The start of this short story (loosely based on my mom), is here: Part one (Part two has new stuff and a few edits.)
Driving Ms. Myrna (cont.)
Myrna’s pastime was ordering shoes from catalogs, buying them whenever she went to a department store, and searching endlessly for a place that might allow her to purchase only one pair with a glaring size discrepancy. She was no longer dependent upon Al, who thought she owned far too many, and cursed under his breath the entire time he was running her around to find more. She could drive! So that when a friend told her about a new shoe store in a neighboring city, Myrna hollered to the heavens, “See Al, I bet you’re glad you’re dead now!” She still argued with him often and If she had to think about it, he wasn’t contributing much less to the conversation.
Myrna was in awe when she entered the warehouse that was Hexagon Shoes. Women’s pumps, heels, oxfords, and galoshes filled every square inch of the ground floor. There were shoes of every size in metallic, leather, and canvas. Brightly colored strappy numbers, slip ons, and tie shoes overflowed the few display areas. In the past, knowing that Al was waiting in the parking lot, she would often think of appeasing him with a pair of his own. Perhaps now that she could drive herself, was the reason she hadn’t noticed the glaringly obvious omission of foot gear for the unshod male. If you were looking to get your boy the trending pair of basketball sneakers, this was not your store. Also of some interest was the fact that every pair was on sale for a flat rate of $13.49.
Over the next few years Myrna made Hexagon Shoes her “go-to-place” for footwear. She often spoke to Mr. Therrien, the older man who ran the store. On occasion he would invite her to dinner. She would try her hand at flirting by pretending to consider his invitation, all the while knowing she would never accept. He often regaled her with stories of his native Boston and inevitably ended every encounter with, “Keep comin’ back my little Myr-maid! You can get yerself a nice bah-gin, any time you want!” Even though she was sure he was insinuating himself into the position of ” a nice bargain,” it was all very flattering. Not only did he repeatedly let her purchase three pairs of shoes instead of the usual six she would have had to buy from any other store in the area, he had given Myrna her very first nickname. For the past fifty years she had been “Mom.” Even Al called her “Ma.” Al had given her a moniker, while the rest of the world knew, she clearly deserved a sobriquet.
By now Mr. Therrien was giving Myrna a significant discount in hopes she would soften to his advances. Myrna’s daughter had some worries about a store that would allow her mother to purchase miss-matched pairs of shoes by the dozen, for little more than fifty dollars. Just as when she wanted her mother to consider public transportation, Myrna once again misunderstood what her youngest was trying to convey. She began to assume her daughter was being overly loyal to her father’s memory, and mistakenly thought she didn’t want anyone taking Al’s place in Myrna’s life. So when it was mentioned to her mother that perhaps a run-down warehouse (that by now must have a ridiculous number of unmated shoes on display) may be a front for something else, Myrna gently presented her own theory.
“Honey, Daddy’s been gone a long time now.”
Gentility was not Myrna’s forte. On the rare occasion she decided to try it, it made her appear awkward. Perhaps it was because no one ever expected self-restraint from her. Oddly, the use of the name “Daddy” was Myrna’s attempt to lessen the blow, but it was never something their children called their father. All of his children called him “Dad, Alfred, Al, Alfredo” or “Sam.” He had gotten “Sam” in the 1940s with the popularity of the song “Sam You Made the Pants Too Long.” His friends, in an attempt at comedic irony, coined the name because he consistently wore his pants short enough to see his white sweat socks peeking out between his maroon dress shoes and black work pants.
Myrna could only be temperate for so long. It was no surprise therefore, when she quickly resorted to her usual style of conversation. Her voice raised to a whole new decibel, “I’m not some sort of loose, floosy, gold digger y’know! I’m not out there throwing myself at men!” With this last attempt to illustrate her point, she threw her hands so far into the air that she had to step backward to avoid losing her balance.
“Mom, just last month you accused me of, and I quote, “throwing” you at one of the old guys from your church when I only suggested you may like some companionship. Do you even think before stuff falls out of your mouth? I’m just saying, I find it unusual that you can continually purchase screwed up pairs of shoes at this place. Don’t you think that’s kind of suspicious?”
“Oh so Mr. Therrien can’t just like me? I suppose I’m not desirable enough, because I’m old!”
Throughout her life Myrna’s daughter experienced her mother’s ability to make other’s words twist in the wind. She was quick to deflect the onslaught, “That’s not what I said. I’m sure you’re exactly the loose kind of floosy he’s looking for. It’s just that the place is pretty run down, and it must have hundreds of messed up pairs of shoes by now.”
Clutching her hand to her heart while her other went to her forehead in exasperation, Myrna feigned a mock innocence crying, “Oh no! Do you think Mr. Therrien is part of the French Mob?” She recovered her more tainted side rather quickly asking, “Do they even have a mob in France?”
“Look, I think it’s great if you’re interested in someone. I’m just saying be careful because it’s suspicious. And you should probably drop the Mr., I mean if he’s going to be my new daddy and all.”
“He is not going to be anything, and don’t be such a smart ass!”
To be continued…