It was the summer of 1953, and I was feeling good. In fact, I was feeling great. Getting all dolled up was a treat I rarely got to experience these days. This morning my husband and children refrained from knocking on the bathroom door for a full half hour in exchange for a pancake breakfast usually reserved for birthdays. That provided me with just enough time to get ready. I put on my favorite corset with a full blue skirt and crisp, white blouse. Then I applied matching indigo eyeshadow. Finally, I tackled my limp, straight hair. This would take a little extra effort. I carefully took the pin curlers out and tried to arrange it just like the picture I had in front of me from Enchanted magazine. I unleashed half a can of Aqua Net over it and neatly tucked a violet pansy behind my ear to match my eyes. I took a final peek in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised. I was ready to go cruising on the open road. That’s how I felt, anyways. More accurately, I would be driving responsibly through the suburban town of Twin Oaks. But it was en route to a weekend I had looked forward to all year.
It had been a long time since I’d been out on my own. Every time I went out solo, I told myself I must do it more often. But it didn’t happen. My husband, Frank, was extra sweet today by surprising me with the keys to his fixed-up convertible. A bonus of having a mechanic for a husband, I supposed. I had this grin on my face so wide I looked like I was trying to sell toothpaste. Okay, I need to rein this in. My excitement would land me in bed, sleeping, by nine o’clock if I kept it up. But I couldn’t help it. Our girls’ weekends had been reduced to a once-a-year event, and I was giddy with anticipation. I still saw the girls regularly but it was usually for a quick coffee or playtime with our children. There simply wasn’t time to unwind and pal around. This was important to me because I needed to remember who I was other than the roles I had in life, such as wife and mother. These were my greatest joys, but I still delighted in occasionally reviving the immature young woman who loved silly antics and laughing until her face hurt. I could hear her calling to come out as I turned onto Ava’s street.
Ava Russell, my best friend, could make anyone laugh. Her amusing observations and sarcastic tone made her hard to ignore. But it was her big heart that solidified my affection for her. She was a loyal, caring friend, in addition to--or maybe in spite of--her biting wit. I pulled into her driveway and turned off the car. No sooner had I done this than Ava’s front door swung open and she was waving madly at me, making her gorgeous brunette locks bounce up and down on her shoulders. I could see a brilliant yet fiendish smile on her face highlighted by her signature red lipstick, which she swore never to leave home without.
“Izzy, what did you have to do to get Frank to let you take this beauty for the whole weekend? Or is it better I don’t ask?”
She winked at me and I rolled my eyes.
“Ava, I believe proper etiquette is to start with a simple greeting, such as good afternoon, before giving me a hard time,” I remarked.
“Oh, darling, you know I’m just jealous. Frank is such a prince. Bruce barely lets me use our car to go get groceries. If I didn’t promise to bring him back some of those damn potato chips every time I went, I think it would be a real battle.”
I laughed. “Bruce is a sweetheart. You make him sound like a brute.”
“Izzy, please. I didn’t say I’d lose the battle. He’s just not as generous with his precious car. Never mind if he had a car like this!”
“I like to think Frank is simply that sweet but, in truth, I think in the back of his mind he reassures himself that if anything happens to the car, he can easily fix it in the shop,” I admitted.
Frank opened a mechanic shop following his return from the war. I would have said he loved cars, but that wasn’t quite accurate. In fact, he loved engines. He was a hands-on problem solver and enjoyed figuring out how any engine worked and making it run smoothly. During the war, Frank joined the air force and became a proficient airplane mechanic. Since he joined as a skilled car mechanic to begin with, he mastered the craft and then taught it to others. Frank trained recruits on the Avro Anson airplane. Later in the war, upon his request, he went overseas to serve. That was a dark time for me, one I didn’t like to think of often.
© 2017 by Lynn McPherson