After my parents divorced, my father was seen as a very eligible bachelor among the ranks of single women in Chestertown. He began dating frequently, and as a seven-year-old, I loathed every woman who passed through the threshold of our old farmhouse. Many made attempts to create a bond with my sister Kate and me, and every single one failed miserably. There is one woman, Cindy, who went above and beyond the usual trinket-giving and cheek pinching in her efforts to secure a place in our hearts and our father's bed. She begged and pleaded, and eventually succeeded in getting permission to take Kate and me on a day trip to St. Michaels, Maryland, for sight-seeing and ice cream. Dad sat us down in private and told us that we would be spending the day with Cindy, demanding that we act with the utmost respect and politeness. Kate and I agreed, but the knowing glances we shared told another story.
Cindy pulled up in her mini-van on a Saturday, spent a few minutes fawning over Dad and laughing hysterically at even his most mundane jokes, and then it was time to get going. The ride to St. Michaels was long and quiet, with Kate and I observing Cindy as she steered with her knee while teasing her large helmet of brown hair, and lacquering her lips with bright red color every few minutes. Kate reached over and pinched my arm, making a gagging face at me that made me snort to hold back my snickers. Cindy ignored our display if she noticed at all over the strains of Huey Lewis bellowing from her speakers. We pulled into St. Michaels and waited outside the van as Cindy once again added volume to the already mountainous pile of hair atop her head. Kate and I scoffed, whispering "Bozo" to each-other and holding our hair out with our small fists.
We walked along the touristy streets, acting completely disinterested by all of the historic houses and buildings Cindy had us visit. At each quaint little shop filled with souvenirs of refrigerator magnets and snow-globes, Cindy would ask if we wanted her to buy us something, and we consistently refused, politely but distantly smiling and shaking our heads. Finally, it was time to go to the ice cream shop, which Kate and I had already agreed was the only place worth visiting in this stuffy "old-people town". We each got a cone, Kate's and mine with chocolate ice cream, and Cindy's with rocky road. Cindy decided we should walk to the town dock just a few blocks away and eat our ice cream as we watched the boats go by. Once we got to the water, we sat with our feet dangling from a pier, Cindy's hair blowing like a tall mound of cotton candy in the gentle breeze. A shrimping boat passed close-by, drawing behind it a flock of hungry seagulls that swooped low over our heads. Kate and I kept our eyes on the birds as they dipped lower and closer, dozens of them beating their wings just above us. Then it happened. A seagull hovered over Cindy, and, as if reading our minds, shat into her hair. Cindy made a high pitched squealing noise, wiping furiously at her head with a napkin, screaming, "Is it out, is it out?!"
Kate and I stared in horrified awe as she completely missed the wad dripping further and further down the side of her head, making a slimy trail of grey and white and yellow that pooled in a upturned lock near her ear.
"You got it", Kate said nonchalantly.
"Yep, all gone", I agreed, as the gloppy poop dangled menacingly close to her face.
As if on cue, the glob lazily suspended from her hair, and hung by a thinning string before making it's final descent through the air and landing silently on her rocky road ice cream cone. Kate and I locked eyes in a mixture of glee and revulsion and I knew that my delight at the bird relieving itself in her hair was about to be surpassed forever. In what seemed like slow motion, Cindy lifted the cone to her lips, her tongue gleaming in the summer sun as she pulled a bird poop-laden bite inside her mouth. She swallowed it down without so much as a shudder. We watched with a sense of unintentional accomplishment as she finished the rest of her ice cream, every minute or so blotting a few inches to the left of the streak of drying shit in her tumbleweed hair.
Despite her best efforts, Cindy did not win the coveted title of Mrs. Scott Livie. Although many Pattys, Nancys and Sarahs shuffled through a heavy rotation in my father's love life, Cindy would be the only to maintain the dubious distinction of the literal, not figurative, "Shit-head".