I grew up in a rather small town. The Dutch Maid grocery store tripled as a gas station and a post office. After morning farm chores were finished, the old men used to gather at the Daylight Donuts-without changing their boots. The smell was an intoxicating mixture of confectionary sugar, burnt coffee and cow dung.
There were no “salons” or “spas” in my hometown. I had my hair cut by a man named Noel at his shop that still sported a swirling red, blue and white barber pole.
We waved at everyone driving by-especially if we were on a rural road.
And a newcomer was easily recognized for the lack of the “two-finger-lift-while-still-holding-the-steering-wheel” wave.
That said, Biceps grew up in a town roughly 4% of the size of my town. They have one hanging stoplight-recently switched from a flashing yellow to a full-on green, yellow and red.
I miss my small town-I even miss Bicep’s small town. Just a short drive outside of Tulsa, I find a bit of that flavor once again in Muskogee. Biceps began the Fire Academy today and I decided to accompany him on his adventure.
And they knew I didn’t belong. It might have been that I asked for a ‘tall’ cup of coffee. They felt the need to protect their turf, slowly adding me to their circle, to make sure I was on the up and up.
“What’s a pretty girl doing here all alone at this time of day?,” one asks over his shoulder, as if I was at a bar at 2am.
“You look like Cher,” another states on his way to the bathroom.
“Well, Cowboy, what’re ya doing today?”, the first one asks of his buddy who just walked in. “See that girl over there. She’s working hard.”
“I suppose I ought to head to the library,” Cowboy responds, nodding in my direction. “I have a couple overdue books I ought to pay for. I remember the fines used to be a penny a day. Now, they’re probably a dollar. She is working hard. We shouldn’t bother her.”
“Mh-hm,” said my Cher complimenter.
“We don’t want to bother you while yer working so hard on your laptop,” said another. “But did you know that they threw my newspaper away yesterday when I left it for just a minute?” (I did not see the need for this information.)
“They don’t speak English. So he just bought another one,” said Cowboy.
And on and on it went. I couldn’t quit smiling, laughing and being just a bit nostalgic for home. The only thing missing was cow poop on their boots and donuts in hand.