Chickie and Henrietta.

5 Oct
and then when she thinks no one’s lookin’, she takes the Maybelline Liquid Eye Liner in basic brown-black, which is far too dark for her, what with her roots showin’ the way they are these days, and doncha know it? Plops it right into that cheap handbag of hers, marches right past old Mr. Withen, the cashier, straight out the door to her car without even battin’ an unlined eyelash. Well, she thinks who she is, I thinks to myself, so, I goes right over to Mr. Withen and tells him he might want to check out the surveillance video from Aisle Six as there’s most likely a few interestin’ seconds that may explain the discrepancy in next month’s inventory.
 
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Just got through talkin’ with the mailman. New fella named Colton or some such nonsense. I got some tapioca on the stove top that needs my constant attention and between that and the parade of civil servants at my door (nothing takes care of itself now Sid’s dead) I can’t get a moment to gossip with you’ns, Hen. 
 
Ooh, that Cutler girl just walked past my bay window out back and let me tell you, there’ll be no denying a due date for her at next week’s church bazaar. Henrietta–she’s as big as a Macy’s Float and her mother tellin’ me she’s just put on a few pounds after that visit to the Lutheran Summer Camp. Mashed potatoes, my eye, looks to me like she got a bit too cozy with that counselor everyone’s been talkin’ about, Sam somethin’, the one that lost his pinky in Nam.
 
Why these girls are allowed to parade out in the open like that, their sin hangin’ over their belts like Lucifer’s lunch, is just beyond me. When I got in the family way with Earnest, well, my folks sent me down south where that sort of thing just doesn’t matter as much, everyone barefoot and stupid as it is anyways. Earnest had the good sense to die before the age a two, thank the Lord, or I’da never had the boldness to show my face in this town again.
 
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So, I’m in the craft’s section at the old library (the one off Mill Road, not that horrible new one with the air-conditionin’ and that nosy librarian, Phyllis Phelps).  I’m tryin’ to find a book Jenny McCabe recommended about makin’ darlin’ little toilet roll cozies that look like little ante-bellum plantation maidens (ya know, before the world went to hell in a handbasket) when all of a sudden, all the books on my side of the stack start fallin’ on my head as if we were havin’ some type of seismic activity, the kind my grandfather, the colonel, used to tell of. Fortunately, them craft books is all full of them soft type of patterns and what not else I might have found myself flat out at Jacobi Medical with some type of concussion
Hen? Are ya still there? Dang Verizon.
 
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and to get Miriam to go anywhere that doesn’t have those silly juke boxes at every table, well, it’d be easier to put toothpaste back in the tube. The Delmonico steaks was chewy for my taste, so, what with her bridge work, I knew it was gonna be a long night. She kept askin’ the dizzy waitress for finger bowls like we was sittin’ in first class on a Delta flight. I gave her a sharp jab under the table with my good knee–them kinda jokes at others’ expense fall flat where I’m from–and she finally drops all that uppity foolishness. You know how she likes her whiskey, Hen, and after three pink ladies, she’s up at the dessert display screamin’ at the spinnin’ pies and layer cakes to slow down so’s she can get a better look at ’em. Well, I wasn’t surprised when the manager himself (I think it was Lorna Fetzer’s oldest–Kenny–but his mullet flowed down clear over his name tag so who knows anymore) drops the check on the table before I even got my coffee. Miriam makes one of ’em half-hearted attempts to dive for the check, but those stupid orthopedic flats a hers hit a grease spot on the floor and she twists her dang ankle before I can remind her I said two months ago I’d take her out for her dumb dang birthday.
oh, wait, Hen–


Ooh, my dander’s up–
 
Every time I’m in the middle of one of my good stories, them dang adverts on TV interrupt an’ I lose m’train….and besides, you’d think I’d woke up one mornin’ and by the grace a Satan, sprouted a willie of my own what with all the Niagara they try to hawk me. Katie Sue says her Dean got his grubby mitts on a pack of the stuff and she has to lock herself in the kids’ bathroom for hours on end til his blood runs cold again. Stories like that? I’m GLAD the Lord took my Sid, the way He did ‘n all…
 
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No, I never, ever said that, Hen. I’ve always been as supportive as I morally could be about you sellin’ them magazines at your grocery store back in the seventies. If you wanted to make a Godly income from paradin’ covers like that Ali McGraw wearin’ little more ‘n a macrame plant holder on her head in full view of the town’s youth, that was completely within your rights. THAT’S what I said. I don’t even know exactly what “degenrate” means, so I highly doubt I would use such a word to describe a dear friend. I always said Louise would do anything she possibly could to drive a wedge between our friendship, a friendship she’s been jealous of since you and I tied for first in the quiltin’ competition eight years ago, a competition, I might add, in which she didn’t even place. But if that’s the type of person you’d listen to over me, a person with dubious quiltin’ capabilities, well, what can I say? Oh, Hen, ‘member her quilt with all ’em frayed edges and appliques made outta, what were they? Old marshmallow bags? I never in m’life….
 
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I specifically said at least twice no baby’s breath in the arrangement as havin’ baby’s breath at a funeral for someone in their eighties just seems even more pathetic to me and sure enough when I walk through the foyer at Kratzerville and Kratzerville, there’s a card starin’ me in the puss, “with deepest sympathies, Chickie,” and the biggest, boldest spray a baby’s breath that damn Claudine coulda crammed in a vase–a vase so cheap lookin’ I ripped the card out of it til I could get home and bring back one of my own, you know the one Hen, I won it at that Osmond Show in Branson two April’s ago when they was havin’ some raffle for the salvation of polygamists or some such nonsense.
 

And whoever dressed her (couldn’ta been old man Kratzerville, maybe the son, ooh ya know Hen, probably that mean-spirited daughter-in-law of hers, Rebecca? The one who traded in all the Wedgewood for a downpayment on their jacuzzi?), well, youda thought she was pausin’ momentarily before settin’ out again on the Mummers Parade. All sparklin’, mismatched loud colors, none of which did justice to that last rinse she got–oh, I always hated her color until two weeks ago, dontcha just know it. Timing.

 
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Hen, are ya sittin? Just got off the phone with Louise: Jessie had the baby! Louise is cryin’ crocodile tears and pretendin’ to be all shocked, her nose growin’ so long I coulda hung today’s wash out on it to dry, and she says she has absolutely no idea who the father could possibly be so I jumps in and says, “Well, did you see if its got both its pinkies?” And she doesn’t appreciate this so she quickly changes the subject, moanin’, “Oh Chick, how could she-a made a grandmother of me?” So I says to her I says, “Oh for goodness sake, Louise Cutler, you’re a sixty-three year old woman. Everyone in the county knows ya had Jessie late in life and furthermore if ya happened to live one state south o’ here, you’d be a great-grandmother by now so quit your bellyachin’, put on somethin’ appropriate for a woman a your age and position for a change and meet me at the strip mall off 322 so we can pick up some burpin’ blankets.” Lord knows, Hen, we can’t let the kid near anything she’s quilted. It’ll stick it’s malshaped head in one of ’em marshmallow bags and be back before it’s Maker in a week–not the worst case scenario I guess given it is the semi-spawn of that demon Sam–what IS his last name? My head these days. Oh! Said they’re gonna name it “Corona” I guess in honor of the beverage that gave it life. I asked her if they’ve decided on a last name, just for good measure. Have you ever?
 
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No, Hen, I doubt there’s much chance your aorta’s gonna unravel. For heaven’s sake, if your all of a sudden so health conscious, why doncha clear that shelf o’ Jell-O chocolate puddin’ cups outta your fridge (not to mention the Klondike bar igloo in the freezer). I wouldn’t be your best friend if I didn’t mention I’ve noticed your equator’s startin’ to match your Greenwhich Meridian. That, and all the second-hand smoke pourin’ outta your home, Hen, anyone passin’ your kitchen window would swear the College a Cardinals dropped in to elect a Pope, so, well, there’s where the focus of your health concerns should be as I see it. Cantcha get Earl to chew gum or somethin’ for at least two of the twenty-four hours a day? Miriam’s Edgar went to one o’ them hypnotherapists for two sessions (I think his office was down your way in the back of the Citgo station) and after the second appointment, he NEVER picked up a butt again. True, he drank himself silly til his liver exploded, but ya don’t hear folks dyin’ too often a second-hand cirrhosis now, do ya? Times like this, Hen, I’m GLAD the Lord took my Sid, way He did ‘n all….
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9 Responses to “Chickie and Henrietta.”

  1. pouringmyartout October 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    I feel so Andy Griffethed. In a good way.

    • NC Coot October 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      That’s good! I kinda pitched her in Iowa or Missouri…

      • pouringmyartout October 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

        I love Iowa. My wife has family there. I got to shoot a Thompson submachine gun there.

      • NC Coot October 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

        I’m assuming no correlation between your ultimate and penultimate sentences.

      • pouringmyartout October 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

        No… well… sort of… her Uncle brought it back from Okinawa and had it buried in the barn for 50 something years.

  2. butimbeautiful October 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Brilliant! A little hard to read in the blog format, but would love this in a book. You have the idiom so down!

    • NC Coot October 14, 2012 at 12:21 am #

      Thank you so much!

      I wanted it to read like an eavesdrop where the one character informs our perception of the other entirely.

      You’re so right. It is hard to leap into and follow. And I agree the convention would be better served in a longer format.

      Such a helpful comment, B! I’m so grateful.

      NC

  3. Dugutigui November 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Splendid!
    What really knocks me out is that your literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it, and therefore frees me apt to understand my friends’ madness, bizarre habits, social awkwardness, general clumsiness, widespread idiocy … or better yet, my own. A perpetual orgy to be read with the spine -to fell the telltale tingle …
    Congratulations!

    • NC Coot November 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

      You are so generous with your wonderful words, D. Thank you so so much.

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