The diamond-shaped traffic sign read, RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT. Darn, she thought. How did I get in this lane? This isn't where I wanted to go. I'm 68 years old. I shouldn't have to put up with this anymore.
For the past 40-some-odd years, I have made these stupid compulsory right turns. My entire life has been an endless stream of right turns. For Pete's sake, I've never even used a double negative. My camellias, sweet dears, get top priority garden space.
I speak to my neighbors, take casseroles for births and deaths, respect my elders, what few who still could be considered such, and make gravy the old-fashioned way even when the potatoes are reconstituted from instant flakes. And by golly I make sure to sprinkle conversations with plenty of y'all, and sugah, and fixin' to, and dahlin.
Morally responsible, I taught my children the difference between good and well and how to properly use each. You'll never hear one of my offspring saying she slept good. My silver has never tarnished and my china never chipped. I made it a priority to live up to Mama's expectations and I always respected my mother-in-law in words and deeds.
And this stupid sign thinks it can tell me to turn right. I'VE TURNED RIGHT!
At 68 years old, after a lifetime of room-mothering, homemaking, schedule-keeping, carpooling, volunteering, entertaining, and putting on the pretty face of perfection, she found herself at this turning point. Her children long ago left home and started families of their own, bringing grandchildren to visit on Christmas and Thanksgiving and a week during the summer. She and her husband settled into a routine of comfortable coexistence, she still believing her mission was the same.
Despite her anger at getting stuck in the right-turn-only lane, she put on her blinker in obedience. The man is 72 years old. Why did he wait until now to tell me he was so unhappy? People our age don't split up. They widow each other. How awfully convenient for him to retire from work and from marriage at the same time; after all those dinner parties I hostessed to keep him climbing the career ladder.
People our age quit work and start collecting junk mail and taking telemarketing calls and buying stuff from the friendly folks on QVC. We bury our money in mason jars in the tomato patch and forget our kids' names. We hoard Styrofoam meat packaging and yell at dogs to get off of our lawns. But good heavens, we don't do the D-word. What will Estella and the girls say at bridge when I tell them?
Horns honked. She let off the brake and eased forward. The blinker click-click-clicked.
That silver bon-bon dish is mine. He can't have it. I earned it. It was hard work being the kindergarten treasurer that year. And did he help? Oh no. Too busy with work.
Cars flowed by on the left while horns continued honking behind her, jarring her memories. The light turned red again.
I am a foolish old woman. How many years have I carted around that stupid, stupid dish like it meant something. Whoop-dee-doo! I'm 68 freaking years old and all I've got is a silly silver bon-bon dish that I've had to polish since my kid was 5 years-old. I never even put any bon-bons in it! To hell with right turns.
She whipped her wheel to the left, merged into uncertainty and pressed the gas. And for the first time in her life she didn't dread the bright yellow RIGHT LANE MUST EXIT sign.
Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.IfMama.com.