Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Catch Me If You Can

This is a continuation from yesterday.

    "Get under the table now!  We'll block you with our legs.  He'll never see you."
    I slid right under, not questioning their logic at all.  I'd sluffed from school.  My dad stood at ten o'clock and I refused to get busted in front of everyone at Burger King!  It was a good thing four of my guy friends were on my side and there to save the day.
    "Oh my gosh!  He didn't even order and now he's coming this way," Dave whispered above me.  "Everyone act natural."
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    So, my dad sauntered up to the table.  I knew because he wore these huge cowboy boots which put fear into my heart.  He didn't have spurs, but for some reason I imagined what spurs would have sounded like if we lived in the Old West.  I think my dad knew a skunk hid in his midst and that skunk was me!  Maybe he wanted to call me out of that place and either have a shoot-off or ground me for a month.  
    I think my friends imagined the gun-slinging contest too, because I swear their knees started shaking next to me.  After a moment, it felt like I was in a meat grinding machine right there in Burger King!  It was sucky, plus, getting kneed in the ribs, it's not what Heaven is made of!
    "Hey, boys," my dad said.  "What are the odds of meeting you here?"
    Who was he kidding--there were no odds!  When you get caught one-hundred percent of the time, chance is out of the question.  I shouldn't have sluffed school--it was asking for heartache.
    "We're doing . . . fine . . .," Dave said in a small voice.
    "Sir," another guy added, then pushed me with his leg so I had to crawl closer to the wall.
    "It's strange seeing you here, without my daughter.  The five of you are always together lately."
    "Yeah . . . yeah, she's a live wire that one."
    "What do you mean?" my dad asked and I watched as one of Dave's feet kicked another guy in the shin.
    "Ow . . . She's just . . . well, she should have been a red head."
    What was that--enough with the small talk!  Those tiles were nasty and I hated putting my hands where millions of shoes had been.  I could smell someone's feet too.  I wasn't quite sure who I smelled, but I had my suspicions.
    "Uh huh.  You wouldn't happen to know where she is.  Do you?"  Oh, my dad toyed with us!  He toyed with us bad.  Where was my white flag to wave in surrender?  Maybe he'd be easier on me if I just crawled from under the booth and gave up, got away from the stinky feet and took my hands off that greasy floor.
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   "She's probably at school, Sir.  That sounds like Elisa, always getting good grades, studying and picking the coolest friends in school."
    How sweet of him to compliment . . . himself!
    "Well, it's nice seeing you here."
    "Bye, Sir."
    My heart beat faster than eggs in a blender.  I wanted to get out of there.  I'd only kissed two guys and being surrounded by a bunch of male legs, well it wasn't my style.  "Can I come out now?" I asked.
    "Shhh.  No."
    After a moment Dave handed me a napkin.  "Your dad just finished ordering and now he's sitting RIGHT behind us," the napkin said.
    What the hell?!  I didn't want to stay there forever.  What was the point of sluffing if I couldn't sit ABOVE THE TABLE and eat! 
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    It sucked.  I couldn't write back; I didn't have a pen.  Maybe that's what Helen Keller felt like, unable to communicate with most other people.  I felt bad for Helen then, really bad.
    After a moment, Dave held another napkin by his leg.  He held it a bit too high up if you want to know the truth.  I grabbed the napkin and thought if he did that one more time I might punch him in the nuts.
   "Your father," the napkin read, "keeps looking at us."
   Well what was I supposed to do?  Looking wasn't a crime even in Texas!
    Another napkin. "He won't stop. Hang tight and we'll tell you when he leaves."
   So, they WERE terrified, just like me and my greasy hands.  But men (especially boys) seem to forget about things far too quickly and before long the napkins stopped coming and the guys started laughing and joking about some girl they had all kissed.  There I was UNDER THE TABLE and those "friends" thought they were at a Sunday picnic!
    That made me angry.  Plus, the girl they joked about was my buddy.  I had to get revenge.  But what could I do?  I was stuck under some stupid table.  
    Then a thought hit me; I know it's the oldest trick in the book, but it's old for a reason.  Since I was already down there, I started tying their laces together.  No one forces me to hide (under the guise of protection) and then forgets about me.  I smirked, almost sniggering as I tied all of their laces together except for one guy who had Velcro skater shoes AND was nice to me--he got off easy that day. 
    After A LONG TIME, Dave said in a regular voice, "Your dad's gone.  You can come out now."
   I crawled over the web of laces, pushed their legs aside and stood at the end of the booth.  My hands felt yucky.  My jeans had gross spots on the knees and I bet I smelled like feet.
   "I never want to sluff," I said in a low voice, "ever again."
   "But he didn't catch you.  You got your ninety percent."
   "You don't think he caught me?  Seriously?  That was my punishment.  Since when does my father sit down at a fast food restaurant?  NEVER, that's when.  I'll be out waiting by the car.  And I'm not riding in the trunk this time.  I get shotgun."
    They held their breath--shotgun was a sacred thing.  They didn't even argue, though--I was a woman on the edge.  I turned fast after that and hauled butt out to the car.  I knew they were about to stand and their laces were still tied together.  I didn't want to be around when they hollered and yelled about the new member of their clan who didn't like hiding under tables.


    So, my dad never told on me, he didn't even call me out.  But I will never forget waiting under a booth forever.  I definitely got my ninety percent that day, exactly what I deserved.

    My dad took me out for my birthday last week and I finally got some guts.  I told him this story and after he finished laughing I asked, "When I was fifteen and sluffing, did you know I was there under the table the whole time?"
    "No," he said.  "I used to go eat there quite a bit."
    "So of all the places for me to sluff, I picked your favorite place?"
    "Pretty much."  He laughed.  "That's life for ya.  You couldn't spit without us catching you."