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Uzbekistan RPCV Pearl is a Scrabblette
Uzbekistan RPCV Pearl is a Scrabblette
From Susan Parker:World Affairs According to the Scrabblettes
FromSusan Parker (06-22-04)
Last week I was playing Scrabble with my three friends, the Scrabblettes. At 52-years-old I was the youngster in the room by over two decades. Louise, Pearl and Rose lived through the tail-end of the Depression, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the terms of 13 United States presidents. Rose’s family was interned during World War II, taken from their farm in the California Central Valley and sent to a camp for Japanese-Americans in Arkansas in 1942. Louise’s family moved from Louisiana to Berkeley at around the same time period, a part of the great migration of southern blacks seeking work on the West Coast. Pearl recently returned to the Bay Area after a two-year stint with the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan.
When these single, independent women talk about anything, I listen. Collectively, they have more than 210 years of first-hand, worldly experience. Don’t get on their wrong side, and refrain from arguing with them. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t recommend playing Scrabble a gainst the Scrabblettes, unless you have a strong ego, and don’t mind getting the stuffing beat out of you.
Naturally, during our game the conversation turned to Ronald Reagan’s death and funeral. “Jeez,” said Pearl. “Can you believe they want to put that guy’s picture on a 10-dollar bill? What on earth for?”
“Ridiculous,” murmured Louise, as she laid out “qiviut” (yarn spun from the fine, soft hair of a musk ox), on a double word score and took the lead with 36 points.
“You know the lady I deliver Meals on Wheels to?” asked Rose as she realigned her letters on the plastic holder in front of her. This got my attention. What senior citizen was 73-year-old Rose delivering meals to in her spiffy new Mini Cooper? I pictured her driving the way she plays tennis, capably spinning around Berkeley streets, taking curves and corners at an expeditious, no-nonsense clip. Rose once told me that the Mini Cooper could reach speeds of 150 mph.
“I don’t know her,” I said.
“Well,” said Rose, peering at me from be hind her bifocals. “She asked me if I was going to deliver her lunch last Friday, the Holy Day. I said ‘What Holy Day?’ and she said, ‘You know, the Reagan funeral.’ I said ‘That’s not a holy day,’ and she said, ‘I know, but they’re sure acting like it is, aren’t they?’” Rose shook her head. “I told her I’d be delivering her lunch come hell or high water, and she said, ‘Good, cuz I didn’t vote for him and I’m not taking a holiday myself.’”
Louise chuckled and fiddled with her lettered tiles.
“More coffee?” asked Pearl.
“Just a little,” said Rose. “But don’t get up, I’ll get it myself.”
“I think that the best thing Reagan ever did was to admit that he had Alzheimer’s,” said Pearl.
“I agree,” said Louise. “At least he made the public more aware of it.”
“I’m glad Nancy came out for stem cell research,” said Rose. “Good strong coffee, by the way, Pearl.”
“Thanks,” said Pearl. “If it doesn’t put hair on your chest, it’s not worth drinking.”
“Yes, on stem cell research,” I said, finally speaking up. “But I wish Nancy had done more for the caregivers of this world. Of course, she’s rich and old, and I’m sure she didn’t have much to do with Ronnie’s actual physical care. Still, spending 10 years planning a state funeral with taxpayers’ money is not what most people tending an elderly shut-in have time for.”
“I’ll say,” said Louise, getting ready to spell another 30-pointer.
Pearl rolled her eyes. “I don’t want to take away from Nancy’s pain, because we all know it’s real and it’s sad and Alzheimer’s is not something to joke about. It must have been hard for her to realize that she couldn’t ‘Just say no’ to Alzheimer’s and make it disappear. Let’s hope she’ll have enough generosity left, after the funeral, to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s, and t hose that take care of them.”›