In the morning gleam of Doodleberry’s Home for Old Biddies and Coots, the air thrums with anticipation of the day’s breakfast, a carnival of culinary craziness cooked up by Head Nurse Bertha. Fresh from discussing the day’s weather with the paperboy (prediction: freak hail in the afternoon), Bertha galumphs into the dining room, her eclectic mismatched socks bobbing under her scrubs.
“Alice in Wonderland theme today,” she announces as she plops down trays of very tiny cakes and bottles labeled “Drink Me”. The hypnotic aroma of edible oddities wafts through the room.
“Good grief, Berty,” exclaims Gerty, picking at a shrink-wrapped clock tart, “I reckon I oughta be late for a very important date after this concoction!” Gerty loves a good jab, her eyes twinkle in mischief.
“In my day,” Deloris drawls, her aquiline nose wrinkling as she prods the tray’s offerings, “Francis and I held tea parties, not psychedelic journeys.”
“Maybe it’ll spice up the place,” Jerome grumbles. His past in the Air Force means he’s no stranger to strange grub.
“Listen up, tribe of Methuselah,” Bertha then declares, “Today’s conversation: if we could turn back time, what would we change?”
“I’d spend more time with Alice,” Gertrude says firmly, “being a single mum, I was always running on empty.”
“I’d tell Francis not to invest in that disco bowling alley,” muses Deloris, her posture radiating absolute certainty.
Jerome squints across the table, “I wouldn’t have joined the Air Force, maybe then…” he trails off, arms cross-guarding a soft spot.
“What’s this, Broody McBrooderson?” Bertha reappears, bearing more clock tarts now jam-packed with puree of Brussels sprouts. “Speed dating for the taste buds? I’ll choose the devil I know, thank you.”
Amid fork clinking and occasional groans, the tales continue.
“Look, fellow fossils,” Gerty claims, poppy seeds lodged in her dentures, “more time with Alice, that’s evolution: mothers and daughters surviving.”
But Deloris won’t have it. “No, Gerty, protecting investments, now that’s evolution. Francis and I had more kids, that’s real survival.”
“Oi, stop it, Dee, you’re hogging the survival race.” Jerome interjects, rolling his eyes. His love of contrariness more potent than the strange breakfast.
“Enough! Debating survival over psychedelic pastries won’t get us anywhere.” Bertha says, standing firm. “Turning back time’s about rectifying past vulnerabilities, not kicking others to the curb. Jer, you got it. Hold onto your loved ones tighter.”
The silence is broken by the odd crunch of a sprout tart as they digest her words.
It’s a carnival of humanity today at Doodleberry’s Home for Old Biddies and Coots, where weather forecasts and Alice-tribute breakfasts are as unpredictably delightful as the residents themselves, and living to argue another day is its own kind of beautiful madness.