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Humor July 2018

Puttin' on the Gritz

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Purse

By Cappy Hall Rearick

I tossed my cloth napkin on the floor so that I would have a reason to crawl underneath the table. Did I want to seriously slap that woman into the middle of next week? Oh, yes.

“I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it.”

I’m never going out with Abigail again. We’ve known each other since we were kids and up to now I’ve been tolerant of her addiction. You see, Abby is a thief. Let me explain.

Recently we had lunch at an upscale restaurant, black cloth napkins and everything. The waiter, Jules, even asked if we wanted tap water or Pellegrino. Sweet.

Right before my eyes, South Georgia Abby, born and bred in a town so small it doesn’t even have a name, turned into “Downtown Abby.”

“I shall have,” she began, “a tumbler of tap water, if you please, along with a dish of sliced lemons. Make sure that they are washed by hand and cut into crescent shapes that can be easily squeezed. I shall also require extra sugar packets. I so hope we are clear on this because I dislike repeating myself.”

I tossed my cloth napkin on the floor so that I would have a reason to crawl underneath the table. Did I want to seriously slap that woman into the middle of next week? Oh, yes.

After the waiter’s shiny oxfords disappeared from view, I crept back up and attempted to regain my composure. My face was red as a radish; my embarrassment off the charts. As soon he returned, Abigail decided to go all Maggie Smith on him.

To his credit, he cleared his throat and waited patiently for us to peruse the menu and make up our minds on what to eat. I asked him to give us a few more minutes and he turned on his heels so fast it gave me vertigo.

The minute he was out of sight, Abigail grabbed all the sugar packets on the table and stuffed them in that piece of Samsonite she calls a purse. Like a crazy woman, she searched all over for something else to snatch.

“Abby, do you have to do that,” I asked. “You’re stealing things as if you’re a bag lady. We’re not at Burger King.”

She sniffed, gave me a “Her Ladyship” look and then loaded a bunch of creamers into her purse. I was prepared to stop her if her hand got even close to the silverware.

“It’s called a built-in loss,” she said as though talking to a moron. “You probably don’t know that. Unlike Moi, you’ve never been one to take advantage of what is right before your eyes.”

Abby walks the walk.

“What do you mean built-in loss? That’s just your word for thievery.”

Without glancing at me, Abby dumped two sugar packets into her “tumbler” and squeezed four crescent-shaped lemon slices into the glass. She stirred it, licked her fingers and then dabbed her hands on the black cloth napkin.

“I much prefer lemonade to tap water, don’t you? Why should we pay two-fifty when we can so easily make lemonade ourselves right here at the table? And it’s free.”

“In some circles,” I said, “they call that Redneck Lemonade. So let me ask you again: What does built-in loss mean?”

“It’s how restaurants offset their overhead, Silly. They expect to lose a few pennies on sugar packets. Ergo, they don’t even miss them.”

When my salmon salad arrived, I ate every delicious bite. Abby picked at a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup. She then asked for a take away box and a go-cup for her table-made lemonade.

“Don’t forget the crackers,” I said through clinched teeth. Her hand was in the cracker basket before I finished the sentence.

Last week, I played bridge at her house, When I went to the powder room, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, in plain sight, was an enormous display of obviously pilfered miniature soaps, shampoos, lotions, even mini-bottles of mouthwash. I dried my hands on a guest towel adorned with a Hampton Inn logo.

When I went into her kitchen for a “tumbler” of water, miniature packets were everywhere. Sugar, creamer, soy sauce, jelly, ketchup, vinegar, salt and pepper. Her stack of paper napkins bore the names of 13 different restaurants. I didn’t ask if the muffins she served us had been hoarded over time from Cracker Barrel.

That’s why I’m never going out with Abby again. Should you see an arrogant 70ish-woman toting a purse the size of a Barcalounger, do not approach her. The woman will steal you blind.


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