Saturday, September 22, 2007
Sunday Scribblings: "Hi, My Name is..."
[The character below is writing from the year 1998.]
My name is Kate. I am a fairly youthful 56, although I’d be quite hard-pressed to compete with someone 20 years my junior. I came of age when women were still expected to hook themselves to men’s stars in order to soar. The thought that women would soar, with or without a man in tow, came to the women just 10 years younger than me.
And when I say “just 10 years younger” I do not mean to be crying sour grapes. I don’t begrudge them their independence. I only wish they and those who followed didn’t begrudge me my dependence.
Why don’t I give you my background, and you can fill in any missing pieces based on that?
My parents had been married for three years when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Do you know that it was bombed the day after I was conceived? How is it that I know this? My parents forever made passing references to the passion they shared in their early years, and they had been at the wedding of my mother’s best friend on December 6, 1941. One thing led to another, and they ended up throwing caution to the wind.
My mother gave birth to me nine months later. I am two months younger than her best friend’s daughter, Jacquelyn. Upon finally doing the math one day in our late teens, we laughed uproariously to discover the reason behind a December wedding for her parents.
Sharing the discovery with her mother later, Jackie’s mother was less than amused. It was, after all, the late 50s. Jackie and I were graduating from high school. Young ladies weren’t supposed to be able to figure those things out for themselves. Of course, to us, it seemed rather disingenuous of her mother to be perturbed at our suppositions. We were, after all, still virgins, saving ourselves for marriage. She was unable to say the same about herself at our age. It never ceases to amaze me how moral we get as we age.
I went to college, of course, as most girls in my social circle did. And, like many of those girls, I never finished college. Instead, I left to marry a brilliant, loving man. George is three years older than me. He graduated from college at the end of my freshman year, did his obligatory two years in the Air Force, and then set off to change the world. Or at least to change the world of advertising.
George did wonders. He was – he is – a genius at the turn of a phrase, at discovering what it is that pulls at someone’s heartstrings and, in turn, their purse strings. He can sell anything, and he has sold most anything. Look in your pantry or your garage or your closet, and you’ll see products he and his company have convinced you to buy.
But enough about George, although this really is about him as much as it is about me. In fact, it might even be more about him. We were a team for years and years. He took care of business, and I took care of the home. We had two children in quick succession. They’re both on their own now, although they’ve not seen fit to bring me any grandchildren. And, frankly, that’s all right because after we were done with children and were enjoying the freedom we’d lost – or, I should, say, the freedom I’d lost – I found myself pregnant with a final child. In my mother’s day and my grandmother’s day, Julie would have been called a change of life baby. Nowadays, women are starting to have children at the ripe old age of 40. But in 1982, that phenomenon was rarer and I stood out much more.
It was about the time that I was pregnant with Julie that I began to have my doubts about George, that I began to worry about exactly what he was doing on his business trips, and that I began to worry about who was accompanying him on his business trips. I didn’t express my concerns aloud, of course. Why “of course,” you wonder? Well, I was pregnant, after all, and I’m well aware of how my brain seems to turn to mush while pregnant. And, really, is it any wonder that our, well, level of intimacy might change while I was pregnant?
So, no, I didn’t say anything then. And I didn’t say anything five years later or eight years later. Oh, I would make oblique references from time to time. And I would make less oblique ones as well, but George chose to not respond. I would bury the suspicions – the knowledge, really – deep down and I would carry on as if nothing were amiss. I did it for me. I did it for Julie.
I can’t ignore it anymore. Julie has foisted the issue out into the open. You see, it turns out Julie has had her own suspicions about her father for several years. These suspicions were confirmed today, when she was on an outing with her best friend Nicole and Nicole’s parents. They went into San Francisco to see a matinee performance. What she saw, first, though, was George in a rather intimate pose with a young lady.
[This week, Sunday Scribblings has the rather intriguing prompt of “Hi, my name is…” My name is not Kate. This is a work of fiction.]
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