Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Overseen in NC

Recently I stopped into a local fast food eating establishment in a part of the state I don't often get to.

Think "Mayberry," and you're pretty much locked on target.

From looking around inside, it seemed as though everybody in "Mayberry" was of adult age when Andy Left Town for Hollywood. I have never ever seen a place populated solely by very very very old people in my whole life; it was as though there was some secret passageway from the Local Home for the Incredibly Aged straight into the fast foodery.

Now, I love me some older folk, I really do. I think that most people are fascinating creatures, but folks over a certain age hold a certain fascination for me. If they're old enough, they've seen some horrifying and miraculous things happen in their lifetimes. Radio. TV. World Wars. Vietnam. The Cold War and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union. Cell phones. Computers. Polio vaccine. The rise and fall of the middle class. So very many life-changing moments, some of which they may have played a part in, many of which perhaps they were ignorant of until the wave had passed by and "normal" had changed again. In a long life, you can't help but live through some amazing things.

But, wow. I was easily the youngest person in that place, which creeped me out a little bit, because let's face it, I'm not that young. Granted, it WAS late morning, and so the moms and kids and jobbers and such were likely there and gone, but I suspect that in that spare sparse gorgeous corner of the state there isn't a whole lot going on most of the time anyhow.

I got the distinct feeling as I headed toward the ladies' room that I was been scrutinized as a stranger, much like heads will turn in a local bar when the door swings open, so that people can get a gander at who's coming in. I was, for sure, NOT a regular there, and thus was an object of attention.

Old old men in wrinkles and ball caps peered at me through tired eyes. Their old wives (or maybe girlfriends, and if so, way to go Pops!) pretended not to notice, but I did see a couple sit up a little straighter and did hear a couple start talking a tad more animatedly. The simple presence of someone unusual was kick-starting all kinds of geriatric action, lemme tellya. Despite the obvious attention-getting that was occurring, and my object as a curiosity around them thar parts, what I really really wanted to do was to just plop right down at a table and start asking the folks all about them selves.

What's your name? When were you born? How did you make a living? Do you prefer John Deere or Farmall?What did you do for fun with you were 10, 20, 50? Have you ever seen the ocean? Have you ever been in love?

(I get like that from time to time - all interested in people. There was a time when my life's goals was to meet every single person on the face of the Earth. It's still a pretty cool goal, I think, but it's made difficult by the fact that people keep making MORE people, and therefore I'd never be done going to meet all the new people that are being made once I'd met all the existing people. And guess what? I don't really WANT to spend my life traveling from maternity ward to maternity ward......it's simply not the very best way to see the world.)

Back to my story then.

Food ordered and bag in hand, I turned to go, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a hairdo of such astounding proportion that I was stopped in utter amazement.

Remember that Wonder Woman hairstyle from yesterday's post? This things was, seriously, almost that tall. It was easily 8 inches tall, and stuck out at least 4 inches around all sides. It was teased and black and high and stiff and massive.

And it was on an an itty bitty 60-some-year-old Nawf Cah-line-uh gal. Who also had on bright read lipstick and fancy nails. Oh, she was ALL dressed for work in her fast-foodery uniform, and looked right fine, mostly, but the hair, oh, the hair. It was my good fortune to see her while she was backlit by the sun, giving me the distinct advantage of being able to see straight THROUGH her coif and out to the parking lot beyond. I cannot imagine the time and effort it must take to create and then maintain a hairdo of such grandeur, and I'm not even really being snarky when I say that. I mean, wow! That's some kinda commitment.

I will admit that I stared long and hard at the majesty of it.

And not just becuase I wanted to, but also because there was plenty of TIME to stare, being as how hair-woman was helping out a couple of "regulars" to the parking lot and blocking the exit lane, all the while keeping up a constant stream of chatter. It was obvious they knew one another, and had for a long time. Mrs Regular was using a walker, Mr Regular was helping out by getting the door, Miss Hairdo's job was to hold one of Mrs Regular's arms and lift the walker over the threshold. As you can imagine, this took a while. Miss Hairdo was, as I said, chatting away, saying things like "Oh, you know, I would just LOVE to come over and take care of y'all, but with my job and house and the grandkids and all it's hard, real hard, but don't you know that if I could I would." to which Mrs Regular replied "Oh now honey I sure wish you could, it's getting harder and harder to go on" at which point I might have almost ocularly precipitated a tiny bit and then nearly volunteered to go clean this woman's house for her, because the thought of her all hunched up over her walker, shuffling from room to room trying to clean up caused something in my heart to hurt a little.

Then, I thought better of the volunteering, because I was a stranger in those there parts, and strangers don't DO things like volunteer to clean houses, now DO they?

I didn't think so.

Still, I wonder what they would have done if I HAD?

"Lord Lord, you should have been there Billie Sue, it was an amazing thing to see. That woman came on into my house and set it to rights in almost no time atall, and then made us some tomater sammiches and sweet tea and told us to have a nice day. Why, I had time to sit on the front porch with Earnest and talk about the barrows and gilts report and what we're gonna do with all them biddy hens that just come in the latest hatch. It was one of the nicest afternoons, I tell you whut!"

"Well, whar'd she some from Bobby Jo?"

"The McDonalds down on Main Street."

"Naw, woman! You know that's not what I mean. Where her PEOPLE from?"

"Well, Billie Sue, I hate to say it, but I did detect a measure of YANKEE in her accent."

"You did NOT let a Yankee into your house."

"Yes, yes I did. She said 'y'all' like a local, so I thought she was OK."

"Lord, lord. Did you check the spoon drawer after she left?"

"Sure thang, and they were all there. She made good tea too."

"Huh. Way-ull, I suppose it cain't be helped that some people have the misfortune to not be born and raised in the south. It takes all kinds to make a world I do expect."

"Right you are Billie Sue. Right you are. Pass me my walker, would you hon? I'm fixin' to commence to git me some more of that bourbon, you want some?"

"Sure thing, darlin' I've got time for one more before the early-bird specials start down at the Golden Corral."

"Mmm-mm. Don't we just live in some good times, Billie Sue, don't we just."


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