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Misleading Photos…

“Hey, Richter,” Tiffany shouted into the kitchen, “someone’s here to see you.”

“Oh?” Sara wiped her hands on her apron.

“Yeah, she’s at table three. No one ever sits at table three.” It was furthest from any natural light source. “She’s kind of snooty.”

Sara knew immediately it wasn’t Gina. Even if she deigned to enter a place like Kay’s, she’d never come across to a casual observer as snooty.

Either martyrdom or misfortune had drawn Pauline Goodman to the wobbliest table in the restaurant. Sara steadied it with a subtle but effective quarter turn before joining her.

“Cindy said you were here.” Pauline glanced around in astonishment. “I was going to send you a message, but I saw you’d gotten off Facebook.”

“I was never on.”

“Oh? I don’t blame you. It’s an ordeal. All your college friends are doing better than you and all your high school friends are doing worse. It hits you from both directions. I’d delete the stupid thing, but my mother would just call every day asking for photos of the kids. And then she’d lose them on her computer and I’d have to do tech support over the phone.” She sighed. “There’s no way out for me.”

Pauline tapped her finger against a faded menu, and Sara asked her if she wanted anything — although that would mean leaving the table to cook it.

“I’m fine… well, I’m not hungry,” she said, resisting the offer of hospitality, which was typical for the region (and a source of irritation for natural hostess Gina), but somewhat peculiar for the current setting.

“So… how are you?”

Pauline leaned across table. “How am I? Why, why, I’m…” The rest of her response was loud and profane, startling even the grizzled construction worker eating at the counter. “You can see…” She clutched at the air as if her condition was palpable before falling back in her seat. “You’re not on Facebook, so you might not know, but Walter left me.”

“Cindy mentioned it. I’m sorry.”

“He said I was dull.”

Cindy had also heard this from Margaret but hadn’t shared it with Sara. This meant she believed it, as Cindy avoided repeating unpleasant truths.

“He acted as if he was telling me something I didn’t know. Of course, I’m dull. We were both dull. We agreed to be dull. We made every dull choice together, willingly, until we were drowning in dullness. And now he wants to blissfully break the boredom pact.” Her tongue tripped over the accidental alliteration. “He wants to ‘find his happiness’. What makes him think he should be? Where did he get the idea it was possible?” She struck the table with the flat of her hand, causing it to wobble again. “I never thought he had such an imagination.”

“I don’t think you’re dull,” Sara said, “but I also never expected you to be entertaining.”

“Have you ever seen old photos of yourself and it felt like you were looking at another person?” Pauline asked. “This woman you vaguely remember, who you lost somewhere, like one of those bad parents we read about as kids who let their children wander off at the mall and get snatched by perverts. It’s supposed to be you, but you don’t know what happened to her.  I was looking at one earlier today, and it just wrecked me. I felt this wave of guilt, like I’d come across the scene of a crime. Because I’d done this to her. Me. I’m the guilty one. And I don’t even remember when it happened. Was it after Molly was born? Or the twins? I know I was happy in my wedding photo.”

“That can be misleading,” Sara said. “They don’t really let you leave until you smile. I thought I looked fake and forced in mine but everyone said I was ‘glowing.’ But I suppose porch lights glow, and that’s artificial, right?” She placed a hand over Pauline’s. “I’m not as good at metaphor as you are, I think.”

— from The Wrong Questions

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in The Wrong Questions

 

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Keep Cashing that Check, Girl…

As Bannon joins Priebus, Scaramucci, Spicer, and Flynn in the White House dustbin, a reminder that my girl Omarosa is laying low and still cashing that paycheck.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Political Theatre

 

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Making Nice with Nazis…

“Oh my god, there are Nazis marching in the streets!”

“Well, don’t punch them!”

“OK, well, I’m going to publicly identify them!”

“Wait, that might endanger their lives!”

“Are you kidding me? We’re talking about flippin’ Nazis! Oh fine, I’ll privately contact their employers.”

“What? You would deprive a Nazi of their livelihood? Would you like someone to do that to you because you’re gay and were at a Pride parade! Or were black and talking to a Jewish person about fried chicken?”

“That is so completely not the same thing.”

“I am fine with minorities existing. Why can’t you tolerate Nazis?”

“OK, I think now you want me punch to *you*.”

 
 

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The Bakeology Movement

Shelley was in the middle of a series of swing kicks at the far end of the living room. Pauline approached her slowly with her arms defensively covering her face.

“So, Matt says you’re on the Neanderthal diet’?”

Shelly shook her head. “It’s not a diet. It’s a live-it. We set goals and then demolish them!” She struck her palm with her fist.

“Oh.” Pauline lowered her arms. “That’s a little extreme, but it could be what I’m looking for.”

“You’re ready to shake things up, aren’t you?”

Pauline nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”

“The big thing I’m sharing with my clients now is the Bakeology movement,” Shelley said. “The lady who came up with it is literally the Mother Teresa of nutrition. She even has her own jet.”

“How does it work?”

“There’s a whole menu of options: You eat a Bakeology muffin for breakfast, Bakeology pizza for lunch, Bakeology not-meatloaf for dinner. They’re packed with all the super-duper foods. You can eat as much as you want, but you’ll barely get through the recommended serving.”

“It’s that filling?”

“No, it just doesn’t taste good.” She retrieved a wrapped object from her backpack. “Here, try this slider. It’s a quinoa/kale-blended patty with chipotle vegan mayo on a gluten-free bun. I keep a bunch in my bag. They last for days.”

Gamely, Pauline took a bite, suddenly stopping mid-chew as if she’d chipped a tooth.

“Oh God, this is awful!”

“See?” Shelly smiled as Pauline wiped her tongue with a cocktail napkin. “But it’s totally clean, which is the important thing. We call it ‘working out while eating.’ You notice how it’s an effort just to keep it down? ‘No pain, no gain’ shouldn’t just apply to the gym. Basically, if we enjoy our food, it distracts us from our journey. It’s like texting while driving. Except if you wreck your car, you can just replace it with a better one. This is the only body you’ll ever have.” She patted her stomach, which felt softer than she’d like. She frowned. “Anyway, it’s totally Big Food that convinced us what we eat has to taste good. You think neanderthal men sat around savoring flavors and textures? No way! They just consumed the necessary fuel to outrun dinosaurs!”

Gina, standing next to Margaret by the fireplace, whispered into her wine glass. “I would appreciate it if that girl wouldn’t push her BS ‘business’ on my friends. It’s like she’s throwing a Tupperware party in my own home.”

“It’s OK,” Margaret said. “Believe me, Pauline wants this. ”

“The only thing she needs to change about her eating habits is her pacing. My highlights fade waiting for her to finish a sandwich.”

“Haven’t you noticed Pauline’s been in a bad place?”

“Sure, but it has nothing to do with her dress size.”

“Walter’s apparently been really difficult lately. ”

“You act like you’re spoiling a movie I already saw back in college. He’s always been obnoxious, but to be fair, she’s a little on the dull side. That’s their thing. If we can manage both of them at once, they can handle each other.”

“Well, I think this will help her.”

“No one ever got less dull on a diet,” Gina said.

“What I meant is Pauline and Walter have become disconnected and it’s because she doesn’t feel good about herself so she can’t feel good about them.”

“Even if… whatever you said is true, how can that person Matt brought here possibly help?”

“It’s a start. Pauline just wants to feel comfortable enough to start Crossfit.” Margaret poured more wine into her glass. “I don’t know. It just seems like she is dealing with her problems more constructively than Sara did.”

Gina raised a blonde eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“She just walked out of her own home. She didn’t try to resolve her marital issues constructively. And look at her now. It’s frankly maladaptive. “

“Oh,” Gina said, turning to leave the room, “I’d forgotten you’d minored in psychology.”

— from THE WRONG QUESTIONS

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2017 in The Wrong Questions

 

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Melania’s Stuff…

Dig the expression on Melania’s face during this meeting. She’s wondering, “Is he going to blow up the world? Isn’t all my stuff in the world?”

And you know Melania didn’t want to be at that meeting. Do you know what women like Melania do all day in New York? It does not involve meetings like this.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Political Theatre

 

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Lunch at Din Thai Fung…

Their orders were brought to the table — juicy pork dumplings, spicy shrimp and pork wonton, chicken rice cakes, and an order of vegetable dumplings Sara had mostly to herself. Cindy cheerfully tried half of one so Sara wouldn’t feel left out of the family style lunch.

“Ken’s into trivia,” Cindy said to Jane, “so maybe we could do that sometime with you and Chris.”

“Yeah, totally.” Jane mixed vinegar, soy sauce, and wasabi as if conducting a delicate chemistry experiment. “But we don’t wanna become boring couples, ya know? I just love hangin’ with my gals.” She spooned the mixture onto a juicy pork dumpling and asked Sara, “Have you read ‘Bold’?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well, it’s an awesome book, and everyone is reading it. ”

“What’s it about?”

“It’s a memoir, so it’s not like fiction or anything that can be aggressive with plot and themes. This reads real natural, like you’re just texting with the author. It starts out with her losing everything — she got canned at this business journal she edited. It’s tough for a few weeks, but she manages to get a consulting gig, and since she’s not tied down or anything with kids, she decides to work remotely from Italy for a year. That’s where the title comes from. It’s about her journey of self discovery.”

“What does she discover?” Sara asked with polite skepticism.

“First, that she really likes Italy. You’ve been, right?”

Sara said she had. Cindy confessed she hadn’t: “I’ve always wanted to. My brothers and sister all spent a semester in Florence.”

Jane took the last spicy shrimp wonton. “OK, so you’ve at least heard enough to get the gist. The whole Tuscan country side life. She stayed in a friend’s place there. But she was otherwise all on her own. Then she met this Italian guy in a farmer’s market and they wound up getting married and running a vineyard together. I’ve had their wine. It’s not Napa but it’s pretty good.” She glanced at her phone, which sat beside her on the table like a fourth guest. “Oh, sorry, chickadees, I have to bounce. You know my friend Jess? She’s director of sales and channels at Amazon. She invited me to her two year old’s birthday party — or is the kid two all ready and is turning three?” She shrugged as she stood. “Doesn’t matter. My gift still works. Anyway, I have to go. They see me as family, really. I got her into Greenlake. It took some doing. And she’s super grateful. She’s also the first of her friends to buy a real home. So you want to maintain the connections. But it’s a bear. There’s never any women to talk to at these things — just mothers.”

— from “The Wrong Questions”

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2017 in The Wrong Questions

 

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Anthony Scaramucci, RIP…

Ten or so days ago:

IVANKA: So, Dad, I know we’re getting killed out there with Russia… and, well, everything else related to running the country, but we think some exciting staffing changes sould turn things around.

TRUMP: Whattaya got in mind? Sexy broad? Sexier broad?

KUSHNER: No, the White House chain of command needs to go mouse (POINTS AT HIMSELF), cat (POINTS AT IVANKA)… mooch.

IVANKA: We in the administration want a Communications Director with attitude. He’s edgy. He’s in your face. You’ve heard the expression “Let’s get busy?” Well, this is communications director who gets biz-ay, consistently and thoroughly.

TRUMP: So, he’s proactive, huh?

IVANKA: Oh, God yes, we’re talking about a totally outrageous paradigm.

SPICER: Excuse me, but “proactive” and “paradigm”? Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I’m accusing you of anything like that… I’m fired, aren’t I?

 

Ten or so days later:

 

 

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