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December 2009, vol 5 no 4

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Ray Rasmussen

 

This Advice Business

“I have the solution to the problem,” I say. “And just in time for the visit to your daughter."
“What’s that?” she asks.
“You’re afraid that you’ll ruin things because you can’t resist giving her advice. So when you feel the urge, phone me and give me advice instead.”
“But I don’t have any advice for you.”
“Give it a try! What do you have to lose.”

It must be only an hour after her arrival that she phones.
“Cut back the peonies and they’ll do better next spring."
“Your daughter has peonies?”
“No, but she has house plants.”

wilting
on my window sill
African violets

An hour later another call.
“I’m treating you to a new sweater for Christmas.”
“You don’t like her clothing?”
“She’s a ragbag—shops at Goodwill for bargains.”
“You really are into this advice business.”
“It’s what mothers do.”
I don’t shop at Goodwill and I like this sweater, I’m about to say, but she’s already hung up.

dangling
in the mirror
threads from my shirt

Several hours later, another call. I consider not picking up.
“Your glasses are old-fashioned; they make you look dated.”
“She’s 21 and wears old-fashioned glasses?”
“No, you do. And isn’t it time for a hearing aid?”

falling
in the yard
the heads of peonies

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