Jolly Mrs. Benbow, arms a-jiggle as she lifts the cup to her lips, tilting the saucer to show the maker’s mark SPODE on its bottom. Her great-grandmother’s cup, she will invariably remind anyone in earshot.

To her left is Mrs. Wright, the eldest and most severe. Her only vice is the single slice of lemon she allows to profane her tea, perhaps the only nourishment of her day. I believe she dines mostly on spite.

Mrs. Teal and Mrs. Dogwood round out the party, born minutes apart, alike as two peas. Their late husbands could not have been more different.


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    • J Hardy Carroll

      Thanks, Rochelle. I remember sitting and watching my grandmother’s friends. Her friend Virginia was a southern belle, a woman with a deeply creased tea-colored face and vividly dyed crimson hair who referred to the “nigra problem” and kept a black housekeeper who spoke to her like Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind (but spoke differently to me, saying that “Miss Virginia won’t understand if I talk to her regular.”) I was reading a local article where students interviewed “our seniors” and was appalled that learn that these “elderly” were born in 1940. My grandmother’s friends were born in the years hugging the turn of the century.

  1. Lynn Love

    Love those characters and defined in so few words – I love Mrs Wright with her lemon slice for nutrition and her name fits her too, I’m sure she always believes she’s right! Wonderfully concise and clear – I just want to know what they’ll talk about!

  2. granonine

    Oh dear. NOT the kind of old lady I want to be. Arm’s a-jiggle, severe, spiteful–ugh. The arms I already have, but at least I can cover them with my sleeves :)

  3. Fatima Fakier

    These characters would make for the most interesting story. “dined on spite” together with the lemon in her tea, made Mrs Wright a standout character. One can picture her, all sour-faced and poking her nose in other people’s affairs.

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