Favorite White Trash Moments #1

1. Location: Trailways “Silver Eagle” bus from Dallas to Houston, at about age 11. I sat in the far back left, across from the restroom (as usual), so I could look out the back window as we rolled along. For some time — how long I can’t guess, but it seemed like most of the trip — a nearby woman of about 45-50 had been applying all manner of makeup to her face. She sat across the aisle and one row forward, directly in front of the restroom. My dad (who was, as usual, sitting with my mom behind the driver he knew) ambled back, told me quite audibly that he was about to take a dump, and stopped briefly to note the lady and her fastidious attention to amending her appearance.

After about 15 minutes, he emerged, stopping again above the lady as she continued to apply makeup. Without hesitation, he looked at her, shaking his head slowly from side to side. With his gravelly East Texas voice, he said, “Lady,” then a short pause, “That ain’t gonna help you!”.

He glared silently right at her for a full two or three seconds afterward, as if to say, “Yes, I meant exactly what I just said,” then returned to his seat. Her hands froze as the mascara applicator fell into her lap. She gasped with incredulity, mouth fully agape and hidden behind the other hand. As my dad walked forward, the woman turned toward me with a silent, astonished glare, before huffing and going back to her “war paints” (as my dad later called it).

Her response to my dad, fleeting but unforgettable, was the stuff of the zaniest Al Jaffee caricatures from MAD magazine. The look combined unrestrained horror with the color and tone distortions of thickly and badly applied layers of every form of makeup. Imagine Phyllis Diller, “Edith Bunker” and Michael Jackson all rolled into one, frozen in a look of abjectly offended shock. I have not seen a more bizarre expression on anyone, in person.



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