Excerpt from Day 3: Â About Betty…
Betty was an interesting character. Â She was my parentâ€™s age but didnâ€™t act it. Â And by that I mean that she didnâ€™t act old. Â My dad acted like his life was already over and my mom acted like she didnâ€™t have a life but Betty was full of life. Â She had boyfriends, not just one or one at a time, but guys she saw periodically. Â I remember asking her if she ever wanted to get married and she just laughed it off.
â€œHoney, Iâ€™ve been married and itâ€™s not for me. I donâ€™t need a man to complete me or tell me what to do. Â I need a man once in a while to have some fun with and thatâ€™s about it.â€
She was what the folks in town called a â€œfree spiritâ€. Â She was the frequent subject of gossip, but it always sounded really envious to me. Â I remember at one point thinking to myself that I wanted to be like her, to be the subject of envious gossip someday. Â As it was, I was the subject of plenty of tongue wagging around town, but it wasnâ€™t the kind anyone would enjoy.
Betty co-owned the diner but the other owner was someone I didnâ€™t meet for a long time. Â One of her many boyfriends, he lived in the city and owned some bars and restaurants there. Â The story that went around, one of many actually, was that heâ€™d wooed her for many months before he accepted that she wasnâ€™t gonna walk down the aisle with him. Â Going in on the diner purchase was as close as sheâ€™d come to marrying anyone, is what she told me. Â He came into town about every month or so and sometimes sheâ€™d go off with him to some exotic locale. Â But she retained her independence and ran the diner the way she wanted to and, for the most part, he didnâ€™t interfere and didnâ€™t seem to mind that she had other beaus coming around. Â I could always tell when someone special was in the diner, even before I could recognize them all. Â Sheâ€™d seat them near the door to the kitchen so she could visit with them. Â One time she seated a very tall, very dark gentleman there and I saw some of the town wags staring at him and yammering amongst themselves. Â I asked her, â€œIs this one your boyfriends?â€ and she replied â€œNot yet, but I reckon he will be.â€ Â And sure enough before long she had him grinning at her and laughing at her jokes. Â I saw him later waiting outside in his car and after closing she went out and leaned on his door and talked to him for a moment, then leaned into the window and kissed him. Â Then he followed her car in his. Â Thatâ€™s the kind of thing that got Betty talked about in town. Â I remember after that some of the most strident rednecks in town came into the diner and gave her a hard time about it but that didnâ€™t impress her much. Â I think they were all worried about her big city boyfriend because Â we didnâ€™t get much more than some pathetic graffiti about her being a nigger lover.
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