She was the age I am now. He was her eldest child, thirty-seven. I was twenty-one. Stevie Peet. She was a short, round little lady born, raised, married, lived her whole life (and died for all I know) in southeastern Virginia. It just struck me tonight as I set my empty martini glass on the kitchen counter to wash in the morning, that she was sixty-three when I met her, and she seemed so old. A mother of five grown children! A widow… The matriarch of a complicated family.
“Go ahead and eat the bones,” she assured me as I ate shad for the first time at her table, “they won’t hurt you, they just dissolve.” Maybe for her. I always got the oddball ailments, always. The next morning there was still a shad bone stuck into my throat just beyond reach of anything I or her firstborn could stick in there without my gagging. I called my dentist. In a college town, he was the popular go-to for dental care, being liberal with the gas. He could see me at eleven. He gave me gas, talked me into a relaxed state, calmly stuck his long hemostat down my throat, and pulled out the fish bone. We both had a good laugh about it; it was his first time too.
Except for that misguided advice, though, Stevie Peet was a great role model. Every night after dinner she would sip a three-ounce cordial glass full of gin. It helped to relax her throat, she said, which otherwise closed up. I can sure see what she meant! Doesn’t matter what kind of day it’s been, it doesn’t feel complete until I’ve relaxed my throat with a martini.
I love this story of Stevie Peet – what a name and what a woman. And the fish bone! How you could have lived with it in your throat all night, I’ll never know. Thank you for sharing this fond remembrance.