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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 32: Takano 23
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The next week went smoothly. On Tuesday Tommy took Tammy to the park. It rained Wednesday, so they stayed in, but Tommy made grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup, which was more to clean up but good on a rainy day. By Friday she was very much on top of things, and had even done her own laundry. It took a bit to figure out how to use a washer and dryer that did not have computer controls and sensing systems, but, she thought, at least it isn’t a wringer washer and a clothes line.
As promised, Dot and Peggy appeared shortly after eleven Saturday morning, and Tommy was ready, dressed in the appropriate clothes. Peggy drove slowly down the main street through the downtown area, and Dot pointed out people, mostly guys, she thought Tommy should probably meet.
Peggy parked near what they called a malt shop, and they bought cheeseburgers, French fries, and malted milk shakes. They sat in a booth, and were soon joined by two boys, one of whom pulled over a chair to sit on the end. Tommy was introduced to Clark and Jimmy. With all the guys Dot had pointed out to her, she wasn’t sure if either of these had been among them, but she joined in what she took to be polite conversation mixed with local gossip.
Abruptly a thought occurred to her, and she said to Dot, “You’re not working today.”
“No,” Dot answered. “I’m off every other Saturday.”
“Oh. Do you work tomorrow?”
“Don’t be silly. Tomorrow is Sunday, the store is closed.”
This shocked her for a moment. People in retail didn’t get weekends off, in her experience, and stores weren’t closed on Sunday except for one fast food place.
“Oh,” she said. “Well, I got paid, and I needed a few things, but they can probably wait a week.”
“What did you need?” Dot asked.
“Well, this may sound silly, but I need some pajamas I can wear around the house, probably that I can also wear when I’m camping again, flannel or something or a sweat suit, and probably a decent robe and slippers. And before the weather cools I’ll want to have a jacket, and a coat suitable for winter—how bad are the winters here? Will I need boots and gloves? And I should buy my own shampoo and bodywash. I’ve been using the stuff Missus Billings buys for Tammy.”
They didn’t have bodywash.
“Oh, it’s popular in Japan, I guess. It’s liquid soap in a bottle that’s made to be good for your skin. I guess soap would be good. And toothpaste, and I should replace my toothbrush and get a new brush for my hair. And maybe I should look for a travel suitcase, the kind that rolls.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen one of those,” Dot said.
There’s another. It occurred to Tommy that she could invent these things and maybe make a lot of money; but then, she was only sixteen years old, and a girl, and no one was going to take her seriously.
“I’ll come by next Saturday and see what you have,” she said, and let the conversation return to who was dating who, who had a crush on someone new. She managed to avoid questions about her background. Clark seemed particularly interested in Dot, and Jimmy in Peg, but other than that she didn’t know the people being discussed she didn’t really feel as if she were excluded. A couple more girls and another boy joined them, sort of, sitting at the table from which Clark had taken the chair and jumping into the conversation, but no one introduced her to them.
Suddenly Clark said, “If we’re going to catch that matinee we’d better get going.”
“Right,” Dot said. “Waitress?” As the woman approached Dot said, “Separate checks, please, but I’m paying for her,” pointing at Tommy. The woman nodded and went back to the counter, apparently to divide up the orders onto separate checks. This only took a minute or two, and soon everyone was lining up at the register to pay and leaving coins on the table as tips. Tommy was again reminded of how cheap everything was, that a fifteen percent tip on lunch could easily be met with a few coins.
There were only two movies at the theater, and the one playing for the matinee was called Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Tommy had seen it on video, but managed not to say so. She also remembered that one of the supporting actors had gone on to play a superspy in a series of movies, and an action hero and romantic lead in others, but as she watched the movie it struck her that as far as she recalled this was the only time she had ever heard him sing.
She was home in time to clean up and come to dinner.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #364: Characters Learn. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: