Another holiday is here. We make the drive to the old lady’s apartment. The old lady and the older lady are there waiting for us. We go to bed knowing what will come in the morning. The ladies will be cooking us Swedish pancakes.
We rise early, but not as early as the old ladies. Old ladies get up before roosters. When we enter the living room, we can smell the fresh coffee and we each pour a cup to await the expected smell of Swedish pancakes. The old ladies both know how to make them, but it’s the old lady’s apartment, not the older lady’s. Etiquette directs that the old lady shall decide who does what in her home. However, the older lady is a bit passive-aggressive. She wants to be helpful, whether you like it or not.
We sit on the couch in the living room, sipping our coffee and gazing out the picture window. The older lady is in the dining room sitting at the table with her coffee. The old lady starts to open kitchen cupboards. We can’t see the old ladies, but we know what’s coming next. Swedish pancakes. As we hear metal items clinking and the refrigerator opening and closing, a conversation begins.
“Are you two going to have some Swedish pancakes?” the old lady asks.
“I will,” says my companion. “Sure, me too,” I answer.
“Are you having some too?” the old lady asks the older lady.
“Well, I’ll help you make them,” says the older lady.
“No, that’s all right. I’m making them.” the old lady responds.
“Aren’t you going to have any?” asks the older lady.
“No, no, I’m making them. Are you having any?” the old lady asks again.
“Oh yes, I’ll have some, but how about you? Are you having any?”
“No, no, I’m making them.”
“Do you want me to help you make them?”
“No, I just want to know who’s having them. I’m making them.”
At this point, the strong coffee and the incoming sunlight begin to take effect. The shiny, white cushions on the couch in the white living room start to glow. The sound of stirring, pouring and soft crackles continues under the conversation between the old ladies, which has now acquired the cadence of parrots.
“Oh yes, I’ll have some. Don’t you want to have some?”
“No, I can’t have them. I’m making them.”
“Aren’t you going to have any?”
“I can’t have any. I’m making them.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to help you make them?”
You would think this exchange of ideas would be exhausted, but you would be wrong. Old ladies can continue on in this kind of tape loop for several minutes, never raising their voices, always speaking in the same earnest tone of inquiry.
“When I’m done making them, you can make some.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to have any? I can help you make them.”
“No, no, that’s all right. I can’t have any. I’m making them.”
“If you want, I’ll make some, so you can have some.”
We are afloat, buoyed by the sounds of stirring, clinking, having, making, can’t have, making, having, baking, maving, caking. As the smell of pancakes fills the air, we begin offering each other sections of the newspaper, trying not to giggle as we whisper.
“Do you want this?”
“Aren’t you still reading it?”
“No, that’s all right. Don’t you want it?”
“I don’t want it if you’re still reading it.”
“Do you want me to read it to you?
”No, no, you’re still reading.”
We eat our fill of Swedish pancakes. As we clear the dishes and take them to the kitchen, the old lady and the older lady move on to the next cosmic dilemma, the next moebius strip of doing and not-doing. Things do move on in the land of old ladies. I can’t always tell if they are moving forward, backward, sideways or all three at once.
Are you having, or are you making?