Off the Wall

Indelicacy in the eye of the beholder

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"Am I going to have to throw a pan of water on you two?" my Great-Aunt Sadie snaps as she smacks Sweetie on the back of the head with a newspaper.

Sweetie and I are sitting on the front porch swing at my Great-Aunt Sadie's house. We're holding hands, which in Sadie's world is right up there with table dancing.

"After two decades together," Aunt Sadie grumbles as she situates herself in her rocker, "you'd think the two of you would have gotten all that trash out of your system."

The last time Sweetie and I visited Sadie, she gave me a serious tongue-lashing for using the word "exfoliate" in mixed company. Apparently, she thought it was a perverted - sexual act.

Naturally, as soon as we got home, Sweetie and I ran into the bathroom and exfoliated each other.

"Don't you two lovebirds pay Sadie any mind," my Great-Aunt Doll says, backing through the screen door with a serving tray. "She's a prude when it comes to sex."

Hearing the word "sex," Sadie sucks in a breath and draws her lips into a shriveled pucker. She looks like a gray-haired voodoo doll.

"Trash," she hisses.

How Sadie and Doll dropped out of the same womb is a miracle. Doll has an ageless laugh and a smile like sunshine.

Sadie, on the other hand, sucks the joy out of a room like a black hole.

"Sadie's always been frigid," Doll says matter-offactly as she pours iced tea. "Sadie, stick your finger in the pitcher and ice her up for us."

Upon hearing the word "frigid," Sadie's body goes rigid and you can see the yellowed whites of her eyes. "Trash," she sputters.

Chuckling, Doll pinches a sprig of mint from her herb pot, drops it in my tea and hands it to me with a little wink.

Mom said the first time Doll laid eyes on me, she could tell we were cut from the same cloth. And she set out to make sure Sadie didn't "poison my spirit."

Not that Sadie isn't a fine woman. Granted, she has the personality of a rusty chastity belt and looks like she was weaned on a persimmon, but there is something endearing about her.

I've never been able to find it, but I'm sure it's there.

"So, Aunt Sadie," I say, after we're all situated, "how have you been?"

"Well," Sadie sighs, stiffly rocking back and forth, "my irritable bowel kept me up all night. Thought for sure I was going to pass 2 feet of colon."

Giving a loud snort, Sadie spits into a handkerchief.

"And the pollen this year has been giving me fits," she continues as she studies her handkerchief. "I wish you could have seen what I coughed up this morning. Thought about saving it, just in case it was a part I shouldn't lose."

On that note, all the color fades from Doll's face.

"Good lord, Sadie!" Doll swoons. "How can you possibly discuss this kind of thing in mixed company?"

"Don't pay her any mind," Sadie says as she rolls down her support hose to show us her protruding veins.

"Doll's a prude when it comes to bodily functions." (Copyright 1999 P.S. Wall. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate.)

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