TITLE: Madison and Undies on Main
By lauren finchum
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Until this afternoon, nothing noticeable ever happened in the town of Madison since the year of its founding. And that was in 1859.
The day started as any other dull, sleeping Monday. Mr. Elson’s clunk of a car wouldn’t start, so he walked his two blocks to work, Annie Right fussed that Rose Lightman’s cat left “presents” in her pansies—as he always did over the weekend—and I brewed my cup of coffee and ate breakfast at 8:30 a.m.
Over my creamy, hot cuppa java, I read the local paper, the Madison Star. I found that, besides Farmer Magee’s cows getting out and running a muck on his dirt road and a slight chance of showers, there was nothing exciting at all for this Madison Monday.
I switched to a big-city Post to find something to wake me up. I folded up the paper with a rustle of its pages before I set off to get dressed for my occupation of washing hair at the local beauty parlor.
There where two reason why no one called this house of “beauty” a salon. One is because practically all the cliental are woman over 59, and they won’t call it anything else, and the other is a shop called “The Blue Poodle” (named after the shop’s featured hairstyle) couldn’t really live up to the term salon.
All I needed was a pink polo, jeans, and broken in, white Keds to scrub scalps and rinse perms, so that’s all I donned.
Heading down the buckling sidewalk, I found the weather was nice and the town quiet. I waved at Tom the grocer as he stocked farmer’s market goods. He waved his ageing, cocoa tone hand at me, “Hey, Aimee-girl. How’s Marshy’s paw?” he inquired of my cat’s injury from being underfoot.
“Just fine, Tom thanks for asking. Yourself?”
“The same.” He stocked peaches.
I walked up to uneven pea-gravel sidewalk that lead to a powder blue building with black shutters. The Blue Poodle was a converted bungalow, and the wackiest structure in all of Madison. Sad to say, it was also the most happening. Yes, the Blue Poodle is only thing resembling a hot spot in this stagnant town, and even then, it not quite up to par.
If I didn’t like most of the people here so much, and had more money, I’d move from Madison to just about anywhere west of Timbuktu.
I pushed my weight against the stiff door and open it. The brass chimes over the entrance chinged, and the odor of a perm, country ham, and Chantilly perfume hit my face. It was a familiar mixture if not a strange one.
“Hi, Lullel.” I called to the one and only beautician in town.
Lullel, a forty-ish woman with a ruddy completion and red hair, looked up from administering perm solution on a client, “Hey, Aimee, I saved ya some ham and biscuits.”
“Thanks.” I said and loaded one up with mustard, “I see you got an early start.” I said between bites.
“Dot wants a perm so she’ll look nice taking Earl his lunch today.” Lullel smiled.
Dot, a very pear-shaped woman of seventy-two smiled, “Yep, I wanna keep it interesting.”
I smiled and walked over, “Medium rods instead of small? Oh, you’ll blow Earl over, Dot.”
Dot grinned, “I’m also baking his favorite peach pie. I’m buyin’ the peaches from Tom when I leave here.”
“Well, Earl won’t now what hit’im.” I gently slapped Dot’s shoulder before heading to put on my smock.
It was two forty-five, and The Blue Poodle had a woman in every chair . . .all three of them. The last to arrive was Edna Martin, a firecracker of an old lady who acknowledged her age, but refused to act accordingly to the cliché limitations.
“Hey Aimee, hey Lullel!” she called in her drawl.
“Hey, Edna,” we answered in unison.
“I want my new dye job. I’ve had this old gray hair long enough.” Edna plopped her butt in a chair to wait, and grabbed an edition of People.
Lullel smiled, “Well, let me get done trimmin' Hannah and check Betty and Grace, then I’ll be right with ya.”
I, having no hair to wash at the moment, was sitting on the counter across from Edna, eating an apple from Tom’s that I had left over from lunch. Edna stopped flipping the glossy pages of the magazine and leaned into me. She pointed to a picture and whispered with CIA-like secrecy “That Brad Pitt is gettin’ sexier and sexier.”
“Sure is. I like maturity in a man.” I agreed with a grin.
“Now this girl has a head on her shoulders,” she pointed an aged finger licked with Congo Red nail lacquer at me.
Everyone laughed—well, everyone but Betty, who was too prudish to laugh at much of anything. Betty pursed her lips á la prune and turned her head to look out the window she sat by.
“Oh, lighten up, Betty. You’ve got a rod up your tail a mile wide.” Edna waved her hand in Betty’s general direction, then looked at me, “That’s why she has so many wrinkles.”
I cupped my hand over my mouth and try not to laugh. Betty ignored Edna’s statement and continued her glare out the window.
Edna brought spice to groggy Madison. No one knew that an event that may not be shaking to most places, would shake up Madison more than Edna’s wise-butt humor.
Lullel had just got Edna seated in a styling chair for a color job. Removing her glittering chandelier earrings from her earlobes and Lullel’s way, she declared she wanted a notable difference to her hair. Edna pointed to me and asked for “chocolate brown hair like Aimee’s”.
I smiled. White to chocolate would defiantly be notable. I mixed the color and brought the bowl to Lullel, who began to brush it on Edna’s roots.
While I washed out Grace’s perm, all that was heard in the parlor was Shania Twain on Lullel’s small radio.
All the sudden Betty shouted, “Oh, my stars!”
We girls turned to shouting Betty. She was still looking out the window, “I just saw an 18-wheeler fly down Main Street!”
At this rose a chorus of voices that wasn’t at all harmonic.
“Betty, 18-wheelers aren’t allowed in Madison—the roads are too narrow.” Edna said.
“Well, I saw one!” Betty insisted.
At that moment the sound of metal crushing metal was heard.
The whole lot of us jumped up and scrambled out the stiff little door on The Blue Poodle.
Right outside we saw that Tom’s peach bin was over, and peaches where scattered on the walk and street like M & M’s thrown in the air willy-nilly.
Tom, in semi-shock, was picking up the un-damaged fruit.
“Tom, what happened? Are you hurt?” I asked as the beauty parlor gang descended in one clump.
“I’m ok, but I don’t know what happened. I was in the back when I heard a racket. I came out here, and this is what I found.” He got out a broom to sweep up the innards of the peaches that had been smashed.
“What’s that?” Betty pointed to a blue, floss-like satin on the sidewalk. I walked over to investigate. I raised my brown in wryness, “It’s a thong.”
Of all the people to find a thong on the sidewalk, it was Betty.
I walked a few spaces, the ladies following, and found a leopard print bra.
“I don’t know who lost that, but I’d like to get me one.” Edna commented. Betty gasped at the comment.
Near the bra were tire marks, “Someone tried to stop.” I stated the obvious.
“While undressin'?!” Lullel asked.
“I doubt it, er—at least I hope not.” I said, and followed the tracks.
At the end there was a huge 18-wheeler, hazard light blinking.
All the woman gasped and I cried, “Oh, my gosh!”
Zeke, Edna’s husband and manager of the Walgreen’s (the only chain anything in Madison) was helping a man whose mantra was “I’m ok, I’m ok” out of the truck’s cab.
When Sheriff Maxton came to the scene, Zeke came over and told us the story. Apparently the driver mistakenly entered Madison and lost control of his truck do to the narrow streets. After taking out Tom’s peaches, the trucker pulled a U-turn to avoid hitting the ancient wrought iron streetlight post, and smashed into a newspaper box.
“As soon, as I saw that the driver was ok, I had to laugh at the cargo he spilt.” Zeke smiled risquély.
“What do you mean?’ I asked.
Zeke motion with his head for us to follow him around the truck. As soon as we got around the truck, we saw the funny mess. There, in the middle of Main Street, was scattered underwear of all kinds—including bustiers.
I laughed. It looked like Victoria’s Secret had vomited on the asphalt.
Betty flounced off while the rest of the women laughed, and we were all afraid Edna was going to dig through the articles and go shopping.
The next day I read the local paper over my coffee. The front page read: “MACK TRUCK WITH QUESTINABLE CARGO CRASHES ON MAIN!” The story followed. I was sure the journalist and editor were happy to write and edit something that didn’t have anything to do with cows or dirt roads. I sure was glad to read it.
It’s six month later, and men still snicker about the “undies on Main” incident—as they call it. Edna still claims she would’ve snatched some cheekies and ran if the sheriff wasn’t there, and prudish Betty still pretends it all never happened and hopes someday to burn the records that say it did.
Since then the only excitement was farmer Magee’s cows on that dirt road, again.
But the “Undies on Main” will last us another 150 years.
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