My Cardboard Box

Life in the Mojave

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mojave-phone-booth-2On one of the rare occasions I go out for breakfast,  I came in behind an elderly couple.  They were whipcord thin, and leathery from the sun. The term of endearment around here is “desert rats”.  Folks who’ve been up here either all their lives, or when they got out of the Marines back in ’68. Definitely not your wintering over pasty Canadians.

He looked like a rancher: truckdriver ball-cap, faded plaid shirt,  jeans,  and cowboy boots. She was more fashionably dressed, but just as sun-baked as he was.   The waitress seated us in neighboring booths; me in front of the couple. Apparently they were regulars; the waitress knew what they wanted and merely confirmed it.

As we all waited for our food, I overheard the couple talking. She was mentioning a friend that was looking at buying a bar. The husband did the litany of expenses, rent, etc. and generally disparaged the idea. The wife persisted.

“She wants to take out the pool tables and put in a dance floor.”

“Whatever for?” the old man said. ” Pool tables make money.”

“She wants to bring in some good patrons,” the wife sounded almost embarassed. “She wants to make it kinda classy.” There was a silence.

“Honey,” the old man finally said , “There just aren’t any classy people in this town.”

The rest of breakfast was in silence. The old man finished and went outside for a smoke. The waitress came by to ask the woman if she wanted a refill. I didn’t hear an answer.

I paid the check and went outside. The old guy was sitting on the bench used by the waiting overflow crowds in winter.  The hand with the cigarette resting on a worn-out knee of his jeans.  I nodded.  He gave me a sour look.   I don’t know if it was for me, the conversation, or the town we both lived in.

I didn’t ask.

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Written by PappyBro

July 19, 2009 at 18:59

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