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Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

About 30 minutes to the Illinois border, Meg needed to stop. I needed a hot tea–not because I’m tired, but because I enjoy it.

The girls working at the McDonalds are acne ridden with too much makeup and snarly, hickish voices. One girl, who held the door open for us as she headed off duty with her uniform shirt unbuttoned and her cleavage on display, busted back in to the brightly lit store almost immediately as if she was about to burst.

Loudly she announced that “Oh my gawd! Shannon is in jail!”

The store screeched to a halt.

“Some guy was spitting on her car, and she said ‘do that again and I’ll hit ya.’ The guy said ‘I’d like to see that.’ So she hit him with a baseball bat.”  She paused and excitement, rather than horror, was writen all over her face.  “My cousin she’s such a bad ass!,” the girl exclaimed in admiration and with poor grammar.

I peered curiously at the rest of the clients in the order line.  The older woman in front looked disgusted.  My daughters looked stunned.  The guys in front of me looked delighted…or maybe all that was registering were her half exposed breasts.

The manager looked horrified.  I couldn’t tell if it was because of the news, or because of the drama in the store. I hoped it was the latter.

A group of older people behind me just looked leathery, as if they had stood out in a dust storm and if I wiped my finger down each of their cheeks, a layer of dirt would wipe off revealing ivory skin beneath. They seemed unphased by the drama.

As I turned around I saw the manager sneak out the door with the excited girl.

We ordered and hurried back to the silence and darkness of my car, but not before we saw them on cell phones outside of the store chattering like hens. They paused when we walked by, watching us as we went, then resumed as we got in the car.  Girls.

As we got on the highway, I smelled my tea. It was to hot to drink, but suddenly it was as if I was in my parents garage on a cold, rainy winter’s day. My mom was having a garage sale, and I had offered to help watch over the merchandise. I enjoyed watching the people look and pick at the items my parents wish to be rid of. Old purses and jewelry, used tools and appliances, empty picture frames and clothes spread out over aluminum folding tables covered in white paper table coverings. I didn’t want to leave despite my mom’s urging it that is was too cold to stay out.

My dad brought me my first cup of tea. “Drink it,” he said equal parts amused and gruff. “It will warm you up.” I smelled my tea then as I did just now, but perhaps more suspiciously. Its bitter flavor was not appealing then. I added milk to it…and sugar. It was too sweet.

I wonder when I started liking tea? I think about it, but I don’t remember.

We’re getting close to Peoria, and I’m still not tired.  The sky is dark, except for a halo over a town on the horizon.

Meg is asleep after a valiant battle to stay awake. Kate is learning to spell “suspiciously” and do math (miles to time conversion).

It smells like burnt rubber as we pass through champagne. My tea is almost gone…and so are many more miles as I make my way to you.

-M

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