I spend Saturday driving to Snowflake with my mom’s two best friends. Ann shows up with large vanilla lattes for everyone already sitting in the cup holders of her Dodge Challenger. Nelda has little bundles of lavender for each of us picked from her garden. We have a really nice day together — visiting the cemetery, having lunch, a little antique shopping.
For lunch we head to a restaurant called Trapper’s, which is a bit of a tradition. The restaurant has a not-meant-to-be-hilarious section of the menu called “Light Eaters”. The choices are Chicken Fried Steak, Grilled Ham Steak, BBQ Beef, Boneless Chop, Chicken Strips, etc. There’s not really anything light about them. Plus the meals come with a choice of potato, roll, soup or salad. But, the menu says, the meat portion of these meals is approximately half. Thank god, we joke, we need to save room for slices of pie with ice-cream.
We talk about a lot of things driving down the highway, and it’s not like this little story has any big significance or anything, but I keep thinking about it. Ann says your mom was driving herself to a doctor’s appointment in Flagstaff in the winter. She was by herself, of course. And as she’s driving she notices a god-awful smell in the car. She can barely stand it. This is horrendous she thinks. She takes out her cell phone to call my dad who is on an eastbound train in the opposite direction to tell him that he has got to do something about this. He has to figure out what the heck is causing this horrible smell. Finally she gets to her doctor’s appointment but as she’s waiting there she starts to smell that smell again. Only then does she realize she has dog shit on the bottom of her shoe and she starts cracking up. She tries to hide her shoes in a corner when the nurse takes her back into the examination room. It was cold outside, but when heaters on the floorboard of the car hit the dog poo it warmed it up and sent the aroma wafting through the car, getting stronger and stronger. We all laugh. It’s funny because my mom was fastidious. It’s funny because her first instinct is to chew out my father rather than check her shoes. It’s funny because this is the kind of situation she found very amusing.
Back at my dad’s house, there are 80 pairs of my mom’s shoes lying on top of the bed. Each pair sealed inside a Ziploc bag. I pick up a jaunty, nautical looking pair and try to squeeze my foot inside, but my mom’s feet were more petite than mine and I feel like the ugly stepsister trying to wedge her foot into the glass slipper. I seal them back up in the plastic bag. It’s not lost on me, that I don’t fit in my mother’s shoes.