This month began on a Sunday and it meant writing three pieces other than two. I was thumbing through the old diaries again looking for an important topic to wow you with, but after 45 minutes I found nothing wow-worthy. Then on the very next page I read the following account that didn’t amount to a hill of beans it was so ordinary – et I remembered this simple night and some of its details after 60 years.  Who says life’s simple moments cannot be as worthy of memory as the big ones?  I guess you might say it could be a “preview” of my first November column.
A late summer night in 1957. I went up to Suzanne’s after supper and we sat on her lawn with our Mason jars waiting for the first lightening bugs to come out. We never heard the word “fireflies” until we were grown. When they began to swoop down, blinking from her big magnolia tree, we removed the lids to follow the intermittent lights, catching them mid-flight inside our jars.
“That’s 13!” Suzanne bragged. I had only eight. I began to move faster, knocking her sideways once in order to capture number nine.
“I’m ready to go in,” she said after awhile, afraid I would catch up. I agreed because we were in her yard and that gave her the right to be boss and make the rules. We went in through the sun porch – remembered not to slam the screened door – and entered the kitchen. After all, we both had enough captives to serve as a night light for our rooms before freeing  them in the morning.
Inside, Suzanne’s mama – Miz Obie – was sitting at the table in what she called the “breakfast nook.” Her sister was giving her a Lilt home permanent and the table was littered with  bottles, little papers and pink and blue plastic curlers.  She spoke from behind a wet wash cloth covering her eyes and nose, “Are y’all bringing those bugs inside the house again – after what I’ve told you?” It was more of a statement than a question and Suzanne didn’t even answer as we made our way back to her room to leave them on her dresser before returning to the kitchen.
Miz Obie’s hair is rolled up now in wrappers and colored rods and Auntie is squirting some gosh-awful solution on each curl. Soon the room is filled with a vile odor. Suzanne and I sit watching a minute before she asks, “You want a snack? Mama, can we have some of that pound cake?”
“Cut little pieces.” Then, she hears Suzanne in the ice box and hears her shaking the can of Redi-Whip with its little ball inside. “Don’t you use all that! I’m fixing strawberry shortcake for dinner tomorrow.”
The squirting stops and a plastic bonnet is put on Miz Obie’s head for the hair to “set.” Auntie says they can go in the living room to wait. Guess the fumes were getting to her, too.
Miz Obie tests her finger nails on both hands – they’d been holding the rag – to see if there were any smears. Several bottles of polish were on the table where Auntie had given her a manicure, too. They were trying out a new shade: Avon’s Windsor Rose. Several Coty shades had been pushed aside. Miz Obie had beautiful nails and I loved to watch her waving her hands as she spoke or while holding one of her’s and Mr. Bob’s Benson & Hedges cigarettes, as much as Suzanne and I hated the smoke.  Finding all nails clear of smudges, we left the breakfast nook.
We were just in time for the second part of Perry Mason. Mr. Bob had it on real loud all the time so the women could listen between permanent applications. Perry is trying to solve a mystery about a beautiful rich heiress who is receiving murder threats.
Miz Obie thinks she has solved it. She thinks the heiress is doing it to herself. She smiles, when after a Dreft Detergent commercial, Perry begins to realize this, too. She would have made a good detective, she thinks, or a psychiatrist, maybe. Mr. Bob agrees.
We go back to the kitchen where Auntie washes Miz Obie’s head under the sink and then rolls the curly hair up in pin curls, making little bobby pin “X’s” all over her head. She then takes the portable hand dryer and begins to dry her. She keeps shifting back and forth from foot to foot because it’s taking so long and she has arthritis in her left knee.
“How do you think it did?” Miz Obie questions Auntie, “did it look burned?”
“Didn’t feel like it...but if there’s too much frizz I can always trim the ends.”
Miz Obie studies the other bottles of polish.  “Maybe I should have used this pretty coral.  I’m wearing that orange print to church tomorrow.”  Not wanting to do her nails over so late in the evening, Auntie assures her that Windsor Rose is supposed to go with everything.
I’m bored now and tell Suzanne I have to go. We head back to her room where I retrieve my jar of lightening bugs.
Suzanne calls to the kitchen, “Be right back,” as we go out the front door. She walks me to the corner where we say good night,
“See ya’ at Sunday School tomorrow.”
“See ya.’ Don’t let the bedbugs bite!”
I and my partially filled Mason jar twinkle off toward home.

Brenda Miles is an award winning columnist and author living in Hot Springs Village.  She welcomes all comments at