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I watched the minute hand waver between two thin lines as I heaved a sigh. Just ten more minutes until my shift was over. Ten more minutes until freedom, I thought. I took out my miniscule white pad, ready to take another order when I suddenly heard a familiar high voice.
“Is that you?” she gasped. “It is! What a small world we live in!” she squealed, plopping a big wet kiss on my face.
“Oh, hey Aunt Marge,” I said, meekly, trying my best to wipe the red smudge from my cheeks. “How are you?”
She plopped her bulky ruby bag down on the table and flamboyantly flipped her hair to the side, taking a seat.
“I’m as happy as a lark!” she exclaimed cheerfully. “How about a penny for your thoughts?” she winked.
I watched uneasily as she picked up the leathery black menu. Aunt Marge was the one person I was always embarrassed to be with, not only because of her unusually jolly personality and cheesy phrases, but her tacky clothes that seemed as if they were from the 1940’s.
“What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” she asked. “You know, you’ve gotten so much taller since the last time I saw you. Turn around so your Aunt Marge can see you.”
Awkwardly, I turned in a full circle, aware of the snickering from the table of freshmen behind me. My cheeks flushed red as I realized that my aunt was wearing her tight leopard blouse with baggy khaki pants and grandma loafers.
“You’re a chip off the old block!” she exclaimed. “Why, you look just like your mother! Pretty as a flower! Now, if you need a few tips on picking up a few blokes,” she nodded towards the table behind me.
“Oh, I’m just yanking your chain!” she laughed, when she saw my flustered expression.
I cleared my throat, trying to manage a weak smile. “What would you like to order, Aunt Marge?”
“Hmm, let me see. I’ll have the cheeseburger with extra mayo, hold the pickles. Actually, you know what? I’m as hungry as a bear! Give me the chili-fries too.”
“Sure,” I said, as I turned to head back into the kitchen, relieved to be away from my overly embarrassing aunt.
“Wait!” she called. “I’ll be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail Just let me get my purse. I’ve always wanted to take a tour of where you worked!”
“Sorry, Aunt Marge, but the kitchen is sort of for employees only,” I said, biting my lip, hoping that she’d get the hint, but I could already see her heading towards me. She opened the large metal kitchen doors and stomped in, her overpowering perfume lurking behind her.
“By golly!” she exclaimed. “This place is busier than a one-armed paper hanger!”
“Young man, you’re not slicing those onions correctly!” she said to one of the helpers. “You cut, chop then dice, and you can take that to the bank!”
“Uh, Aunt Marge, your food’s ready. I think we should go back outside,” I said, giving the man an apologetic glance and leading my aunt back to her seat.
“Listen, Aunt Marge, my shift just ended, so I’m going to-”
“That’s great! Sit down with me, have a few fries. Now, I’ve got a story to tell that’ll knock your socks off!”
I sat there in silence as I listened to my aunt drone on and on about how her son was the star in their school’s play, The Food Pyramid.
I decided to take advantage of the silence as she finished up her burger.
“I should really get going now,” I said, peeling off my uniform.
“It is getting kind of late,” she said.
Relieved that I would at least get to enjoy the ride home without having Aunt Marge rambling on with her incessant cheesy phrases, I waved good-bye and headed for the exit door.
“You’re not getting home by bus, are you?” she asked.
“Uh, yes, I am,” I said, my hand on the door, ready to push it open.
“Listen, the only time you’re going to be riding on a bus when I’ve got a perfectly good car to drive you home in is when pigs fly! You got that? Now, where are my car keys? Gosh, I’d lose my head if it weren’t attached to my neck!”
My knuckles turned white as two choices wavered in my mind. I could run out the door and catch the bus or I could wait for my aunt and spend my twenty minute ride home with her. Sadly, I chose the latter.