“Acme Grommets and Sprockets, Pearl speaking.”
“Um, yes, I’d like to order a half-dozen grommets, and I'd like to set up a payment plan? Also I am wondering if I can get them delivered individually, preferably by a man in a loin cloth? If he could bring butterscotch pudding with him – the real stuff, too, not the instant – that would be great.”
“Mary, who gave you this number?”
I mutter a small, rather defenseless curse word.
“Well, now that we’re here, what up, girlfriend?”
She laughs. Neither of us has an ounce of ability in the urban slang department. We’ve jointly decided that listening to either of us say things like “you go, girl” or receiving any written communication from us using “U”, “R”, “B” or deliberate misspellings is the equivalent of my father once asking me if I “was taking the pot”, a genuine and drug-related question from him in the early 80s.
“Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”
Oh, we’re funny, Mary and I.
“I’m walking T-Bone.”
T-Bone, a largish dog who would like to sit in your lap, is briefly overheard barking at what sound to be a crowd of much smaller dogs.
“Trouble?” I ask.
There is the sound of Mary grunting. “Yes. Dagnabit, T-Bone!” There is more grunting. Mary is either pulling T-Bone away from a pack of wild Chihuahuas or pushing something large and unyielding down the street.
“OK,” she says. “That’s better.”
“Where are you going?”
There is the briefest of pauses. Mary is getting ready to lie.
And then we both laugh. Mary is the worst liar you’ve ever met.
“No, really,” I say.
“Goan tagit ah bekkin doanit.” Mary is deliberately mumbling.
“I’m sorry, what’s that?”
She sighs heavily. “A bacon donut! I’m going to get a bacon donut!! Are you happy now?”
She is smiling. I can hear her smiling. I am smiling, too. “What kind of morning do you have to be having before you walk the couple miles it will take you to get to the shop that sells bacon donuts?”
“Pretty crappy,” she admits. There is the briefest of pauses, and when she resumes speaking, her voice is serious. “Oh, Holy Hannah,” she says, disgusted. Her tone of voice suggests that what has just happened is another crappy thing in a long line of crappy things.
“What’s the matter?”
“I think I’ve lost my phone. It’s always in my right pocket because the left one has a hole in it and it’s not there…” She trails off.
“The phone?” I ask. “Like, the phone you’re talking on right now?”
There is complete silence.
“Pearl, is it possible that I’m mentally retarded?”
“Entirely,” I say. “Oops. I gotta run. Give me a call when you find your phone.”
“Shaddap,” she says, pleasantly.
“Have a good day, Mary.”
“You, too, Pearl.”