I was not the only one to notice her absence (and the resulting merciful quiet). It seems that Generic White Guy was missing her, too. Well, maybe "missing" is too strong a word.
On the way home on Friday, the time when vannies are at their most relaxed and genial and looking forward to the weekend, Generic White Guy pipes up with:
Where's Cletus? Did you work her too hard? Har-har!
Innocent enough, yes? Only to be followed with:
Does she always talk like that?
[Insert sound of needle scraping across a record here.]
Everyone shrank a good two inches into their seats and the tension of a collective butt-clench could be felt through the van. All this caused by a thinly veiled insult to a dopey kid who talks way too much.
Sensing his gaffe, Generic White Guy started sputtering, "Uh, you know, maybe when she gets nervous...she, uh...talks alot...to people she doesn't know. So, ah, she seems like a lovely girl. Maybe, too, um, when she's in a small space she likes to talk. You know? Lovely girl, just lovely."
This put a much needed kink into an otherwise humdrum drive. But I'm sure Generic White Guy savored the taste of his foot for the duration of the ride home.