by Lisha Goldberg
1987. St. Petersburg, Florida)
it never fails, does it? Every
time I turn on the radio and put my feet up--"
coming, I'm coming." Bambi
lowered the volume on the radio. "Hold
your horses! You think a
90-year-old woman is gonna catch the phone on the first ring?"
shuffled her way into the kitchen and picked up the phone.
She grimaced as a curler smashed her ear.
frantic voice greeted her. "Bambi,
Bambi, help me quick! Come quick, it's awful!
It's terrible! It's the
end of the world!"
rolled her eyes. "Gladys?
What's going on, Gladys? I
can barely hear you over all that noise.
What's that terrible squeaking?
And all those voices? Are
you having a party? Why didn't
you invite me?"
shrieked into the phone. "Bambi,
help me! My washer's gonna
explode! You have to come over
right now! Save me Bambi, I'm
gonna lose my whole apartment."
took a deep breath and steeled herself.
"Now Gladys, you just calm down.
Tell me exactly what's going on."
washer, my washer!" Gladys
washer? Gladys, are you sure
it's your washer making those noises? It
sounds more like a radio."
nothing wrong with my radio!" Gladys cried. "It works perfectly."
nodded vigorously. "Yes, I
can hear that your radio works, Gladys.
So can our neighbors in Alabama and Georgia and Louisiana.
Just lower the volume, you'll be fine."
do I lower the volume on my washer?"
made a gesture of supplication towards the ceiling. Perhaps a heavenly body would swoop down and assist her with
Gladys? When no response came,
Bambi took matters into her owns hands.
"Turn off the washer!"
Bambi said between clenched teeth.
it's in the middle of a cycle," Gladys protested.
felt the blood drain out of the hand that gripped the phone.
"Gladys, darling, it's okay," she said as sweetly as
possible. "I'll be right
here on the phone while you turn it off."
what off? I'm not turning off
Jammin' 103. It's my favorite
slapped her head. Dealing with
a104-year old sometimes required monumental amounts of patience.
"Turn off the washer, Gladys."
opened up a kitchen drawer, stuffed the phone inside, and shut the drawer
again. Then she ambled off in
search of her favorite nail polish: Red
Devil. She hummed softly as she
applied two coats to every fingernail.
After inspecting her handiwork, she returned to the phone.
"Gladys? You there
voice came from deep within her apartment.
"I don't know how to turn it off when it's in the middle of a
returned the phone to the drawer, kicked off her slippers, and proceeded to
polish each toenail. Two coats
later, she tried the phone again. "Gladys,
you back yet? I don't hear the
squeaking noise anymore."
noise?" Gladys asked. "Why
did you call me?"
made another gesture towards the heavenly bodies. This gesture was not as kind as the first one.
"Gladys, listen to me. You
have to call a repairman to fix that washer."
repairman? Who do I call?
How do I do that?"
began to pace the kitchen as she thought.
"Gladys, you look in the phone book. There's a repair shop on Central Avenue.
James Jamison's Washer Repair, it's called."
you wouldn't happen to remember where I put my phone book, do you?"
jumped as she noticed her empty hand. "It's probably with my nail
polish," she snapped as her eyes frantically searched her kitchen.
your nail polish?" Gladys
gasped, threw open the refrigerator door, and checked the butter
compartment. "Oh Gladys,
you're contagious," she told her friend as she rescued the nail polish
What's going on, Bambi? You
want me to come over?"
set the nail polish on her kitchen counter.
"Gladys, I want you to call information and get the number for
James Jamison's Washer Repair on Central Avenue. Call them right now, before you forget."
I forget what?" Gladys asked.
to you later, Gladys. Remember,
tonight's dinner at Skidaddles."
heavily, Bambi hung up the phone. Gratefully,
she padded over to her favorite comfy chair, picked up her knitting and
turned up the radio.
is James at Jammin' 103 in St. Petersburg Florida," the DJ announced.
"Playing all the hits from the 60s and 70s."
furrowed her brow as she tried to retrieve a dropped stitch.
up listeners. We've got fab
news for you today. Be the
thirteenth caller to Jammin' 103 and you could win a date with the one and
only Ringo Starr."
Bambi muttered. "What
mother would name her child Ringo Starr?
No wonder there's only one of him."
know the number. Just pick up
your phone and dial J-A-M-M-I-N-G. That's
J-A-M-M-I-N-G and ask for me, James at Jammin' 103! Remember, listeners. Tonight's
Date with Ringo Starr is sponsored by James Jamison Washer Repair on Central
Avenue. Shop all our Jamison
stores for all your large appliance needs."
blew a stray lock of hair out of her eyes.
"Does your Mother know you're giving your phone number out on
phone lines are lighting up. Who's
gonna be our lucky winner today? That
number again is J-A-M-M-I-N-G."
be the lucky winner if I ever finish this afghan," Bambi shook her head
as she dropped another stitch.
heeeere we go! Hello, and
congratulations! You're our
lucky thirteenth caller. Who am
I talking to today?"
is Mrs. Gladys Kaminsky."
jumped so hard that her yarn flew off the needles and landed at her feet.
"Gladys, what are you doing?
You're supposed to be calling Jamison's Repair shop!"
me, Gladys, how does it feel to be our thirteenth caller?"
caller? So I'm not the only one
having trouble with my washing machine today!
You should be ashamed of yourselves, selling washers that break so
Gladys? Gladys, I'm sorry,
you're having trouble with your washer," the DJ sympathized.
shook her head. "Gladys,
you get off that radio!"
we aren't here to talk about washers. We're
here to see if you can answer our question of the day.
And if you can do that, then you will win a date with Ringo."
on Wednesday," Gladys informed him.
"Everybody knows that!"
ha ha, Gladys. You have a
lovely sense of humor. And
here's your question for today: Which
Ringo Starr song hit number 3 on the charts in 1975?
Now listen carefully to the song choices.
Gladys shouted. "No Songs!
What kind of --"
Kaminsky, you are 100% correct! Ringo's
No No Song, Written by Hoyt Axton hit the US charts in 1975.
what's that mean?" Gladys
asked. "Are you gonna send
someone to my apartment tonight or not?"
right, Gladys. In a few
moments, we'll be asking you for your address.
But in the meantime, may I offer you our congratulations again."
a strange man," Gladys said. "Somebody
better show up here tonight or there's gonna be big trouble."
DJ laughed. "Don't you
worry, Gladys. I promise,
somebody will be showing up at your apartment tonight."
I want him here by 3:30 at the latest.
Otherwise we miss the early bird dinner at Skiddadles."
ho ho, Gladys. You do make me
laugh. Maybe you'll call us
hope not! I want to get
everything straightened out tonight."
good for you, Gladys. And good
luck this evening."
snapped off the radio. "What's
all this supposed to mean? Gladys
wins a date with the washer repairman?"
with the phone? Gladys, if
that's you, I'll strangle you."
strangle you as soon as I can get up out of this chair."
yourself already! Hello?"
Bambi, this is Maybell. Did you
hear what just happened on the radio?"
Bambi replied. "Gladys won
herself a free washer repair."
is that what she did? I thought
she won at bingo."
shook her finger. "Better
watch out for yourself, Maybell. Gladys
is contagious. We'll all end up
just like her if we're not careful."
up like who?" Maybell asked.
sighed. "What did you call
me about, Maybell?"
want to know if what Gladys did on the radio is going to ruin our dinner
plans. I don't know what I'd do
if we had to miss an eggplant dinner."
pursed her lips. "Maybell,
you worry too much. We'll still
meet at Gladys' condo at 3:30. Then
we'll all head over to Skiddadles restaurant, as planned. Wild horses won't interfere with our plans, I promise."
Bambi, what if the washer repairman's still there?"
if he's cute, we'll invite him along!"
giggled. "Okay, Bambi.
I'll call Flo and let her know the plan."
Mrs. Kaminsky. I didn't expect
you to get the phone on the first ring."
standing next to the phone in case the washer repairman calls," Gladys
explained. "Who is
is security down at the front gate."
Gladys nervously ran her fingers through her blue-tinged hair.
"What's wrong? Is
the condo on fire?"
ma’am, Everything's fine... I think.
I'm just calling to report that you have a.... uh.... a
good! It's the washer man.
You send him up here right away."
ma’am... he's not exactly what you're expecting."
do you think I'm expecting, a movie star?
Send him up, it's an emergency."
Mrs. Kaminsky, there's something you should know about your visitor."
Security, I'm an old woman. I
can't waste time talking when my washing machine is in distress."
okay Mrs. Kaminsky. I'm sending
threw open her door. "Oh,
thank goodness you're-- You're
not the washer repair man." Gladys
hope not," Bambi snapped.
he get here yet?" Flo asked.
day I've been waiting for him," Gladys complained.
"But the security man says he's on his way up now."
we may as well wait 'til he's done," Maybell said.
She led the other two ladies into the apartment, and they settled
themselves on Gladys's plush couch.
There he is!"
Gladys, don't get over excited," Flo warned.
opened the front door. "You're
him?" she asked.
him," the man announced. "Ringo
Starr." He frowned.
not what I'm expecting," Gladys complained. "Well, come on in anyway."
least he's dressed nicely," Maybell noted. "I never saw such a suit before."
like it?" Ringo beamed. He
twirled around so the ladies could inspect it.
"Got it in Italy."
beautiful roses," Flo said. "Do
you always bring roses?"
when I come to see beautiful ladies."
Ringo smiled and handed the bouquet to Gladys. Gladys blushed and giggled.
"Oh, this is so exciting."
is, isn't it?" Ringo grinned. "Are
you ready to go, then?"
to go?" Gladys asked.
The car's waiting outside."
car?" Gladys asked. "You're
going to take my washer in your car?"
looked startled. "What's
this about a washer, then?"
washer's making this terrible squeak," Gladys explained.
thinks it's gonna blow up," Bambi added.
on, I'll show it to you," Gladys said.
shrugged. "Well, I'll have
a look, but I don't know if I can help you out.
It's not exactly my specialty, you see."
somebody's got to do something," Gladys said as she propelled Ringo
down the hallway. She gestured
toward the washer. "What
do you think?"
rather sweet," Ringo said. "I
never saw a washer this tiny."
you fix it?" Gladys asked anxiously.
how about if I turn it on and we see what happens?"
grabbed Ringo’s arm. "Be
careful," she whispered. "It's
in the middle of a cycle."
nodded gravely. "Thanks
for the warning," he whispered.
pointed an index finger and aimed it at the Start button.
He looked towards Gladys for final approval.
She clutched her bouquet and nodded solemnly.
Ringo pressed the button.
The machine protested.
the end of the universe," Gladys wailed.
gently patted her shoulder. "Not
to worry. I think I know a
little trick. Have you got some
turned towards the living room. "Flo,"
she shouted. "Do I have
any cooking oil?"
a torch too," Ringo added.
eyes widened. "Cooking oil
and a torch? Are you going to
cook my washer?"
I meant to ask for a flashlight."
do I have a flashlight?"
get everything," Flo yelled back.
Flo handed the items to Ringo. "Come
on, Gladys. Let's go to the
kitchen and put these flowers in water."
two ladies abandoned Ringo to his work.
all the banging and yelling?" Gladys asked.
repairmen do that," Flo assured her.
"It's part of their mystique."
listen to that!" Bambi exclaimed.
to what?" Gladys asked.
"That's just my washer."
squeak!" Flo and Maybell
raced down the hallway.
didn't know she could do that," Maybell observed.
like a 60-year-old when she puts her mind to it," Bambi decreed.
beaming Ringo showed off his work. "All
hugged him. "You're the
greatest!" she cried.
puffed out his chest. "I
am the greatest," he agreed. "And
I did it all without messin' me suit!"
other three ladies arrived to marvel over the quietly running washer.
Ringo's smile kept getting wider.
poked Bambi in the ribs. "Bambi,
you're right. He is a cute
repairman. We should take him
blinked. "I thought that
was the whole point of my coming here," he said.
ladies looked at him. "You
mean you didn't want to fix my washer?" Gladys pouted.
yes, I very much wanted to fix your washer," Ringo said quickly.
"Absolutely. Thrilled that I could help you."
beamed. "So you'll come
have dinner at Skiddadles with us? My
smiled. "Tell you what.
How about if I take all four of you ladies out somewhere special.
And it will be my treat."
women giggled. "Oh no
dear, not on a repairman's salary," Bambi said.
you mustn't refuse your elders," Flo argued.
insist," Gladys agreed.
miss the eggplant early bird special," Maybell explained.
"It's our favorite."
Mustn't mess with tradition. Ladies,
if you'll just show me where to put these tools and where to wash my hands,
we'll be off."
Repair Shop must be doing very well," Gladys remarked as a white limo
pulled up to the condo entrance. "A
driver and everything."
laughed as he held the door open for the ladies.
know, I'd swear I'd met you somewheres before," Ringo said as the car
pulled out of the drive. "I
get the distinct impression that I'd spent some time with you in a
sat straight up. "I'm not
that kinda girl," she snapped.
stroked her chin. "I think
you're right," she mused. "Didn't
we meet you in England? Were
you in the car when Fake Cousin George drove us to meet Real Cousin
thought for a second. "Oh,"
he said slowly. "You're
the ladies that mixed up my friend George Harrison with your cousin George--
what was his last name?"
can pronounce his last name," Flo said quickly.
glared at Flo. "Nobody
remembers his last name," Maybell amended.
name is Cousin George," Gladys said firmly. "Real Cousin George."
nodded. "I see.
So, I guess if you ladies could mix up former Beatle George Harrison
with your elderly cousin, then it's entirely possible for you to mix up a
washer repairman with--"
ladies looked at him expectantly.
sat back and cleared his throat. "Doesn't
matter. We're gonna have fun
anyway, aren't we ladies?"
here," Maybell announced. "Driver,
park in that spot by the front door. The
one that says 'Reserved for the Cottonheads.'"
I can drop you right off at the front door," the driver suggested.
no," said Bambi. "That's
our spot. Al keeps it for
led the way into Skiddadles. "The
usual table, Al," she announced. "Plus
one extra chair for our guest. He saved my life today."
beaming Al took Gladys's hands. "Gladys,
ladies, lovely to see you as always. And
your guest is--"
you silly man," Gladys shrieked. "Get
up off the floor!"
Maybell cried. "Those two ladies just fainted."
that man's choking," Flo gasped. "So's
the eggplant's not so fresh tonight," Glady mused."
chuckled. "Uh, no ladies.
I think I'm the cause of all the excitement in here."
trembling young woman approached Ringo.
"Oh please, I'm such a fan.
Please could you sign my menu?"
Ringo grinned and pulled out a pen.
a line of excited patrons formed in front of Ringo. They giggled and blushed and held all out kinds of items for
him to sign, from dollar bills to Skiddadles Frequent Eater cards.
One man even handed Ringo a white tablecloth.
"I'll even it up with Al," he shrugged as he eyed the
bent towards Maybell's ear. "He
must be the top repairman at Jamison's," she whispered.
we should ask for his signature, too. Just
in case," Maybell whispered back.
you're not going to faint again, are you?" Gladys asked as the
restaurant's owner stood up on wobbly legs and brushed himself off.
shook his head and smiled. "I
had the funniest dream," he said strangely.
"I dreamt that you brought Ringo Starr into my restaurant for my
fabulous eggplant special." Al
laughed and shook his head.
restaurant man looked up and locked eyes with Ringo. Al made a loud thump as he hit the floor again.
Gladys wagged a finger at him. "If
you keep doing that, we won't get to our seats in time for the early bird
handle this!" Bambi cried. "Cottonheads.
me." Bambi lead her troops
over Al's prone body and across the restaurant to their usual table by the
front window. A waiter appeared
ladies. And hello, uh, yeah,
uh...Hi." The waiter
paled. "Five eggplant
Bambi instructed him. "And
five raspberry iced teas."
I'm paying," Gladys announced. "Don't
let anybody else pay." She
pointed at Ringo. "Especially
not that poor man."
waiter swallowed and nodded.
dinner, the group piled back inside the limo.
Everybody wore a smile except Gladys.
She folded her arms over her chest.
"I can't believe Al wouldn't let me pay for dinner."
wouldn't let anybody pay," Maybell consoled her.
Al. All those times his head
hit the floor. No wonder he got
confused and thought that he should be paying for us," said Flo.
really liked you," Bambi said to Ringo.
"Did you ever do any work for him?"
for Al? You mean like repair
his washer or something?"
shook his head. "No, I
never met him before." He
shrugged. "I guess he
knows about me by reputation."
home," Flo announced.
in time to watch Golden Girls,"
nodded as the limo pulled up in front of the condo building.
"Well, ladies, I hate to say goodbye.
I've had such a lovely time meeting you and learning about your
families and such."
we ever see you again?" Bambi
you like that?"
the ladies nodded.
you what then," Ringo said. "I'll
let you in on a little secret."
ladies leaned forward in their seats.
got another job besides repairing washers," he whispered.
"On the weekends, I do a bit of singing with a band."
used to be in a band!" Gladys piped up.
"I played violin with Lawrence Welk!"
Ringo smiled. "Well, it's
nice to meet a fellow musician."
here's what we'll do. Saturday
night, I'll send a limo 'round to your place around five."
about dinner?" asked Maybell.
worry, Maybell. You'll have
dinner with me. I'll introduce
you to the wife and some of my friends.
My treat this time."
do it!" Bambi announced.
Ringo responded. "Oh, and one more thing.
I'd like you ladies to invite Al along, too. Tell him that the car will pick him up at your place."
don't mind if I bring my toaster, do you?" Flo asked.
chuckled. "We can arrange
for a toaster, Flo. You don't
have to bring your own."
laughed. "Silly Ringo.
I saw how quickly you fixed Gladys's washer.
I want you to fix my toaster."
make the toast toasty enough," Gladys explained.
nodded gravely. "Yes, that
is a serious problem. Tell you
what. Let me think about it
'til Saturday, and I'm sure I'll come up with a solution."
clapped her hands. "You
really are the greatest!"
wonder Al faints when he sees you!"
ladies! Don't forget about
won't, we won't."
will too, Gladys!"
ladies! Thanks again."
the limo headed out into traffic, Ringo leaned forward towards the driver.
"Hey Alf. How about we stop at that all night K-Mart that's down the
road a bit?"
Alf shrugged. "What could
you possibly want to buy at this hour?"
for starters, I think I need one condo-sized toaster. And some wrapping paper and ribbon."
Lisha Goldberg is a Technical Writer/Website Developer for a Massachusetts-based insurance company. She also writes a newsletter for a Boston piano studio. Lisha has won several prizes for her writing, including the Boston Herald Star Trek Competition (write a eulogy for Captain Kirk!), CompuServe's Beatle Essay Contest, and Writers Digest Magazine Award for best Inspirational Short Story.
Return to Rooftop Sessions Archive