Last night, as I carried out the preparations that would ensure an eve of much deserved rest and relaxation, I heard the worst sound a woman hell-bent on unplugging can possibly hear–the phone ringing.
Carefully placing my wine glass on the table, I hurried to pick up, all the while praying it was a telemarketer asking if I wanted to buy a time share in the Cayman Islands.
But alas, such was not my luck.
I had barely said hello when I heard my sister screech, “Do you know that So and So just got back from skiing in Austria? Skiing! In Austria! And the bitch came back with a tan! I tell you Bella, life is passing us by, sister. Passing us by!”
I braced myself and made a grab for the wine glass, certain it was going to be one of those conversations.
Taking a sip of my wine and a bite of my bruschetta, I settled comfortably on the couch.
“We’re in our forties! In our forties, I tell you! And what have we done with our lives besides ruining our shapes and acquiring stretch marks from giving birth? Nada, I tell you! Nada!”
For some reason, she was repeating the last phrase and/or word of everything she said.
I poked a breadstick into the humus and tried to chew quietly.
“And these kids! If we could at least say, my son the doctor or my daughter the rocket scientist, but hell no! We’re lucky we can say, my son the student! Really, how long is it going to take them to get their Bachelor’s degree? I’m already fifty thousand dollars in the hole! But even so, I’ll consider myself lucky if my firstborn gets a job as a manager at Best Buy.”
I inhaled the heavenly scent of olive oil as I dipped a piece of crusty bread in it.
“And you! All that slumming you do, dressing like a homeless person, and for what? Yes, Bella, mark my words. The angel of death will soon greet us and all of this sacrifice will be for nothing!”
I grabbed the tiny spreading knife and spread brie on a cracker.
“I had dreams, you know. You had dreams! You were going to win a Pulitzer! And me? I was going to discover the cure for Alzheimer’s. But the way this is going, we’ll be lucky if we get Alzheimer’s so we can forget how we pissed our lives away. Pissed our lives away!”
I slowly inched for the wine bottle and poured myself a second glass.
“I was going to live in a fancy house, drive a fancy car, dress in fancy clothes, and walk a fancy dog. Instead, I’m stuck in this money pit with a leaky roof, drive a second-hand passenger van, wear whatever’s on clearance at Target, and my idea of walking the dog is putting him out on the doorstep and telling him to pee and scratch the door when he’s done.”
I bit into another bruschetta and repositioned the cushion behind my lower back.
“And you! Your idea of action is walking Roxy in the forest wearing those hideous sweatpants and that old polar fleece jacket that’s full of dog hair! I cannot believe you’re not upset by all that is happening to us. Or I should say, NOT happening to us. We should be on the arm of men like Gerard Butler or Jim Caviezel, dining and wining on the Amalfi Coast. Instead, we’re lucky if Laurel and Hardy take us to the drive-thru at Mickey D’s!”
I slowly unfolded my cloth napkin and delicately wiped the corners of my mouth.
“Where did we go wrong, Bella? Where? We’re educated women. We speak three languages. We graduated Magna Cum Laude, for the love of God! We dated good looking men. We were good to mom, dad, and nana. Why does the Universe hate us? Why aren’t we the ones returning with our dentist husband from a skiing holiday, sporting a freakin’ tan? Why, Bella, why?”
I reached for the wine bottle and poured myself a third glass.
“Bella? Are you listening to me? Have you heard a word I’ve said?”
“Woman, I have heard every word you’ve said. Are you done?”
“Yes, yes I am.”
“Are you feeling better?”
“Next week, same time?”