The grossest crime: tru stories

Sarah, wearing sweats she’s had since college, comes in after run, hears Tru Tv network blasting dramatized, sexualized, slyly fictionalized real-life-murder tales from Betty’s bedroom again

Sarah: Doesn’t it depress you to watch that stuff all day?

Betty: No. I like it. I like trying to figure out the mystery, figure out who did it. Does it bother you?

Sarah: It makes me sad.

Betty: Like for the people who got shot?

Sarah: For everyone involved. The whole mess.

Betty: You never could have been a cop.

Sarah: Yeah, and I never wanted to be a cop.

::Sarah starts shower, realizes something, leaves water running and returns in towel::

Sarah: You know how I said I never wanted to be a cop?

Betty: Yeah.

Sarah: That’s not true. When I was a kid, for years I wanted to be an FBI agent.

Betty: You probably would’ve been good at it. Solving crimes.

Sarah: It was after we saw The Silence of the Lambs.

Betty: That was a good movie.

Sarah: I wanted to be like Starling and kick some ass.

Betty: Well that movie was gross. That was way grosser than any of these shows.

Sarah: That didn’t bother me.

::Betty rolls eyes; Sarah remembers with amusement that almost ten years ago, while training for the New York City Marathon, she’d run along the Hudson River listening to a very darkly humorous song inspired by Thomas Harris’s “Buffalo Bill” character (so-named in the novel by Kansas City homicide detectives)::


Purification rituals

Betty enters kitchen in morning. (Note: After smoking heavily for more than 50 years, she quit on Oct. 2, 2012.)

Betty: I wanted a cigarette so bad yesterday.

Sarah: You didn’t smoke, did you?

Betty: No. But I thought about it very hard.

Sarah: I’m so glad you didn’t do it.  That’s amazing. You’re stronger than most people.

Later the same day, Sarah’s younger brother, Matt, recently has left after coming over to do several loads of laundry. And one of Sarah’s very closest friends has just left after the two women discussed energetic balance and boundary-setting for highly sensitive people while drinking organic kombucha from wine glasses. Betty walks through the front door.

Betty: It smells like cigarettes in here.

Sarah:  It’s sage. ::worries she’s triggered Betty’s addiction, though sage smells nothing like tobacco::

Betty: It smells like tobacco.

Sarah: I just burned sage.

Betty: So did you do like a spirit-clearing for the house or something?

Sarah: I burned it after Matt left.

What a way to make a livin’

Betty: Did you finish your computer work and send it off?

Sarah: Yeah. I gave it everything I had. ::falls on bed and sighs::

Betty: You oughta buy a bottle of booze and tie one on. Tonight I’m going to drive over and show the [house she owns that’s for-sale-by-owner]. I dread it. And that school play is tonight. God.

Sarah: School plays are brutal.

Betty: It’s like punishment.

Sarah: For what?

Betty: I don’t know what you’re being punished for. But it’s definitely a punishment. ::looks at laptop::

Sarah: ::cracks up:: Hey, I’m thinking about trying to go all weekend without looking at the computer. Think about the farm days–there were no computers. What did we do?

Betty: We went outside and worked. That’s what we did. 

Thoroughly modern grandma

At neighbor’s house for dinner

Sarah: [looking at bookshelf] Oh, you have The Chaperone! How did you like it?

Neighbor: Loved it.

Sarah: Oh, that’s right, I saw you at Moriarty’s reading. She talked about–

Neighbor: That was a great reading.

Sarah: Totally great. Something I end up talking a lot about when teaching is the subjective line between nonfiction and fiction, and even though the book clearly is a work of fiction, I thought it was so interesting how [Betty’s eyes begin glazing over in boredom] she based Louise Brooks on rigorous research and yet the chaperone character, alongside her, there’s next to nothing known of her, so she’s a work of pure imagination in most ways, and the book is kind of a marrying of those two processes. And Louise Brooks reminds me of my mom–who, by the way, loves the flapper era!

Neighbor: And me, see, that character reminded me of my grandma!

Sarah: Cool! And of course we’re from around Wichita.

Neighbor: Betty, do you want to borrow it? You’re welcome to!

Betty: I’m not much into books.

Urban cowgirls

Next to fireplace, discussing ideal romantic partners

Sarah: Intelligent, verbal, nurturing, humble, confident, mature, passionate, keeps promises, knows what he wants, understands me, honors me. Kind, honest, generous, wry, witty, has political and spiritual views compatible with mine, knows how to do things with his hands, has a job, has his shit together, healthy, athletic. Shows up. Has some understanding of or interest in country living. Can grow a beard. Oh, a deep voice. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. What would you want?

Betty: Gives good back rubs and is rich.

Sarah: Oh yeah, good shoulder rubs. That’s huge.

Betty: I don’t know that I’d want to be tied down though.

Sarah: Why?

Betty: I’m too old. I’d probably meet some old codger who’d get sick and I’d have to take care of him.

Sarah: I don’t think 67 is old. Anyway, you’re saying he’d be rich. If he got sick you could hire a caretaker and then go spend his money. Do you care whether he’s a farmer-type?

Betty: Yeah, I’d prefer someone country. They’re more down-to-earth and common. They have a work ethic I never saw in any city men.

Sarah: What if Mom were single and moved here, and we were all dating at the same time. It’d make a good reality show. [in cheesy TV-commercial voice] Three generations of women, searching for their mates!

Betty: Looking for love, in all the wrong places.

Reality check

Betty: Want to play a game?

Sarah: Sounds good. Do you like Scrabble?

Betty: No, not really.

Sarah: Do you like chess?

Betty: I’ve never played it.

::Sarah shows Betty how to play chess, and they finish a match.::

Betty: Well, I can’t say that was fun. But it was interesting.

She’s dead-ass serious and has at least two true kidnapping stories from the 1960s that would destroy you

Betty: [yelling from bedroom] SARAH! Are you busy?

Sarah: [yelIing back from dining table] I’m eating the carrot soup I just made. Do you need somethin’?

Betty: NAH. I’ll tell you later.

::Sarah goes to Betty’s bedroom, where TV is showing sensational criminal mystery documentary a la Dateline, which is the only sort of thing she watches besides the Food Network::

Sarah: What’s up?

Betty: [eyes sparkling, voice excited] Phones now, the cameras in them have some sort of GPS tracking that only the FBI can see in the picture. If you ever get kidnapped, take a picture.

Sarah: Hey, good to know. ::returns to dining room to resume eating soup::