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by Ed Higgins

Ralph hawked up a throat-rasping loogie, let it sit momentarily on the back of his tongue while he hurriedly cranked down the car window and let the mucus lump fly as he turned from West 5th. Ave. onto Main street. He shifted into second gear. “Well, that certain was disgusting,” Pam noted dryly, as he rolled the window back up and then shifted into 3rd., picking up speed slightly, careful to keep under the 25mph in a residential zone. They were on their way to lunch at La Panaderia. Not much for atmosphere but class-act Mexican food, and the prices were reasonable too. Ralph liked to take Pam there because she could read the Spanish menu board on the wall behind the counter.

“Why do men always have to spit,” Pam continued, “it’s so damn rude.” “Men. My father even spits in the kitchen sink at home and then stands there with the tap on washing it down the drain. So rank! In the kitchen sink. The bathroom sink too, it’s too gross to believe. Sometimes he doesn’t even rinse the sink. Or I’ll go to use the toilet and this big gob is floating there unflushed. And my stupid little brother’s pick up the filthy habit too. Although I cracked him with my hairbrush the other day when he came in the bathroom and spit in the toilet.”

Ralph slowed for the traffic signal onto 99w. “Hey, gimme me a break, men spit. Besides, it’s spring and my hay fever’s acting up. I gotta spit sometimes.” Sheesh, whata bitch, Ralph thought as he sat waiting for the light to turn, a tickle starting to plague his throat. I’d sure as hell hate to live near her hairbrush. If I was her little brother I’d hawk a couple on her hairbrush the next time I was alone in the bathroom.

Pam felt the back of her neck tightening. Who needed this? At least he spit out the window, not in the sink or unflushed toilet. Flush this lunch date she thought ruefully. Ralph really wasn’t a bad guy for all his macho posturing around campus: drama leads, on the tennis team, usually an A student. Quite a catch really, reddish-brown wavy hair, nice arms, gentle hands. But he was starting to roughly clear his throat again. “Are you going to rudely spit again. Because if you are you’ve just spoiled my lunch.”

“Oh, right,” said Ralph, feeling an intensifying of his phlegm’s thickness as the congestion loosed in his bothered throat. The loogie sitting on the back of his tongue like an angry cat ready to explode out of his mouth. “I can’t even ex-pec-tor-ate out of my own car window because you’re squeamish about male spit ritual!” 

Ralph turned back to his driver’s side window and ejected the expectorate from his mouth just as he was pulling into the curb beside the La Panaderia. 

The splat on the rolled up driver-side window was nearly audible.