So I got on the phone the next morning before work and called Meemaw up. On her land line. She’s got a cell phone, but she hates it and always has trouble hearing me on it. She hears fine on her landline though. And I told her the whole story about Joyce, from when she came into the store all the way through the steak dinner, the phone, and (with some of the details left to Meemaw’s imagination) what happened back at Joyce’s place.
“So what you’re telling me, HB, is that you’ve got a middle-aged woman infatuated with you.”
See? There’s a reason I called Meemaw.
“She’s infatuated with you and, from what you say, she’s got a lot of money. She’s spending it on the boy she’s infatuated with, probably because she’s never had a boyfriend with your looks. You know I don’t bet, but, if I were betting, I’d wager she hasn’t had a lot of boyfriends at all.
“Now, if she’s gazing into your eyes and telling you they look like sapphires, I reckon she’s enjoying herself. She said that she was giving you the phone to make you happy. It probably made her more happy…although she’s probably fretting over it too now. Getting a gift is the easy part. Giving it is the hard one.”
Like I said: there’s a reason I called Meemaw. She just gets things. That word “infatuated” made things drop into place for me. I mean, I knew Joyce liked me, and I knew I liked Joyce…but it never crossed my mind that she could be that into me.
I knew Meemaw was going to say that she couldn’t tell me what to do, and that I had to make my own decisions, but I still asked her what she thought I should do.
“I can’t tell you what to do, HB, you’re old enough to make your own decisions. You’ve had girls infatuated with you before. I can think of a few without having to work my brain too hard. How’d you handle them?”
I guess I let them down easy. Or tried to. I didn’t want them to hate me afterwards. Sometimes that worked, sometimes that didn’t. Once, it got really ugly. We’ve got a saying: “he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.” If a situation could fall out of a tree, that’d be the one with Becky Sue Landry in the eleventh grade.
“But this is different from Becky Landry in the eleventh grade.”
“How? Every chicken looks at the cock of the walk the same way.”
“Just get out with it, HB. Long distance costs money.”
Sometimes I don’t understand what Meemaw says. Like what’s long distance?
“Okay…I like her. I…like…Joyce. I enjoy hanging out with her. She’s got interseting things to say. Way more interesting than anything Monica says.”
“That’s when she’s not telling you your eyes look like sapphires.”
“Becky Landry was a pain in the ass. She kept sliding notes into my locker.”
“And a whole lot worse…”
“I wanted Becky to go away and leave me alone. With Joyce… Okay, I don’t want to let her down easy. I’d like to keep seeing her.”
“There’s your answer. Only remember, HB, she’s got a whole lot of feelings for you and I don’t want to hear that you broke the heart of an older woman who was dumb enough to be taken in by your pretty face and sapphire eyes. And I don’t want her going and killing no rabbits neither.”
Killing rabbits? That must have something to do with long distance.
But I got Meemaw’s point: I’m going to need to be careful and thoughtful if I was going to keep seeing Joyce. Sounds like it’s part of being a Southern Gentleman. It was easier before Meemaw explained it all to me.
“Ok…so what do I do about the phone?”
“I don’t know anything about phones, but it sounds to me like you like this one, HB.”
“Yeah, of course. It’s way cooler than any phone I’ll ever be able to get myself.”
“You’d be rude to give it back, and I don’t want no grandson of mine being rude and ungrateful. Don’t tell people they should’t have done something when they’ve already gone and done it.”
“So I should keep it?”
“I can’t tell you what to do. You’re old enough to make your own decisions. And do you want your baseball playing buddies to know that your meemaw runs your life? I just give advice.”
Dang good advice, too.