Saturday my husband Niks and I went to the Dead Fly Diner over by the Farmers' Market. The husband likes it there. Can't for the life of me figure out why. As we drove up, I thought I might be in luck. Looked closed. Maybe burned out. Hadn't been there for a while.
But no such luck. That's just the way it looks. The pink neon light said, "Open." Well, it didn't say anything. You had to read it.
We went to the back "dining" room. The front counter-and-booth section was a bit too smoky for me to bear. Of course "dine" is not a word that one would ever use with this back room or this place.
I made myself busy counting the dead flies while Niks looked at the menu. I don't count the ones that are flying or walking around, or the ones walking in circles on their last leg, so to speak. I just count the ones that are drying out on the window stills close to us, and the ones that are skeletonized in old spider webs hanging from the ceiling.
There's a shirt hanging on the coat rack by the back door. That shirt has been hanging there for several years. I always look for it. Wondering if anyone will ever throw it out, or steal it. Just kidding about the stealing part. No one is going to steal that shirt. The hangers are covered with the kind of dust that is grease and dust mixed. You know, brown, hairy dust. You can't just dust-off that kind of dust. You have to hose it off. You'd need really hot water to do it. Need soap too. Like that.
I order a sausage sandwich and Niks gets the breakfast special. I have tea, he has coffee. Total bill is five bucks. Ah, you say. That's why he likes it. True, plus he has a serious addiction to grease.
After we order, we get to talking about Mama stories. I ask him what his favorite is. Turns out it's a little story -- not much really. And not so much a story on Mama, as it is on...well, I'll just tell the tale.
It's September 1968. I'm about 20 months pregnant with Aral 3P. I may be exaggerating. Maybe only eight months. I just LOOK 20 months pregnant. Anyway.
ActonBell has just turned 5, and Dddragon has just turned 9. Son Nivek is 3. Niks is gone for a week visiting his aged mother 3,000 miles away. The kids are nagging me to go swimming. Now I'm not really feeling like taking three kids swimming. I look like a beached whale, and I feel like an African Buffalo.
Going swimming is not going to happen. So I decide to make a run to a store and buy one of those big blow-up pools. Pretty good size. It's too late in the year to invest in one of those, plus it's too late in the day for this activity, but hey, a "what-the-heck-is-my-husband-doing-going-away-while-I'm-30-months-pregnant" feeling has taken over me.
I bring the monster home and start trying to blow it up. By mouth. Where is Monica Lewinsky* when you need her? The thing has three big rings that have to be blown up separately.
I'm bending over (as best I can anyway), blowing my very best. My head is just about at a level with little ActonBell's face. She puts her hands in my hair. She's moving my hair around. Looking for something? What the heck? "What are you doing, AB?" I ask.
"I'm looking for the rocks in your hair."
My sweet little Mama is sitting on our back porch steps. I look up at her. She gives me that little smile of hers.
I ask AB, "Did Granny tell you that I had rocks in my head for buying this pool?"
ActonBell shakes her head yes. She has a wide-eyed worried look. Worried about the rocks in my hair, or worried that it's gonna be dark before I finish blowing up that pool, I don't know. Mama is giggling by now. That Mama.
Back in the present, Niks and I have finished our food, and he remembers another pretty good one on ActonBell. I'll do that one another time. Let her squirm a little. Right now I need to see if my shoes will come unstuck from the Dead Fly Diner floor.
*that little sucker wasn't born yet in '68.