Dollar Bill Green

July 16, 2009
By Teresa Ristow BRONZE, Ashland, Oregon
Teresa Ristow BRONZE, Ashland, Oregon
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Carl Choo never spent more than 15 minutes on a lawn. My mom said she would watch him from across the street when he went to Elizabeth Burton’s lawn and that as soon as the engine of his old Taurus stopped, that’s when the clock started running. He would walk out of the car and as he walked around back he would hit the gas on the mower, and then swing around to the end of his pull trailer and cart the mower down, already turned on. Why if there was grass coming out of the cracks in the cement between where his tool trailer ended and the grass began it would’ve been an inch and a quarter long by the time Carl started mowing the lawn. Yeah boy he had it down pat, and as soon as the mower went back in the trailer, the edger came out, all in the same smooth movement, and just the same with the blower after that. I would have thought, well my mom and me would’ve both I suppose, that nothing would ever distract old Carl Choo from getting a lawn done as quick as he did. And I really can’t relate I suppose, because I’ve never been the type of girl to be awestruck by an attractive member of the opposite sex just because of their looks or the way they walk or something. But man oh man I have never seen someone loose their concentration, especially someone as focused as Carl Choo, as the day when Rhonda walked by.
Personally, I judge people quite a bit on their names when I don’t know anything about what they’re really like. I know, it’s really pretty inconsiderate based on the fact that people don’t pick their own names, but I guess I’ve always been kind of set on this since when I was eight and decided I’d rather go by Ali than Melissa. My mom got mad and said that Melissa was my dead aunt’s name and I was called that as a tribute, and that Ali didn’t even make any sense from the name Melissa. But I would always just justify it with the fact that all the letters of Ali were in Melissa, even if it was the wrong order and they weren’t all together. I told my mom that when I named my kid her name was going to have as many letters of the alphabet as I could fit into a coherent word so that my daughter could do like me and rearrange as she pleased until she got a name that she liked. My mom finally said I could do what I wanted, but still insisted on calling me Melissa until about the freshman year of high school when I put my foot down and got my dad to help me have it legally changed for my 14th birthday. Then I showed my mom the ID card I got from the Nevada state DMV and said it’s time to respect my decision. Well I didn’t quite say it like that, I whined and b****ed a little more but then she finally started calling me Ali, at least in front of my friends and then in public, and then eventually all the time except when I was in trouble. Then she liked to be mean and shove it in my face that I was born with an ugly name. Yeah she wailed my name out at the top of her lungs about five times when she caught me out on Marshall street with a bunch of “sleezy scum girls” (her words not mine) after 10:30 curfew one time. She drove alongside us on the other lane of the one way street yelling it out until I was so embarrassed about it that I went with her, and for the next week, I swear, my friends kept asking me when I would have ever gotten into that car with the crazy lady when she was calling someone else’s name.
I had been able to erase Ali pretty well from my past, being at a big school with only a few people who could remember far enough back that I had a different name once. I finally told one of those sleezy scum girls, Sam, cause she ended up being my best friend most of junior year. I thought when I was leading up to it about to tell her that she was going to feel so special for knowing and be all shocked and what not, but she hardly even remembered that night, and I had to remind her of the whole thing, and it sort of became one of those situations like when you have to explain why something is funny and in that itself it isn’t funny anymore, but it would have been.

I’d never met Rhonda, and regardless about what effect she was about to have on Carl Choo to distract him from his moving, I still thought it was an ugly name. I would never, and I know when they say in a million years that it’s just an expression, just a hyperbole or whatever you call it, but I mean it, I would never, in a MILLION years, name my daughter Rhonda. I mean what could you even spell out of that? Honda. And I am not about to have my daughter running around with some crazy liberal energy efficient hybrid kind of name. No, not under my watch. Well, when Rhonda walked by, and to be honest it really was just a walk, not even a strut, not even with a bounce, Carl Choo was staring with his eyes so big and his jaw so far dropped that he probably stopped breathing and was just letting his heart beat twice as fast to make up for it. He probably would have kept gawking and walking alongside her, probably would have pushed him mower halfway to Marshall street (yeah she was probably headed there anyway), except he walked the thing right into the Burton mailbox. The box post cracked, and it was not just any crack, but a crack right through dollar bill green hand painted craftsmanship. Now Carl Choo turned his head and directed those popped out eyes and gaping jaw to the mail box, as it slowly tipped over and fell and rested its container head on the freshly trimmed grass that he would probably never manicure again.

Now I knew it, and my mom new it, and we just all assumed I guess that Carl Choo definitely knew it, but Elizabeth Burton was a witch. Burton would have yelled at her flowers to grow faster if they had ears, would have yelled at her friends to be friendlier, if she even had any, and we damn well knew she would, and did, yell at anybody that did anything in her presence that was not up to her standards. She was a widow, of course, and I think I heard once that she used to be in pageants. It made a fair amount of sense as she wasn’t awful looking for her age, and I could see how being a ex-pageant queen widow could make a lonely old woman into a grouch. Not that I’m saying that I support any part of her being as mean as she could be, just saying that I guess I understand a little.
Burton was always mean, but we used to see a kind side to her, once ever month or so and then for a few weeks during the summer when her grandson would visit. We thought that even though he probably had no idea, that this boy, I think his name was Lance, held on to the last drops of kindness and happiness left in that older woman’s soul. Well somehow every found out that last summer Lance was in a car accident and ended up paralyzed and half brain dead, and since we never saw him anymore we assumed she ended up the one that was visiting him, at least for a while anyway. She kept to her house much and nobody noticed her too much, expect she always seemed in an ok mood when she walked out each day to get the mail. Now I didn’t much like talking about it, but everyone else talks and I hate to listen but gossip is tasty and one way or another I heard that the reason she would always prance out to get the mail was so she could get another look at that mailbox. Apparently one of the last times Lance had come over this last summer, and I guess it was when I wasn’t home and wasn’t when Carl Choo was there, but who knows Rhonda could have walked by, Lance had sat out on her front lawn for about three hours (some of the gossip says two days straight, but I’m skeptical) and had hand painted his grandmother’s mailbox in dollar bill green with orchids all over it. It was beautiful, I’ll surely admit that, and I’ll tell you what, at that moment when Mr. Choo mowed right into it, I would’ve rather changed my name back to Melissa than be in that man’s shoes right then.

I won’t get too in to anything, or how we never saw Mr. Choo after that afternoon when he stood out on the lawn, six inches taller that Elizabeth Burton but 10 feet smaller than her, or how from inside the house across the street the yells were muted and we could only imagine the words coming out of her mouth, but I will be sure to tell you about one thing. It was about the following summer when Carl Choo did come by Elizabeth Burton’s home, but it was just walking by in passing, with a couple of fingers slung into the back pocket of Rhonda Choo.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Aug. 1 2009 at 7:45 pm
kiwi12 PLATINUM, Austin, Texas
28 articles 10 photos 365 comments
I like this, it's unique, although some of it I do not understand.

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