Thursday, February 13, 2014

In which I spill my life story - including an ugly truth - to a complete stranger

Scene: A little bakery near our house that makes amazing brownies. The brownies cost $3 apiece, which seems high to me, but if you use good ingredients - butter, not cheap fat, the good chocolate - then a brownie is not cheap to make.

I walk in. I am fashionably dressed in gym pants, a sweatshirt, and a fleece vest that has managed to remain cat-hair free, although how I managed that in our house, I have no idea. I am also wearing my snow boots because it is cold and snowy and icy and now there is a layer of rain on top of the ice and every step carries with it the risk of death or a broken ankle, both of which would be really expensive. And if I broke my ankle, I wouldn't be able to exercise, not that I like exercising, but I like eating, so I would continue to eat but wouldn't get any exercise and then the only clothes I could wear would be those nasty polyester pants with the elastic waist, the likes of which I thought I had said goodbye to when I was in 9th grade and started wearing jeans.

So. I look crummy but it is Sunday morning and I haven't showered because 1. It is Sunday and 2. I had to return the carpet water sucker to the hardware store before noon. Why do I need a carpet water sucker in the winter, you ask?

Because even though we have had bitterly cold temperatures, we have also had rain and the rain didn't soak into the ground. Instead, it seeped into our basement into the 20% of the basement that is carpeted and not into the 80% that is not.

So Friday night, Primo walked downstairs while I was sitting on the sofa watching "The Mindy Project"  (love her, although I am not so sure that the Lutherans are pleased that one of their ministers is being portrayed as someone who jumps into bed before marriage). He was in bare feet, for some reason. Bare feet, even though it is freezing cold. We don't keep the temperature very high in our house because most of the heat goes out the walls anyhow. Old houses are cool in many ways - wait! I didn't even intend that! They are neat and they are cold. No insulation.

When you are wearing Fluffy Socks and slippers, you don't feel cold, wet carpet. But when your feet are bare, you do. Primo noticed the carpet was wet. Surprisingly, there was almost no drama, which made me want to ask, "Who are you and what have you done to my husband?" But I didn't. I was just grateful that he noticed the carpet was wet, diagnosed the problem, came up with the solution (I went to the hardware store yesterday morning to get the carpet sucker thing), and went on about his business.

I got the carpet sucker, Primo sucked the water out of the carpet, and I returned the carpet sucker this morning. On the way home from the hardware store, I passed the bakery. It was open, which was a clear Sign from Above that I was meant to stop in for a brownie.

Scene continued: There is only one brownie left in the display case. There is a man carrying a baby ahead of me and a little girl. I assume the little girl is with the man, but after he pays and steps away from the counter, the little girl stays. A woman walks up behind me.

Woman [to little girl]: What do you want, sweetie?

Me: Oh! Are you next?

Woman: Well...

Me: Was she holding your place? I guess you're next.

Woman: Well ---

Me: Technically, you're next.

Woman: I don't know--

Me: Did you want the brownie?

Woman: No.

Me: Oh good. Because my husband's ex-wife is dying and he really needs a brownie. But I was so torn - you were next but what if you wanted the brownie? There's only one. Technically, it should have been yours. But I really need that brownie.

Woman: I don't want the brownie.

Me: And all I can think of is, "If she was going to die anyhow, why didn't she die before the alimony was done?" Which I know makes me a horrible person.

Woman: What?

Me: My husband is really upset because he is very close to his stepdaughters and of course they are really sad right now. And he doesn't know if he can go to the funeral because it would be a lot of travel to arrange in a really short time and he has to go out of town for work next week anyhow.

[Primo's stepdaughters, Laura and Kate, are lovely and I don't want anything to happen to make them said, which adds even more to my guilt about thinking what I thought about the alimony and Isabel's death. Really what I wanted was for Isabel to remarry. That would have ended the alimony and she would - one hopes - have been happy. That was what I really wanted. Really! I didn't want her to die. If I am going to wish people to death, there are others way ahead - waaaaaaay ahead of Isabel - on the list. She is not on the list at all. She did nothing to bother me other than uninvite Primo to Kate's wedding. As far as ex-wives go, she could have been a lot worse. All she did was cost Primo money - but she made almost no emotional demands on him, unlike you know who.]

[Primo loves those girls. On a facebook thread about Isabel, Isabel's first ex-husband, the father of Laura and Kate, thanked Primo for being such a good stepfather to the girls. The chain started out with the first ex saying, "Even though Isabel and I went our separate ways, we shared being parents to 2 wonderful daughters Lara and Kate. Love you all."

Primo responded, "First ex, the same things you mentioned are true for me. Isabel and I had some great years together, and it was a pleasure and a privilege to share the responsibility  of raising her daughters. Laura and Kate, I love you! (And you know that I love your grandma, too.)"

"Primo you were very instrumental in Laura and Kate's upbringing. Really give YOU a lot of credit for how they turned out as mature adults. THANK YOU BROTHER. Take care and God bless." ]

Woman: Um OK.

Me: And then our basement flooded on the carpeted part so I had to get the carpet water thingy from the hardware store.

Woman: Uh--

Me: I'm sorry. I am a total stranger telling you all this. But I can't tell anyone else about the alimony thing because it's so awful. I can't say it out loud anywhere else.

Woman: OK.

Me: Bye.


  1. Well, Darling. I understand your pent up emotions on the subject of Bertha and her condition, and Lord knows we all need to vent sometimes but I think this was the time to stuff down your feelings with the brownie.

    Having said that; I had a good chuckle as always and took a moment to sympathize with you about the cat hair on clothes situation.
    I bought a new black spring coat yesterday and hung it over the back of a chair while I went to look for a suitable hanger and in the space of 5 (FIVE!!!) minutes it was completely covered down one side because my cat Gracie had to rub up against it. Black cotton. What Was I Thinking!


  2. There might have been some divine reason why you spilled your story to this complete stranger. Maybe she has been horrible to an ex or her husband's ex or she needed to hear how Ex #1 and Primo both love those girls OR maybe she writes a blog and needed a good story for it!
    Sometimes you just need to unload and voila, too late now it is done.
    Glad the carpet is dry, you got the brownie and maybe all that cat hair is extra insulation!
    The last guy I dated, his ex-wife (#3) took him to court to get more alimony from him (he was paying $1,500 a month), the judge listened to her and upon realizing she was crazy - cut off her alimony entirely, my ex never had to say a word.
    Hopefully Primo's alimony helped make life easier for the girls.

  3. Goldie, you need help!

  4. I'll bet these brownies are just as good, if not better;

    Richard’s Death by Chocolate Brownies

    3/4 cup all purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghiradelli makes them)
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    1/3 cup butter (about 4/5 of a stick)
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons water
    2 eggs
    3/4 cup chopped walnuts and/or coconut (optional)

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil.

    2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt.

    3. In a large bowl, combine chocolate chips and vanilla.

    4. In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and water. Bring this mixture just to a boil. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate chips and stir. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the flour mixture. fold in the nuts and or coconut if desired. Pour into prepared pan. Spread evenly.

    5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool for at least an hour, lift the brownies out using the foil and cut into squares. Yields 16 brownies.

    You may need to adjust cooking time depending on the oven. A little underdone is better than a little overdone. You can use 2 cups of the semisweet chocolate chips if you can’t find the bittersweet ones.