Trained to Toss

Every day, morning and night, I pull up to a scanner in the parking garage and roll down the car window (“Roll down the car window”?  No one has rolled down a car window in years.  And what about “Hang up the phone”?  My phone hasn’t hung anywhere in decades.  But I digress.)  I roll down the car window and flap a plastic card at a scanner to open the garage door.

Trained, Pavlovian-style, to this procedure of “roll down and wave”, I found myself yesterday evening in the drive thru lane at the post office with my Mother’s birthday card resting calmly on the passenger seat while my hand dug frantically in the slot of a blue mail dropbox.  I had instinctively rolled down the car window and inadvertently tossed my parking pass into it.

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Filed under Uncategorized, flash fiction, writing, humor, sarcasm, autobigraphy, conflict, driving

Must swerve. Must avoid.

While I’m sitting at a red light on my way to work, the guy in the Kia in front of me rolls down his window.  That’s understandable, it’s a warm sunny day and I’ve got my window open, too.

The sound I hear is something akin to what I imagine a bronchial camel would sound like, and it’s followed by a sphere of something milky white streaked with yellow flying from the window of the Kia on a trajectory that ends in a connection with the asphalt and a juicy splat.

I hit my turn signal and pray that one of my fellow motorists will let me over.
I have got to change lanes.
I do not want that muck on my tires.

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Riding the Wave

I love road repair workers.
The ones who stand on the street with “Stop” or “Slow” signs.

I always wave to them. It’s a kindness I pride myself on, and it’s wonderful when they wave back. Usually it’s with a look of utter confusion (“Do I know that woman?”) or a bright smile of gratitude (“I have no idea who that woman is, but I now feel a sense of community and warmth.”)

But yesterday I waved to a guy and he didn’t look confused or grateful, he just glared at my flapping hand as I drove by.
Looking in the rear view mirror I saw his left hand holding his “Stop” sign, and his right hand, well, he didn’t have a right hand at all.

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the threat of Territorial Mockingbirds

As I walked of the house to my car this morning I was disturbed to hear a scuttling behind me. It followed me with every step. “Rabid Squirrel?”, I thought. “Territorial Mockingbird? Swarm of Killer Bees?”

It was just out of sight, ceaselessly scuffling and scratching.  And each time I looked behind me it ducked away.  It continued to elude me and I could see nothing, nothing of the terror that was upon me until I realized it was the plastic Target bag full of laundry that I had slung over my shoulder.

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Hall and R-Oates-ies

I hate sitting outside when it’s hot, but it’s better than sitting inside where it’s freezing. Freezing in summer, blistering in winter, that’s the thermostat setting in my office. So, I always eat here, outside at a table near Quizno’s. At least the temperature matches the season out here. No way am I eating at my desk. Lunch is supposed to be a break, not an opportunity to type formulas in a spreadsheet with one hand while holding a sandwich in the other.

I wish I had a sandwich today. Today I’ve got last night’s creole salmon, which tastes good in my mouth but smells horrible sitting there in the Tupperware. Note to self: no fish in the lunchbox.

I hear chanting, so I look up. It’s a little girl, probably four years old, skipping across the parking lot and reciting, “Baby come back, baby come back, baby come back.” Skip, “baby come back.” Skip skip, “baby come back.” As she ducks between the parked cars, I catch flashes of a frilly pink tutu and shiny black and white saddle shoes. She makes it to the sidewalk and ducks into Quizno’s. Her mother comes jogging behind her, and as she opens the door to the sandwich shop I hear her daughter and she sing in harmony, “Baby come back.”

I think of Nancy. When we were teenagers living in St. Louis, Nancy and I rocked out to Hall and Oates. We had all their records. We saw them when they came to St. Louis, and when they played Chicago, too. We even drove out to Lexington to catch the last stop on their Midwest tour. We were roadies. “The Hall and R-Oates-ies,” we called ourselves. So of course I had to text Nancy right away.

I pick up my phone and hit the “Kakao” icon. Nancy lives in Vietnam, teaching English to Vietnamese law students; Kakao is the international texting app we use to keep in touch. I notice that the last conversation we had was on May 16, the day Ian died. Today was August 16. It was six months to the day. Today was the three-month anniversary of Nancy’s boyfriend’s death.

“Sweetie,” I type. “I know this is a damn hard day for you, so I’m sharing something fun: I just saw a little girl in a pink tutu and shiny saddle shoes skipping across the parking lot and singing “Baby come back.”

I read over the text and draw in a sharp breath, then I hit the “Delete” button seventeen times. “!kcab emoc ybaB”. I type in “Maneater!” instead.  It’s a lie, but the truth would be cruel.

The little girl and her mother come out of Quizno’s, holding sodas and bags of sandwiches. The girl isn’t wearing a tutu with saddle shoes at all, it’s just a short pink dress with black and white sneakers that light up as she walks. I look down at my text. The whole thing is a lie, but I hit “Send” anyway.

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Me and Ballet, A Thing of Beauty

When I was 33 and lived in St. Louis, I got it in my mind that I wanted to take a ballet class. I found one at Forest Park Community College. Wearing pink tights and a leotard for the first time in 24 years, I was relieved to find the class full of housewives – women who wanted just one hour a week to get out of the house, move to pristine music and maybe, just maybe, feel beautiful.

About fifteen minutes into the first class a bodacious black woman stepped away from the barre, pointed at the instructor and said “Now you listen here, sister. I have no intention of becoming a prima ballerina.” The studio was silent for a tense moment until, I kid you not, the Asian lady at the end of the barre farted. She farted. Well, that pretty much sealed the deal. There would be no prima ballerinas at FPCC.

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Is it me? He won’t make a pass

Driver Man (beside me at stoplight): “Hey, you’re driving too slow, moron.”

Me: “No, I’m going the posted speed limit, jerk.”

Driver Man: “Why the hell are you doing that, idiot?”

Me: “Because I’m a mega-MPG-maniac, and if I keep it at 25 on a three mile straight-away me and my hybrid can get 50 miles per gallon on the morning commute, dummy.”

Driver Man: “Who cares? Drive faster. Your MPG is not my problem, blockhead.”

Me: “No, your problem is you don’t have the discipline to get out of bed on time. Furthermore, you can always slap down that stick to the left of your steering wheel and Pass Me, cretin.

 

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