Telephone conversations can
be revealing. A short story.
i, Mom. Fine, how
are you? Still bothering you, huh? Well, take
it easy. Maybe if you stay in bed for a day it'll
get better. No, I'm sure it's nothing. Dr. Klein
would have given you something if he
thought you needed it.
Oh, he's better. Yeah, pretty much gone.
A little stuffy nose is all. Yeah, I sent him
to school. No, Sudafed. I know you swear
by Ornade, Mom. The kids like Sudafed
She's fine. She's right here. Want to say
hi? OK. Julie, come say hi to Grandma.
Talk into the phone, honey. OK, that's
enough. Give me back the phone. Give me
back the phone, honey. Julie, give me—
Hi, Mom, She said she's playing with
Ella. That's her new stuffed elephant. No,
Alan's mom gave it to her. Yeah, she's crazy
about it, sleeps with it and everything. No,
I wouldn't say she likes it better than the
teddy bear you gave her. It's new, you know
how kids are with new toys.
Gee, Mom, I can't today, I'm busy. I
know you haven't seen Julie in a few days,
but I'm busy. Meeting a' friend for lunch
and going shopping. Linda Harbrace. Yes,
you have, she's married to Larry Harbrace,
you know, the guy whose store is next door
to Alan's office? No, you're thinking of Jeff
Robbins. Harbrace, Larry Harbrace. Yeah,
that's the one. Home insulation.
Ski boots. That's right, ski boots. 'Cause
I need a new pair, that's why. See, Una
and Larry time-share a condominium with
another couple up at the ski village, and
they've invited us to spend a weekend with
them. Not this one, the next. I'm really ex-
cited about it. Alan, too. We haven't been
skiing in ages. And he's been working so
hard lately. Well, that's how it is when
you're a consultant. It's not steady work.
Ellen Schwartz, a free-lance writer, lives in Van-
couver, British Columbia.
102 FRIDAY, MAY 13, 1988
Sometimes you have nothing and
sometimes you have more than you can
handle. Yeah, I know there's no security in
it. Well, you learn to be philosophical, I
guess. No, he's OK, he's just tired. His
parents are gonna watch the kids. Well, you
had them the last time we went away.
They'll be fine, don't worry.
Yeah, it has been years since I last skied.
Four, five, I guess. I hope I don't break my
leg. No, no, don't get all upset, Mom, I was
just joking. I'll be careful. I promise.
Yes, lunch and shopping will take all day.
Besides, if you're not feeling well you don't
need Julie and me around anyway. I'm sure
if you stay in bed one more day you'll be
fine. Come on, Mom, Daddy can make you
should you be
not all three of your
children will be
there? Mom, it's not
the end of the world.
tea and toast. I'm sure he can figure it out.
Oh, lovely. We had a great time. That new
restaurant in the Park Plaza Hotel. You
know the one. It used to be The
Homestead Inn. Now it's called Le Pavilion
Cuisinaire. Beautiful. Plush arm chairs,
chandeliers, the works. Yes, I know it's ex-
pensive. Chandeliers, the works. Yes, I know
it's expensive. Of course we can afford it,
what do you think—Come on, we're not
that extravagant. You and Daddy used to
go out all the time when we were little. I
know he was already doing well in his prac-
tice. Now, listen, just because Alan's a con-
sultant instead of a lawyer doesn't mean
he doesn't make a decent living. No. Mom,
I do not want you to give me money. We
don't need it. That's none of your business.
Salmon Wellington. Delicious. No, I'm
not mad at you, but it bugs me when you
offer me money. I'm not a little kid, I'm a
married woman. Mom, if he didn't make
enough we wouldn't go to such fancy
restaurants in the first place. I'd get a job.
Of course I'm qualified. I don't know, I'd
find a babysitter or something. Yes, I know
what they charge. Mom, forget it, you're
getting carried away. I'm not looking for
a job. We don't need the money right now.
Well, yeah—if we were really desperate I'd
accept it. I know it would make you and
You just got off the phone with Aunt
Lyda? How is she? That's good. Their 45th
anniversary? God, how could she stand liv-
ing with him for 45 years? I know he's your
brother, but it's the truth. You've said it
yourself. Yes, you have, Mom. Well, never
mind. A big bash, huh? Royal Catering—
pretty snazzy. Yeah, we'll come. When is it?
Oh no, we can't—that's the weekend we're
I'm sorry, Mom, we're already commit-
ted. We told them we were coming. I'll call
Aunt Lyda. Of course she'll understand.
It's not like we don't want to go, we're just
busy that weekend. Good, I'm glad Dan-
ny and Lorraine are coming. There, you see,
you'll have your other children with you
and nobody'll miss me.
Ashamed? Why should you be ashamed?
Because not all three of your children will
be there? Mom, it's not the end of the
world. I know it would be nicer if we were
all together, but what can I do? No, I'm not
going to cancel. We've been planning this
weekend for ages. Do you have any idea
how long it's been since Alan and I got