Afternoon Tea with Margaret Easton
When I was a little lad my mother took me to visit Margaret Easton, a friend of hers who happened to be a deaf-mute. Mother suffered from severe hearing loss, herself, and the two shared the same otolaryngologist, a renowned specialist whose office was located in a lovely old Brownstone a block away from Central Park in the Sixties on New York’s Upper East Side.
The two kept bumping into each other in the waiting room, and struck up an odd, but congenial friendship that lasted until Margaret died some twenty years later. Mother actually learned how to use fingerspelling well enough to share her thoughts, while her friend wrote notes on a small pad of paper. Often they'd amuse themselves simply by pointing to items in one of the office magazines.
After a while we received a formal invitation in the mail to take tea at this woman’s beautiful waterfront home in Larchmont, Westchester County.
I had just learned to read, but was not really comfortable with Mrs. Easton. The woman, who’d married well and raised two children of her own, was very understanding, and did her best to put me at my ease.
Soon after tea was served by a uniformed maid in front of a large bay window overlooking the garden beyond which lay a view of Long Island Sound Mrs. Easton, handed me a little note on which she’d written P.I.S.S. S.H.I.T.
I was still too young to be shocked, but I was definitely perplexed, and handed the note to my mother to see if she could help decipher it. I’ll never forget the look on Mother’s face as she read it.
Well, after the mild furor died down it turned out that mother’s friend Margaret was far too well bred to have any idea why anyone would be upset with her attempt to communicate with me. All she was trying to say was “Put in some sugar, see how it tastes.”