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MAIL / Mameve Medwed MY MOTHER CALLS ME from Old Town, Maine, at eight in the morning, an hour into my writing time. "You sound grumpy, Katinka," she says. "Did I interrupt something?" "Just my work," I groan. "As long as it's just your work," she says. It's her social whirl voice, her social work voice. Send this girl to the prom. I sigh. Ifs my own fault. I bought a sUencer. But what if a pubUsher should want to ring me up? I turn off my computer. Some days it hums, a companionable sound. Other times it chugs Uke The Little Engine That Could, an accusatory gasping that seems to imply that aU the effort is coming from it not from me. This morning it's fuU of complaints. Can't you write a Uttle faster? it seems to say. Can't you write at aU? "Any news?" my mother asks. Meaning men. "Since I talked to you two days ago?" "You never know." I keep sUent. What can I teU her, that I think Tm falling in love with the mailman? That the thud of his maUbag in the vestibule makes the earth move to number nine point five on my personal Richter scale? She clears her throat. "You haven't asked about me." Meaning men. I gird myself. "So?" "So, I met someone. At the taping-books-for-the-blind place. A retired manufacturer. Princeton class of '39." "Great," I say. I can't help but smUe. I'm always amazed at how my mother, who's seventy, stiU defines people by where they went to school. My father, dead for twenty years, was Harvard '35. My mother still sends in his class dues. Her sister-in-law is Mt. Holyoke '32. My mother is a graduate of the University of Maine. My grandfather, School of Hard Knocks 1900, didn't have the money to send her to Vassar whose unaccepted acceptance sits framed on her dressing table beside her wedding picture and me in my graduation robes. I should have gone to the University of Maine with all my friends from Old Town High. I hated Radcliffe. I hold it responsible for my thirteen months' marriage to my Joyce professor, Yale '60, Oxford D. Lit. '63 and my Crimson-bred arrogance to think I can 280 · The Missouri Review be a writer. I'd be happier teaching second grade and canning blueberries Uke my girlfriends from the U of M. Now my mother and I discuss what she'd wear on her date with the Princeton man. "Orange and black," I say. "Oh, Katinka." She laughs and I hear her bracelets clang. We decide on the navy blue from Neiman Marcus that we bought in FUene's basement when she visited me last year. And the burgundy shoes. "With the cuban heels," my mother adds. I look at my sneakers. They are polka-dotted with holes. "I'll give you a report," my mother says now. "Go tiger, go," I say and hang up. I turn on the computer. It chugs. I switch it off. I check my watch. The mail comes at eleven. I'm not kidding about the maUman. When I wed Seamus, my Joyce professor, I looked upon it as the marriage of true minds—granted, one brain with twenty-five more years of seasoning. Besides he didn't care about my clothes since he always pulled them off. We had seven good days, not including our wedding night when Seamus threw his back out Ufting my suitcase onto the luggage rack. After that week, what I had imagined as evenings of blank verse before a blazing fire became in reaUty arguments about underdone meatloaf in front of the stove. What I had imagined nights of lovemaking before same blazing fire turned into caUsthenics in his orthopedic bed. His back was deUcate. His sinuses were unreUable. He pUed Tom Clancy paperbacks behind the toUet seat. His sour breath did nothing to fUl my heart with poetry. Soon enough I discovered he preferred choruses to Molly Bloom soUloquies. He left me for MeUssa and MeUnda, sophomores with nothing between them and their Calvins...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 180-192
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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