One of my earliest memories is of being carted back to Kmart in a borrowed Cadillac and being hoisted up on the counter so that I could confess to the manager that I shoplifted a Bonne Bell Lip Smacker, in cotton candy flavor.
Mum encourages me to wear a wonderful slip-lined tulle dress for the occasion. Light pink in color, with a matching drawstring purse. She giggles approvingly when I add the white cotton gloves to the ensemble. What fun we girls have!
I am not really sure what type of crime it is that I committed, nor what might happen to me after I forcefully confess to it. So when I wave goodbye to mum and sissy from the backseat of the Cadillac, I am not entirely sure I’ll be seeing them again.
“Goodbye, Mummy! Goodbye, Sissy! I’ll miss you!” I call out.
And they stand together, there in the front garden, looking just as beautiful as ever, loyally waving until we take a turn onto the main road and I’m out of sight.
“I want you to think about what you’ve done,” Mr. Fisher says now, from the front seat.
But I accidentally don’t. And this is not because I have bad manners. It is because of the plush interior of the Cadillac, and the way it captivates my attention in an all-consuming sort of way.
The heady, male scent of the leather.
The natural creases in the soft, frictionless seat.
The elegant silver switches on the armrest.
What are all of those switches, anyway?
I sneak a quick peek at Mr. Fisher in the rearview mirror, my fingertip poised irresistibly on the toggle nearest me.
is mr. fisher called mr. fisher because he looks like a fish?
And I put forward pressure on the switch and jump a bit as my window begins its smooth descent.
The other way for Up again.
And Down, ever so slightly.
And the silver toggle adjacent does the opposite window.
And now both of them, together.
“Enough!” Mr. Fisher pronounces, and I snap to and cross my ladylike hands in my lap.
But now my hair is being all blown around in my face, incoming wind from both sides, so I slip out of my seatbelt and lean way forward to tug lightly on the bottom of Mr. Fisher’s waistcoat.
“Ach! Jesus!” He swipes at my hand. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Huffy man, this Mr. Fisher.
“Sir? May I please put the windows up?”
Mr. Fisher doesn’t respond, just makes some flustered noises and then, lo and behold, rolls up my windows from his own set of switches.
I strain my neck forward for a better look.
“Sit down!” he screams. “And put your seatbelt on!”
I do as I’m told because that is what proper young ladies do. But even I can tell that Mr. Fisher is overreacting. Goodness.
Now he’s muttering something from the front. I catch an, “If your father could see the three of you, I swear…”
The three of us hear this a lot.
“I’m sure he sees us,” I tell Mr. Fisher reassuringly.
Mr Fisher throws a quick look at me over his shoulder and shakes his head.
doesn’t mr. fisher pay attention in church?
I cinch open my purse and take out my Bonne Bell Lip Smacker. Well, not mine, exactly. I remove the pretty pink lid and hold the cylinder right up close to my nose. Inhale deeply.
it really smells like it would taste better
I slide the gloss several times around my lips, then smack.
In the distance, I can see the big, red Kmart sign.
I sit up straight. Poised. Graceful. I’ve never been more ready.