Five-thirty Friday afternoon I climbed into my almost-classic Chevy headed home after a messy day at the yard. The ‘yard’ is a salvage yard. I own it. I run it. Daddy started it. He loved it. I saw the numbers and made it a real business just before Daddy passed. Because I actively run the yard, a day’s rust and grunge stained my ‘uniform.’ Grit, sweat coerced by an unforgiving September sun, and my disdain for mirrors at ‘the office’ meant I was probably a sight. I soon learned that.
Nearly out of the city, Luke tinkled my cell. Luke does a fair job as my husband of twenty-five years, headed comfortably to thirty.
“Sweetie!” I chirped.
“Watersons. Dinner tonight. Remember? You said to remind you to get steaks.”
“Yes. I’m starved.”
“Good. Get good ones, Babe.”
“While you’re at it, Babe?”
“What, Hot Shot?”
“Get a good Pinot Noir. Beth thinks beer a little gauche.”
“Okay. Need to get her a sweat job so she can appreciate a good beer. Any suggestions?”
“Beer or a job for Beth? She’s a nurse, Babe. She probably knows how to sweat.”
“No, and no. Wine.”
“Get one you like. Be just fine.”
We did married-still-lovers goodbyes. I grinned imagining Luke, home early, sous-chef-ing, potatoes and corn-on-the-cob for his grill; meticulously laying-out ingredients for his trademark Folson’s Fungus – baby portobellos, walnuts, garlic, and basil to slow-sweat in olive-oil ten minutes before the main course. Luke would solo the kitchen and grill, while I enjoyed a shower and selected a seductive-but-company-friendly evening outfit.
Luke’s little sister Beth, and hubby Ben Mizipani would join us for dinner. The boys would abandon Beth and me immediately after, sneaking to the garage to work on and discuss Luke’s current restoration. Beth and I would argue politics or art after a little children and work talk. We relished our arguments. One of the reasons Ben and Luke snuck away the first few hours after dinner.
Parking quickly at Megagroceries-R-Us, against all odds I found an empty spot right beside those reserved for handicapped, expectant mothers, and we’re-too-lazy-to-do-our-own-shopping customers. Climbing out of my car, I noticed a biggest-there-is silver BMW idling just behind my rear bumper.
“Hey!” the ugly, expensively coiffed woman’s head sticking out the driver’s window literally screamed, “are you leaving now or what?”
She clearly had something uncomfortable trapped in her panties. It seemed she felt I was to blame. Or she felt I should cede my parking spot to her Beemer. Going with the parking-spot analysis, I wasn’t yielding my spot, despite her gracious personality. Her Beemer wouldn’t fit anyway. Her tirade continued. I work with men, cursing artisans, all day. I doubted the lady could teach me anything. I left her car and her mouth running and went after steak and vino.
Atchison, the butcher delightfully confirmed my steak choices. After a quick trip down Wine and Beer Village’s Pinot Lane, I luckily walked right into an open register and enjoyed lickety-split check-out.
Believe it or not, Ms. Beemer was standing outside her car, still parked just off my bumper. When she saw me coming, her mouth shifted into high gear. Her brain was not part of her vocal drivetrain.
Obviously a woman who spent a lot of time and money convincing herself she’s so-o-o much better than anyone else and not butt-ugly, she might have, but I doubt it, some room to argue the “better” part. She should ask for a refund on her “anti-ugly” expenditures. I didn’t see the “before” picture, so she might have brought home something for her money. Up close, and outside her Beemer, she was, as I’ve often heard men remark when they thought themselves discrete, so ugly she hurt your eyes.
“Would you mind moving your car so I can get out?” I asked in my best Junior League.
“When I’m damned good and ready. Nothing you can do about that, you filthy dirty person!” Her voice was barely less than a screech. “Haven’t you the decency to take a bath and put on clean clothes before going out in public?”
“Ma’am, please move your car.”
“When I’m ready!” She emphasized her resolve, placing hands on hips and doing that banged her porcine thighs with a purse that probably cost as much as my car.
I popped the trunk of that car, reached inside, and pulled out a pretty good-sized maul. Setting the head on the asphalt and leaning in her direction on the handle tip, I said to Ms. Beemer, “I’m thinking you might want to move pretty quickly.”
“Why you filthy nasty woman! I should call the police.”
“Please do. Think they can get here before I remove your headlights and windshield?”
Ugly yes. Entitled, yes. But not stupid, she retreated to her Beemer.
“People like you…” she spluttered but wisely focused on getting inside her Beemer, keeping an eye on me.
While she opened her door I said, “I’m happy with who I am, dirty as that is right now. I do feel sorry for you. I mean, the disappointment you must feel realizing how ugly you are.”
“You nasty [*], coming here all [*] filthy dirty, and talking to me that way!”
I thought how nice it would be if I could have my guys snatch her BMW on the spot and toss it into the crusher while she watched. I settled for an insult I heard Daddy use once.
“See, the deal is, I can wash off the dirt, but you can’t wash off ugly.”
Her Beemer backed away. Sliding into my clunker, I scribbled Ms. Beemer’s license number onto my notepad. I’d give it to Luke. Ben and Luke are Highway Patrolmen. They’re not supposed to, well, you know. But they’re human. So am I. Then, steaks, two bottles of primo Pinot Noir, and I headed home to a shower, steak dinner, and a pleasant argument after.
© S P Wilcenski 2020
Original post to Prose July 20, 2020 (Both versions redacted)