When Bubbie Becomes Baba Yaga
by Ozzie Nogg
Okay, so fine . . . over the years I have yelled at my husband, at my kids, at my God (OMG, yes. He/She has gotten an earful from me lately . . .) But honest injun, my life has been (and continues to be) full of family and friends who love and support and appreciate me and I’ve never needed to roar to make my voice heard.
Until now, maybe . . .
When Helen Reddy’s recording of I Am Woman was released in 1972, she was thirty-one, I was thirty-nine, and her lyrics described me. Strong? Invincible? I can do anything? You betcha. Handsome husband, adorable children, the mid-century house, glamorous career, picture in the paper, recognized at the grocery store. (Did I mention a diagnosis of GERD and ER visits for panic attacks? Shhhhhhh. Our secret, OK?)
But (as we say in General Semantics) 1972 is not 2015.
And boy oh boy oh boy, am I not the girl I once was.
(Well, duh . . .)
I’m no longer the youthful Maiden with perky boobs.
I’m no longer the Mother guide who ignored the weed wafting from the basement because if she tossed her kids and their cronies out of the house because there was weed wafting from the basement they would consider her a narc and no longer think she was cool.
I am now a certified, card-carrying Crone and let me tell you I am really pissed because so many too many of my friends are on canes walkers dragging oxygen tanks with spots on their shirtfronts in nursing homes and they wear clunky black lace-up shoes or sometimes white which is even worse and they only blather about the olden days and they drop over dead (thud thud thud) and my world gets smaller I start to feel invisible mute teeny tiny and I’m in the ER where they know me by name here I’m still F.A.M.O.U.S. with a thump-a-thump-a heart racing can’t breathe panic attack and I try to not weep over yesterday or shiver over what tomorrow will bring and when I try to live in the moment all I wanna do is look in its cloudy eyes its wrinkled face pull its wispy hair beat its stupid pink scalp to a pulp and bellow Fuck! Shit! This sucks!
Holy cow. I just roared. How about that . . .
And now, a C*A*U*T*I*O*N*A*R*Y tale.
What We Roar About When We Roar About Old Age
On her sixtieth wedding anniversary, Ida decided, “Enough is enough.”
She texted her children. “I’m outta here. Don’t ask. They predict a scorcher. Wear sunscreen.” Then Ida packed a bag, grabbed her car keys, drove to the airport and flew the coop.
Her husband, Sam, asleep in his chair, didn’t hear Ida leave the house.
When the plane landed, Ida hopped on a bus and rode to the end of the line.
“This is the end of the line,” the driver said.
“Not for me,” Ida said.
She got off the bus and set up shop.
The sign read: Suck It Up Saloon. Open 24/7. Let’s talk.
Word spread. Women came in droves to schmooze and knock back the vodka.
“My Sam,” Ida groused, “tells the same stories over and over until I wanna sock him.”
The women groused, “Me, too.”
“He wipes the dishes and always asks, ‘Where does this salad bowl go?’ even though I’ve told him a million times. It make me nuts,” Ida griped.
The women griped, “Me, too.”
“He wears a hearing aid and needs a magnifying glass and shuffles his feet and makes inelegant noises and I hate that we’re not young anymore,” Ida bawled.
The women bawled, “Me, too.”
“I’m worried he’s going to stumble and trip and break a hip,” Ida sobbed. “And die.”
The women sobbed, “Me, too.”
“I’m scared,” Ida wailed.
And the women wailed, “Me, too.”
Then Ida and the women formed a circle and held hands and stamped their feet up and down and roared, “Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Daammmnnnnnnn!”
“I feel better now,” Ida said.
“Me, too,” the women said.
The next morning, a note tacked to the door of the Suck It Up Saloon read, “That helped. Thanks. Buy yourselves tulips once in a while. And wear mascara.”
Ida tiptoed into her house. She walked over to Sam, asleep in his chair, and kissed his forehead.
Sam opened his eyes. “Must have dozed off for a minute,” he said.
Ida texted their children. “Come for dinner. I’m making meat loaf and roasted potatoes. It’s supposed to rain. Wear boots.”
“I love your meatloaf, Ida,” Sam said.
“I know,” Ida said. “Me, too.”
(almost but not quite)
Ozzie Nogg lives in Omaha, NE with her extraordinarily good-natured husband. Her flash fiction has been published in Diddledog, Flashshot, 50 to 1, Apollo’s Lyre, RAGE machine Magazine, Dew on the Kudzu, and Apocrypha and Abstractions. Her very short work, Escape From Crete, is represented in the 100 Stories for Haiti Anthology.
In 2003, her story, Blue Plate Special, appeared in MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magic Realism, and was later nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Ozzie’s book of personal stories, Joseph’s Bones, won First Place in the 2005 Writer’s Digest Press International Self-Published Book Awards.