Maman invited him in and temptation was there: she spent a good deal on a beautiful Lucite hairbrush set for herself and a kid-sized hairbrush for each of the three of us. Plus, one toothbrush for each of us; as until then, we kids had shared one! (Disinfected with soap and water, of course.)
Two weeks later, he was back and she bought a dust mop with a detachable head! These mops and brushes came with guarantees, and were high quality and all, said the salesman. But – they were expensive.
Grandma visited frequently and used to criticize Maman’s cooking, housekeeping, and spending – meaning to educate her daughter in home economy. So there, I learned lots about The Economy.
This was Grandma’s version: wait till the salesman arrives and kick him out! That way, money would be saved for more useful things than pretty brushes and detachable mops and the brush salesman could go broke instead of her daughter.
The poor salesman stood in the parlour with his suitcase half open, his mouth and the brochure wide open as Grandma launched into her rant on how, in HER DAY mops were repaired, not disposable! And that innocent young housewives were being conned and so on.
Maman had a high opinion of herself, also proud and being sidetracked while selecting nice things in her own parlour while her salesman, was being insulted, and how would she look?
Maman began talking back to her mother and Grandma was now shouting at the Fuller brush salesman and at Maman! Then Grandma took the poor salesman’s sample case, his brochure and his hat – and opened the front door and tossed them out!
In turn, Maman grabbed Grandma’s coat, hat, purse and gloves tossed them out, and pushed her mother out the front door and slammed it! That left the salesman and grandma in undignified stooping and gathering positions while arguing. The salesman loudly saying he had a right to earn a living and she had no business losing him a customer! Grandma also shouting he had no business taking advantage of her daughter!
The nasty biddy – the one who embarrassed Maman with the Baker, was outside in a flash, watching and drawing her own conclusions on the eviction of the salesman.
Inside, Maman was red, insulted and angry and went to the window to pull the blinds when she spotted the nasty biddy down below on her front step. This was too much, and as the salesman strode along the sidewalk one way, and Grandma in the other direction, Maman opened the window, and threw one new kids’ hairbrush at her. It missed, landed on the cement and broke.
Anger spent, she said: “Christine, go down there and get that hairbrush” “Why- why – did I not just go out the back door the minute this slugfest started? I asked myself.
Grumbling, knowing it would look like I had tossed the dratted brush, and why could she not go and get it?
Back upstairs, Maman regretfully looking at the broken hairbrush said: “Now I won’t get the bonus shaving brush for Daddy.” The kids’ brush was now missing its handle so she said that it would henceforth be mine!
I, too, have a temper and I made it loud: “My hairbrush is in my drawer! M’an! You threw out Dani’s brush so use it on HER hair! “
It was dangerous to cross Maman but this time she let it go, and anyway, she was tired of it all. So, at age 9, I learned that bonus points are like money and not to be tossed out of windows.
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Later, after a sketchy go through high school, she worked my way through University (Concordia in Montreal) working 3 or 4 jobs.Illness put a stop to my hopes for a few years.In the meantime, love replaced ambitions, and softened the culture shock of moving into the country from a big city. Paintingis my current passion and writing is a renewed interest.
She says, "My other name: Christine Lenoir-Godin is how I sign all my paintings, to remember my Mother who taught me a lot about art."