“Absent applesauce, you could use mashed bananas or even pureed prunes.”
That was the epitome of my life… pureed prunes. It’s not that I wanted the best of anything, I just wanted the normal, everyday things.
This time, it was applesauce, yesterday it was a broken heel on a pair of Target sale shoes, tomorrow it will be cat hoarding and spinsterhood.
I called my mother asking about the recipe substitution, hoping to keep the conversation on topic, but before I could exit the call, she started meandering through a list of dire medical conditions afflicting her mahjong cronies, and how Mr. Spencer in unit 4D was walking around his townhouse in only his underwear with the blinds up.
Apparently, due to extreme weight loss he experienced while recouping from his gallbladder surgery, his tighty-whiteys were no longer tighty, and she and the other ladies were seeing more of Mr. Spencer than they cared to.
While she ran through the litany of neighborhood geriatric frailties and faux pas, I searched through my pantry for anything remotely similar to decimated prunes or bananas, and could only find a “Best Used by 2010” jar of apricot preserves.
I had tuned out Mother when she began describing how Mildred’s feet had swollen to the size and color of cantaloupes during her current flare of gout, only to zone back in on her droning as she was ruminating on the particular lovely shade of purple Judy’s varicose veins had turned, and wondering if she would offend poor Judy if she brought by some color chips for comparison. Mother wanted to repaint her front door.
Many times, I have thought her stories were apocryphal, only then I would meet some of these characters, and mourn the truth of their feeble lives. For a moment, I would feel shame for my kvetching.
Now, I turned my focus on my cramped, applesauce poor apartment and stared around at the four oatmeal-colored walls and thought, “for want of a jar of Motts.”
I waited for Mother to take a breath.
“Poor Evelyn’s hands are gnarling up like mangrove roots and Carl has had to do…,” breath.
“Will apricot preserves work, Mom?” I wedged the question in-between Evelyn’s rheumatism and Carl’s whatever.
“I’m sure it will, Sugar,” mom said, breath. “… all their laundry, even the folding and ironing.”
“Thanks, mom,” I slid over the domestication of Carl. “I’ll be by for dinner on Sunday,”
I plopped down in a kitchen chair, phone in one hand, possibly tainted, food-poisoning-inducing preserves in the other, and lamented how my life had come to this. I needed something more.
With renewed purposed, I donned my sneakers and shoved a ball cap over my unwashed hair, pulling a tangled ponytail through the strap gap, and left my humdrum apartment in search of more.
The Big Box store out on highway 20 should have applesauce, or at least pureed prunes.