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The Continuing Adventures of Mildred and Suzette
By Katie B. Goode
If You’ve Got It…
“When did you know?” Suzette asked her friend, Mildred, wearing her most sympthetic look.
Mildred’s eyes teared as she looked beyond the restaurant’s terrace to the green and red flag waving over the malecon. “I was at a party. I saw Patsy on the other side of the room and wanted to say hi.”
“So I waved. But when I stopped, my arm kept on going. Undulating. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.”
“Oh, it couldn’t have been that bad…”
Mildred bit her lip, embarrassed. “It hypnotized five people at the next table.”
Suzette pulled her shawl tightly around her. “Is that when you knew?”
“That I was getting… old?” Mildred looked around the nearly empty restaurant. “Yes,” she whispered.
Eduardo passed by to see how his favorite gringas — and their pitcher of margaritas — were doing. From the look on their faces, they were talking about something very important, like the big charity auction he knew they were planning, so he decided not to bother them, even to tell Mildred that a line of salsa was trailing down her white Mexican wannabe dress.
“And now?” Suzette prodded.
Mildred swiped a tear from her cheek with a tortilla chip. “And now, I worry that if I raise my arms on a breezy day I might get airborne.”
Suzette watched an ultra-light buzz the lake and imagined Mildred, arms spread wide, soaring high above it.
Mildred noticed Eduardo gesturing to the front of his shirt. She wiggled her fingers to him in a delicate wave. “Maybe they’ll put me on the menu,” she said to Suzanne, trying to lighten the mood.
“An appetizer. Bat wings de Mildred!”
Suzette felt under her wrap and jiggled her arm. “You think that’s bad. I could be the main course. Deep-fried funky flab fillets.”
“Yeah. Remind me not to rest my arm on the table. Someone might mistake it for a pork loin,” Mildred laughed.
“Or a great floundering halibut!” Suzette said, getting into it.
Mildred held her hands to her face in mock horror. “Watch out for that fork!”
They both laughed, a little too loudly, then clicked their glasses together and paused. Suzette motioned to Mildred, who finally noticed the salsa salsa’ing down her front. Eduardo sighed in relief and returned to empty the last of the pitcher into their glasses. It was a slow day, but he could always count on his regular lunch ladies to keep things interesting.
“What do you think, Eduardo?” Mildred asked, stretching out an arm and letting her flab swing free. “Am I growing baby aliens in there?”
“Señora Mildred?” Eduardo asked, suddenly remembering the ladies at table four had asked for their check.
“What would he know,” Suzette sighed, admiring Eduardo’s muscles, visible under his white waiter’s shirt. “Men don’t get arm flab.”
Mildred sipped her drink, lost in thought. “The worst thing is I didn’t even see it coming.”
“Yeah. It sneaks up on you,” Suzette said, studying her half-empty glass.
Mildred’s eyes squinted into slits. “Blubbery bundles of bad news. Mistletoe on the oak tree of youth!”
Suzette brightened with an idea. “Of course, we could exercise…”
Mildred’s look was pure disgust. “You mean torture sessions where you touch the ceiling with your elbows while lifting weights heavier than your firstborn?”
Suzette watched an old woman below the restaurant sweeping twigs into piles, and felt guilty about worrying about such trivia as arm flab. “As things go, it’s really a no-thing. I mean, we’ve got plenty to eat, the sun is shining, and no one’s shooting at us, so why should we complain about you-know-what?”
Mildred stared at Suzette, wondering if she knew her friend at all. She took a deep breath. “Old lady arms are one of the first markers that our youth has vaporized on the vine, that we’ve scooched past middle age and gone right to grannyville, that we’re heading for the big flabfest in the sky!”
“But what can we do about it?”
Mildred took one last swallow of her drink and was hit with a tequila-inspired epiphany. Her eyes widened.
“What?” asked Suzette.
“I’ve been a fool! I’ve been looking at this all wrong. What we need is an attitude of sass-itude!” Mildred looked at the ladies across the terrace at table four and raised and waved both her arms. “My name is Mildred and I have bat wings!” she shouted.
The ladies forced smiles and quickly turned back to figure out who owed what. But Mildred would not give up the fight. She stood.
“Do not go quietly into the arm flab night, hermanas. Wave! Wave those arms. Wave them proudly. We are not ashamed,” Mildred said, the flab on her arms doing the tango.
Eduardo looked worried about his favorite customer and her margarita consumption as table four made a quick departure, glancing over their shoulders at the ranting crazy woman.
“Flash the flesh in the old lady sisterhood salute! Greet your fellow flabettes with pride. Flaunt that flab!”
Suzette, a true friend, stood, dropped her shawl to the chair, stretched out her arms, and muttered under her breath. “Anything but those dang exercises.”