As a writer I like to eavesdrop on conversations. Sometimes those conversations make their way into my writing. Sometimes those conversations are so outrageous they are almost too good to be true. Yesterday, I overheard one of those too-good-to-be-true conversations. I was driving my truck back from a party. My daughter Emma and her friend, Allie, were in the front seat with me. They were both wound up on sugar. That happens when you’re eleven years-old and excited and have eaten an ice cream cone and three lollipops in just under one hour.
Allie is a talker. And I realized a long time ago that she likes to make up stories. She began the conversation as we drove past a flea market on the highway:
Allie: I can’t go to the Fiesta Mart anymore.
Emma: Where’s the Fiesta Mart?
Allie: Tulsa. I went there once and they won’t let me go back.
Emma: Who won’t let you go back?
Allie: The Fiesta Mart people. You know how there’s this law that you can’t discriminate? Like you can’t discriminate against a person because of their color or because they’re a cripple or because they have religion or because they’re a Gypsy?
Allie: Well, I went to Fiesta Mart with my cousin who’s a cripple in a wheelchair and they let her in but they wouldn’t let me in.
Allie: Because I’m a Gypsy. I’m 98% Gypsy and they won’t let Gypsies inside because they think we’re stealers. It’s discrimination.
Emma: I didn’t know you were Gypsy.
Allie: Yep. 98% percent of me is. I’m a genuine Romaine Gypsy.
Emma: Romaine? Like the lettuce?
Allie: I don’t know about the lettuce part. (pause) But I do eat salad when my Grandma threatens that I’ll have to sit at the table until I finish. It has to have Thousand Island Dressing.
Emma: You’re weird, Allie.
Allie: No, I’m not. (pause) But you know what is weird? When dogs have worms and they scoot on their butt across the carpet. That’s weird.
Emma: (laughing) Yeah, that’s weird all right.
Allie: I’m just a Gypsy, I don’t have worms. I don’t steal, either. But the Fiesta Mart people still won’t let me inside. They think I have bad thoughts in my head. My head is only full of cupcakes and ballerina shoes and tiaras, but they don’t know that.
Emma: You should sue them for discrimination.
Allie: I will once I’m grown up. You know how my cousin got even with the Fiesta Mart people?
Allie: She stole a toaster from them. Right off the shelf. She snuck it out behind her back in the wheelchair.
Emma: Did she get caught?
Allie: No way. She’s a good stealer.
Allie: She’s not a Gypsy either.
I pulled up in front of Allie’s house and she got out of the truck. We said our goodbyes and Emma and I watched Allie walk up the path to her house.
Emma: I don’t think she’s really a Gypsy.
Me: I don’t either.
Emma: But I did see two toasters in their kitchen the other day.