Meme took a deep draw off her Benson and Hedges 100’s and turned in the seat as she blew smoke out her nose like a dragon. “I’m not going to tell you damn kids again. Stop fighting! Buck stop aggravating your sister. Matilda stop hurting your brother. Now just sit back there and try to stand each other for another 45 minutes.” She took another drag off the extra long cigarette and patted her beehive back in place and went back to changing the radio station. “Bob, you need to slow down your gonna get a ticket.” Meme admonished while digging through her purse for her ‘Love That Pink’ lipstick. Bob looked at her and said “Honey, I’m a cop. Don’t worry about it” and mashed the accelerator a little deeper into the floor.
Gladys had noticed several of these little brown signs on the side of the road. Now she was only six years old but she knew that those signs must be something really important so she started reading all the road signs they past. “DeLeon 37” no that wasn’t it, because that sign was green. “Load Zoned Bridge” that one wasn’t it either it was black and white. They went a little further up the road and she read out loud “Hysterical Maker 5 miles”. The car went quiet. Meme stopped looking for her lipstick, Buck forgot his finger was in Matilda’s face and Matilda stopped in mid punch. There was a silent rumble starting. It started slow with Buck saying “What did you say Gladys?” Six year old know-it-all Gladys very righteously replied “that sign said Hysterical Marker 5 miles.” Buck snorted, Matilda giggled and Meme said “No baby, it said His-tor-i-cal not hysterical.”
Gladys knew what she had read. She was not stupid. She had completed the first grade and was almost in the second grade. She knew how to read. That sign said HYSTERICAL MARKER 5 MILES and she was going to prove it. They drove a little longer with the two magpies in the back seat making fun of her. She didn’t care. What did they know? They thought she had been found under a rock when she knew that she was really a superhero from another planet just like Clark Kent.
“Daddy what’s that?” Gladys asked as the past a grain silo. “Oh, that is a giant ice cream cone” he answered. Then she saw it coming up on the right hand side of the road. “DADDDDDIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE! STOPPP!!!! RIGHT NOW! STOPPP!!!” Gladys screamed at the top of her lungs. Trooper Bob started slowing down afraid that maybe his baby daughter was having a coronary or just a pee emergency. “What is it baby?” he asked. Meme too was looking at her youngest child with pure concern. “I want to see the hysterical marker” Gladys cried. Trooper Bob snorted and coughed and said “Gladys! Damnit don’t do that! You almost gave me a heart attack. I thought you were hurt or something. I’m not stopping at the historical marker.”
Gladys folded her arms in front of her chest and said “IT’S A HYSTERICAL MARKER. IT SAID SO ON THE SIGN.” She puffed out her bottom lip and assumed full pout mode. This was too much for the two in the back seat. They were rolling around snorting and giggling. Hysterical marker heehee. Meme was biting her bottom “Love That Pink” tinted bottom lip and Trooper Bob was trying to keep from looking at Gladys’ pouting face.
From that day henceforth anytime you see a brown sign on the side of the road in Texas know this; it is a Hysterical Marker. Gladys said so.