I’m sitting in the Hungry Rosh waiting for my almost-ex-mother-in-law to join me for lunch. I’m halfway through my sabich, a pita stuffed with eggplant, hardboiled egg and tahini, and she’s not here yet. When she called this meeting I reminded her that my lunch break is only thirty minutes. The other flagman is waiting for me to come back so she can get something to eat on this pissing wet day.
Yep, thirty years old and I’m a flagger. That’s one of the reasons I’m a soon-to-be-divorced man. Beth thought she could make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear. She likes a good home improvement job, Beth does. Originally she said it didn’t matter that she was a teacher and I had no ambition. The only thing I really enjoy is drawing comic strips for my own amusement. Beth said all she wanted was company, someone to make a home with.
We’d been married about a year when Beth came home with an application for art school.
“You should develop your creative talent.” She pushed the paperwork toward me on the sofa.
“Nope.” I tossed it on the floor. “I hated school. Never going back. My comics are revenge on the idiots who almost kill me at least once a day.”
At that moment I'd captured perfectly a guy in a Beamer giving me the finger as he raced through our construction site.
“Look at this fool.” I held up a masterful caricature. “He can’t see the cops waiting at the other end of the block. They had a blitz on road safety today and this loser caught a $250 fine.”
Beth didn’t even glance at my sketchpad. She stomped out of the room and slammed the bedroom door behind her.
A bulky SUV squeezes into the parking spot right out front of the Rosh. I recognise it as Millie’s. That’s what I call Beth’s mum: Millie, short for Mother-In-Law. I’ve got fifteen minutes to visit with her which is a relief. I figure she wants to talk to me about going back to Beth. It wouldn’t be the first time and my answer never changes. No. I’m not someone’s makeover project.
“So how are you?” She kisses my cheek and sits down across from me, doesn’t even bother to order lunch at the counter.
“About the same.” I shove the last of the sabich in my mouth and make a production of checking my watch.
“Sorry I’m late!” she says. “You’ll never guess what kept me.”
I shake my head because my mouth is full.
“Remember I told you I went to school with the guy who started the Dilbert comic strip? We skyped this morning and I showed him some of your strips. He wants to syndicate them. Are you ready for a career change?"
© Maggie Bolitho
Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Flagger on M-124 Walter J Hayes State Park near Brooklyn Michigan by Dwight Burdette