Saturday, September 19, 2009

MISS AUDIE BRIDGER



Miss Audie had gone on a trip to Pensacola once, with her brother ‘n'em, and they stayed in a MO-tel and went crabbin’ and spent quite some time touring the several souvenir shops close by.

And Miss Audie had seen her first flamingo. Well, not a REAL one, with the pinky-rose feathers and upside-down bill and storky-legs and all, but whole flocks of them, frozen in plastic and glass and ceramic, standing in ashtrays like in water, and beneath slapdash leaning palm trees and printed on shirts and skirts and postcards and handbags, clustered around seashells holding soap, dabbling their heads upside-down in bowls of permanent shiny stuff with tee-ninecy plastic fish and lobsters embedded in the bottom, crooking their slender necks around thermometers and pens, and in all manner of other postures on quick-buck souvenirs. And she was smitten.

She thought them the height and depth and breadth of Nature’s talent for outlay of Beautiful. She loved the pinks, and the rose, and all the Made-in-Japan shades in between on those impossibly-structured and colored birds. They just COULDN’T be part of THIS world. Nothing that rich and strange could exist outside of Heaven itself, and she pictured the gawky grace of those long legs trying to stroll those Golden Streets, their graceful necks like a bevy of worshipful giraffes, bowing to Glory.

And she brought home dozens---she ate crackers and ketchup every time they went out for supper, eating only on the nights they had just-caught crabs and light bread and chili-sauce and cans of Showboat or Pride of Illinois or Bumblebee Tunafish they’d brought from home and cooked up in the Motel kitchenette. She saved every penny for buying flamingoes. Had there been an Outlet Store selling the live ones, she’d have crated up a pair and brought them home to her backyard. She just fell in love with those things right off the bat, and it lasted.

She talked about them at church, and at Club, and at WMU and Prayer Meeting; she likened them to God’s Own Doves, right up there in the CHOSEN of the animal kingdom. She looked for pictures of them, and begged used copies of Southern Living and Redbook from her neighbors, just in case someone had vacationed there and chronicled it on the bright pages.


Miss Audie almost came to a falling-out with Mrs. Davenport, when on the second trip to the bathroom during Club one Second Thursday, Mrs. D. happened to see her flicking through Mr. D.’s prized collection of National Geographics, hoping to rip out a picture and get back before time for Reading of the Minutes.

And her glorification of the birds, so beautiful in their garish grace, and the corruption of their reputation into dimestore gee-gaws—all that caused the title to start---Flamingoes were just TOO TOO; they were gaudy and proud and snobbish and just getting Too Big For Their Britches. And anyone, anytime, was open to ridicule as a Flamingo, by getting above themselves in dress, or expenditures or choice of vacation spots, automobiles, or too-elaborate Weddings for their Daughters.

Uppity ways segued from Puttin’ on the Dog to Flamingoin’---and all due to Miss Audie’s love affair with those wonderful pink birds. And it was Pure Grace that she never DID catch on.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Delightful!

Janie

racheld said...

I'm just glad that Miss Audie's fixation centered on something really beautiful, garish though the depictions have been for so long.

After all, flamingoes are WAY better than lots of "collectibles"---like sad-eyed waifs or painted cats with eyelashes.