Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lunch With A Twist

“Do you think I should shave my head and grow a goatee?” Keppy asked of his friend and boss Rickey Stokes over lunch at Bill’s restaurant.

“Why would you want to do that?” Stokes asked back at him.

“Well the shaved head worked for Michael Chiklis and everyone has a Harley and a goatee these days.”

“Why would you want to look like an angry fat man?  What’s wrong with being a jolly fat man?”

“I don’t know.  It just seems like the cool thing to do.  You could shave your head too and we could wear black t-shirts,” Keppy almost pleaded.

“I do not intend to shave my head.  My skull is bigger than most people due to all the extra brains and stuff I have in there.  Plus my hair is perfect.  It never messes up, wet or dry it always looks the same.  I want to keep it that way,” Stokes answered.

“I won’t even ask about matching hogs,” Keppy said, dejected.

“Those things are a danged nuisance.  You would think with as expensive as they are they would come with proper mufflers.  When I was growing up you didn’t want to be associated with Harleys in any way or the people who rode them.  Now every dentist and accountant in Dothan has one along with several thousand dollars worth of overpriced apparel.  Thanks but no thanks, I like being a unique individual, one with no distinguishing features, just an average Joe, easily lost in a crowd.”

They were finishing off the last of their fries from the late afternoon cheeseburger lunch when “she” walked in. Stokes, always seated facing the door saw her walk in first. Quickly he made a mental note of her distinguishing features as he did every person he saw; red sweater, large sunglasses, blondish hair, six foot seven, maybe six foot eight, could easily take Keppy in a fight even if he did have a goatee. Big gal, he thought to himself.

Keppy watched Stokes study someone entering the restaurant. The look in his eye was not of danger, but of interest. Stokes’ gaze lingered an extra second to study the person. Some people are easily lost in a crowd, others stand out.  There was uniqueness about this person. It could have been a beautiful woman, although Bill’s menu of mostly fried food attracted a clientele, whose logic falsely concluded bacon fat increased blood viscosity, allowing a more efficient flow through the cardiovascular system.  As a result, physical beauty was not a requisite of Bill’s.  If it was a beautiful woman she should be viewed, judged, classified and stored in his memory according to dominating phenotype.  Keppy glanced at the salad bar, allowing his gaze to momentarily affix upon the woman to and fro.  He was impressed with her stature and made a quick mental note to not challenge her to an arm wrestling match.

Both men returned to the task of finishing their French fries.  The waitress began taking the female customer’s order and Stokes supposed the waitress knew the customer.   Sweetie must have been the customer’s name due to how many times the waitress used it.  Stokes thought for a moment that the waitress never referred to his wife, Marsha, as sweetie, and “Y’all” was the best he and Keppy ever got.  It should be noted at this point that Stokes is a ten percent tipper or less.  A dollar was considered customary for a meal, two dollars were occasionally left when Marsha gave him that look.

Stokes noticed how raspy Sweetie’s voice sounded, which he attributed to cigarettes.  Every time he heard a woman speak that way he was thankful his wife did not smoke.  While they didn’t stunt her growth, they certainly affected this woman’s voice. 

Shortly thereafter another customer entered the restaurant that caught Stokes’ attention.  He was a cowboy, a big fellow wearing a proper cowboy shirt and hat.  His mustache was impressive, hanging low on the sides and covering his lips entirely.  Real men like that didn’t come to town very often, and if they did it was to the Farmer’s Co-Op in a much smaller town.  The cowboy rustled up to the checkout counter and placed his order, a fingertip to the brim of his hat obliged the waitress.  The cowboy sat down at the table with the tall woman in the red sweater.  Wow, Stokes thought, they must have tall kids.

As they finished the remaining fries Stokes’ keen senses caught something in the woman’s voice.  He listened more closely, not to the conversation specifically, but the sound of her voice.  After a few moments of studying the conversation at the table next to them Stokes came to the conclusion that she was not a woman.  Keppy was oblivious.  Stokes stopped eating and looked over at Keppy.  After a few moments Keppy looked up and saw Stokes staring at him, wide eyed.  Keppy stopped chewing, figuring he had ketchup on his face, wiped it with a napkin.  Stoke continued to look at him with a somewhat worried look in his eyes.  Keppy furrowed his brow.  Stokes rolled his eyes in the direction of the table next to them.  Keppy dared not look as he knew Stokes was being incognito.  Stokes tugged his earlobe.  Keppy listened to the couple next to them.  Suddenly his eyes went wide too.

Dread fell over Keppy.  Stokes looked worried.  Had five robbers come in with shotguns blasting they, nay, Stokes would have handled the situation easily, while still eating a burger with one hand.  This was different.  There was no apparent danger but procedure for this situation was not in their training.  Should they not ask and not tell?  Should they expose the woman’s real identity to the cowboy?  Surely the cowboy knows.  But what if this is a blind date, never having met her before?  He seemed like a nice cowboy.  Stokes imagined having to post a news story the next day concerning a surprised cowboy arrested for battery or worse. 

But listening to their conversation Stokes deduced they were good friends.  There was mention of fishing.  An image of a bass boat occupied by the cowboy and the woman in a bikini flashed through Stokes’ mind.  She fights to reel in a fish, which turns out to be a very small crappie.  They laugh, they cowboy slaps his knee, her bikini top pops loose but she catches it with her arms.  The cowboy looks at her lustily, her face relaxes from the laugh and her eyes become tender and vulnerable, wanting, needing.  She stands with her back to him and drops her bikini top then dives into the inviting waters of the Chattahoochee.  The cowboy dives in to join her, for some reason leaving his hat and boots on.  From underneath he sees their silhouettes against the backdrop of the warm southern sun as the cowboy swims toward her and reaches a hand out to hers.  About that time the daydream turned into Brooke Shields and that blonde guy swimming in The Blue Lagoon, suddenly he felt a kick to his shin from Keppy.  He looked over to see the waitress standing by the table.

“Here’s y’all’s check,” she said.

Stokes laid a dollar on the table, as did Keppy.  Silently they walked up to the counter, paid the bill and silently they left.

In the Bondy’s Ford Expedition Keppy asked, “What happened back there boss? I lost you for a second.”

“Nothing, Nam flashback.”

“I don’t have the words for the other situation.  I’ve never seen a big guy dressed like a woman.  Usually they are dainty.”

“Perhaps he or she considers that normal but what does that make us?”

“Abnormal?  No, surper-normal.”

“Well then my super-normal friend.  Do you want to go fishing this weekend?”

“No, not just yet.  I heard them talking about fishing too.  I’m afraid this is going to stick with me for a while.  You know I don’t think it would have been so weird if he was a dainty fellow that looked or sounded like a woman.”

“I know what you mean.  I’ve seen the documentaries where they say the clothes make them more comfy.” Stokes added.

"I wish it was acceptable for guys to wear miniskirts.  For those manly times like mowing the grass or changing the oil in your car.  Have you ever tried on some of Marsha’s panties?”

“I will try to miss the bone when I shoot you but I can’t promise anything.”

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