Too Much Like Mother
It‘s always unnerving when the elevator stops on the thirteenth floor of the building where my Amy works, but this guy seemed alright, though his bow tie and bowler were comically old fashioned. About 5’7”, he stepped jauntily to the back of the elevator with military precision while affording me neither nod, nor smile. At the back wall he turned on his heel to face the door, his posture perfectly erect, his hands dangling loosely at his sides. This last bit I found exceedingly odd, as there was not even a fidget from his fingers. I am one to notice such things, as I take an interest in hands, and what one does with them. In fact, hands (or rather my obsession with them) were our primary subject today, I having just been to visit my lovely and talented friend Dr. Amy Piersall, Head of Psychology here at the Periwinkle Psychiatric Institute.
Hands are a fascination to me. Never knowing what to do with my own hands, I have developed my interest in them from observing what others do with theirs. Take this gentleman riding the elevator with me for instance, he with the straight hanging, non-fidgeting hands. Now, most people would be doing something with their hands on an elevator. I have watched a billion hands on elevators in my time and rarely have I seen a pair hanging so perfectly still while on one. Elevators are tight, close, nervous places, so a man will often subconsciously slip one hand into a pocket as he steps inside, while a younger boy will stuff both hands into his pockets once the door closes, feeling himself trapped within. A woman will clasp a bag, or check her phone, and a girl will fiddle with her hair, or her mother’s skirt, or her father’s trouser leg, but few will let their hands hang so confidently loose and still as this man did, so I was intrigued.
I leaned what I hoped was casually against the elevator wall before speaking, one hand flapping the end of my unaccustomed tie, the other resting back-handed upon my protruding hip. ”May I ask which branch, sir?” When they looked my way I noticed a cold, flatness to his eyes which very nearly disconcerted me, but I was not so easily put off. “I asked, which branch of the military was it that you were in?”
”No?” I questioned his response, sure that he was wrong, and must certainly have been in one branch or the other. “Policeman, then? Or perhaps Scout Leader?”
”Marching band? Secret Service? Merchant Marine?”
”None of the above. And please mind your own business... Friend.”
The way he said the word “friend” did not sound as if he meant it, but I took it as being just his stiff, stand-offish style that made it sound that way. Surely he was not being purposely unsociable, as we were the only two on the elevator. I was just starting to delve deeper when the elevator took a resounding jolt before lurching to a complete stop. I nearly went down when it did, my leisurely lean against the elevator’s wall leaving me so vulnerable that the reeling of the car pitched me directly into my new friend, whom I found to be much stouter than he first appeared. Standing perfectly balanced with his feet shoulder width apart the shorter man was able, even in the careening elevator, to remain perfectly in position even as I slammed face-first into his shoulder, breaking my nose and sending a shower of blood onto my brand new, 40% off suit and tie bought wholesale. My fidgety hands stopped their fidgeting to grab at my nose even as the stalwart little man shoved me back to my corner, where I stood whimpering with neck craned back and nose lifted high, my fingers tightly compressing either side of it in a futile attempt to staunch the flow of blood.
”I say, Friend!" I stammered into the sudden pitch-blackness of the elevator. "Mightn’t you have moved when I was thrown your way, rather than aiming your shoulder in my direction?”
”I am not your friend.”
I found this rebuff much more painful than the broken nose and sought to settle whatever bitterness he had developed for me. “Well! Didn’t you call me one only a minute ago? Have I done something to create antipathy between us? I was only trying to be cordial, and to compliment your martial bearing.”
”You are annoying.”
“So my father always said, that I was annoying that is, being too much like Mother." My pinching fingers added a nasally texture to my voice. “But Amy is helping me with that.” I paused here, expecting a question from him, such as, “Amy who?” But I received no response from out the darkness, forcing me to continue on myself if conversation was to be kept alive. “The Dr. Amy Piersall, that is. Head of Psychology.” I said this last bit with some smugness. “We are engaged.”
”Hmmm.” I detected disbelief in his hum.
”Do you doubt it?” My back was up now. "She said it herself!"
”There is more than one meaning of "being engaged." Just how long have you been seeing this 'Good' Dr. Piersall?”
I was back on solid “conversational” ground now, as Amy and I were long-time loves. “Three years, now.” With that I removed my fingers from my nose and crossed my arms sanctimoniously across my breast, though it would be impossible for him to see my posture through the blackness inside the elevator.
”Let me guess,” he replied. “One date a week, and always here in her office?”
I could feel the blood trickling again, down my upper lip. I wiped it with my sleeve and re-pinched my nostrils for safety’s sake. “She is a very busy woman.” I squeaked.
”And you are the fool I took you for.”
”Oh yea? Well, your fingernails need trimmed. They are long and dirty.” Take that, I thought!
”It isn’t dirt beneath them.”
”No? Then what is it?”
”It’s blood. It turns black, over time.”
”Oh, are you also prone to nose bleeds?”
”It is not my blood, you idiot.”
”No? Then whose blood is it?”
”Didn’t catch his name. Just some guy who annoyed me.”
”Say, can I borrow a handkerchief, Friend? This nose bleed is getting out of hand.”
”You know… you are annoying.”
”So says my father… too much like Mother.”