For Old Boozer’s wife, every day is lazy Sunday.
When Old Boozer and his wife Frizzy Hair lived in France, forty years ago, Old Boozer worked odd jobs. He made a living working in a factory, delivering fresh meat, baking bread, and paving roads.
He considered those his major efforts. In between, he was a night watchman at an office building, forklift operator, and, for a single day, a cashier at a large supermarket.
While Old Boozer worked, Frizzy Hair raised their two kids.
For Frizzy Hair, raising kids involved making breakfast and dinner, doing laundry, stocking up on groceries, and occasionally, vacuuming the living room floor.
In between, she watched TV, rode Old Boozer’s motorcycle (the family’s main–and only–mode of transport) to friends’ houses, and window-shopped.
By the time they returned to Serbia in the ’80s, the kids were grown and Old Boozer retired and living on a small disability pension he earned by cheating the system.
For Frizzy Hair, the move back to their hometown meant little change. With no kids to care for and Old Boozer working hard at becoming a successful old boozer, she had more time to devote to herself. Finally, she had all the time in the world to devote to herself.
Frizzy Hair disliked talking about their French period, as she called it. Some people have blue and rose periods, but the lucky among us have French periods.
On rare occasions when she did discuss the French period with a friend, she described it as “tough.” The amount of work demanded of her every day, as she remembered it, was almost more than a single person could accomplish without a butler, nanny, and chambermaid.
Sometimes she talked of that time as “dur,” or “sévère,” using the few French words she still remembered, and pronounced very poorly.
One day last year Old Boozer passed out on the kitchen floor. The fridge door gapped open when she walked in, and there was a broken bottle of booze next to Boozer’s twisted legs.
Instead of approaching him, she ran out and across the street, to Old Man’s house. Like the rest of the neighborhood, Frizzy Hair never talks to Old Man, but on this occasion she needed his help. Anyone’s help, really, but she was certain Old Man was home. Old Man is always home.
When Old Man walked into their kitchen, Old Boozer was drooling all over the floor. A faint rumble was coming from the very back of his throat, and a terrifying grumble seemed to tear his stomach to shreds.
Old Man lifted Boozer up, helped him to the living room couch, gave him water to drink, and offered to drive them both to the hospital.
Old Boozer and Frizzy Hair refused the hospital ride. Old Boozer was embarrassed, increasingly ashamed of himself as he regained control over his brain and legs. Frizzy Hair, already regretting the decision to ask Old Man for help, wanted the neighbor out of their house immediately.
Old Man left without saying goodbye, his olive green overcoat, the worn-out remnant of the only thing his wife ever bought him, turning darker with the drops of rain.
Every man is completely alone at least once every day. Usually, that moment comes immediately before sleep. For Old Boozer, it came in the middle of the day, usually right after lunch.
The feeling of being alone before God (or Goddess, if you will), always scared him out of his wits.
But the truth is that Old Boozer is never really alone, not even in that one, ultimate ALONE moment.
Old Boozer cannot ever be completely alone, because Old Boozer has a son he hasn’t seen in over fifty years. A child born before Frizzy Hair, before France, before odd jobs, before disability pension crookedly earned, before all the booze and all the shame.
When Old Boozer is alone, God (or Goddess, if you will) doesn’t make an appearance. Instead of God, Old Boozer sees a child’s face, small and very pale, with trembling lips and flaring nostrils under tear-stained eyes.
That same face is the last thing Old Boozer sees before going to sleep at night, and the very first thing he sees when he wakes up in the morning.
Frizzy Hair sleeps like a baby. And wakes up at noon, feeling as fresh as a daisy but looking just like a cactus dying of dehydration.
For Frizzy Hair, every day is lazy Sunday.