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Saturday, December 01, 2007
Ms. V.O.
Listening to:Joni Mitchell, Silky Veils of Ardor
Reading:4 hour workweek
Weather:20, still dark
When I was a kid my dad used to take me to visit this elderly woman. Her name was Mrs. Van Orden. I never knew her first name, or if I did I forgot it. She had a gun shop attached to her house in Dumfries, VA, not far from my home in the burbs of Woodbridge. My dad lived in Alexandria and would come down to pick me up every couple or three weeks to go out to dinner and hang out. Maybe a couple times a year we would head over to see "Ms. V.O." as my dad called her.

Her house was filled with fascinating clutter. Stacks of papers and books yellowed with age, groovy knick knacks, old furniture. And of course, guns. I don't remember what it looked like out the windows because it was a little cave-like, shadowy in lamplight, between the stuff everywhere and probably drawn drapes to keep prying eyes from the guns.

Ms. V.O. always wore an eye patch, or a pair of glasses with one eye covered. Thinking back, maybe that's one of the reasons my dad liked hanging out with her, they were both one-eyed. But there were many other reasons, too, including a love for guns and history. And she was always very sweet to me, never hassled me for snooping around checking out her houseful of chachkis and treasures. I think she might have walked with a cane or a crutch, too, but maybe that's just my mind filling in the details creatively at this point.

We would always stop to pick up a bottle of Muscatelle for Ms. V.O. on the way to her house, and she always seemed very thankful for the gift. But who knows how much of that was politeness? She lived alone, I believe her husband had died many years ago. She had a daughter they would usually mention briefly each visit. Florette. She was perhaps my dad's age? I think they said she lived in Florida, and I can't remember the details, but I remember my dad seemed to think she was "flighty." Now I know that generally means she might have been progressive or alternative in some way that he didn't understand. I don't remember if I ever met her, but there were a few pictures of her around, and I think she had dark hair. Ms. V.O.'s hair was gray.

I believe Ms. V.O.'s been dead for years now. I'm not sure why I thought of her this morning. Might have something to do with my agenda for the day, which includes attending the funeral of my friend Joey Gatski. Joey lived alone, too. I never went to his apartment, but I bet he had some groovy chachkis, too. Perhaps not so many. Probably had a gun or two, too. And he probably would have appreciated a nice bottle of sweet Muscatelle from a visitor, too.

permalink posted by cat 7:02 AM

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Ms. V.O.