“No.” The world stalled into a tail spin of disconnected slow motion. I watched the blueberry stain on Daisy Mae’s upper lip meld into the cinnamon gloss she kept applying every five minutes. I didn’t dare let her know that a drip from her melting cone had already splotched a new circle on her satin blouse. The room twirled but I had to ask.
“What do you mean, ‘no’”? I tried to look into those hazel eyes of hers but Daisy Mae turned away. She popped the last part of cone into her mouth and picked up a framed picture of the two of us standing down at Kingston Beach. The writing in the top left corner was mine ‘Reg and Daisy Mae.’ The heart floated above a date three years ago. She gently wiped off the dusty frame with her forefinger. I watched her swallow.
“Reg, I said ‘no’. I meant it the first time, I meant it the second time, I meant it the tenth time. No!” She wiped quickly at the edge of her left eye with the back of her right wrist. This word never seemed to register for me. I casually glanced at the other pictures of us. Trail riding. Canoeing. Volleyball. Hiking. Making a snowman. Raking up autumn leaves. Carving Pumpkins. Decorating the Christmas Tree. Even one of us in church.
“So let me get this right, Daisy Mae. My mamma’s pie beats your momma’s pie at the county fair and now you can’t marry me?” I got up off my knees and put my hands on the back of the black swivel chair she hunched into. She tried to budge it forward an inch or two.
“That’s only part of it.” Daisy Mae’s perfume was Passion. Her words were not. Her body sagged like a rag doll as the air rushed out of her. She hunched her shoulders forward away from me.
“You’re not going to tell me that my daddy beating your daddy in checkers matters!” The strands of her long blond hair moved across her shoulders in rhythm with her shaking head.
“It wasn’t the checkers.” For an instant her head gained altitude. I took the cue.
“Chess?” I wracked my brain to think of what events at the county fair could have undone years of romancing.
“It’s not fair that your daddy wins everything.”
“So, you’re saying no to marrying me because my momma makes good pies and my daddy is too strong?” As soon as I got the words out of my mouth I knew I had put the kettle onto boil.
“There you go, twisting my words again.” I knew the buttons but I couldn’t stop pushing them.
“So, you don’t want this diamond ring?” I should have taken my Dockers and ducked out. Instead, I wiped my sweaty palms across the thighs of my Levis and fiddled with the buttons on my Calvin Klein dress shirt. The best one I had.
“Why do you have to make everything so complicated?” Somehow the dots were not connecting in this picture. The punch line was not falling into place. The Roller Coaster ride downhill refused to lose momentum. I played my part.
“You being part of your family.”
“So you won’t marry me because of who my family is?” I began to slowly turn the swivel chair so I could look into Daisy Mae’s eyes. She didn’t try to stop me this time. Finally, she looked up.
“Just imagine what folks would say.” She was pleading. I fixated on that blueberry stain as she applied another coat of cinnamon.
“Who cares what folks would say?” I knew everyone in my family was already planning the party. Daisy Mae was everything they could hope for when it came to someone like me.
“My daddy sure does.”
“So, your daddy’s sore because he lost all the events and now he doesn’t want you connecting up with me because he’s not willing to lose his daughter as well.” I pushed us over the edge into the abyss of no return.
“You’re making my dad out to be some kind of poor sport loser. I wouldn’t take your diamond ring if you got down on your knees and begged me.” She uncoiled from her chair like a cobra and sunk her poisonous darts into my heart. I retreated to the door.
“I already begged you ten times.”
“Then fine, you know my answer is ‘no’”.
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