Maggie Drew started to take classes, all kinds of classes after her world fell apart two years ago.
” Do something to occupy your mind.” Her friend Bernice said, ” That’s really important because at our age Prince Charming isn’t going to ride up and save you. He’s to busy chasing a twenty year olds and he’s not going to have the time help two little old crones like us stranded at the side the road out.”
Bernice was laughing and tossing her hair around like one of those girls in a shampoo or Tampon commercial, but Maggie got it. Bernice wasn’t talking about them she was talking about Maggie.
Just after September rolled around Bernice invited Maggie out to remind her that anyone who wore Pink during the Fall should be shot ( yes indeed, pink was Maggie’s favorite color and it is always somewhere on her person ). They were at a The Pie Stop when Bernice launched into her newest lesson in how Maggie should present herself to the world and they were sharing something called a Milk Shake Pie. A milk shake pie is something you got when you crammed a slice of pie into a blender with ice cream and smooshed it all together.
It looked like puke, but Maggie had vowed to jump into trying new things with gusto and she did, every chance she got.
Prince Charming wasn’t going to save her, like Bernice said, so giving edible vomit a try while she had all of this free time on her newly defined by Bernice- “old lady hands” didn’t seem like such a bad idea. She wasn’t considering suicide anymore, but her stomach had a mind of its own.
Maggie spent all of her free time at the Community Center- she took sculpting classes and watercolor classes and oil painting classes and she took one on candy making and an entire course of belly dancing.
She even went to a series of lectures on Beekeeping- which if she had to choose turned out to be her favorite.
Bees, she decided would never endanger their hive by running off with another colony they hooked up with on a dating app after 35 years of marriage.
Bees, Maggie decided were pretty trustworthy when you came right down to it.
On one of Maggie’s increasing number forced marches with Bernice down the ruined road of her life, Bernice noticed that Maggie always looked vaguely surprised when Bernice reminded her that her husband had run off and left Maggie an invisible Crone, stranded at the side of the road with the rest of ‘us Crones’
That was ok. Bernice was here to remind her. Because that’s what Crones did for each other. They supported each other, they were each others ‘she-roes’ and Bernice was happy to remind Maggie that is where she was and belonged in the grand scheme of life.
Maggie of course didn’t see herself as a Crone, but sometimes you had to let things slide- especially if you aren’t in a real position to get a word in edgewise. One should not be defined by other people. She read that in a self help book once- the cover had flowers on it and Maggie still had it on her bookshelf at home.
Bernice, oh Bernice, Maggie’s little cloud of bitterness drifted around to Maggie’s end of the street now and then to check up on her and to most importantly to remind Maggie that ‘ at our age’ women need to stick together.
That was Bernice speak for” I’m going to hang out with you, whether you me to or not.”
Maggie had opted to drive instead off taking her motorcycle out on errands on one of those days that Bernice decided ” Crones like us ” should stick together.
Bernice hopped into car right after Maggie started it and the auto locks hadn’t kicked in yet. Bernice slipped her sunglasses down from the top of her head. ” So what’s up for today?”
For a second Bernice’s entire performance in that moment reminded Maggie of one of the men’s shaving cream commercials where a woman was on hand and ready to admire the amazing results of this must have product.
” I have to pick up some supplies for a project I’m going to start work on. Want to come along?”
It really wasn’t an invitation on Maggie’s part, it was more of an affirmation- she had taken a class on making life affirmations at that Community Center. They put their affirmations on poster boards in magic markers and decorated them with glitter and their choice of stickers that the instructor had brought in for them to use.
She found that class to be very helpful in this moment, like what she was affirming in her head at that exact second was that Bernice was a fixture in her life a and that this unhappy situation could really work out to become a positive experience and an advantage too.
Anyway, what she learned in her class.
The craft store was big and bright and surprisingly utilitarian for a place where creative people bought their fabrics and glues and wax and needles and chocolate molds and doll eyes.
The downside was that setup didn’t really invite you stop and chat or browse. The racks and shelves invited you to find what you needed and be on your way.
” What class are you taking now?” Bernice pushed her sunglasses up over her forehead and tossed her head around a little and lifted her chin up when she was done.
On cue Maggie asked ” Are those the Dior sunglasses your sister got you for Christmas?”
After a quick series of lectures on how ‘crones like us” ( Meaning mostly Maggie) should dress and act and let their hair go gray ( meaning Maggie ) and should accept their invisibility status ( absolutely meaning Maggie because no way in Hell would Bernice let herself go to seed ) Maggie jumped in.
Could you grab me that package of pins from the shelf over there?”
Bernice held back a smirk. For all of her classes and riding her Harley to work on sunny days, Maggie still needed someone to get stuff off of the to shelf for her.
Bernice reached for one of the little acrylic boxes offering an assortment of pins ” Oh not those, -” Maggie reached over Bernice’s shoulder and pointed ” those”
Bernice reached up and as she did Maggie bumped into her shoulder.
” Oh sorry.” Maggie moved back and Bernice tossed the pins into the cart.
” So what class are you taking now? I think it’s great. Crones like us should share our talents with each other.”
” Actually, I’m not taking a class for this project. I’m sort of brushing up on an old talent of mine.”
Bernice wasn’t listening, of course.
Maggie let Bernice walk ahead of her and she kept her hands behind her back until Bernice turned the corner at the end of the aisle because
in one hand Maggie was holding a tiny pair of scissors and in the other a snippet of Bernice’s hair.
Maggie’s eyes went from dark brown to yellow and back again. Then she took the handle of her shopping cart and pushed it down the aisle to the check out counter.