Who has the last word?

Who has the last word?


Who has the last word?
Back in 1954, my thumb was numb on Interstate Highway 30 in freezing January weather on the border of Texas and Arkansas states. 
I was on the outskirts of a town called Texarkana, shuddering and standing, wanting to hitch a ride up to Dallas, Texas.
At the vantage point where I stood, there was a shack serving coffee and donuts, with a sign saying ‘Twice As Nice’. 
The letters on the sign were obscured by icicles that had formed on it, and I wondered what it meant. 

It was a long wait in the numbing cold, with fist clenched and thumb stuck out as request for a lift. 
Fords, Chevrolets, Buicks, Chryslers, an occasional little Nash, and even Lincoln Continentals and Cadillacs whizzed past, gifting me with cold gusts of wind in their wake.

The vehicles’ whoosh sounds were getting to me. My cheeks and lips were frozen. No one was stopping to pick me up. 
A 1949 Chevy Clipper did stop, finally, and a white-haired gent rolled down his window, stuck his head out, and in the cold air, breathed out vapour as he asked: “Where to, fella?”

 He said he was not going as far as Dallas, but would take me part way there, to a place called New Hook. I’d need to take it from there. 
“Hop in at the back and shut the door gently,” he added. 
I muttered my thanks.

We soon reached New Hook and the old couple in the front seat began an argument. 
The wife said, “Ed, I am sorry, I forgot my glasses at the Texarkana coffee-donut shack. We need to go back.” 
Through his dentures, the old man sputtered and fumed about how they would have to drive back 45 minutes to fetch them.

He went on and on about her forgetfulness and negligence. 
“You ought to shape up, Betty, that’s what you need to do. Shape up. And how can you forget your eyes back there at the table, eh?” 

And, “When will you ever learn, Betty? Eh? When?” 
She did not answer even once. “Isn’t it a waste of time driving 45 minutes and driving back 45 minutes?
Gas has gone up to 23 cents a gallon, you know.”

The gracious grey-haired lady maintained a dignified silence. 

They had had a lifetime together and she knew his ways, while a total stranger like me was getting agitated about how he went on and on at her. 
We reached the diner where the glasses had been left. 
He pulled up and parked, and she quietly opened her car door to go and get the forgotten item.

As she was moving out of the car, he suddenly looked a little contrite, and with a complete change in his tone of voice, said, “Er... wait, Betty. Er... there is a bit more.”

Then he said, “Betty, while you are getting your glasses, also pick up my credit card and diary. I’d forgotten them on the same table.”

“Yes, dear, diary and credit card coming up,” she said with a smirk.

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