ETHEL WINS ANOTHER BET
I got slapped down today for saying, “Yes, Ma’am” to a diner I was waiting on. She was dressed to the nines and sitting with three other “Ma’am’s and I had no idea what she wanted to be called so I asked her what her preference would be. “I’m sorry. How would you prefer I address you?” I asked and she said anything but Ma’am. So I was fucked, good and fucked.
She was probably in her sixties and I’m twenty five, well groomed, no piercings, tats, and not even a mullet. My posture is good, breath refreshed constantly, I’m attentive to my tables and pleasant at all times.
One of the women from her table went to the ladies and spoke to me on the way back. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “I’m Ethel; Mary Jane has a problem with Ma’am and would prefer to be called “old biddy” which was a term of endearment used by her late husband. Try it,” she said. “It’ll reflect in your tip also.”
I went back to the table with a water pitcher and asked, “Is everything alright with you ladies and all but “old biddy” nodded their assent so I said, “And how about you, Old Biddy, everything fine here.” The other three broke out in laughter and each dug in their purse and handed Ethel a twenty which she placed under her plate. “Old Biddy” fumed.
Paul Beckman was one of the winners in the Queen’s Ferry 2016 Best of the Small Fictions. His 200+ stories are widely published in print and online in the following magazines amongst others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, Pank, Blue Fifth Review, Flash Frontier, Matter Press, Metazen, Boston Literary Magazine, Thrice Fiction and Literary Orphans. His latest collection, “Peek”, weighed in at 65 stories and 120 pages. His website www.paulbeckmanstories.com.