Peroxide had spent her life climbing the social ladder. Her first husband was a farmer. Her second owned a double-wide and liked to wear costume jewelry to Atlantic City. Her current, estranged husband owned a cabin, half a mountain and a pacemaker. She, herself, owned a 1978 banana-yellow Cadillac convertible that was never driven. It lived in her pole barn under a tarp and was only used as a prop in photos she had taken for personal ads.
“Anthony look at this.” I had just woken up and hadn’t had coffee yet. Peroxide put a piece of paper in front of me with a crude drawing of a stick person going down a slide. “That’s nice” I said. “I’m gonna get a patent!” she announced. “For a slide?” I asked. “This is the Dolly Dip Water Slide. It’s a water slide for Barbie dolls. It’s my own invention. I’m gonna get rich and show that son of a bitch I don’t need him. He thinks he’s got money? Just wait till I make a million dollars with this! I thought of it Anthony. This is gonna make a fortune. I’m gonna get a patent!” “It looks nice” I reassured. “You know how to get a patent, right Anthony? That’s what you did for work, right?” “Actually I worked in copyrights” I explained. “That’s a little different.” “Yeah but that’s what I want to do” she insisted. “I want to copyright this so I can sell it and make a million dollars.”
Other sketches followed. Stick figures at the top of the slide. Stick figures half way down the slide. Stick figures at the bottom of the slide, entering the water. Some had hair. She was convinced that these ‘blueprints’ would seal her destiny atop the Barbie doll accessory empire.
It had snowed heavily the night before and I was enjoying shovelling the sidewalk. The neighborhood looked like a Currier and Ives print. “Anthony come here. I want you to try this.” Peroxide was standing on a snow bank next to the side of the house, clutching a gray rag. “Try what?” I asked. “Take this.” She handed me what appeared to be a winter sock that had been cut open. “Now wipe here, on the aluminum siding.” Dirt from the siding transferred to the sock. “Isn’t that something?!” she cheered. “How much would you pay for that?” “For a sock?” I asked. “No” she explained. “This is the Aluminum Slider! I’m gonna make mittens out of this material that will clean the outside of your house!” Peroxide had visions of infomercials, and of all Americans wiping their houses with mittens made from socks. “This is worth twenty dollars, right Anthony?” “I guess so. But it would take a long time to do the whole house.” She was one step ahead of me. “Yeah, but the whole family could do it together. That’s what - a hundred dollars per family!”
After dinner we conferenced over ‘blueprints’ of stick figures holding mittens against a house. “That son of a bitch can eat my grits” she scowled, misquoting a 1970s sitcom character. “He’s up there in that cabin, and he thinks his shit don’t stink. I’m gonna be on TV with these, and he can eat my grits!”