When I was a pregnant teenager working at a fast food restaurant, an older couple would regularly pay visits to our store during lunchtime. I usually worked the register, so I got to know them fairly quickly. The folks were probably in their 60’s. Floyd would always crack a joke or two, and his Asian wife, Phoung, was always smiling. Sometimes Floyd would underhandedly slip me a $20 and I would always kind of smile and shake my head but take it after he insisted. I got that a lot, working there. People feel sorry for teenagers in my condition.
Floyd was tall and wore a hat, and the couple always showed up in a small black pickup. I noticed that pickup in my neighborhood one day and realized Floyd and Phoung lived down the street from me. I was so excited. Sometimes when I would walk around the block, the couple would be outside working on their yard and I would stop by and talk to them. One time, Phoung had a green something between her teeth. I stared at it as we spoke. I stared at it for a long time because she was always smiling. There were tiny gnats circling her the whole time, too, probably because she was a little sweaty from gardening. After that encounter, I always pictured her the same way. Phoung was ruined.
In 2007, I had that baby who I named Louise. One early morning as I was walking to my car, getting ready to head to my new job with baby Louise in tow, I noticed Floyd walking down the street past my driveway. I waved to him and he smiled really big and waved back. I shouted, “HEY! COME LOOK AT MY BABY!” I was excited to show Louise off to my friend. As Floyd started up the sloped driveway, something didn’t feel right. He walked closer to Louise, who was tucked in her carrier, and said, “Oh! Well isn’t she pretty! Very nice.” And then he just stood there, waiting for me to say something.
I realized this man was not Floyd. This was a stranger who I had just told to LOOK AT MY BABY. I told the Floyd-impostor, “Thanks… well… I gotta go. Bye.” And got into my car, feeling weird.
Til next time,