Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin.
Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.
By DELL FRANKLIN
Four different women gave me cookies on days before and after Christmas. As a rule, I don’t eat cookies, because once you start them you can’t stop, and the sugar high is not good for somebody with high blood pressure and insomnia. But all these women are nurturing souls pitying an old bachelor who regards Christmas as strictly for kids and otherwise an aggravation interrupting a mindless routine.
First, my good drinking pal Hazel showed up with a plate of cookies she’d just baked and they smelled so good, I started eating them while she was visiting and continued after she left. They were wonderful.
Later, I dropped off an article from the LA Times off to an elderly member of the morning wall gang and his wife refused to allow me to leave without accepting a bag of cookies. Later, as I sat on my butt working a crossword, my immediate neighbors of almost 14 years, Jamie and her daughter, knocked on the door and dropped off a huge slab of cookies and they smelled so good and looked so appetizing I began eating them, and then on Christmas Day as I watched football and basketball nonstop I continued nibbling at cookies and began to feel queasy and endure chest pains when my sister called to wish me a merry Christmas, and when I explained what I was experiencing, she said, “Why didn’t you freeze them? Then you can always take one or two out and let them thaw.”
I didn’t admit to her I had no idea one could freeze cookies, but I quickly found plastic bags to seal up the wealth of cookies and place them in the freezer of my fridge, but of course I spent a sleepless night, and next morning down along the seawall with my dog and the wall gang, another nice woman named Kelly was giving us members these enclosed plastic trays of cookies, and of course I couldn’t refuse, because they did look good, and I was on the verge of opening the tray and having one or two or three or four or five when I remembered how the glut of eating at least two dozen cookies over a 12 hour period possibly came close to killing me, so I declined, thanking Kelly for the cookies and placing them in the freezer when I get home.
I haven’t had a cookie since the 25th. The chest pains are gone and I’m sleeping sounder. I’m in control.
I was sitting in my car at the edge of the beach at the 24th Street parking lot during a break from the rain, seat back, Beethoven’s 9th blasting away, soothing myself with the sight of folks walking dogs on this cold windy gray afternoon, when I noticed a pretty young woman in small pickup with a camper shell one parking spot over seemingly licking at her fingers while holding a phone in her free hand and studying it.
I didn’t think much of this until I glanced over at her again a few minutes later and observed her still going at it, and wondering just how much ingredients a person could lick off their fingers after eating a meal when I realized she was biting and chewing at her fingernails, a nasty nervous habit my Dad had and which my mother constantly yelled at him to stop, for once he got started there seemed no stopping him unless she ran over and swatted this professional he-man with the newspaper.
Well, this gal went at the fingers and thumb of the same hand for half an hour and I felt at some point she might run out of nails to bite and chew because she was going at it fiendishly, like a dog scratching at an epidemic of fleas; but then she deftly switched hands and started in on new fingernails while continuing her study of the phone, actually manipulating it with the free thumb and fingers holding the phone.
The whole spectacle was a miracle of multitasking. I felt at some point that after well over half an hour of incessant gnawing she might notice me staring at her with wondrous disbelief and cease her onslaught out of embarrassment, but she was obviously so consumed with sawing down her nails that, like my father, a professional baseball player for almost 16 years who preached the ability to relax while under pressure, there was no stopping her unless somebody swatted her hands with a newspaper.
Then she switched hands again, still holding the phone near the steering wheel, and began gnawing on her index finger. I started wondering, did she do this every day? And, if so, what was left to gnaw upon? In time, she was onto the next finger over. During this entire spectacle she never changed expression, never ceased studying her phone, and I wondered just how long this could go on when a large SUV pulled in between us and I was cut off from observing her.
I was pretty bored after that and most of the 9th was done, and I’d missed most of the beloved third movement with my obsession over the fingernail chewer. So I pulled out, backed up around and behind her car and noticed that she was still going at it while the folks in the SUV got out with their dog.