderstorm rattling outside and went out a window left a quarter open.

These are all events and memories of a life well-spent, and Roger Angell reports them with modesty and humor.

Hope for Dementia?

Treatment of dementia depends on finding its cause, and currently there is an immense effort in research, time, and money invested in the search for that cure by many of the major pharmaceutical companies. Clinical studies by many of the major pharmaceutical companies are of primary importance in that search. and there is an abundance of activity and a major clinical push for a cure. Currently, at least 50,000 volunteers are urgently needed to participate in more than a hundred clinical trials about Alzheimer’s and related dementias. There are other such studies as well. The need is pressing because at present there is no cure or drug treatment that will temporarily improve symptoms.

Some of the risk factors for dementia, such as age and genetics, cannot be changed. As dementia cannot be cured, the best hope in dealing with it is through risk reduction. Some of the most active areas of research include cardiovascular factors, physical fitness and diet.

Cardiovascular risk factors
The brain is nourished by one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels. Anything that damages blood vessels anywhere in the body can damage blood vessels in the brain as well, because the brain cells are deprived of the necessary food and oxygen.

Blood vessel damage in the brain is linked to vascular dementia. Blood vessel changes are also linked to other kinds of dementia, like Alzheimer’s. These changes may interact to cause faster decline or make impairment more severe.

You can help protect your brain with some of the same strategies that protect your heart. Don’t smoke. see to it that your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar remain within recommended limits, and maintain a healthy weight.

Physical exercise
Regular physical exercise, like walking or swimming or working out regularly in the gym (even in limited amounts for older people), may help to lower the risk of some kinds of dementia. Older people who have exercised regularly in their younger years often give up working out in their seventies and eighties because of the misguided notion that exercise in old age does no good. Just the contrary! Evidence exists to show that exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

And it is not at all necessary to go to the gym to exercise. Walking is one of the best exercises, known to improve physical health. And all that is needed for walking is a sturdy pair of shoes and the mindset to walk regularly every day at a given time. A walk around the block everyday at a set time, for example, marks the beginning of a good habit, and it soon becomes a pleasure in itself. Old age is not a time for lethargy. It’s a time to keep all the systems purring to keep heart, brain and health alive.

The need for physical exercise in old age is so important that it should be posted in senior centers, nursing homes or wherever old people gather. The sign might read: “KEEP MOVING, LIVE LONGER .”

Diet
A healthy heart is a great aid in keeping a healthy a healthy brain. A healthy diet is a great aid in keeping a healthy heart. The best current evidence suggests that strong hearts=healthy diets. Healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, may also help protect the brain. SA Mediterranean diet include relatively little red meat and emphasize whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.

You don’t have to be passive in your fight against dementia. You do the exercise. You watch your diet. Prevention is always better than treatment.

A Roof Over Her Head

“You’re new here, I see. Not that I’ve been here so long myself. Just three months or so. I didn’t plan to come into assisted living at all–at least until my mid-eighties and I’m only seventy-six. It’s really not my thing. I’m a home body, a homemaker.

“The resident director here said when I was signing up, ‘Why you’re a mere baby to be coming here.’

“She also said that I would find many lively minds like mine. I don’t know about that. Sometimes I think I’m still in shock. I was living with my daughter Sherry for about fifteen years. Sherry does market research but she still takes classes all the time. Little by little, but always steady until—well, I’ll get to that.But she always put one foot after the other. Slow and steady. She was working to be a CPA.

“That’s a certified public accountant. It takes years and years of school and a lot of money, but it pays real good in the end. She was doing that at night. You couldn’t ask for anyone with more good sense.

“I kept house for both of us. And I volunteering with Meals on Wheels a couple of days a week too. I really enjoyed bringing these very nice meals to old people and seeing their faces light up when I came in the door. It makes you feel good about them. It makes you feel good about yourself. Otherwise, some of them would just eat cereal or stale bread day after day. It’s pathetic.

“Anyhow we were going along fine. Sherry is ambitious, so she was always taking classes, and she told me something that seemed absolutely right to me—a goodhead on her shoulders. She said, ‘Mom, as a single woman I need to be sure I’ve got enough money to retire on.’

“So that was the reason she was going for the CPA .Perfect, right? What more could you ask of a daughter except that she get married and have a baby? That’s mostly what you want for your girls.

“Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. She’s finally working in a CPA office, learning the ropes . An intern they call it. And she has a woman boss CPA. Soon, it’s Eadie this and Eadie that, not the way you talk about your boss, even if she is a woman. Which I never heard of before anyway—a woman boss CPA! That’s a man’s job, if you ask me! Live and learn. Next thing I know, she’s telling me that she and this Eadie are going to move in together.

“One bedroom? I say, ‘Why would you do that when we got this nice apartment, you and me, each a bedroom and I make dinner? Could you ask for a better setup for a single girl?’

“‘Well Mom, we want to be together,’ she says.

“‘Waddya mean, together? You see each other five days a week. That’s enough together.’

“‘We want to go out together. Movies, restaurants, vacations. That sort of thing.’

“‘So what’s stopping you? I’ll still make dinner. You could bring her over.’

“‘It’s more like you and Dad when you started out. We need our own place.’

“‘You’re a sensible girl. You’re not making sense.’

“‘We have to have our own place’, she says, stubborn-like. This was not my Sherry speaking. This was a whole ‘nother person.

“‘Sherry! It’s not like you to talk so foolish!’

“‘We need our privacy!’, she hollers like a crazy person. Not my Sherry at all.

“‘Then I began to hear her in a way I couldn’t believe. I thought that’s just what they put on the TV so people will watch the program. ‘Oh my God’, I said. ‘Oh my God’. And now they’re living in my house till they find their own.”

How did that happen? I asked.

“She’s my daughter isn’t she, right or wrong? She gotta have a roof over her head. The rent they were going to pay in the city? So I gave them the apartment and came here.

How come?

“She’s my one and only daughter, so what choice did I have? We all get along more or less, sometimes more, sometimes less, but I wouldn’t live with them. One good thing is I found a show on TV that’s all about—you know—the way they are, and it gives me some good tips. They visit.Usually Fridays.

“Maybe you’ll meet them.”

Renalda’s Twin Daughters

At dinner, a week or two after she arrived, Renalda told four of us how she came to assisted living. Betty had asked how it happened that she was in a facility in New York when her family lives in Connecticut.

“You could say that my twin daughters, Maisie and Marnie, prefer it that way. I want to be fair: I’m not saying they’re getting rid of me.

“They’re forty-eight now and still very close. That in itself is some kind of wonder. I say this because when they were younger, we used to go to twins’ gatherings in Hartford. A lot of the older identicals stayed close to each other, but many of them would tell war stories of how they went out of their ways to separate themselves in their twenties by cultivating different friends and going to colleges in different states. There were even a few accounts of complete estrangement among identicals, as though that was the only way they could escape each other’s images.

“I was very close to both of my girls growing up. I was given good advice by my pediatrician when they were born, so I tried not to make the usual mistakes. We dressed them differently from the start, they were always in different classes in school, and my husband was very diligent about researching good colleges for them so each could separate when they left home. And they did.

“But they seemed to need to come together after college, as though they had been separated too long. They both returned to Hartford, found good jobs, married local boys, had children and set up their own homes. They socialized with each other as often as their household schedules would allow. Their husbands seemed to think of it as a charming joke, a pleasant thing to kid them about. The girls didn’t mind. Outside of their homes, they’d play tennis together. They’d play with other people too, of course, but they liked it best when the were in the same game.

“I can really understand why they had such a need to come back together. There’s nothing wrong with it, really. After all, they were conceived from the same egg. Nothing closer. I’m just pointing out that more than most siblings, Maisie and Marnie have to be together.

“But I think it may have affected their relations with me. I always assumed that I would live with one of them in my old age, as the three of us had so much fun together when they were growing up, but that was not to be.

“Their children are grown and out of the house. Both their husbands are workaholics, which suits them fine because they want to be together again all the time. I can see now that I, as their mother, would never be comfortable in either of their homes. They really want to spend as much time together as they can.

“I think I’ve figured it out. They say they sent me here because it’s a top rated-nursing home, but there are plenty of top-rated nursing homes in Connecticut. They chose this place because, whether they know it or not, they feel that my presence in the same state will interfere with their bond. I find it very hurtful, but as you can see I’m stuck with it.”

Morris and Benny Talk of Women

I’m sitting near Morris and Benny in the living room. They don’t seem to mind my overhearing them because they’re not lowering their voices.

Morris says, “So what was so important I couldn’t go to woodworking this morning?

“Dee-Dee. She wants an answer.”

“Dee-Dee. What kind of a name is Dee-Dee.?”

“Oh, you know. Her name is Florence but she hates it. She was named for a grandmother who never left her a penny. So Dee-Dee she is.”

“Could have been Florrie or Flo. Even Flossie, would that kill her? Dee-Dee sounds like a hootchy-kootchy dancer, not  some old lady. What does she want anyway?”

“She wants me to be the fourth at dinner on Wednesdays until Ziggy comes back.”

“Where’d he go?”

“Hospital for stomach pains. They start poking around and bingo!, there’s complications. So it’ll be awhile in the hospital  if he doesn’t die first.”

“So you’re the fill-in, soon to be the new Ziggy. Is the table a two-top or four?”

“Four, but Dee-Dee doesn’t like the Siegels. No pep.”

“So soon to be a two top with you and the beanpole Dee-Dee with the  frizzy two-tone hair.”

“That  wouldn’t be so bad. She’s the only woman I’ve met in this morgue who likes a laugh, tells jokes and funny stories.  Her neighbor kept an iguana and a chimp. Her son was still living with her. The iguana got out. The chimp missed him and tried to go after, and the son, a big guy, overweight, wrestled him down. She tells it all drawn out like. Funny! I nearly died laughing.”

“What happened to the iguana?”

“He’s still out there somewhere in Secaucus.”

“Another question: What happens if Ziggy comes back?”

“No danger. She thinks he has a weak heart.”

“She thinks?  Ask me, I think she’s trying to hold on to both of you at once.”

“Jeez, that’d be a problem. A three-top at dinner.”

“No, no, no. They like to fill the tables. So they’ ll put a fourth with you. That could be be bad.”

“Not if the fourth is you.”

“No, sir. Not me!”

“It’s only every other Wednesday.”

“No, no, no. I’m not falling into that trap.”

“What do you mean, trap?”

“To begin with, these women have their ways. Number one: she already has Ziggy, assuming he comes back. Number two, it looks like she’s already got you. And now she wants a full house. Three men, all to herself. Uh-uh. Not me. I’m not the kind of man who’ll fall for that.”

“But some men–like you, for instance–are smarter than women. A guy like you has nothing to worry about.”

“I’ll think about it,” Morry said, sheepish but flattered “But I’m not promising anything.”

“Don’t worry about it. You’re gonna love it.”

“‘ We’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll see what we’ll see…”

“What a pal!”

Guillermo Penn

Guillermo Penn startled me by his frankness when he first moved into assisted living, but let me say at the outset that I found it refreshing. Don’t get me wrong. The prevailing tone among the inhabitants of this assisted living residence (like most, I have no doubt) is friendly, pleasant, and rather bland. The staff is polite. Newcomers to the place are generally somewhat cowed by their new surroundings and past traumas. Or the present one: a home for their last years that is not quite a home. I happened to be in the lobby when Guillermo was checking in, and he was surely different.

Letitia, one of the concierges, had just given him a key to his apartment.

“I see that Brookdale has fallen for the hype,” he said (Brookdale is the parent company of The Hallmark). We had all just gotten new keys—little discs that you wave over the keyhole to open the door.
“These damn things never work. They have them in every hotel now from the Waldorf to the Drop Dead Inn in Cucamonga.”

“Just wave it over the keyhole, Mr. Penn,” Letitia said calmly.

“A real key is what is wanted, a key key.”

“This lady here was just complaining about hers”, Letitia said. “And I told her what I told you: wave, wave.” She demonstrated.

“Your fake key doesn’t work either?”

“I haven’t tried it yet. I’m just suspicious of electronics.”

“Aha, another Luddite like me.” He then said very politely to Letitia, “A Luddite is someone who doesn’t like machinery, is not friendly to modern gimmicks.”

“You’re making too much of it, Mr. Penn. It’s just a key, a different kind of key,” Letitia said. “Just give it a chance . Wave it around.”

We listened to her and went off with our keys, agreeing to try his key first and then mine.

“I despair of it, but I’ll try a Cucamonga curse on it”, Mr. Penn said, and muttered some heeby-jeeby at the lock as he waved the key above it. On the fourth try it worked. “A great accomplishment. Now on to yours.”

There was much sticking at first on my lock and we groaned and moaned over it. Finally it opened. I was pleased but still wary of the newfangled key. Mr. Penn acted as though we had climbed Mt. Everest.

“Well,” he said, shaking my hand. “I expected to be bored out of my gourd in the old folks home, but here I’ve gone and had my first adventure.”

“A tiny one,” I said.”

“All right and proper,” he replied. “Too much excitement is bad for old people!”

Rifka, Aged 102

In our assisted residence there are a few octogenarians who have managed to escape major illness,  dementia, and lethargy. A small miracle because some of the very old are sunk into themselves.

I sa id this to Rifka, aged 102, and she scoffed. “I’m a healthy person because I ate what I wanted—think soups and chocolate—then a cinnamon babka now and then. To tell you the truth, I could eat a whole one by myself. I slept till noon a lot.”

“And you were never sick. That’s a miracle”

“No, never sick. Maybe a bellyache every ten years. When TV first came on, I couldn’t get over  it, a picture telling me a story right in my own house. I ate Hershey’s Kisses and watched movies all night. I liked horror movies. Bela what’s his name?”

“Bela Lugosi?”

“And anything scarey. But here’s another thing. I’m  sick of telling everybody how come I lived so long because I really don’t know, and believe me a lot of it is boring. Very boring. I’m tired of it. I could go now, believe me. Think of brushing your teeth day and night for a hundred years or so, or  being married to the same husband for 70 years. Ike wasn’t a bad man, but thrilling he was not.  Home, 5:30 mm, the key in the door. He worked in the schmatta trade. I did too, but he was  in the big fire where all the girls jumped out the window.

“The Triangle Shirtwast fire!”

“He did save one, Lettie Fishbein, She used to send him a card for years after. ‘Remember,’ it said. ‘Remember.’ He’d just open the letter, get in the Lazy Boy lounger, read the paper. You wouldn’t take him for a hero. He never talked about it.

“I did all his bragging for him but then he died. Twenty years or so now, I think.”

“Well I’m glad you’re still around.”

“Bite your tongue! It’s too long already. Life gets boring too.”

Warehoused

“I know that there are other women here with children  who are glad to see their parents go into  assisted living, but my son was even harder on me,” Dorothea, a new resident said to me. “You were talking tonight at dinner about your daughter’s visit, and it made me remember what I’ve gone through with my son, Edward. I hope you don’t mind?”

Dorethea is a small woman with red-rimmed eyes. She is plainly unhappy. Her tears were close to the surface. She looked rather lost (this was her second day), and Marion and I had invited her to have dinner with us.

“Some of this is my own  fault,” she said unexpectedly, when we were in my apartment. “I was always very close to my daughter, and Edward resented it.”

“I am so sorry.”

“He and my husband kind of banded together. They were both very interested in  sports. They went to basketball, hockey, you name it, so they had each other until Julie died. Then Edward let loose on me. He said I never liked him, always called him Edward. ‘So formal!’ he mocked at me, ‘while it was always Andy, Andy, Andy for Andrea.’ I took her to Europe, bought her clothes, gave her a big wedding. You name it.”

“So you have her in your life at least”, I burst out, trying to find a saving element in this story.

“If only. She lives in London and won’t answer my letters. My son, though, is terrible to me in my own house. I’m only 79 and he practically signed me into this old folks home himself. ‘Andy didn’t want you in London, did she?’ he said to me. ‘Dad left money for assisted  living for you.  It’s more than you deserve. You were the kind of mother who never assisted my living and Dad saw it all. Now you better start packing.’”

“You’re husband left you homeless?”

“My husband left him the house, not me. I said to my son—my own son, my only son, ‘Can’t I stay in the maid’s room off the kitchen? I’ll use the back door, no trouble.’ ‘It’s over, Ma. Get that into your head.’ Maybe my sister Tillie. But it’s so hot and humid in Mississippi! ‘Forget it.  You borrowed a chunk of money from her to buy Andy a fur coat years ago, remember? And never paid  her back a penny. Tell me, when was the last time she called?’”

She paused a moment, cried a little, dried her eyes, and said, “All paths are blocked. They’re all in it together and I never suspected..”

“Dorothea,” I said. “You need a lawyer.”

“Oh, sure and where’s the money going to come from?

“Well, assisted living is not cheap, and here you are.”

“But that’s what my husband left for me. Money for assisted living. That’s it, period. My son got the house and cars, my daughter got cash. I got assisted living, and I better learn to live with it. It really is not so bad here. I can see that. It’s my family. How am I going to live with the way my  family treats me, the way they think of me?”

“There’s a good psychologist here. Maybe she can  help you.”

“My family’s locked me out. God knows I need help. I’ll try her.”

.

The Naysayer

Overheard in the lobby:

“What kind of neighborhood is this for a nursing home down here anyway?

There’s nothing wrong with it but it’s new. It’s nice too: the river, the docks, there’s a little restaurant down the street.

“This is not for me. My husband needs nursing care.”

I see him. He shuffles, but he’s still on his feet. Maybe he’s getting better already.

“This is a sick man we’re talking about here. I waited on him hand and foot until Dottie forced me to bring him.”

It’s for the physical therapy here. Look at me. I was lucky to make three little baby steps in a row when I first got here. Now I’m teaching tango.

“You’re teaching tango? You look like you’ve got one foot in the grave and the other one…”

Don’t say it!

“Now I’ve got to add you to my worries or Dottie will never forgive me.”

So I’m not teaching tango. But I did take a yoga class yesterday. Dottie knows.

“Live dangerously and the wives suffer the consequences.”

Worse than that. I’m going for a walk down to the dock tomorrow.”

“Your funeral.”

It’s a class. There’s a leader. We’re going to walk to the docks.

“What do they call this place anyway?”

The Hallmark. You know that. It’s on the card Dottie gave you. Can you think of a better name?

“How about Murder Incorporated?”

You’re a great little kidder. But you better get Morrie to Physical Therapy. Or maybe I can show him the way.

“Who’s kidding now? Not for nothing I’m his wife of forty years.”
(He mutters.. She strains to overhear).

“Are you badmouthing me?”

Never.

“You are. I heard it. You said ‘better him than me.’ You should only know such devotion from your Dottie as my Morty gets from me.”

I should be so lucky. You look out for everybody even when everybody doesn’t want it.

“Now you’re just being a smart aleck!”

Not me. I’m too dumb. I should have hooked up with someone like you who knows all the answers, but it’s too late now. All I got is poor dumb Dottie. who just lets me be. Morty has all the luck. He should get down on his knees.

“He can’t. His left knee twitches. So which way is this physical therapist? I gotta show her the right exercise for it.”

Two floors down. Then three doors left. She’ll be thrilled. You’ll make her day!

“I doubt it. But we’ll soon see if she knows her business!”