TE21 Serbian Moments

Andrea Scrima

Like Lips, Like Skins

mind will slip around it and run away.

some of them bet like it’s going out of style!

— Get on the phone and give Delphine a call.

—What do their husbands say?

— I’ll call her later, Ma.

— Husbands? Most of them are widows. And a few have been left quite a bit of money, I understand. I can’t keep up with them; I spend my ten dollars, and then I’m through. It’s part of a package deal: you get your dinner, your show, and your round-trip bus ticket for one price. It leaves right up here in front of Kmart, so it’s convenient. The driver hands out the chips when you get off the bus. But that’s how they get a lot of these old people hooked. She turns the last page of the newspaper, places it on a stack to the side, and takes another. — That’s how people think nowadays: if you’re old, you’re stupid. It’s all one big racket. I stick to my ten dollars, and if I win anything, I bet that too, but that’s where I draw the line. If it weren’t for the senior citizens, these places would go out of business in a minute . But if you ask me, this living the high life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Who’s got this, who’s got that. When you get down to it, they’re all just bored. You knowwhat they say: you can’t take it with you. A small heap of coupons has formed on the plastic tablecloth; my mother begins sorting through them, separating them into different piles. The garish colors of the Sunday comics peer out from beneath the stack of local newspapers, and I suddenly 187

— Give her a call now. Humor your mother.

—When was the last time you heard from Lillie?

— Lillie? Lillie never calls. Go on, get on that phone and call your sister!

She laughs.

— Listen to your mother for a change, it won’t kill you. By the way, when are you headed up to that gallery of yours?

— I have to be there tomorrow—

— Good, because I’m going to Atlantic City to see a show with the Grandmothers’ Club on Sunday. I’ll talk to your sister about driving in next week.

— Don’t gamble everything away, Ma.

She looks at me with a mischievous gleam in her eyes.

— I make it a rule never to spend more than ten dollars. But 186

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