New Thoughts on Words
Aging & Attitude
Traffic on Granada Street was light. An intense Florida sun warmed the car’s interior and made the steering wheel hot. My plan was to leisurely drive home along the Tomoka River, when a young woman walking caught my attention. She could have been me forty years ago, her long oval face and golden blonde hair looked so familiar.
Circling the block for a second look, I saw she wore a lively yellow and tangerine colored sundress exposing the right amount of skin. Spaghetti straps tied in bows relaxed on her shoulders. The dress was vintage hippie.
I parked, got out of the car and stood in the shade. In the distance, she sat on a bus stop bench, her straight back and firm chin taken for granted, a slouch bag at her side, intriguing me. I approached her directly, “Excuse me, can you tell me where Found Treasures Consignment Shop is?” It was a ruse. I had been there the day before to leave clothing and knew the exact location.
Looking up, she smiled and repeated my question, “Found Treasures Consignment Store? Sure, go across the street and see that alley between the buildings? She raised a hand wearing a mood ring and pointed. “By the Oak tree there’s like a narrow path that like…. you know what; I’ll show you.”
Closer, I saw freckles on her nose like I had. Her platform sandals looked comfortable and practical. Her toenails painted cherry red. She looked stylish, as I remembered myself to be.
“That isn’t really necessary.”
“Oh hush, I love that store.”
“Thanks, I’m fairly new to Florida and never sure where I’m going.”
“Me too, I’m like forever lost. Where are you from?”
“New Jersey, I retired and moved here two years ago.
She came to Daytona for bike week and met her boyfriend.
“You know that show Jersey Shore? You know that guy Mike, “The Situation”? That’s who my boyfriend looks like, only he’s got bigger muscles.” She chewed gum and blew a pink bubble announcing, “No way was I going home. He’s like not the one, but it’s cool.”
The traffic was heavy now. We stood on the sidewalk waiting for an opportunity to cross. Standing in the hot sun, my mind wandered to the time I was her age and realized how lost she was.
A yellow corvette exceeding the speed limit created an opening in the traffic. She looped her hand through my elbow and we rushed arm and arm across the street.
Standing on the cracked sidewalk, she turned to face me, patted my thin windblown hair in place, and asked, “Did I tell you I’m going on tour with Tony Bennett?”
Tony Bennett, the singer? I thought her too young to know a favorite of mine.
“Yes, THE Tony Bennett! You know cause of Daytona’s Music Festival, he, well, Mr. Bennett was performing at the Peabody.”
“Ms. Witch”, my friend Michelle, that’s what we call her cause she’s nasty, we’re like playing Beach Volley Ball and there’s this fight. Witch got into it, scratching, and pulling hair, using the F word and the N word. I got my tanning lotion and walked away. Mr. Bennett’s daughter, Toni, saw the whole thing. She liked me, like right away. Said I had character or something. Like, she just gave me a backstage pass. I started hanging around, helping, and now we’re going on tour. You know, he’s not Lady Ga Ga, but it’s cool.”
We arrived at the Consignment Shop and opened the door. A tinker bell jingle announced our entrance. Women’s cast off clothing, many with designer labels packed the shop. Displayed on the walls were glass necklaces, teardrop crystal pendants, and Swarovski pearls. Coordinated outfits in shades of green, their potential enhanced by pink accessories, were arranged on hangers.
“I love this stuff. Look at this.” She wrapped a four-inch wide black plastic belt with a rhinestone buckle around her waist, shook her head, and returned it to a rack.”
“Minutiae,” I mumbled.
“What did you say?” she giggled.
“Minutiae, little stuff, the details of life.”
“Mi-nooshee-sha, I love that word! What does it mean?”
“Small, insignificant things that don’t seem to matter, then do.”
“Oh, my God! I’m trying this on.” She exclaimed and slipped into a dressing room carrying an old dress of mine.
It was made of rich black crepe fabric. The neckline flowed off the shoulders leaving a v shape in the back. Two panels buttoned creating a peak-a-boo above the waistline of a pencil thin skirt. Its hem had hit the crest of my calf.
“I’m buying this. It’s like the perfect dress!” she said emphatically outside the dressing room, twirling, as I had done, her blue-green eyes so young and true. I smiled remembering that pleasure of certainty.
“You look great in it.”
She did. I felt light-headed as a wave of emotion cascaded through me. I had worn that dress to a friend’s wedding, a business conference, and my fortieth birthday party. “Do you need shoes?” I asked reminiscing about an elegant pair worn with the dress.
Tasteful, is how to describe them, the heels not too high, the straps not too tight. I kept them. They were barely worn.
“I got black flip-flops.”
At the cash register, she counted six singles and forty-two cents turning her head with perfect range of motion to ask, “Do you have children?”
We left to say goodbye.
“It’s been cool meeting you.” She said hugging me.
Happy my dress would be going on an adventure, but not wanting to give my secret away, I hesitated then whispered, “Don’t live your life in regret.”
I strolled toward my car, looking back. The late afternoon sun filtered through the oak trees creating a shadow on her diminutive figure and the sun’s glare caused me doubt she had really been here, while my wedding song, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” played in my head.