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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bus Stop: 1976

I worked a full and mind-numbing day yesterday, black-pantsed and white-shirted alongside Mary at a wedding reception.  This is a re-post.  Enjoy, and come back tomorrow for a tale of restaurant servitude.

It’s really cold today. You know it’s cold when Tammy’s hair freezes.

Tammy, the prettiest girl in the trailer park, is in the habit of washing her hair every morning before school, the better to emphasize the gleaming blue-black drape that hangs well below her waist. Because she is too cool to wear a hat, her hair has frozen solid in the six-block walk to the bus stop.

Next to Tammy is Rita Bayer. There is a wary, uneasy space between the two of them.

I know four of the Bayer kids. Their trailer is never empty of teenagers. Their driveway never has less than three cars in it - four if you include the Mustang on blocks back next to the shed.

All the Bayers are boys. Even the girls are boys. They are sturdy and box-shaped.

The Bayers aren’t built for speed; they are built to crush.

I had met Rita three months earlier at the bus stop on our first day in the new court.

“Hi,” I said.

“What’s your name?” she countered.

“Pearl,” I said. “What’s yours?”


“What?” I said.

“Guess.” A demand.

“Um. Sharon,” I said.

“Pssssss, “ she said, hissing between her teeth. Clearly, she was dealing with an idiot.


“You gotta be kiddin’ me,” she jeered. “Guess again.”

Guess again? No, thank you. “Um. I give up,” I said.

“Rita!” she shouted, triumphantly.

Rita? I was supposed to have guessed “Rita”? Yikes! Welcome to the first day of seventh grade.

Rita and I never became friends. Rita said things like “yank me” and, even worse, the horrifying “lick my butt”. I never knew where to look when she said that.

Tammy scowls at her in the thin pre-dawn light. The two of them are oil and water; and if Tammy had a brother, I’m sure she would’ve had him attempt to beat Rita up by now.

“Your hair is frozen,” Rita observes.

“No shit, Sherlock,” Tammy says.

“Howdja like me to break it off at the roots?” Rita asks, pleasantly. She could just as easily be asking “howdja like a three-day weekend” or “howdja like half a pizza”.

Tammy steps behind me, uses me as a shield. “Go ahead,” she says, holding my shoulders. “Try it, Lard-O.”

Lard-O is a misnomer. Rita isn’t fat. As solid as a tree trunk, and moving just slightly faster than one, she grabs the front of my coat with one hand and takes a swing for Tammy’s head with the other. She misses Tammy’s head but manages to grab her coat.

“Hey!” I shout, angrily.

“Stand still,” Rita advises.

“LINDSEY!” Tammy is screaming for her older sister. Lindsey, however, is a good block away. She sees what is going on and continues her slow walk to the bus stop.

Rita lets go of me and I duck away. Holding Tammy’s coat at the throat with her right hand, she casually licks her left thumb and smears it across Tammy’s forehead, then shoves her, hard, backwards.

Tammy falls heavily to the street. She jumps up, twisting to see the butt of her white painter’s pants. They are ruined.

“I’m gonna get you! I’m gonna get you!” she screams.

Tammy runs home, crying.

Rita looks at me. “Washing your hair in the morning is stupid,” she challenges.

“You’re right about that,” I say.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to be a fly on the wall at Ritas house. Poor sad little girl.

Jenn Jilks said...

Glad you're working. I volunteer to keep busy. I meet all kinds in this work!
Greetings from Cottage Country!

Camille said...

One of my favorites Pearl. Thanks. :-)

Sioux said...

Aah, the slightly off-white of painter's pants. Brings back memories of halter tops and elephant bellbottom pants and Earth shoes.

Good times...

R. Jacob said...

meter maid? without the lovely part, of course

mary i said...

As I am new to you (and your crew) that was my first time read of this post. I throughly enjoyed it. Reminded me of my trailer park and bus stop days.. Looking forward to tomorrows post :)

Symdaddy said...

I remember this one Pearlchen!

Just like leftover pizza ... alway better when re-heated!

NotesFromAbroad said...

With my crap memory, it was like I read it for the First time ... besos, C

darlin said...

LOL this sounds like growing up the way I did, two older sisters and one younger one who I would attempt to protect from the older two, I can totally relate!

jenny_o said...

One of my favourites, too. Reminds me of my seventh grade. And eighth grade, and ninth grade. Whew. Glad I don't have to do that again :)

The Elephant's Child said...

And people tell us that school days are the happiest in your life. Not for me, and not for the Ritas and Tammys of this world.

Jo-Anne's Rambling said...

Now that was bloody funny, I could just picture it happening snapping the frozen hair off at the root that would be funny.......no no no I mean it would be a mean thing to do to anyone.......lol

Crystal Pistol said...

I loved this one! Rough crowd you grew up with. Scary. Something to write home about daily. :)

She licked her thumb? That's scary crap, man!

Pat said...

Cripes I wouldn't want to have to control that little lot.

the walking man said...

Why do them with the smart retort always hide behind the shrimpy kid?

Jane Gaston said...

Also one of my favs!!

Diane said...

If our experiences make us what we are today, what does that make Tammy and Rita?
Rita: Tammy (Sunny) Sytch and Tammy:One of the Kardashians?
Just askin' . . .

Anonymous said...

Someone else's saliva is disgusting. I try not to think about when I kiss someone, but if a stranger smeared their saliva on me, I would cry,too.