Yoharie: Because Society (part three)
Society hadn’t yet crafted the new rules. Or cancel yet. Society follows culture, and the culture stagnates. A woman can ask a man for a date, or a man she dates for his hand…
Push on, stalwart feminist…
But, Giarma thought, your place has not really changed.
Keep me company…Corey…Adam…so I can see a movie I want to, and not feel weird. Or try a new restaurant, and not have to sit putting on airs…
You see, I’m a food blogger. I’m sampling.
I’m busy with my work, important me, texting colleagues, feeling out prospects, outlining my next project…or…
I’m an original, a devil-may-care…
A Mame, sort of…it was all she could think of. A brassy broad in a big hat, caroling to waiters (gravelly voice): Bring me your best champagne!
My good man, no doubt.
But he would think, yeah, she’s hot for me. She’s ready.
While you would think, let’s be friends for a little, and find out if we like each other.
Things had worked, magically worked, in the right direction with Trev. Their book club, Roberta’s joining to moderate the talk, until Giarma and he had talk.
They were good, but soon to go askew…
She hadn’t fully appreciated the equation’s him. How Corey, proposing to her in Sharpie on a birthday balloon, must…maybe in the sixth month or so…have started gearing his mind to it.
Here’s a woman. I’m dating her. We’ve been together a while. Maybe I should, she’s okay…
And every time he picked her up, he’d tell himself, she expects me to ask. If I don’t this time, she’ll get wanting to break it off…
(She had answered him, “Oh…”
He had answered her: “Yeah.”)
Corey had seemed to choose, or view, all things exhibits for his offended taste to riff off…
And that had been his conversation.
But entertain that this wrong-shaped box Relationship got jammed into, malformed character, turned people with interests into poseurs and sheep. Entertain that her poor ex had become this censorious jerk because she’d grown him that way, because female reticence had kept her opinions unaired. Better to have been combative, tell him outright to can it. There might have been another Corey-Girl deep inside.
It was rough on everyone, being not a finished adult in the world’s eyes, unpaired.
Tina was in the house.
She had had surgery and it couldn’t be helped. Dawn had the sectionals squared to make a living room bed, and Tina gatekept, plumped by the front door, needy. It wasn’t kindhearted not to say it: “Can I get you anything before I go?”
So, to walk past her with a backpack and two totes was to invite…
The word was conversation, and it left Giarma guilty. “Did Dawn tell you I’m going hiking with Trev?”
“Hiking! Oh, well. I used to like going to the picnic house at the lake. Don’t get ticks.”
“The picnic house at the lake.” She repeated the only opener; wondered at once if “Thanks, I’ll be careful” wouldn’t have qualified for an escape phrase.
“Well, it was a reservoir, but it was private…it was Mike in the club. I got to go for being his wife, but I didn’t fish. And I didn’t play tennis or golf. I brought my magazines… Shermager.”
Giarma perched on an ottoman, bags between her knees. “Mike Shermager?” Maybe she hadn’t actually heard this.
“No-o.” Tina drew the word. “Mike was my husband. Same last name as me.”
Her second husband. At least, Dawn had no country club about her…the name, then, not Orse…was it possible she had never picked up on Tina’s last name?
“It’s what they called the reservoir, after the congressman.”
“You enjoy yourself, kiddo.”
Giarma sprang. This sitting to talk had somehow upset the playbook. Tina, always calling out at passersby, interrupting meals with remarks, wasn’t really talking…
Giarma thanked her, shouldered and tucked her burdens…had to lay them down outside the door to work the lock, haw-hawing nerdishly…
She found, making up the street, that she felt worse.
Tina with her husbands, her father—one could assume—shutting her trap all her life. Men ignoring her chatter, asking her things, not staying to listen.
But herself, and even Dawn.
And why this dreary insight palling her fun with Trevor…?
Corey and Tina communicating as their world, having carved its slot for them, allowed…begrudged…saying nothing anyone cared to hear…
Everyone, delusional and alone as that.
Well, wrest it back. Take the one big chance, and if he can’t understand, if he can’t get over it…so what? So what, relationships aren’t progress. Every new person is where he is. You’ll settle or you won’t, Giarma.
“Goddamn, no!” she said, a little under breath, as though by coincidence Mat might overhear. She hadn’t thought of passing his house carrying things.
(2020, Stephanie Foster)