Estelle knew in her heart of hearts the whole chain of critical events had been nothing but a fluke; from her impulse to pour olive oil over the top of her head leading to the further decision, moments later, to comb her hair straight down, allowing for the amazing Cousin-It look. Ultimately however, it was the placement of those superb red plastic horned rims over her already heavily olive oiled hair-covered face while noting they didn't come sliding straight off onto the floor, that was transforming.
It wasn’t magic that held those glasses there; it was Science, Science with a capital S. Estelle didn't want to know anything about Science, whether spelled with capital or lower-case s.
Lester might have been able to explain why the glasses stayed on. He claimed himself to be “a repository of knowledge.” To some extent he was, although under her breath Estelle called him "the suppository of knowledge."
Because of her deep seeded resentment, Estelle wasn’t about to ask Lester for an explanation of any sort, knowing she'd have to deal with him lording knowledge from one end of the bar to the other like Napoleon at Austerlitz. Her red horned rims stuck against her head and gave her the look she wanted. Estelle didn't give a rat's ass why.
And as far as Estelle's "look" went, she remained satisfied for the time being, not taking it any further. She didn't use Extra Virgin oil in any case, just Plain, the cheap stuff stored in metal two-gallon containers, pressed from olives possibly stolen off the back of a truck parked at a Palermo gas station while the driver was taking a leak kind of thing. Lester agreed on buying her that particular brand whenever he made his weekly trip to the Piggly Wiggly. He had softened over the years when it came to Estelle's personal needs although this was no consolation for her; in fact, it made her even more angry, adding insult to injury as she saw it, and contributing to the vehemence of what ultimately happened during she later described as "Lester's final moment of truth."
The practical reason Estelle poured the olive oil over the top of her head was so Lester wouldn’t want to touch her. She knew one thing gave Lester a major case of heebie-jeebies and that was getting grease on his hands. Whenever he did, he’d spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the washroom sink, a jumbo-sized squeeze bottle of detergent in one hand, a toothbrush in the other. He'd scrub and scrub and scrub, like some old crazy man locked away in an insane asylum, usually until his hands bled.
Interestingly, the phrase “Kitschy Cousin It” had fluttered into Estelle's head like a leaf through a kitchen window on the very morning of the day she discovered that pair of red horned rims. Estelle got premonitions all the time. She had them with her collages too, envisioning patterns or cut outs before running across the shape in what she termed "one of her many boxes of possibilities."
Estelle had one of those "prems" before the stranger arrived, actually glimpsed his silhouette inside the bar room door, light from the parking lot streaming in all around him; as if he was post crucifixion, day three, busted from the tomb and looking to have himself a cold one. She knew what it meant right away and tried her best to conceal her unbridled joy and lust for vengeance.
As soon as Estelle set the horned rims on her head and had stood in front of the grimy rest room mirror, she was inexplicably moved to part her hair no more than a few millimeters to the left, just wide enough to see out one eye. As soon as she did that, she blinked. It had been a while she’d seen that eye. Estelle suspected something was going to change after that and wore the glasses constantly; even while assembling her collages, although as light in the filthy bar was scarce, she popped both lenses out and kept them in her pocket for the day she would emerge into the light of day.
As mysterious as any of that had been, on the day the stranger physically appeared, bizarre circumstance and conversation ensued, commencing with Estelle vaguely brushing the index finger of her left hand against a single strand of olive oiled hair, then using the adherent properties of the greasy phalanx to turn the many times molested page of her January True Criminal magazine. She perused her two favorite sections, Forensic Cases and Ads, liberally employing the fine control scissors plucked from her “hobby cache,” one of Lester’s old cigarillo boxes sequined to appear over-the-top-tacky. On that morning, she cut out all the severed limbs she could find from the black and white crime scene photos and laid them down inside an old shoe box painted black on the outside, white on the inside, what she identified as her "no tellin’ when” box.
Lester was speaking out loud that morning, so loud that the bottles of booze on the glass shelf behind him started rattling. Lester normally spoke a whole lot of nothing as far as Estelle was concerned and when he did, she usually took to her whispering. Estelle called that specific kind of whispering her “describing my process whispering.” She had torn that very phrase, “describing my process,” out of a vintage craft magazine years back, and had kept it, always thinking how remarkably funny and stone cold perfect it was: The typography had been quilted, for one. She’s been saving the little scrap for just the right collage to come along, trying it out on each and every one: Laying it, turning it, flipping it, but sadly, each time having to return it back to her "no tellin’ when" box, disappointed. The quilted quote had to fit and fit exactly if she were to use it at all.
After cutting out the last image that morning, a traumatically amputated foot culminating the forensic series, Estelle whispered to herself: “I just love sifting through my little cut out boxes looking for those special somethings. When I spot one, I'll plunk it down, grab a second one, scoot that one up against the first, lift the first, veer it, press it, twist the second just a skosh, torque the first a mere titch, and presto change-oh, we're living on South Beach, all zinc oxide and shuffleboard."
As soon as the words left her lips, which amounted to nothing short of an incantation, Estelle spotted an ad she hadn't noticed before, encased in a cheap ornate swirl. She raised her hand in front of her mouth like a Japanese schoolgirl.
Estelle wasn’t a Japanese schoolgirl by a long shot but had, in an old National Geographic, taken careful note of a gaggle of weathered photos featuring giggling Japanese schoolgirls. She’d been enthralled straight away, to some degree obsessed, not only with Japanese schoolgirl tittering in general but the postures they assumed while tittering. She massacred, as she liked to describe it, that particular issue, removing all the schoolgirl hands, their tittering mouths, tittering eyes and portions of their tittering school girl uniforms. She essentially created a hobby within a hobby on that day: A collection of images for one, as well as an inexplicable desire to emulate Japanese school girl postures, especially the tittering-behind-a-flattened-hand pose.
She tapped the ad and flapped the paper at Lester.
“Les. This ad says here you can make money from your angry impulses. Only five ninety-five for the introductory booklet. ‘Turn your displaced anger into profit,’ it says. I thought that was an interesting headline.”
“It’s not really a headline, is it, Estelle?”
“Well, Lester, then maybe what I meant to say was, it’s more like an interesting title for an ad.”
“OK. That’s more like it. Be specific, Estelle. Whether it’s a line of typeset or a line of . . I don’t know, trains or something, it’s entertainment is what it is, entertainment with a capital E.”
She’d heard Lester talk about his theory of entertainment many times before. In fact, he’d usually mention it once a day, usually at night while they were lying in bed and Estelle was trying to sleep. When he started in on that, she’s take her two pillows, press them as tight as she could either side of her head. After that, she would be barely able to hear all his philosophical droning.
Lester saw all human activity as boiling down to the need to seek entertainment during their idle hours on Earth.
“Lofty constitutional change, Nobel Prize winning research or the creation of masterworks of art is the same as whittling on a stick of hickory,” Lester said. “They’re all just a god dang means of passing the time.”
Estelle didn’t necessarily disagree with all that but didn’t care one way or the other and certainly, at bedtime, didn’t want to hear anything about it. Only buzzing was present in Estelle's head at that time of day, buzzing like that coming from a hive of honey bees or the white noise from the TV set after 3 am. That's all there was and that's all she wanted to be in there, not any of Lester’s half-baked theories. Estelle thought Lester was too militant about this business of entertainment anyway, to the point of being close minded about other possibilities. But she never told Lester that.
Estelle never told Lester a lot of things. For one, she couldn’t. Not until she got her thing back, her little paint brush. When she did, she might tell him a thing or two.