Friday, July 18, 2014

Styrofoam worms on a blustery day

Once, a friend of mine had to chase her wig through Safeway parking lot.

This was a long time ago, when I lived in Tornado Alley; AKA Oklahoma. 

My friend, I’ll call her Dorothy, was what my Grandma would call a “character.”  Her life had angles and quirks I hadn’t encountered before I met her at Tulsa County Courthouse where we worked.

Once, she was late for work, really late.  Unheard of for her.  She called at about the 45 minute mark to say she’d been to work on time that morning, but upon turning into the parking garage, discovered she had forgotten to put in her bridge, a piece of dental work that contained only two teeth, from alternating positions, right in front of her mouth. 

We had no cell phones, so, from her landline at home she called to say that she refused to come into the Courthouse without those teeth in place “looking like a Halloween pumpkin.”  It made perfect sense to her to turn around and drive all the way back home and call from there.  She retrieved her teeth and came to work about brunch time, smiling.

And she wore this wig that she didn’t really need.  She had perfectly good hair.  But, in her estimation, said hair would behave badly on occasion.  When it did, she punished it by collecting it into a net and stuffing it under the wig. 

Or maybe she just slept through her alarm and didn’t have time for her regulation coif.

In any case, the wig looked OK, for a wig.  Close to her natural brown hair color and shoulder length.  Shiny.  Pleasantly styled into a “flip.”  Bangs.

But, to a trained observer, it could be spotted for the pretender it was – no scalp in the part line.  Always a dead giveaway.

Once I saw Dorothy in the process of forcing her glasses back under the thing after she’d taken them off to swab away the residue of Midwestern humidity; so I thought it fit pretty well.  Which begs the question:  I know we’re in Oklahoma, but how big a wind was that?

There was no tornado on the occasion of Dorothy’s escapade.  Just a blustery, gusting wind that must have caught her in an upburst – the kind of upward explosion that will blast your kilt right up over your head. 

It came sweeping down the plain.  (Sorry.)

This tempest surged right through the Safeway parking lot just as she was loading groceries into her car after a hard day’s work.  The gust yanked her hairpiece off, flung it over her car and threw it across the path of oncoming shoppers and their carts.

She said the wig surged ahead of her and paused like a terrier with its toy, teasing her into believing she’d caught up.  Then it lurched again and bumped along the ground, bouncing and rolling like a macabre, shaggy tumbleweed.  It took her all the way from Safeway past Baskin Robbins and beyond.

As she chased it, she formed a plan to put an end to Nature’s little game of keep away.  At last, when she got in range, she lunged forward and stomped on it, flattening it like the bag of hair it was. 

She snatched it up and stood tall with as much dignity as she could muster for one victorious moment.  Then, wig in hand, natural hair plastered to her head and contained under its net, she stalked back to her car and drove her groceries home.

I was missing ole Dorothy this morning after I received an object shipped to me in a mid-sized box stuffed with Styrofoam worms.  That box was housed in a second, inappropriately large box, a huge box, a box for the ages, also stuffed with Styrofoam worms. 

Let me just say that those worms wanted out of those boxes.  And fortuitously, when gust of wind came up in the alley by the recycling bin, they bolted and ran ahead of me like so many minions.

They skittered gleefully toward my neighbor’s fence, laughing all the way, with me behind them in a life-sized game of Whack-a-mole, frantically stomping and collecting them one-by-one, Dorothy-style.

If she could see me now!