I love these ladies, lined up on the altar as though they were waiting for glasses of cabernet during a slow night on the town. The woman on the right? Saint Balbina. She is hanging next to two hangers on, Female Saint and Female Saint. They appear to be unacquainted, each at this watering hole of their own volition, perhaps after a fight with a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a no-friend. Who will make the first conversational move? Who will be the first to reveal her saintly relic, her bit of bone?

I want to be one of them, composed, holding my own at the place of ritual and sacrifice, perhaps breaking into a beatific, no teeth showing smile as I subtly check out the bartender (way too young for me). Instead, I am sitting on my couch in a house that has still not quite recovered from the house/pet sitters’ overly generous spritzing of an (apparently) cruelty-free and organic air freshener that reminds me of Vitalis and vet’s offices. The boy reads upstairs. The man is on a sandwich run. The house’s remaining mammals and its resident reptile are asleep.

We spent much of last week visiting my father and stepmother on the East Coast, hanging out for a few days with one side trip to the Cloisters in New York (hence the altar ladies). We returned to a generally well-cared for, though stinky, home, an unnecessarily emptied cat litter box, and a Nora-dog that had diarrhea all night and refused to eat anything the next morning. She’s better now, but I the whole thing looks, feels, and smells suspicious, which means we need to find yet another backup pet sitter.

But those ladies, my virtual almost gal pals . . . For a brief moment at the bar, as we wait for another generous pour, there are no other obligations, no sorrow, boredom, or loneliness. Life is smooth and silky. What goes on beyond the swinging doors is an illusion of Satan’s making, and we never need to leave.


Image from here.


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