Chain Smoking Betties


It’s ten-thirty on a crisp autumn morning. The chain smoking Betties make their way
out to the patio for their morning ritual. Monday through Friday, the come. They are
never late and they never disappoint to entertain me.

When I see them turn the corner from the lobby and head outside, my heart skips a
beat. The anticipation of what’s about to transpire always makes me smile. There
are few free pleasures in life and this one I keep all to myself. In fact, I enjoy it so
much, I have made it part of my daily routine.

They gather at a table under the shade of an umbrella. Inevitably, one of them will
say: “Why are these seats always wet? It hasn’t rained for weeks.” A second one will
notice me and whisper: “Why does that cute guy over there always smile and wave
at us every morning? I don’t know him. Do you? His face just lights up whenever we
come out here. Does he work here? Is he new? Is he single?” Another will promptly
boil it down to brass tax. “Who cares? We only have fifteen minutes. Sit down and
light up, already.” The three of them then light up their respective cigarettes and
start chatting. The topic is always the same; everything and anything to do with the
name Betty.

Recent ten-thirty rants I’ve overheard include:

Betty White’s adorableness
Bettie Paige’s bedroom prowess
Betsy Ross’s questionable sewing skills
The Betty Ford Clinic’s most comfortable rooms
And their favorite; changing the lyrics of popular songs to include a Betty, such as
“You Better, You Bette Midler.”

After the three women have collectively devoured a pack of cigarettes in fifteen
minutes or less, they scurry back inside. They despise the cold. They will return
tomorrow with more trite info to feed their ravenous Betty hunger.

While I, in turn, will continue my daily routine of pissing on their table and chairs at
ten-twenty-five. If I must endure their inane, smoke-fueled-rants, they can idly soak
in a puddle of my fresh urine. There is something to be said for keeping up
traditions, don’t you think? I always leave the patio at ten-forty-five with the biggest
smile on my face. In fact, I feel nearly sober. Nearly. I wonder if they’re hiring here.

Eric Lawson’s work has appeared in such literary magazines as The Houston Literary Review, Hennen’s Observer, and The Bicycle Review. Their newest book About. Fucking. Time. is available now on Amazon.

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