My mother wakes me at 5 AM. I'm asleep on the living room floor. There's a pull-out couch, but you have to move a coffee table that weighs 700 pounds, and the furniture, next day, has to go back exactly where it belongs, and it's just easier to get pillows off the couch and line them up on the floor and sleep there.
Which is where I am, passed-out on my back at 5 AM and dreaming of something, when I feel a tap tap tap on the sole of my foot with a cane, my mother's cane. She's standing up there above me, tapping my foot with her cane, and she says, "Sukie doesn't believe you're still here."
I turn to my right, there's Sukie, standing by my head.
"She got me up," my mother tells me, "and I said, 'Go wake John,' but Sukie said she didn't think you were here. Are you here?"
It's still dark. I fell asleep at 1 AM because my heart would not stop beating. It does that, it beats.
And my mother says, "She needs to go out," and she says, "See, Sukie, I told you he was here," and now she wants to tell me the plot of The Four Feathers, which was on TCM this morning, and here is the plot, according to my mother, of The Four Feathers:
"Ralph Richardson gets shot and blinded in the desert, and then he spends the rest of the movie running into things."
That's the plot.
I say, "Huh," and she says, "Are you taking Sukie out?", and
Sukie barks at my head, and I say, "Yes," and she says, "They don't treat women very well in the movies."
"No," I say, "I guess they don't."
And she says, "I've been paying attention. In the '30s and '40s. And I love movies, I'm a movie person, but it has come to my attention, watching movies on TCM for months at a time, that in most of the '30s and '40s movies I have always loved, they treat black people badly, and they treat women badly."
Sukie is licking my ear.
"Yes," I say. "Yes, that's true."
"Especially in westerns," she says. "First of all, the men in westerns. The men in westerns, when something goes wrong, the first thing they do is lean forward, and their hat falls off. Then they bend down and put their hat back on. That is what men do in westerns. Most men in movies are stupid. They care about their hats. And the third thing men are mean to in movies is horses. That's why I hate westerns. All the men have terrible hands. Their hands, I mean, their hands on the reins, they haul on their reins. John Wayne. You can tell he hates horses. He hauls on their reins. All I can think is I would not want John Wayne pulling on my mouth like that. Are you taking Sukie out?"
"Yes, I'm taking Sukie out."
"You see, Sukie? He's here and he's taking you out. You're taking her out, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am."
"And I will go get slowly dressed for the day."
"There is always one woman in a western," she says. "Only one. And the men are all trying to get her in bed, which most of them do. And then in the end, if she's smart, she shoots them. When? When are you taking Sukie out?"