The Mystery of Lana + vocab

30 Dec

I met the loquacious receptionist at the veterinary hospital when I began observing there again in my sophomore year of high school.  Lana’s weight problem caused her to lumber, yet she was still cheery.  I knew Lana as one of the mostgregarious, outgoing people in my life.  As I spent more time at the veterinary hospital, Lana’s chatting and constant mirthbecame part of the normal din in the small, open space of the strip-mall hospital.  One of Lana’s best friends (Mary was her primary best friend) was a big black woman, so she enjoyed wearing meretricious patterned dresses reminiscent of black church ladies.

I learned the catalyst for Lana’s presence in her original hometown of Dayton, working as a receptionist for her best friend, was the loss of her entire family.  Lana would lament about her mother who had died of cancer when Lana was still a kid, her father, who died of a heart attack, and her brother, who had shot himself.  It was obvious that Mary was a potentate in Lana’s life–she clearly needed someone to depend on.  This also meant Lana had to be compliant to each of Mary’s demands.

I’m certain some of Lana’s indolence stemmed from depression and loneliness.  The clients absolutely loved Lana’s cheeriness, but her languid work ethic made Mary crazy.  Lana always seemed to have good intentions, but it could be said she was lazy or listless.  Lana’s sometimes orotund misinformed answers to client questions was also a point of contention between her and Mary.  Lana’s gregarious and effusive talking and misinformation could easily provoke the short-tempered Mary to fits of anger.  At first I thought Lana was very smart because of her verbose manner of speech, then I realized she was mostly confident—which isn’t quite the same thing as intellegence.  Mary put up with Lana’s prattle, because she was happy to have her best friend since kindergarten, whom she could trust and depend on, working for her.  Lana was stentorian about how she was always sticking up for Mary and protecting her during their school days.  Mary always felt responsible for the sometimes impetuous Lana, because she was the only “family” she had left.

Despite any negative feelings on either side, Lana and Mary got along well most of the time and loved taking advantage ofsportive opportunities to relax and socialize.  Lana’s luminous personality always graced the Minor family holiday festivities.  Together, Mary and Lana were small town heroes who came back to the town they grew up in and graced Dayton with theirgarrulous personalities.  Everyone in Dayton loved the winsome combination of Mary and Lana and they were never without an invitation to partake in social activity.    Lana had been best friends with Mary since forever, but she also clicked with Kim right away, and they would break the monotony of work by constantly joking and saying quotes from all the movies they had watched.  With Lana and Kim around to blithely entertain me, work became fun on a personal level as well as professionally.  Lana and Kim were always kind enough to include me, 15 years their junior, in their fun which alleviated my boredom and loneliness.  In my high school years, Mary was always glib with me, fighting to keep her work and private life separate despite the fact her girlfriend and best friend who worked for her tried to always include me.  Looking back, both Lana and Kim must have been obstinate in their inclusion of me, because I always hung out with them even though Mary is extremely secretive about her personal life.

Lana was not reticent about her personal life or anything else like her friend and employer Mary, bordering on gossipy and loud-mouthed.  Of course my curiosity about Mary was never satiated, but (normally) gossipy Lana never, never told me anything personal about her.  I would eat lunch with Lana at the veterinary hospital, watch movies and drink with her and Kim after work, and go to large events with them, but Mary’s personal life always remained an enigma to me.  Mary’s prudencekept me from knowing the truth about her for the first two or three years of making her acquaintance, though I was in close proximity to her and her inner circle.

There was a client who wanted Mary to euthanize a healthy chihuahua and feeling sorry for the creature, Mary furtively gave it to a good home instead.  Unfortunately, Mary was letting go of one of the more lethargic employees during that same time and the disgruntled ex-employee happened to be friends with the original chihuahua owner.  Of course, the ex-employee wascandid about what Mary had done with the dog, not only to the original owner who had wanted it killed, but to the town, hanging up “missing” posters in the grocery stores.  The trashy original owner came to the hospital and threatened to sue Mary for illegally relinquishing the dog instead of euthanizing it as the owner had specified, creating much dissonance at work.

Mary was sick with worry, and closed the hospital the next day citing illness instead of the torpor the incident had caused her.  In order to keep Mary from losing her veterinary license, Lana and Kim got the idea to find a six pound chihuahua somewhere and have Mary euthanize THAT dog to corroborate the story that Mary had killed the original dog like she was supposed to.  Since I was the other who worked at the hospital, and their new friend, Kim and Lana invited me to help them with theirmendacious plan.  Even though the plan was clearly impious, we had so much fun spending time together and going to every humane society and rescue in Carson City and Reno looking for a six pound dog.  We laughed and bonded all day while trying to exonerate Mary!  Our quixotic efforts failed because we couldn’t find a six pound animal, so we went to Kim and Mary’s Sutro house to check on Mary.  It was probably the only time I’ve seen Mary so craven, depressed, and rumpled.  She looked terrible–ostensibly from a hangover and day of tears.  The episode was ephemeral and I don’t actually know how it was resolved other than the original owner probably just lost interest in pursuing the matter– the important thing was my relationship with Kim, Lana, and to a lessor extent, Mary was cemented.

I respected the fact Lana was an unequivocally loyal friend to Mary.  My favorite memory of Lana, and certainly of that time period, was when Kim and I went over to Lana’s duplex to make dip for a community repast for a bevy of clients that we were all going to at the Minor Ranch.  Unlike my mom’s meticulously clean house, Lana’s duplex was cluttered and messy.  Lana did not take the time to clean the house, let alone burnish the counter in preparation for company like my own mother.  I was happily astonished that we made the dip right in the middle of Lana’s living room carpet while watching a movie–something my mom would never allow in her pristine house.

Mary, Kim, and Lana were the happy trio for the first few years I knew them, but sometime during my senior year, Lana’s constant presence started to nettle Mary.  Suddenly, Mary started to gripe about Lana’s natural and endearing ostentation.  Someone defaced Lana’s car by breaking her driver’s side window and it came to light Lana didn’t have insurance or the cash to fix it.  Mary’s displeasure at Lana’s constant presence was exacerbated when she had to not only loan Lana money to have her car fixed, but then drive her everywhere for weeks while the repairs were being finished.  Lana was still servile to Mary at work and in their personal lives, because she needed Mary’s help.  Mary, a private and testy person to begin with became inundated by Lana–she was with her all day at work, for the ride home, habitually hanging around her house during their free time, then again on the way to work–it was just too much!  Soon Mary became openly invidious to Lana, but short of quitting her job at Mary’s hospital, Lana was helpless to change the situation until her car was finished.

During this time, I graduated from high school and went to live at the university an hour away, so my life was not permeatedwith news of the veterinary hospital anymore.  In the spring of 2004, I got an arbitrary e-mail from Mary, which I’ve copied directly:

“Laurel- Bad bad bad week.  Starting with Garrett dying.  Work related crushed by heavy equipment on the job (Miles Bros) the guys who are supposed to build our hospital…if we ever get funding.  I heard immediately and went with Kathy, Doug, Janet, Tom, and crew over to Michelle and Billy’s.  It was devastating.  Then first thing Monday morning Lana resigns from her job. Extremely long story.  She said for “personal reasons” but she didn’t stay for her whole 2 week notice…she walked off at lunch on Tuesday and left a forwarding address in California.  Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.  I am pretty sure I have lost a friend over it.  Other than that…smile…it has been great.  Can you recruit me a vet from this year’s graduating class???  If you do and they stay for 1 year there is a $1000 finders fee in it for you.  Hope all is well with you.  Be safe, Mary”

Needless to say I was appalled–both that a classmate of mine had died, but by the fact Lana was gone-and Mary was so glibabout it.  I had no idea what happened that would provoke Lana to abdicate not only her receptionist job at the hospital, but her long friendship with Mary until I visited Kim (Mary was busy at work) later that summer.  Maybe she just had enough of being subservient to Mary all the time.  As Kim stood on a ladder, painting the walls to the new hot-tub room on their house, she told me of Lana’s unconscionable act.  Lana had bilked Mary out of thousands of dollars while working at the hospital!  Who knows how long she had been prevaricating about the end-of-day totals at the vet hospital.

Somehow Mary caught on to some lessor extent of the larceny and confronted Lana about it.  Lana knew better than toperjure herself further and said she had stolen much more than Mary knew, and her iniquity stemmed from a gambling problem.  No one had known about Lana’s declivity to addiction and crime, and some guessed she had a drinking problem rather than, or in addition to, the admitted gambling.  After Mary castigated Lana, their relationship was pretty much over.

When Kim told me the story, I was leery–how could the loyal, lifelong friend, who considered Mary her family, and all of us her closest friends do such a thing?!  Kim articulated she could hardly believe it either–and now Mary, who hardly trusted anyone before this incident, would never have faith in anyone again.  It was very hard to believe that Lana could equivocate to her best friend, her only family for an extended period of time.  Astonished, I asked where Lana had gone and what she was doing now, to which Kim replied after Lana and Mary bifurcated all SHE knew was that Lana was somewhere in California.  After Lana’s reputation was marred, Mary didn’t expand upon her story, and Kim never mentioned it again.  I always wondered what had really happened since the situation seemed so far-fetched and the facts were so ambiguous.

In August of 2007, the first days I still lived IN the Cabin-Mansion, Mary told me how Lana had made an appearance at her father’s funeral and paid encomium to him during their car ride together.  Surprised they could travel to the funeral together after what had happened, I asked Mary if it was awkward and her response led me to believe the ride was more an abeyancethan forgiveness.  Lana HAD to be at the funeral, because she considered Mary’s parents her parents too–Lana’s past crimes were not palliated in Mary’s mind.

I especially had doubts about the story after I lived in the chaos of the Cabin-Mansion and saw how Mary treated me for no reason.  I quickly found out that if Mary didn’t like you, she could make you disappear into the abyss.  You didn’t have todeviate from the truth, steal, or hurt anybody to get blacklisted in the community if Mary didn’t like you.  The last thing I ever heard about Lana was said to me when Mary was in the process of evicting me from her yard, hospital, and life–just as she done to Lana three years before.  But that conversation comes later. . .

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