“What a morning I have had! Hooboy! This was one for the ages. Just a sec. Let me get myself combobulated over here. I got to sit. You know I'm not one to drink, but I could sure use a wine cooler to settle my nerves. Honey, this was epic with a capital P. I might as well tell you it all, cause you're gonna hear it soon enough. You know how things are around here. Do you see this? My hands are still shaking. I'm trying to hold them still. See? I'm telling you, I have been to crazytown and back today.
It all started with Momma calling me this morning. You know that new blouse I got, the blue one with the fancy stitching around the collar? Oh, you haven't seen it? I have got to show it to you. It's my new favorite thing in the whole wide world. I'm sure I'll never go, but if I did get to one of those fancy events with the limousines and all the movie stars, that's what I'd wear. And I'd sashay down that red carpet with everyone taking my picture. What's that? Oh, right, Momma. She was calling on account of my new blouse. You know she hates to see me spending a dime on anything. Well her friend Mabel saw me out and about in it and just had to call Momma that instant. So by the time I picked up the phone, Momma's already starting in on me.
'How much did I pay for it? Is it returnable? Why do I need a new shirt?'
I can't hardly get a word in edgewise. I'm like, Momma, Momma, quit it. I paid for it with my own damn money, well I didn't say damn, but I almost did cause now I'm starting to get hot too. She does push my buttons sometimes, I swear to God. So I'm like, how do know about my shirt anyways, and she says Mabel saw me in the produce aisle at the Piggly Wiggly looking like I was the queen of Sheba herself. Mabel told her it looked like some kind of ensemble and I'm like I don't even know what an ensemble is, and Momma's like 'it's French for costs twice as much'.
So now Momma's demanding to know how much money I wasted on it, saying how it better be water proof cause that's all I'll have left for a rainy day. Well you and I both know I can't hardly tell her the real number, so I say something about how I got it on sale to try to get her off my case but she's still like 'half off of too much is still too much'. To hear Mabel tell it, I had the thing shipped direct from Paris, so Momma's not going to let this go. I finally tell her I paid fifty dollars for it, which wasn't near the truth, but I know Momma won't let it rest until I tell her something and I am NOT telling her how much I really paid for it. But then Momma starts demanding to know where I could find a shirt like that for fifty bucks, so I tell her at the Clothes Horse, which is the God's honest truth.
Well, I think this whole thing is all put to bed, but Honey, it is Just. Getting. Started. After she gets off the phone with me, Momma rings around Mabel who tells Velma and next think you know, Velma's off to the Clothes Horse to buy herself one. What? You haven't been to the Clothes Horse? It's out 17 past the bowling alley on the right. Well, you don't hardly need to shop there. They specialize in bigger sizes. You've at least seen their ads, right?
'If you need something big, we got you covered. If you need something small, eat another biscuit and then c'mon back!' They got em all over benches at the bus stop. Or at least they used to until that exterminator guy got his face plastered over everything. God forbid I ever have to call him, with that gigantic cockroach on the roof of his van. I'd slit my wrists if I didn't die of embarrassment first, if anyone saw that parked in my driveway. I swear I'd rather live with the roaches.
Oh right. So apparently Velma found those shirts and saw the price and darn near fell out. She calls up Mabel on her mobile who rings in Momma who rings me in, so I'm hearing the three of them caterwauling and can't hardly make out what's the fuss over the yakity-yak. But then I hear Mabel yelling at Velma to demand they give her the sale price so Velma's in the store yelling at Marybelle, who runs the place, about a sale and Marybelle's yelling at Velma that there isn't any damn sale and Momma's yelling at me telling me to get my ass down to the store with my receipt so Velma can get a matching price. For a hot second, I think about telling Momma that I don't have the receipt, but if there's one thing she taught me, it's ALWAYS keep the receipt so I know that won't fly, so I'm in a panic myself when Momma says she'll be by in five so we can go down there and show Marybelle what's what and before I can say no, everyone hangs up. I barely got my sandals on before Momma's tires come squealing around the corner with the horn a-blaring and I got to go face the music.
Well I slide into the car all ready to fess up but Momma's shushing me cause she's back on the phone with Velma and Mabel who's apparently now with her down at the Clothes Horse and it sounds like hell is breaking loose. Well, I'm all too happy to bide my tongue, and anyway, I am white-knuckled clutching my door handle with Momma fish-tailing it down the road like we're in the Duke's of Hazard.
We pull into the lot going about ninty, I swear, and I can see old man Harold in his little uniform on one of those ridiculous stand-up scooter thingies blowing his whistle and waving his hands at us to slow down, but Momma don't pay him any mind. She's out the door before the car's even stopped and it's all I can do to keep up with her as we barge into that place.
Well. It turns out you don't bandy the word 'sale' around that the Clothes Horse willy-nilly unless you mean business, because now people are starting to come out of the woodwork looking for bargains. They are like sharks on the smell of blood. I think some of the ladies had abandoned their carts when they heard a sale was coming, not wanting to pay full price if they don't have to, and now the new gals coming in are picking through those things thinking they're on their way to being marked down. Tussles are breaking out and Luellan's dog, Marcus is yapping away, running in circles, just adding to the noise. She's got one of them little things with the smushed in faces that she takes everywhere, and it's beside itself with all the ruckus.
Just then old man Harold wheels in, all red-cheeked from blowing on that whistle and he's getting ready to read Momma the riot act when I hear Marybelle yelling for people to get a grip. Well, the store goes quiet at just the wrong time cause Mabel is just then saying to Velma 'She named her little girl Khaleesi so you know she's trash.' while she's thumbing at Marybelle.
You know I'm not one to talk, but Marybelle does got one of those tractor tires in her front yard that she thinks is a decorative planter just by painting it white, so I'm not going to say that Mabel is wrong, but everyone in the store hears her saying it, which ain't really right either. Marybelle just gasps and she's staring at old Harold while pointing at Mabel and yelling 'I want her out of my store THIS INSTANT'.
Poor Harold looks in a panic. You know he's barely 95 pounds soaking wet and his ticker ain't so good and he's sizing up Mabel who's got about 200 pounds on him if it's an ounce. Well, Mabel is now having a full-on melt down right in the middle of the store over being thrown out. She's yelling about how she wouldn't be caught dead in Marybelle's ugly-ass rags when she realizes that's where she got the shirt she's wearing. So I kid you not, she starts stripping down right there, yanking that shirt over her head and flinging it at Marybelle. Now, to his credit, I think poor Harold is still just trying to figure out how he's going to wrestle a 300 pound half-naked woman out of there, but Luellan sees him staring at Mabel in her underwear with her size triple D's slinging around and screams 'Pervert!' as she whacks him in the back with her purse. She must have thumped him pretty good too cause his set of teeth shoot out of his mouth and skitter across the floor. Marcus sees them teeth hit the ground and he is off like a shot. She's got him on one of those long retractable leashes so he can get up a pretty good head of steam. He grabs them teeth on a dead run just as he hits the end of his line and yanks the thing right out of Luellan's grip. That big leash handle hits the floor with a bang, and Marcus sees it snaking across the floor at him, reeling in the line, and he panics and shoots between Marybelle's legs. He tries to make the turn by the leisurewear rack to throw that leash off his tail, but his little legs are just spinning out on the linoleum so he doubles back as his leash whipsaws around Marybelle's legs. She looks like one of those comic book characters who's stepped on a banana peel. Her legs are swept out from under her, her arms are windmilling and the papers she's holding go flying in the air.
Well, it was like time stood still for a second, all eye's on Marybelle, arms and legs akimbo, when everyone seemed to realize the papers that are fluttering down are sheets of those red dot stickers. She marks things down occasionally if they don't sell, and that might have been what she was up to when this all started, but it was like someone dumped a gallon of blood into a feeding frenzy. There's a mad scramble for those sheets. Ladies grappling on the floor, racks turning over and that's when the police burst in. I grab Momma's arm and we high-tail it out of there right before the whole store goes into full lock down mode. We are both just struck dumb, standing their on the sidewalk looking back in the windows at the scene – clothes are flying, Harold's got his whistle squeezed between his gums, with his little cheeks puffing in and out, arms a-waving. Police are running around trying to find Marybelle who's still flailing around on the floor tangled up with Marcus. People are stickering red dots on anything that isn't moving. Momma's just standing there with her mouth hanging open and it's all I can do to get her back into the car. She does not say a single word the whole way home, just drops me off and pulls away, like she's seen a ghost. I swear, my heart is still going thumpedy-thump over here.
What's that? How much did I actually spend on that blouse? I'll tell you, but only if you cross-your-heart, hope-to-die swear never, ever to tell Momma.