Scatterbrained and Shortminded.

I don't think Marti and I could ever talk in a straight line about one subject start to finish. Today it was like...

"You didn't say much about the Flea's visit over Thanksgiving. How was it?"

We are standing in Marshalls, quasi-shopping but more doing the human equivalent of cows grazing. (It was our reward for diligently trying to do my private practice billing for 4 hours.)

We happily wandered from one rich patch of designer "clover" to another more sparse sample, picking up things, putting them down and talking.

"It was," I start to say but can't finish because a woman in skintight white capri pants with palm trees embroidered all over them has just crossed my line of vision. "Oh dear God!" I say and grip Marti's arm. She looks up in time to catch the woman's ass leaving the store, her buns trapped tighter than Houdini in chains.

"Quick," I say. "Let's issue a fashion citation." (Yeah, like I'm dressed any better! But it was a small-minded day.)

"What would you say on the ticket?" Marti wants to know.

I think a second. "Crimes against nature and failure to yield to good taste."

But now I've found the dead Christmas jelly beans, leftover, I swear, from last year and I'm showing them to Marti as she's checking out but it's taking too long and I wander off to inspect the nearest corner full of merchandise...Men's gifts. An older guy trails along behind me, hacking like he's dying and definitely contagious, so I'm walking faster to get out of germ range when I see the ultimate Lazy Man's gift...A snowball maker.

How freakin' lazy are you if you've gotta come outside to whip some snowball ass with your guy friends, all of whom are in their late 20's to early 30's and missing rugby, and you're carrying a light blue, plastic device that looks like two ice cream scoops held together like salad tongs?

So, I point this out not only to Marti, but to the clerk ringing her up and anyone else in the general vicinity...just not to the consumptive guy, who may have dropped dead behind me anyway because I no longer hear him.

Which, for some reason reminds me I need gas.

Which leads me back to The Flea and how she was coughing and crying on Monday night, missing Dad.

But by now we're at the gas station and even though I'm about to cry, I pull up to the pump and prepare to get out and begin the process. This is when I look out my side window and see a scruffy guy in a skull cap making wild jerking motions with his hand like he's well, spanking the monkey...only with such energy and force he's probably beating it to death.

I point this out to Marti...in the middle of the tearful tale of my sister, and we both lose our shit laughing...which I do not think was what made him peel off out of the parking lot.

So I put the top down before I get out to pump gas because I don't want to stop talking to Marti about our futures as self-actualized women.

She, in turn, starts off on how her husband's probably trapped in St. Louis by the snow storms and might not make it home for the weekend and how really, we should go somewhere in January for a weekend retreat to plan the next 20 years of our lives so we'll be "The Women We Are And Not The Bitches We've Become."

Which brings us to the plot of my next book, which will have about five plots going on all at once...but of course now I can't remember them and they were freaking brilliant because Marti's so good at helping me sort through stuff like that.

We can't stick with this too long as we've just realized it's 3:30 and we haven't had lunch. So I drive off in the opposite direction of the Thai restaurant, give up and drive us back to the house where we make Thai Lo Mein...only there are no LoMein noodles, which were just going to be fat spaghetti noodles anyway, and we wind up with Spicy Thai Peanut Rotelli.

Which gave us enough energy to move the furniture in the den around...just so we could get a vision of what it would look like.

But in the middle of it, we got bored and she remembered the dogs hadn't been out since 9 a.m. and went home. Which meant we had pieces of leather recliners in two rooms and the horrible evidence of my failure as a cleaning woman all over the floor from the spots under the sofa and the chairs.

As she left, the boys came in arguing at the top of their lungs about whether China was truly communist and whether the person who owns the factory and doesn't pay his workers the same wage he earns is greedy or merely the smart guy who started it.

They continue to yell at the top of their lungs while they carry furniture for me and I start thinking maybe it was more peaceful to struggle on my own in silence than to referee a blood match between brothers.

Which leads me to wonder if we really will get the live tree this year and if so, how we'll all get our schedules into one accommodating evening. And how will we have harmony when the boys are fighting about world domination and the Flea and I are not in the mood for Christmas anyway. It's starting to stink like disaster.

And I have no idea why this makes me want to bake lemon pound cake, but it does, so I start to, only then the door opens and Mertis is there, needing help with her new laptop.

You know, some people actually think I've got A.D.D!

I prefer to think of it as multi-tasking.

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