Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More about Peggy

I suppose, like me, being a reasonably sensitive person, you were appalled by Peggy’s heartless response to the gigantic and extremely dangerous insect that landed on my chest when I was sleeping like some sort of nightmarish apparition, threatening the very fundaments of my mental and physical health.

Peggy’s family, in the not so distant past, were Germans. The came from Pomerania and settled in Oklahoma, where they opened a small chemists- Bienenzüchter’s- which later translated, not entirely accurately, in a patriotic - or perhaps cowardly, given local pressures? - gesture into “Feelgood’s Drugstore” during the First World War and which still stands, serving ices, coffee, preserved food, and remedies on the corner of 8th and Main Streets, Choctaw, OK.

After the World War Two, the cheapness of motor cars facilitating, Peggy’s parents' moved from the cramped flat above the shop to a suburb, where she grew up with two sisters and no obvious misfortunes. They attended the local Lutheran church with clockwork regularly (happily insensate to its teachings), and tried to earn as much money as possible while simultaneously spending as little. The children attended the local high school and graduated with neither honours nor shame. They were not especially respected or liked, nor disliked either- they were quite the sort of people essential to sustain any normal, working community.

Perhaps seeing the lines of moaning, malingering Choctawans bleating for cold remedies or listening to them griping about minor complaints, affected young Peggy as she helped in the family shop at weekends, without respite, year after year, all the while her school friends were skipping or constructing elaborate picnics for their dollies, or later experimentally necking with other pustulous adolescents under the bushes of the nearby park? Did the endless work of stocking shelves, breaking down boxes, mopping spillages and running little local errands, while painfully mindful of her schoolchums’ frivolities, make her bitter; unusually indifferent to the distress of others? Did the business at the pharmacy counter teach her to regard human suffering as nothing more than a potential source for commercial gain?

I cannot say. And I detected no callous traits in her parents when I met them- indeed, they seemed rather conscientious people: sympathetic, if a little earnest.

*

I sit here, writing this now on the computer this cool evening. Peggy is over at the drinks trolley (again!): more whisky than ice, that’s for sure.

This is a follow up to The Giant Bee, posted here on October 30 last year: http://tadeuszderegowski.blogspot.com/2009/10/giant-bee.html

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