Monday, September 13, 2010

Cramped Quarters

I'd known her for most of my life. In many ways, I respected her. Joanne was a strong women, lived life with humor and understanding, stretched out a hand to those in need, and always worried she would die a burden. As we sat together on the beach, her nose buried deeply in a book mostly because of poor eyesight, I thought of our relationship.

She had never been very tolerant of people who didn't take care of their bodies. She had been an aerobics instructor for years. When she stopped teaching, she became obsessed with training dogs in agility, something that kept her on her feet and active most of the day. She'd always been thin. Even now, in the bright sunlight, her tanned skin hung limply around her slender body. Kindness toward over weight people was not in her abilities. It was a small thing that had always bothered me.

She also didn't value people with disabilities much. Sure, she preached that they should have rights and should be an important part of the community, but that sentiment only lasted until they got in her way. Move over or be set aside seemed to be the underlining feel of her philosophy. It was another hard pill to swallow when I was around her, especially when she was younger.

I looked at Joanne, lying comfortably on the chair, and smiled at her. "I'm going to order a drink. Do you want anything?" she asked as the cabana boy approached.

"No thank you," I said.

Joanne summoned the young man over with a flip of her wrist. "What do you have to drink?" she asked him with a coolness to her voice.

"Drink? What kind?" He stood, smiling at the old woman first and then myself.

"That's what I am asking you. What kind of drinks do you have?" She looked impressed at the youth's lack of understanding as he stood happily mute at her feet.

"Yes." he responded, still smiling at her scornful face. "We have drinks. What kind do you like?"

Joanne stiffened and I shrunk at the thought of where this conversation would go. I didn't make myself small enough because she turned to me, incredulity coloring her eyes. "Well, you know how I feel! The kid should speak English well enough to work here and he doesn't! I can't stand this kind of disrespect. Would you please order me a drink and be reproachful, none of this nicety stuff for the lazy bum?!?"

I smiled at the young man kindly. "Lo siento muchismo. Podemos tener dos Margaritas doble, por favor?"

"Si Senora," he said and was off. Joanne rolled her eyes at me and went back to her book. I could hear her mumbling about my foolhardy tolerance for those who refused to speak English. She didn't care that we were sitting on the pristine white sands of Mexico. Suddenly the long white beaches felt to cramped of a space to share with this burden of a woman.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

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