The Continuing Adventures of Mildred and Suzette…
By Katie B. Goode
Hopping On The Wisdom Train
Mildred hurried up the steps to the restaurant, late for her weekly lunch with Suzette.
“Problem?” Suzette asked as Mildred plopped into her chair.
“You know, you give your all raising your kids, think you’ve done a good job, then at least one of them turns out to have pickles for brains.”
“Ahhhh,” Suzette said, rolling her eyes and thinking about her own pickle-brained one.
Mildred glanced around the nearly empty terrace as Eduardo delivered her usual margarita, on the rocks, with salt, and set it on the green tablecloth.
“Muchas gracias, Eduardo!” Mildred said. “Usted es magnifico.”
Eduardo smiled, happy to see his favorite gringas.
Mildred raised her glass. “To convent life.”
Suzette hesitated, then clinked her glass with Mildred’s. Without conviction.
Mildred studied a woman a few tables away, her white mane streaming over her shoulders like Moses on a good hair day.
She sighed and looked back at Suzette. “That’s a wise woman. You can just tell by looking.”
Suzette squinted at the woman, who truly did look like she had all the answers.
Mildred leaned back in her wraparound chair. “I always thought that someday, when I was older, I would become wise.” .
“Yes, in my fantasies, I would be a wise woman, loved and admired by all,” Mildred said. “A sultanette of sagacity whose devoted children would run to her for advice and direction. Whose grandchildren would revere her as the source of all that was perspicacious.”
“And it hasn’t turned out that way?”
Mildred studied the lake, as gray and roiled as she felt today. “I keep waiting.”
“Yeah. Me, too,” Suzette said as they rose to forage at the salad bar.
“Remember I told you about my newspaper days?”
“Sure,” Suzette said, picking up a chilled plate.
“Well, about the time things were really cooking, I discovered my brilliant rocket scientist fiancé was a psycho-in-disguise. Certifiable.”
“I escaped. Literally. Quit my job, moved in the middle of the night. Then I asked myself why I hadn’t seen it — and why on earth I kept making one rotten choice after another.”
“Did you get an answer?” Suzette asked, spooning marinated mushrooms over her tomatoes.
“Better. I had an epiphany! Almost like a voice broke through the clouds. Seek wisdom from your elders.”
“So I did! Off I went, reporter’s notebook in hand, to seek enlightenment from the wise ones at a local retirement home .”
“What’d they say?”
“They said… I don’t want to be old.”
Suzette laughed, topping her ensalada with shredded carrots. “Here’s to that!”
“They said other deep stuff, too. Lillian’s a farty old lady. Children are ingrates.”
Mildred arranged her jicama slices into a pyramid as she thought back. “Well, there was one handsome old gentlemen sitting in a corner looking like he was pondering some deep philosophical conundrum. When I asked him about wisdom, he took my hand, looked deep into my eyes, and said… “You seen my teeth, honey?”
“Yes! Where was the sage counsel, the luscious philosophical plums, the astounding acumen that would change my life forever?”
“They gave you nothing?”
“Nothing,” Mildred said. “I’d hoped to walk away with pearls of wisdom that I could string into a necklace of brilliant insights.”
Suzette giggled. “Instead, you learned that although gas may increase with age, wisdom is not a natural byproduct?”
“Exactly! Some of us are born with wisdom, some of us achieve wisdom… and, some of us have no hope.”
“Not you,” Suzette said, trying to be supportive.
Mildred sighed, grinding pepper on top of her edible work-of-art. “Well, I don’t have a clue how to get through to that son of mine.”
“But you can’t give up.”
“Yeah, so maybe I’ll wake up one of these mornings and find I’ve hopped aboard the wisdom train without even knowing it?”
“Or maybe someday, if we chase down the tracks long enough, we’ll eventually catch a ride,” Suzette said, hopeful.
The two friends looked at one another, then burst into laughter as they sat down to enjoy their salads. “Nah!”