Ruby was the wife. She'd grown up in Alabama, and her body had conveyed her through life until she had married Dan, a wealthy, large, fidgety man who had made a fortune and a half selling steel-framed windows in the era between wood and aluminum.
Ruby was what was known then as a party gal. She wore red lipstick and dresses that displayed a significant cleavage, which in turn alluded to large breasts and expansive aureoles. She liked men as much as men liked her.
There was nothing coy abut Ruby. At an outdoor party once, in California, she held and scratched the scrotum of a hound. Her husband Dan tried to laugh off the scene, the action taken by Ruby. The women were repulsed and astonished, the men merely astonished.
Ruby and Dan used to travel to what they called "the Orient." They journeyed by freighter. No one knew exactly why. Because Dan was a rich miser? Because they were eccentric? Or because, on a freighter, there were fewer men for Ruby to astonish?
They led a boozy, stormy life, Ruby and Dan. Their various houses were decorated heavily, like the sets of the Perry Mason TV show. Wood, leather, slabs of slate, big paintings of horses, and of dogs. Steel-framed windows.
As a child I visited one of their homes. It smelled of leather and wood, whiskey and roast beef. Dan always wore some kind of tweed jacket. And he made a monkey-face at children, like me, who didn't recognize it as a monkey face but as a repulsive grimace an adult male was making.
Ruby called all children "Doll." She didn't make monkey faces. Her breasts were large. Her lips were red. She smoked cigarettes, she drank vodka, she laughed, and she gave off warmth.
Eventually Ruby left Dan. She died on Skid Row in San Francisco. By then Dan had remarried a woman who was manageable and who pretended to have a large vocabulary.
There aren't too many peopole left who remember the story about Ruby's scratching a dog's balls at a party. The vivid, the vulgar, the vibrant--yes, they go to dust like all of us, as does all memories every memory of them.