This story replaces the several parts of the previous Women in White with one story. A followup to Men In Black, this describes my further adventures with Connecticut Transit. See Men in Black below and the open letter to CT Transit below.
Women in White
(The counterpart to Men in Black)
I was planning my next bus trip when the doorbell rang. It was the woman in white. I had seen her many times on that Progressive auto insurance TV commercial. The one who talks to people about switching over to Progressive Insurance. The one with the collagen-stuffed lips. She stood at the door in her white uniform somewhat embarrassed while holding a bouquet of flowers.
“Are you Mel?”
“I’ve have been so impressed with all the writing you are doing and I just had to meet you.”
Surprised and caught off guard, I didn’t know how to respond. She introduced herself as Mollie. “Here, I bought these flowers for you. I just had to meet you. I hope you got a new car.”
As I thanked her, she broke out into the following song:
“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with your limousine.
Let me hear you whisper, that you’ll buy the gasoline.
Keep those headlights burning and your hands upon the wheel.
Let me call you sweetheart. I’m in love with your automobile.”
I told her I was sorry but I still didn’t have a new one yet. She pouted with those botoxed-enhanced lips that reminded me of a swimming goldfish. “Oh, that’s OK!” she chirped. “We can handle that. We’ll just get you a car loan.”
I don’t know where it came from, my muse or wherever, but suddenly remembering my old car, I broke out in song.
“Let me call you Lizzie, I’m in debt for you.
Let me hear you rattle as you used to do.
Keep your headlights burning and your taillights too.
Let me call you Lizzie, I’m in debt for you.”
Unfortunately, she misunderstood and got into a huff because she thought I was calling her Lizzie. When we got that straightened out, she asked how I was getting around.
“I’m trying to use Connecticut Transit. But they don’t make it easy,” I answered.
“Oh! We insure them. They get unusually low rates.”
“Why is that?”
“Apparently their utilization rate is low. They don’t seem to drive the busses very much.”
* * *
Slowly, oh so slowly, I trudged up the hill to my home. After a day on the road, I wanted nothing more than to relax over a glass of wine. I rounded the corner and saw to my dismay her!
It was the woman in white, Mollie from Progressive Auto Insurance. She had been showing up sporadically at my front door. Oh No! I thought. Another hassle with Mollie.
I approached the door. Mollie stood outside holding a broom that I had been using to sweep the stoop earlier that day. She tapped the broom on the steps spreading the already worn-out bristles.
She glared and snarled. “I see you’ve been out all day with that blue-streaked hussy. I spend hours waiting for you and you’re gone all day spending time with her! How could you be with her when she sells herself? She even paints ads all over her.”
“But I …”
She crossed her arms and tapped her foot. “Mel,” she said, “I think it is time you made a commitment.” A beat.
Oh God! The C word.
“I don’t think I’ve had enough time yet to commit,” I answered. “How can I commit? It’s too soon to buy Progressive Auto Insurance. I haven’t even gotten my car yet.”
“Well, if you weren’t so cheap, you’d get a car and than you wouldn’t have to spend all that time with that painted street-crawler, that Connecticut Transit bus. Than you could spend more time with Progressive.”
Being with this woman was like being in a Broadway musical. The devil made me do it. I couldn’t help it. I broke out into a song:
When the whippoorwills call, and evening is nigh,
I hurry to my blue heaven.
A turn to the right, and an ugly sight,
Will greet you in my blue heaven.
You’ll see a tattered rug, a frightening mug,
And a dreary room.
And a dizzy dame that wipes my frame,
With a worn-out broom.
Just Mollie and me, and Progressive makes three.
We’ll battle in my blue heaven.
I had to get Mollie off my back. But how? Then I had an idea.
Mollie glared at me. “I don’t appreciate your humor.”
“Look,” I said. “I have someone I want you to meet.”
“OK.” She glowered. ‘What’s his name?”
“Sammy. He works for Six Flags.”
“What does he do?”
“He has a high position in advertising and promotion. In fact, he wears a dark suit to work.”
“What does he look like?”
“Well, he’s tall; has a great personality. You’ll really like him. Plus, since he rides everywhere, he really needs to buy insurance and Progressive might just work for him.”
Mollie got excited. A new potential romance plus a sales conquest. This was perfect.
“What color hair does he have?”
“Actually,” I said hemming and hawing, “He’s kinda bald. But in a good way. He looks like Telly Salvalas. He has that same aura of hidden sexuality, the kind of bald head that women really go crazy over.”
“Oh Wow! I used to go crazy over Telly Salvalas when I was a kid. He was sooo sexy. When can I meet him?” She bounced up and down on her toes chirping in that annoying voice of hers. Then she hesitated. “He doesn’t use Connecticut Transit does he? I won’t go out with anyone who rides that blue-streaked nightmare.”
“Oh no! In fact, he hates Connecticut Transit. Seems like he had a traumatic experience several years ago when he was a kid.”
“That poor kid. What happened?”
“I’m not really free to discuss it. I’m sure you understand.”
“Let me give him a call and see if he’s interested. I’ll let you know.”
As she walked away, I heard her singing,
“Give me a man who is a dark-suited man
Who will fight for the right to ride the rail.
A man who will ride, through the rain and the snow,
Through the sleet, through the slush, through the hail.
Oh! Doorway to doorway, it’s my way; it’s your way,
He’ll rides til he dies and he never will fail.
In that car he insures and he drives to the shore
Riding and riding and riding and riding forevermore.”
Shoulder to shoulder & bolder and bolder
He’ll glow as he rides to the fore!
Start me with one, a stouthearted man
And I’ll soon sell 10,000 more.”
Be careful Mollie, what you wish for, I thought.
A few days later, Mollie and I met for coffee. “Did he call you?” I asked.
“Yes, we’re getting together after work at Six Flags. He’s going to give me a tour of Six Flags and we’re going out to dinner afterward.” She broke out into a rousing chorus of:
Some enchanted evening
Someone may be laughin',
You may hear them laughin'
Across a crowded room
And night after night,
As strange as it seems
The sound of their laughter
Will haunt your dreams.
“Tell me, how do I look?”
“Well, when I suggested adding a little color to your outfit, I was thinking of something like a red scarf. I don’t know about that.” I pointed to her brooch. It was the letter ‘A’ outlined with red rhinestones. “You might want to reconsider the scarlet letter,” I said. “He might misunderstand. Where did you get it?”
“I won it in a contest at work. For making the most sales of automobile and bus insurance including that nightmare, CT Transit.” She seemed puzzled. “Why?”
“Well…it’s just that the ‘Scarlet Letter’ uh…has certain connotations.” I explained to her the origins of the ‘“Scarlet Letter.’”
Mortification flashed across her face. “So that’s why men keep staring at me. How embarrassing!” She hid her face in her hands.
“What does the ‘A’ stand for anyway?’
“Aggressive. I won the right to be called Ms. Aggressive Progressive. It’s considered an honor.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I caught it in time. Sammy may misunderstand,” I said wondering how long it had been for Sammy.
“What I want to know is why can’t I wear my rhinestone brooch.”
As she walked away both removing her rhinestone brooch and leaving me with the bill, she broke out in one of her inane songs.
Like a rhinestone cowgirl
Riding out on a bus in a star-spangled rodeo
Like a rhinestone cowgirl
And I dream of the things I'll do
With a subway token and a dollar tucked inside my shoe
The next morning I waited at the coffee shop for Mollie. I was anxious to see how her evening went. Mollie stormed into the shop slamming the door behind her. Cups on various tables around the room rattled.
Her eyes were dark, stormy and reflected the fury of a scorned woman. As she stomped across the room, she slammed herself in the chair opposite me. It was through clenched teeth that she muttered something that I was unable to pick up. I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear it.
“Coffee?” I asked.
“No thank you.” Her voice brimmed with coldness and disgust. “How could you do that to me? The only good thing about last night is at least I didn’t have to take Connecticut Transit to get there.” Mollie’s hell-like fury was not that of a scorned woman reflecting the fifth circle of Dante’s Inferno, but rather she expressed the heat of the ninth circle, that holds the hottest flames.
“What do you mean?”
“First of all, that sexy bald head you told me about? Like Telly Savalas? He was bald all right but his head was sunburned, peeling with flakes of skin falling on his shoulders. I would have thought it was dandruff, except he didn’t have any hair. And that dark suit? It hadn’t been cleaned in 30 years. It had mustard and ketchup stains and grease form all those rides.”
“Look, I know he needs a little cleaning up, but…”
“His voice…he kept perseverating, he kept saying, ‘More rides! More Fun!’ He wouldn’t shut up. He stank like a damp moldy swamp on a hot day. And to make it worse he tried to cover it up, not by bathing, but by excessive bay rum. Then he acted like I was his nurse.”
“What do you mean?”
“When he saw that rhinestone brooch…”
“Please don’t tell me you wore the Scarlet Letter,” I interrupted.
“Why shouldn’t I wear it? I won it! I’m proud of it!”
“He asked if I would get him a cup of water while he took his medication.”
“Sammy’s on meds? What were they?”
“I don’t know; just that the pills were little blue ones. He took six or seven of them.”
“You do know what those little blue pills were, don’t you?” I asked. “They were probably Viagra.”
“Arghh! Yuck! Gross and disgusting!” Her face pinched into a horrifying expression of nausea. “That explains it!”
“What?” I asked.
“About an hour after he took those pills, he started getting a little…” She hesitated. “Frisky.”
“What do you mean?”
“He started rubbing my back and saying things like ‘More rides! More fun!’”
“Then what happened?”
“It got worse; you know that ride that all the little kids use, the one where they pretend to drive a car around in a circle?”
“Yes. Don’t tell me…”
“Yes, he got on that ride. But it wasn’t a little car he drove. Oh no! He sat on top of a little Connecticut Transit bus. It was so embarrassing! His feet and legs tucked up in front of his chest and his hands around the steering wheel. Him and all the toddlers. But it got worse. After the ride started, he sang that song while riding around in a circle.”
“What song?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to here it. She broke out in song.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
Round and round. Round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
But not to the town.
“People stared and laughed. And, that dinner we were supposed to go to? He took me to a concession stand! It wasn’t even a sit down one. We stood up around tables. He didn’t even have to pay! He got it free because he was staff! I don’t want to see him again!”
I knew I was in trouble. But maybe I could still salvage the relationship. “You know, Mollie,” I said, “If we clean him up and teach him some social skills he might just surprise you. You could have a nice little man there. You know, put a rug on his head and so on.
“And it not as if the men are beating down your door,” I added.
She hesitated. “Well, he got to clean himself up. But I don’t think you’ll be able to do it. And even if he did make himself presentable, he still needs to develop social skills and age appropriate behaviors. In fact, I think he’s so inept that I’ll make you a bet. You get him cleaned up and teach him some social skill and I’ll give him one more chance. But if you can’t, you will buy Progressive auto insurance from me. You have two weeks. Deal?’
“OK.” I knew I had my work cut out for me.
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