Thursday, February 18, 2010
A (mostly) true story
SCENE: Upscale assisted care facility (formerly called nursing homes) in Cambridge mass, populated with aging liberals, intellectuals, academics and Unitarians-Universalists. (YewYews). Tastefully decorated common room (no sharp edges, no breakable objects) with ample bookshelves, a green baize card table at one end and a chess table at the other end. Comfortable chairs are arranged throughout (but not so soft that they are impossible to rise from). A very large screen television is on one wall. Doors are extra wide to accommodate wheelchairs. About a dozen residents are seated in anticipation of a showing of the film, The Importance of Being Earnest (the 2002 version with Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell).
The DIRECTOR of the facility stands up and announces the film, and proceeds to sketch Oscar Wilde’s biography and relate some history of the play, its success on the London stage in 1895, and Wilde’s subsequent decline.
MR. X (a resident of the facility; his elegant attire – a suit and ascot – is rendered somewhat ridiculous by his shirttail which hangs out his open fly): Oh shut up and show the damn movie.
SAVI (mother of our dear friend Paco): (indignantly) Can you please let him finish speaking.
MR. X: Mind your own beeswax.
SAVI: That is very rude.
MR X turns around, raises his cane (at this point it is not known whether the cane was of lightweight aluminum, or a heavier weight wood) and smacks SAVI on her left upper arm. She has a sharp intake of breath. They are both very obviously surprised by how hard he hit her (MR X) and how much it hurt (SAVI).
The Nurses’ Aide looks up from texting on her iPhones, and rushes over to check on SAVI. The Head nurse comes in and removes Mr. X.
DIRECTOR: Where were we?
That evening the director of the facility calls Paco to tell him of this incident, and asks whether he would like to file assault charges against Mr. X.
Paco speaks with his mother, Savi, and asks how she is.
SAVI: I’m fine, how are you? Are you warm enough?
PACO: How is your arm? Does it still hurt?
SAVI: My arm? There’s a strange bruise on it but I don’t know how it got there. I must have fallen while cross-country skiing.
PACO: You don’t cross-country ski anymore. Mr. X hit you with his cane.
SAVI: Don’t be ridiculous. Why would he do that?
Mr. X does not remember the incident either. He does, however, claim to have fond memories of attending the first run of The Importance of Being Earnest at the St. James’ Theatre.
So here is the dilemma, should the children file an assault charge against Mr. X on behalf of their mother? He is clearly guilty, and there are plenty of witnesses.
Most of them, however, cannot remember.