“Did you work last night?” Leigh asks of Melissa. It’s noon on Sunday, and Melissa is opening the bar for the fans who will soon arrive to root for their beloved Philadelphia Eagles.
“Yeah,” Melissa says. “It was a weird night.”
Leigh’s husband Jim says, “Usual weird or weird weird?”
“Weird weird,” Melissa answers, as she gathers two feet of hair and fashions a knot on top of her head. A couple of months ago, a candle that had been placed on the bar to improve the ambiance burned some of her hair, creating an unmistakable and unpleasant odor that traversed the full length of the bar; she has been keeping it safely out of the way ever since.
“Crazy Daisy was here. Got into it with Champagne Mike,” she says.
“What? Those two never talk,” Leigh says.
“I know. But she sat next to him, it was the only empty stool. He asked her how she was, just to be polite I’m sure. She started to tell him about her baby dilemma.”
“To get pregnant or not?” Leigh asks.
“Yeah, that same old thing. Champagne Mike was on his 2nd split and was more talkative than usual. He said something like Aren’t you 50 and on all sorts of medication?
“Oh Lord,” Jim says.
“Right. She got really pissy. Said she was only 42. Didn’t deny the medication part though. Just said she’s done her research and the drugs she’s on likely won’t hurt the baby.”
“Psychotropic drugs are definitely a concern in pregnancy,” Jim says matter-of-factly. He’s a pharmaceutical sales rep and is prone to declarative statements about the drugs he’s carried in his bag.
“Seems like Champagne Mike shares that opinion. He told Crazy Daisy she was being irresponsible. She told him he was bigoted about people with mental illness, probably because he is so fucking old.”
“How old is Mike, anyway?” Leigh asks.
“I don’t know,” Melissa answers. “Seventy, eighty, a million. Something like that.”
“How’d he respond to what Daisy said?” Jim asks.
“He quoted something, the way he does.” Champagne Mike is a retired English teacher. “I liked the way it sounded, so I looked it up later and memorized it.” Melissa is known for her intellectual curiosity and steel trap memory. “With age come the inner, the higher life. Who would be forever young, to dwell always in externals? Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 19th century.”
“Lovely,” Leigh says. She has a Master’s degree in Fine Arts and refined sensibilities.
“Uh, oh, speak of the devil,” Jim says, as Crazy Daisy enters the bar area and looks around, her eyes adjusting to the dim lighting. She sees Melissa, Jim, and Leigh and heads over.
“Hi guys,” she says with a deep sigh.
“Hey Daisy,” Melissa says. “Something wrong?” This is how people usually greet her, because there is almost always something wrong with Crazy Daisy.
“It’s Provo,” Daisy says. Provo is her husband, named by his hippie parents for the city of his conception.
“What about him?” Jim asks. His tone leaves no doubt what he is really saying is What is it now, you tiresome little twat?
“I think we’re going to get a divorce.”
“Weren’t you just talking about maybe having a baby?” Leigh asks, letting on that she heard about last night’s events, thereby drawing a glare from Melissa, who doesn’t want her customers to know that she talks about them behind their backs.
“That’s part of the problem. He won’t even discuss it. Says we’re not stable enough as a couple.”
“You can’t blame him for that,” Jim says. “When in doubt, don’t, at least when it comes to having a baby.” Jim has grown daughter from his first marriage, which was precipitated by an unplanned teenage pregnancy and lasted about twelve minutes before ending in rancor.
“Whatever, I don’t care. I think I’m going back to school and learn to be an arborist.”
“That’s very specific,” Melissa says. “I didn’t know you had an interest in trees and shrubs.”
“I have decided to cultivate an interest,” Crazy Daisy says. The pun signals it is a planned line.
Melissa is drawn away by another customer. Leigh and Jim are drawn away by their desire to leave this conversation. “Ok, good luck with that. Keep us posted,” Leigh says and turns to greet new arrivals Joanna and Matt.
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