Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Fossilfuel Ranch...

It's actually only a ranch house.

Mrs. Fossilfuel will not take a shower. It has been five weeks since she's had a shower or washed her hair. All three of us who go to her house are willing to help her with personal hygiene, but she refuses. And we can't force her.

Esther, who spends 12 hours a day, Monday through Thursday, in the Fossilfuel orbit, took the bull by the horns this week.

"Mrs. Fossilfuel," she said, "you smell. You smell bad. Let me at least give you a sponge bath and wash your hair. And my God, please let me wash that wig!" (At this point the wig is tangled and stiff and all akimbo like a roadkill possum.)

"No, no, honey. We can't bother with that right now. We'll just take care of the important things."

"Mrs. Fossilfuel, being clean IS important."

The argument continued. Esther lost.

When I arrived at 6 p.m. on Tuesday for the evening "shift," Esther was massively honked off. She had had quite enough of the smelly Mrs. F.

"She has been wearing that blue-checked dress every day for a month. And she won't let me wash it. I am ready to choke her."

Somehow I had not yet seen the dress, since Mrs. F. is always in her bedwear when I arrive: her slip (the old-fashioned kind I remember my mother darting around the house in while getting ready for church), her 40,000% polyester quilted pink robe, and her pink fleece bed jacket. I had never seen a bedjacket in real life. I thought they were all in Hollywood draped over the shoulders of skeletal old actresses like Jessica Tandy (wait, she's dead) and Bette Davis (Oh. Also dead.) as they are propped up on pillows to clutch hand-held mirrors in order to paint on their eyebrows.

Esther left and I went to say hello to Mrs. F.

"That Esther..." she says. "She can be so argumentative."

Esther is lucky to be allowed into the Fossilfuel residence at all, because she is half Hispanic. But she is also light-skinned and "passed" as Caucasian. By the time Mrs. F. found out, via Esther, that Esther's mother is Mexican, Mrs. F. said "Well, it's too late now--I already like you."

Many eldercare women have come and gone. Our client is very difficult to please. The agency has run out of people to send.

"They say it's because I'm 'racially biased.' That's what they told me," Mrs. Fossilfuel says. "And all I ever said was 'no Blacks or Mexicans.'"

I do not attempt to correct her. Once you enter that splintery door, you are captured like a butterfly on a bed of nails. Nosiree. And anyway, what's the point? Even if she weren't irreversibly set in her ways, I'm not here in her home to alter her biases. I'm here to cook oatmeal and wash dishes and remind her to take her medications, and drive her to the oncologist. And to occasionally get splattered with enough excrement to cry out for Moses to bring his staff and part the Brown Sea.

At least now there is a potty chair one foot from her bed. When I walked in and saw that thing, a few days after the Castor Oil Night of Horrors, I could not have been happier if a woodland fairy had come along and showered me with solid gold confetti.

Next project: shampooing Mrs. Fossilfuel's hair. This will be accomplished. Even if I have to detach her head and drop it in the washer. On "delicates."


  • At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree...priceless. You are amazing, dearie. And absolutely put the head on the delicate cycle. I loved Moses and the brown sea. Dang, you're good. Anita

  • At 9:31 AM, Blogger Gail said…

    Spill the oatmeal on her head. Then she'll have to get her hair washed or have it turn to concrete.

  • At 10:09 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Getting old and beginning to stink; losing your mind and becoming the key attraction in a freak show...

    If she had an presence of mind, she would be begging for someone to kill her...

    I don't mean to be negative, but...I mean, am I being too negative? I mean, you would think she would be excited about singing with angels instead of shirking a bath. Hell, I'm only 64 and I've started practicing my acapella...and my rapping too in case there are some surprises up there.

  • At 3:17 PM, Blogger Tony from the Bronx said…

    Your account of the bathless and aromatic Mrs. F reminds me so much of my old college roommate. And, as it happens, he too was fond of wearing a polyester quilted pink robe, and a pink fleece bed jacket.

    A word of practical advice: Run! Run like the wind! No human being take this sort of thing! There's gotta be a munitions factory somewhere near you, with a decent medical and dental plan.

  • At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said… vote goes with Tony. Find that munitions plant, today Love you, Anita

  • At 7:28 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Citlali. I have to stay sane and the only way is to recap it all on here.

    "New Reinforcement..." I thought you were an athiest!

    Tony and Anita, I'm looking for the munitions plant. Or for a nice position at the airport shining shoes.

  • At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No, you just need to work in a bookstore. Or is that me who should be working in a bookstore, selling your books!

  • At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Working in a bookstore or library is about as close as one could get to having a job in Heaven.

    Gosh, poor Mrs. Fossilfuel. The agency as to go and label her as "racially biased." How unfair that they can just stick a label on her. Don't they even know anything about her as a person? There they go, just making assumptions based upon one little comment. Next thing you know, they'll be calling all stinky elderly women "racially-biased." It's tragic, really.

  • At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "has"--not "as"

  • At 8:13 PM, Blogger Steve B said…

    Make sure to use fabric softener in the wash. It'll help reduce that static-ee friz.

  • At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe she's afraid of slipping. Could you contact her son about the bathing situation and tell her that he's paid for her to be fussed over at the local beautay parlour? Is she maybe just nuts?

  • At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So I have just finished submitting the Kindergarten class book orders. I came across a book that I thought might be helpful for you. The title is "Big Smelly Bear." This is the write up: Can a new friend convince this stinky bear to take a bath? Adorable artwork!

    Now, I realize that the adorable artwork most likely does not mirror your situation. And Mrs. Fossilfuel is not exactly "big," although I would bet that her personality can be very much like that of a grumpy bear. And by now, she might just smell like a bear as well. The illustration here shows a mouse, a deer, and a frog, all running/hopping away from the stinky bear (illustrated with flies and specks of dirt (you could imagine those to be flying blobs of feces). Frog is shouting, "Bear needs a bath!"

    Perhaps this story would inspire Mrs. Fossilfuel to consider a bath?

    When you mention that it has been five weeks, this means then, that she did not get a decent bath after her castor oil explosion? I cannot imagine why someone would not want to get thoroughly washed up after laying in a pool of poop.

  • At 11:40 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Belle, I already did the bookstore thing. Owned one. Watched it go belly-up.

    Futuresis, I believe I will get that book for Mrs. F. Though she does not take hints well.

    Ana...she's not nuts, just incredibly difficult and losing complete track of the big picture.

    Steve, you are almost like Heloise!

  • At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    All I could remember was the record store in Terre Haute mall. The bookstore stage is coming back to me. Maybe you could just work in one and not own one.

  • At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    couldn't figure out how to get my identity on there-last comment was belle of course

  • At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    It threw me off, too. Where it says "Name/URL" you can just put your name in and leave the URL blank.

  • At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I did it. I have my identity back. Thanks futuresis. We are on the backside of candy's post, waiting for a new one! I thought I was the only one to do that besides Scott!

  • At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nope, I'm always checking! :-) Glad to have you back as yourself, belle!


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