Another Mama Lou Misadventure

Apple Fritter Tarts

Ethel Mae Watson nosed her vintage Cadillac Seville into the parking space. She opened the door, stuck her head out to judge her distance within the two lines. Muttering under her breath, she slammed the door closed, eased the selector into reverse. She adjusted the rear-view mirror, glanced over her shoulder, first left then right, then backed out slowly.

She straightened, leaned over the steering wheel, trying to look past the hood of the late model classic, backed up a bit further before shifting the car into drive. She gently tapped the accelerator and the car moved forward until it tapped the concrete parking block.

Selector in park, door opened, head out, smothered curses, Ethel Mae closed the door with slightly more force than her first two tries at parking the car.

“By the time you park this car to your exact specifications,” her passenger drawled, the voice a raspy contralto softened by honeybee southern sweetness, “the picnic will be over and my apple fritter tarts will be stone cold.”

Ethel Mae shot a side-eyed reproach towards Louisa Metcalf, known to most folk as Mama Lou. Her friend sat primly on the bench seat, her hands folded over the food carrier in her lap, as she stared straight ahead. At five foot nothing, barely a hundred pounds sopping wet, the American classic would seem to dwarf her. However, with her hennaed hair glowing bright red in the mid-day sun, her back iron-board straight, she gave the impression of a queen sitting on a throne. That is, until Ethel Mae spied the wicked light gleaming from her sharp, hazel eyes. Louisa was her oldest friend, they’d shared each other’s lives for over fifty years and Ethel Mae had long since  learned to ignore her snippy ways.

“Louisa,” said Ethel Mae. “You and I both know that patience is hardly your virtue but the last time you parked, you got too close to the line and somebody scratched the paint.”

“They smeared the dust,” Mama Lou sniffed.

“Still, it never hurts to be precise.”

“Which is precisely,” Mama Lou’s mumbled under her breath. “why your Chemistry students called you Nitpick Watson.”

“My students loved me,” said Ethel Mae, as outrage spread across her pretty brown features. “Where did you hear something like that?”

“Oh, never mind,” Mama Lou palmed the head of her cane. “Can we get out now? We are the head of the set up committee and it wouldn’t do for members of the Friendship Community Church to show up for the annual church picnic finding only leftover ant carcasses and dried up apple fritters.”