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From Duplex Planet

December 23, 2009

From Duplex Planet 174 (a zine that collects interviews with elderly people):

DBG: What kind of animal would you be if you had to be one?

HELEN FOSTER: Me? I have no idea. I never thought of that. I have no idea. What kind I would want to be? Oh, I don’t know… (thinking)… You would think I’d want to be powerful, but I wouldn’t. No, I’d want one that other people would be comfortable with, I think, whatever kind of animal that is. A lot of people don’t like cats, but I think a cat is comfortable. Most people would like a dog, but a dog is too mindless. A cat is a little more selective. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, but that’s just my opinion. I don’t know if I answered your question.

DBG: No, that’s good. They’re all just food for thought.

HELEN: So what do you have there now–is that what they call a tape recorder?

DBG: Yep. One microphone is hooked on to you there, and this one is just picking up anything I say.

HELEN: Mmm-hmm. So what did you study in college?

DBG: Painting. I went to art school.

HELEN: You’re kidding! I have an artist in the family, too. Do you play an instrument?

DBG: I played for a long time in bands–I was a bass player.

HELEN: Ohhh!

DBG: I haven’t done that much since the eighties.

HELEN: Well, my son, he’s still in the process of retiring–the 26th of September he’ll retire–and he just took a year’s piano lessons. I said, “I didn’t know you wanted to play the piano!” He says, “I didn’t either, but it’s something I decided I was gonna do and I’m doin’ it.” I think that’s wonderful.

DBG: It’s good to start on something new.

HELEN: I don’t know if he’s got it in him like you do. Why don’t you come around and play the band here?

DBG: I need to play with other people. I’m a bass player.

HELEN: Oh, okay.

DBG: But I haven’t played much in years.

HELEN: Well I’m sure you have a lot of creativity inside that head of yours, so put it to good use. Are you altruistic, would you label yourself as altruistic, David?

DBG: To a point, yes.

HELEN: I think so

DBG: I’m fairly pragmatic.

HELEN: That’s what I thought I was, too. But see–when you look in the mirror, deep down, I bet you are.

DBG: Well, that’s part of me.

HELEN: Don’t worry about anything. It’s a waste. It’s a waste, don’t worry, I learned that. Of course, it’s okay for me to say that, now that I’ve got one foot in the grave! (laughs) But really, worry is wasteful.

DBG: There’re parts of it that are unavoidable and come from concern, like I’d worry about my wife or my daughter.

HELEN: No, we can’t cut that out of our lives, that’s right.

DBG: But worrying about what I am going to do ten years from now.

HELEN: Yeah, needlessly.

DBG: I’m confident I’ll figure it out.

HELEN: Well, gee, I’m so glad to have met you.

DBG: It was great to meet you too.

HELEN: And I wish you well with this work in progress.

DBG: Thank you.

HELEN: That’s what you’ll have to call it, Work in Progress.

DBG: Oh it is. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years.

HELEN: Good for you. Let me tell you, you know what I do? I collect, in my lifetime, I collect naughty stories. Well I heard a story two days ago. (looks over at tape recorder) Is it off?

DBG: It’s running out of tape.

HELEN: Oh no, turn it off, turn it off! (tape stops)