“Shuttlecock” is probably my most favorite word ever. It’s that or “Omaha.” Then again, I really like “Texture,” too. It’s possible I just like words. And excuses to say shuttlecock.
…which brings me to today’s story. Yesterday we had yet another open house (this time TWO WHOLE PEOPLE showed up) so the boy and I decided to stroll down to the Pier and enjoy the nice weather. Rocco parked himself on a bench and perused the newspaper while I sought out a clear chunk of grass on the highly populated lawn.
Eventually I found a sunny spot free of both pasty wall-street brokers and petrified goose poo. Remembering my current tan lines and the halter cut of my old married hag of honor dress, I wormed my arms through my bra and tank top straps, freeing my shoulders from future white streaks, then tucked the loops into the cups of my bra. For good measure, I hiked up my skirt and leaned back to collect my vitamin D.
After twenty minutes of watching an awkward man in a suit try to pick up a bombshell in a bikini, I flipped to work on my back. With the smell of fresh cut grass filling my nose and the warm sun beating on my back, it didn’t take long for me to drift off. I flitted in and out of consciousness as different sounds enveloped me – salsa music on a boom box, skateboard wheels against cobblestones, two female voices giggling, the sniffing of a dog near my ear, a cell phone ringing, the crisp snap of a can of soda being opened, a helicopter passing overhead.
…and then a cool springy something flew under the hem of my skirt and lodged itself between my thighs. My eyes flew open in the darkness beneath my ball cap. I wasn’t expecting THAT. I pulled off my hat and looked towards Rocco for some sort of visual cue. My noble protector was fingering his belly button while engrossed in whatever was happening on his cellphone screen.
I signed, rolled over, and retrieved a shuttlecock from my crotch. A giggling, middle-aged woman with wild curly hair and thick plastic glasses was walking towards me with a badminton racket tucked behind her back.
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess this is yours?” I smiled while extending the shuttlecock toward her outstretched hand. (Seriously, it doesn’t get less fun no matter how many times I say it. Shuttlecock. Now you try it.)
“Yeah. Sorry about that.” She erupted in laughter, trying to cover her mouth with the shuttlecock.
“It’s cool. You just caught me by surprise. Normally I score a free drink or two before I’m pulling shuttlecocks out from under my skirt. I’m pretty sure you owe me a drink.”
“Technically, my daughter is the one who…hit the shut…hit you. She just took off running after impact.” I followed the ladies pointing finger until I saw a young girl cowering on a blanket, surreptitiously stealing glances in our direction from behind her racket. She pulled the blanket over her head a mere instant after she met my gaze.
“I’m fine, I promise. I went to college, after all. That area has seen far worse. In fact, you might want to boil that thing.” She pulled the shuttlecock away from her mouth reflexively, then caught herself and laughed.
As the woman wandered back towards her daughter, I put my straps back in place and walked over to Rocco’s bench. “Way to defend my honor, Babe.”
“Huh?” he asked looking up at me.
“I just took a shuttlecock to the crotch,” I scolded.
“I was reading the paper! I wasn’t watching…wait. What? Say that again.”
“I just took a shuttlecock to the crotch,” I repeated. (And I’ll repeat it as many times as you’d like because shuttlecock, shuttlecock, SHUTTLECOCK!)
He gave me the usual sometimes-I-swear-you-make-my-head-hurt face and said, “In Ohio, we call those birdies.”
“Why on Earth would you do that?” I asked, incredulous.
“We tend to avoid using the word ‘cock’ unnecessarily,” he replied.
Add Ohio to the list of places I should probably never live.