From Susan Parker: The Scrabblettes’ Further Thoughts On Fireworks and Knitting as Sex

Susan Parker
Tuesday July 20, 2004

Rose held her iridescent purple knitting needles close to her eyes and peered between knit/purls at the Scrabble board. Something long, multi-colored, weird, and seemingly out-of-control hung from the needles and mysteriously disappeared underneath the table. 

“What are you doing?” I asked. “You aren’t going to knit while we’re playing Scrabble, are you?” 

“Sure,” said Rose, glaring at me from behind her bifocals. “I’m multi-tasking. You’ve heard of that before, haven’t you?” 

I looked at the other Scrabblettes for help, but they were ignoring me. Pearl was leafing through the dictionary and Louise was making a call on her cell phone. 

“You know, Pearl, if you’re going to look up words in the dictionary, you need to share the information you find with all of us,” I said. 

Pearl nodded her head. I thought she might be agreeing with me, but she stayed mum and continued her secret search.  

I gave my attention over to Louise. Who could she be calling in the middle of our Scrabble game? 

“Hello Mom,” I heard her say. “What are you doing?” She waited for a response and I could hear a voice on the other end, but not the actual words. 

“That’s good,” said Louise. “Say, I’m over here at the house playing Scrabble and we were talking about Fourth of July again. Pearl is still obsessed with finding out if we celebrated Independence Day and if we had fireworks. I told her we didn’t celebrate the Fourth in Monroe and that we only had sparklers at Christmas. She doesn’t believe me. What do you remember?” 

I watched Louise’s eyes as she pressed the cell phone closer to her ear. 

“Yes,” she said. “That’s what I thought. Thanks.” 

Louise pushed some buttons on her phone and put it down next to the Scrabble board. Rose’s knitting needles made loud clicking sounds as Pearl continued to turn pages in the big blue dictionary.  

“Mom says no Fourth of July celebrations back in Monroe, and no sparklers except at Christmas.” 

“Okay,” said Pearl, looking up for a moment. “Thanks for verifying that for me.”  

“You called your mom?” I asked. I didn’t want to sound rude, but I was curious. At the age of 72 Louise was still calling her mom for information?  

“Of course,” said Louise. “She only lives around the corner. It’s not long distance.” 

“I mean, I’m just surprised that you would call your mom.” 

“We talk all the time. My mother is in better shape than anyone at this table,” said Louise. “Besides, she’s only 85. She’s more like a friend than a mom.” 

I did a quick calculation in my head. “Your mom is only 13 years older than you?” I asked.  

“Yes,” said Louise. “And her mom was 13 years older than her. I remember seeing my great-great grandmother once. She was in a horse-drawn wagon with her brothers. But that was a long time ago. You know, people in the south had children at a young age back then.” 

“Yes,” said Pearl lifting her face out of the dictionary. “Not like now. I can’t imagine having babies at 50 or 60. What are those people thinking?” 

“What about that Italian woman?” asked Rose, her knitting needles still clicking at a furious pace. “She must be crazy giving birth at 65.” 

“I think it’s irresponsible to have a baby at her age,” said Pearl. “There are risks to her health and the child’s. She’d have been better off knitting.” 

“I agree,” said Rose. “Knitting isn’t as productive as having a baby, but you can give it away when you’re finished. It doesn’t require in-vitro, or a partner, like sex does.” 

“Knitting IS the new sex,” said Louise. “I read it in the paper.” 

“Time out,” I said, putting my hands in front of me to form a T. “Too much information.” 

“Don’t be such a prude,” said Pearl. “Maybe you need to take up knitting.” 

“Really,” said Rose in agreement. “Whose turn is it? Let’s get going. Time’s a-wasting.”