Posts Tagged 'zuzu'

Water sound water

Standing in the shower and the pipes are clanking and singing. I think there is a plumber in my garage, banging his wrench against the hot water heater. I think there is a criminal hiding in the crawl space, tapping at the brass piping with his keys, trying to frighten me out.
Standing in the shower I can’t stand all these stranger noises. Children crying, cats coughing, the shimmering sound of lizards running through dry grass.
I can’t stand these stranger noises in my home’s old plumbing. I get out of the shower, dress and go to Walgreens, where I buy a waterproof hanging shower audio system with mp3 capability and I hang it on the soap rack and crank it up.
The throat singers shuffling on the mp3 are deep as a broken water main. The clicking African women are knocking on my door. The rhythmic thrust of Spanish dance spills hot water from an overflowing bucket.
I am wishing for deafness, I think I am wishing for deafness. Deafness or just simple silence. Maybe there is silence somewhere in the world still, just like there may be a place without light in this world still. There is mua, absence of light and sound, somewhere, maybe in the dark of the ocean, where the far off drum of plumbing and the streaming red tail lights are out of range. Only the distance vibration, the hum of earth itself.
Standing in the shower, time to sing the morning shower song. Deciding to decode the sounds. Drip drip drip, rain and the end of drought. Swish swish swish, the tail of a brown trout in a clear green stream. Rushsssh, the falling of water over some high cliff into the white foam.
After I won the lottery, I had the best time ever. I had all the dry erase boards and dry erase markers I could ever want. I had a house on the beach. I had a piano. I’m still having the best time ever, except for this thing with the plumbing and the sounds, the lights, the jumping of grasshoppers, the pop of frogs.
I won the lottery and then all things were possible, all possible things were possible, and then everything got so big, so bright. White boards, running water, running cars, runways and airports and I went traveling. In Barcelona, I decide that water is okay, water is good. There is no criminal intent in water, no malice. I have an affair with a Spaniard whose name I can’t pronounce, so I only call him God oh God. It’s a good affair, and the water is okay now, the sounds are okay and the waves even, the waves at the ocean are inviting, cool blue white Mediterranean sighs.
It’s hard to have things, to have things, and hard not to have things, not to have things. I go back then, to my house with its old plumbing, its sinister flow, and I paint it, every room, the colors of water. The oily iridescence of gulf coast water, the angry blue of deep sea, the muddy green of old shallow rivers, the bright peaceful blue of a lake in British Columbia. Once it is painted, I leave again, to Peru, where I feel light headed and the pyramids are so big, so big, and I take a room on the second floor at the back of a bar where the open sign flashes on and off on and off all day and the flashing light covers the sound of beach, of wind, of toilets and sinks. I stay there for three weeks, watching the open sign blink its indifference at me, and when I go back home again, my water colored house is perfect, blue green white shiny perfect.

Zuzu asks why

Anne flew up like a rocket. She smacked Morgan on the head and then threw herself down on the sofa, where she cried and wiggled and writhed until she fell asleep mid sob.

When she woke in the morning, she asked herself a few stern questions. Here are some examples of the questions she asked:

                “Why would anyone make fun of another person’s hair?”

                “How can one stay sad in such an interesting world?”

                “Where is a bus stop from here?”

                “What is that woman’s name?”

She let a few minutes pass before she answered herself. Here are her answers:

                “Because of terrible personal insecurity.”

                “Sadness is one of the interesting things about the world, although not perhaps every day.”

                “The bus stop is directly out the front door and two houses down.”

                And “Her name is Morgan.”

Anne got up off the sofa, brushed her bright red hair with her pale chapped hands, washed her face in cold water, and left. She caught the 42 bus two houses down and got home by 7 a.m., only 14 minutes after leaving Morgan’s apartment.  She called her mother’s nursing home, giving her real name this time. She assumed that Morgan’s name was Morgan, but it did occur to her some time later that this was perhaps naïve on her part.

                “Why does anyone use a false name?” Zuzu asked herself as she sat on hold, waiting for the morning nurse to transfer her call down the hall to the room where her mother sat up, singing songs to the stuffed animals and dusty silk plants. As she waited, she imagined her mother in her lavendar polyester day robe, cooing and patting her hands together, singing her motherly song.

                “Because all things great are wound up with all things little?” she answered herself, with a question mark. She sat on hold for another 2 minutes and then hung up. She changed into her rhinestone sneakers and her green paisley slicker and went out again. Shopping. With her friend Lilly. They looked at vintage dresses and lampshades and chunky plastic beads from that era when nothing could be bought from China for love or money. Standing at the sale rack on the sidewalk, she clasped her hands and looked at the dresses. All in tiny sizes with waists like Lilly’s thighs. She looked at Lilly and turned pale with pity.

                “Anne?” said Lilly, pulling out a yellow nylon cardigan with curlicue embroidery in a brightly constrasting grass green.  Zuzu did not respond.




“Abshtinence led me ashtray,” was the first thing I heard her say. She was raising her glass high over her head. “Shalud,” she said to the glass, tossing it back and then keeling over onto the bed. She is going to feel awful tomorrow, I thought. I put on her camisole – why is it that women’s underwear are so much friendlier than men’s? I wondered, not for the first time. I carried my glass and her cigarettes into the living room and poured myself a glass of milk. It was late, not that late, but I was quiet, careful not to clatter around in this thin-walled apartment. I could hear her neighbor’s TV blaring, loud aggressive anti-everything propaganda with flag-waving and Jesus-invoking, and thought how that neighbor must drive Ginger up the wall. I sat on the couch and watched a movie about a crazed carnivorous eggplant-like alien zombie creature that decapitated unsuspecting teens for 90 minutes and was eventually destroyed by good old American ingenuity and a can of chilled whipped cream. Then, not sure whether to stay or go, I started to read her mail. None of it was addressed to Ginger. Hmm. Zuzu. Zuzu deGraib is her name. I wrote it down on a business card and put it in my wallet. Then I fell asleep on the couch.

When I woke up, the TV voice next door was still jackhammering. Light filtered in through the pale yellow curtains.  I took off her camisole and put on my shirt and slacks. In the kitchen I found coffee, eggs, oranges and some honey whole wheat bread. The coffee woke her up – Ginger or Zuzu or whoever she was – and she came into the kitchen in camisole and slippers just as the omelette was ready to serve.

“Good morning, anonymous omelette goddess,” I said, back turned toward the stove as I slid the omelette onto the plate.

Turning around, I caught her leaving, with cigarettes, coffee and omelette in hand, out the back door, to the landing just outside the apartment.

October 12th, poolside

Three months ago who would have thought that I would be here? The stars are shining on me. The stars are shining on my clean body, floating white and naked in a perfectly heated pool in the moonlight in October. October is grand, isn’t it? Is there any place in the world where October is not the gods’ favorite month?

Zuzu is eating olives and writing letters in permanent marker on 14×22” white boards. She writes letters to each of her old friends, and those lovers whose names she can remember and whose addresses she’s managed to find on-line or through other means. The olives are briny and fat. The French doors open to the pool, which is filled with filtered salt water. Warm and buoyant.

As she finishes each letter, she signs her name in red and black Sharpee. Zuzu de Graib. She gives herself various titles. Esquire, Lady, Mrs., Dr., Junior, Ph.D., Ph.Z. Doctor of Zuzulogy –  she laughs and sucks on a pit, a dark black kalamata pit, the kind that makes the underside of her feet itch, they are so strong.

Zuzu is the happiest person in her family, happy in her home, happy in her mind, happy in the astrological benediction that brought her here. Tile, sand, water, fish, mango, pineapple, light sheer curtains switching in the open doors. That smell, what is that smell? Frangipane?

She writes frangipane down on a dry erase board and puts it with the others. In all of her life, she never imagined she’d have all the dry erase boards she could ever want, and a place to keep them, where she could write words to be erased, and words to be kept. This is Zuzu’s first and only real home.

Zuzu’s zippy hour

 “The martini special tonight is hot tangerine – made with fresh-squeezed tangerine juice, lime, vodka and ginger. Six dollars until 6:30. “

Zuzu orders two. It is 6:15 already. And the sweet potato shoestring fries. She likes the colors, she likes the sweet and salt tastes on her tongue. She wishes her friend would get here already, instead of leaving her on this crowded patio bar at happy hour, surrounded by people in groups, work groups, mostly, but also social groups. Social groups. She rolls her eyes at herself and swishes the tangerine juice at the back of her mouth, where it stimulates a little flood of salivary excitement.

“Good,” she says out loud, then looks around to see if anyone noticed. No one did. The volume on the patio is increasing steadily, exponentially, as the end of happy hour approaches. The men in the lawyer suits have their ties loosened or removed and they roar like elephants, heads back, trunks exposed. They must be funny, she thinks and puts a sweet potato fry in her mouth.

“Mmmm,” she says, and wipes her lips. The ladies in the floral dresses at the next table over are handing gift bags to the head of the table, a red headed woman wearing a pale blue sleeveless dress. They are all laughing.

“They are all laughing,” she says. The waitress, walking by, sees her mouth move and leans over.

“Can I get you another?”  She waves her finger at Zuzu’s glass.

Zuzu nods her head sympathetically, not really meaning yes, just acknowledging her presence. The ginger gives this martini such a nice zip, she thinks.

“Nice zip,” she says to the men at the table with their big laughs. They wave their glasses at her. Her cell phone, sitting in her purse at her feet, begins to vibrate, but the ginger is more zippy than the phone, and she misses her friend’s call.

When the man with the best figure and the zippiest smile gives her a ride home later, she talks him into stopping at the Sunflower, where she buys Chunky Monkey ice cream,  a frozen soy dessert called White Creation, and some butter and eggs. They eat ice cream and soy cream and drink whiskey and fall in a sugary haze into bed, where their relative receptivity is fair but not stellar, as Zuzu has found to be true often enough with stranger sex.

In the morning, she finds ice cream dribbled on the 500 piece puzzle she’s been working on every Friday night for the last six months, and the man with the zippy smile is in the kitchen, making coffee and humming a song that might be comforting in someone she knows well, but is irritating to Zuzu, who prefers to be left alone in the mornings, as well as most evenings and some afternoons.

“Some afternoons,” she says out loud, wiping White Creations off of her puzzle, an English garden that is heavy on lilacs and trellises.

“Coffee?” says zippy man, sticking his head out the kitchen door.

She takes the coffee from him and gets out her cell phone, picking up her message from Angela, an apology, an explanation. She doesn’t listen to it all the way through.

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July 2020