I’m always good on a promise. Even to C.W. So when he went a week without making my wife’s head explode, I made good.
It’s one of his favorite things. We go Walmart. He shapes up like a lumberjack or something pretty close to it. We wander the aisles slowly and wait unit we hear a loud conversation, a one-way one. Not by just anybody. It has to be a certain type, a woman with a hoarse voice from a two-pack a day habit, wearing a baseball hat with a ponytail hanging out the back with a tight t-shirt emblazoned with something along the lines of “These Boobs Protected By Barretta.”
Yeah, I wasn’t going to say it, but you can. We have a lot of them around there and, yes, most necks are quite crimson.
So, what C.W. likes to do is sidle up to them as they yell into the phone, lean forward, and listen to the one side of the conversation.
No, it doesn’t work like you would think, not around here anyway. I've never seen one become angry. Occasionally they ignore him. More often, they nod, smile and welcome him into the conversation. We live in a friendly state, after all.
So yesterday was a fun trip, for him. We hadn’t been in the store for five minutes when we heard a sound like a corn-sheller going off, and words emerging from the noise. “Naw, I don’t care. Last time he let me use his pickup after we got done.”
Off we went. We got as near as we could, I pretended to look for Feta Cheese, which is a good way to waste time in Walmart. C.W. moved in alongside a tallish woman with dingy blond hair wearing a shirt with “Think Twice Before You Pat It,” in red spread across the back.” A drawing of two crossed baseball bats emphasized the point.
“Heck no,” she said into the phone. “Hit was for what we done Saturday night. He preaches on Sunday and uses his wife’s car. Only took two minutes, and I got a lot of things hauled off next day.”
She noticed C.W. then, smiled at him and nodded. She tipped the phone in his direction and motioned for him to listen.
“Hell yeah, it was a good swap,” she said. Then she and C.W. both laughed. He moved a little closer.
“Am I what?” Her eyes grew wide. She looked at C.W. and said. “Do I look like I’m ashamed of myself?”
He shook his head in a display of solemnity. “He agrees,” she said. “I got me a witness.”
She and C.W. both nodded and laughed.
“What?” She continued the conversation. “No,” she said into the phone. “Hit came regular as clockwork.” She winked at C.W. “So I reckon ever-thang was okay.” She listened for a moment. “You got that right, Hon,” she said. “I shore don’t need no new crumb-grabber slowing me down.” She looked at C.W. and he nodded. “Bet your sweet ass, though,” she said. “I ain’t using that brand no more.” He nodded in agreement.
It went on like this for maybe ten minutes. People eased their carts by slowly, enjoying the snippets. I pulled my hat down as far as it would go and pretended to be invisible.
|I love making new friends|
among the Earthlings. - C.W.
We learned of her latest choice of laxatives. C.W. agreed.
We learned why she cut her old boyfriend off. C.W. agreed.
We learned that she wasn’t going let her daughter “git on them goddam pills until she was at least 14.” C.W. disagreed.
We learned of her plans to get a prescription for what she called “MM.” C.W. looked confused.
We learned that she considered “pollacks” the best lovers. C.W. took this in.
We learned that she wasn’t above one of “them two-on-ones” if she found the right two. C.W. smiled.
At long last, she said into the phone, “We gotta go, Hon.” After listening for a moment, she said, “Hell, I don’t know.” She turned to C.W. “What is your name, Hon?”
“Caspar Wolinski,” he said.
She nodded toward me, “He with you?”
C.W. nodded. I shook my head. Just at that moment, a neighbor I know walked by with one of the Walmart workers.
“Hey,” C.W.’s new friend shouted at the store worker, in her hoarse voice that I’m sure carried onto the parking lot, “Can you point me toward the condoms? And I want the kind that don’t break.”